Speaking Skills Blog

Turning Out the Lights – Don’t be in the Dark

A while back I was the speaker for a large group in a Convention Center auditorium. I arrived during the session before mine and saw that the lights were turned out. The room was dark. Not because no one was in it—no,  probably 200 people sat in there listening to a...

A Speech Opening Should be a “Hook”

Most people have never given the idea of a “hook” for their speech opening any thought at all. The vast majority of speakers start by introducing themselves, say what they’re going to talk about, and then launch into their presentation.  But a hook—such as a story, a...

Humanizing the Talk Adds Interest

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard more than your share of speakers who delivered a dry, fact-loaded speech. While there’s nothing wrong with facts, of course, it does beg the question: why am I here? Just give me the report, for crying out loud, and I’ll read it for myself. ...

Pause Before You Answer Each Question

While there is value in taking the occasional pause when you’re speaking, I’m addressing here the power of the pause as part of the Q&A session. The Q&A session is a deceptively important part of your presentation. The audience instinctively believes that they’re...

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The Outline is Awesome

“The outline is awesome!” This is one of the most surprising, yet most common, comments I get from my training. Surprising because, after all, the outline form is not a very sexy topic. Yet it’s one of the most common benefits stated by my training participants:...

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The Black Slide

"The black slide?  What's that?"  This is one of the more common refrains I hear in my training. I’m forever preaching to my clients about the overuse of PowerPoint, pleading with them to cut back on its usage, use it only when it serves a purpose. Then they get...

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Do Without PowerPoint!

Do without PowerPoint?! What? Blasphemy! But... PowerPoint has become the kudzu of visual aids, infesting our presentations with overdone graphics and walls of words. It has literally overtaken our talks. Speakers read from them and  become totally reliant on them....

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Energy Makes a Difference!

Here is Number Three of my "Seven in Eleven"--seven of my favorite "ah-hah" moments when my participants "get" some insight or gem of wisdom.  #1 was "I can do without PowerPoint," and #2 was "I never knew about the black slide!" Ah-hah #3: “Energy, energy, energy.” A...

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Guidelines for Dealing With Those in Need

I'd like to hold forth a little on a topic brought to mind because of my own recent experience:  I had surgery last month (a cervical fusion to alleviate horrific pain). And my experiences with those wishing me well and wanting to help compelled me to review some...

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Humanizing Example: Brainteaser

A psychologist on how our brains don’t always work the way we think they do... “Without stopping to think, add these numbers in your head: Start with 1000. Add 40. Now add 1000. Add 30. Now add another 1000. Add 20. Now add another 1000. Add 10. What’s the total?”...

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Humanizing Example: Metaphor

The speaker, who worked for a printing company, wanted to demonstrate why humidity is so much worse in hotter weather than in colder weather. He placed two glasses on a table, one a tall drinking glass, the other a shorter juice glass. He put a sign in front of each...

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Humanizing Example: Props

A conservationist held up an apple. “Consider that this apple represents our earth.” With a knife, she sliced it into quarters. She set aside three pieces, saying, “Three quarters of it represent the oceans.”  Holding up one quarter, she said, “This represents our...

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Humanizing Example: Anecdote

An architectural engineer started a presentation on the importance of good engineering in architecture design with this little gem: “I’m a new grandfather.  Recently I was holding our new grandson in my arms and I marveled at what an architectural and engineering...

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