What Happens When Speeches Go Wrong?

When speeches go wrong, most often it’s the speaker who gets the blame. But a better way of thinking about the problem spreads the blame evenly around between the organizers, the speaker, and (yes) the audience. Most often, a speech goes wrong because there’s a serious mis-match between the speaker’s expertise and the audience’s expectations. And for that mis-match, the organizers – the go-betweens, in effect – must shoulder some of the… Read More

What’s the Most Important Thing for a Speaker to Worry About?

What’s the most important aspect of speaking for a professional speaker to develop? I get asked that question all the time by people at the early stages of their careers, people who are passionate about some idea or cause or field of knowledge and who want to spread their expertise to the world. They’re thinking that they need to develop their storytelling ability, or their charisma, or perhaps just to create a… Read More

Seven Books for Public Speakers

The pile of books by my desk has become a block to the fire escape, so it’s time to read and review some of them for the insights that they offer public speakers and communicators in general.  Following are quick takes on seven that you may find helpful. 1.Absolute Value:  What really influences customers in the age of (nearly) perfect information, Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen The authors of Absolute Value want… Read More

You Have to Choose

I spent the day yesterday with a wonderful client who is exploring how he might develop a successful, sustained professional speaking career.  We began, as we always do, discussing the idea. That’s where a speaking career begins.  It doesn’t begin with the money, or the desire to perform on a stage, or the need for the love of audiences.  All those things may follow, and all are potentially important aspects of a… Read More

What Should A Public Speaker Wear?

One question that always comes up when working with a client on a speech – usually late in the process – is what should I wear?  I only have average Male Fashion Sense – which means I’m somewhere between hopeless and OK on a good day – but I have seen a lot of speeches and speakers, and I’ve learned a few rules.  Follow these and you won’t go far wrong.  And… Read More

The Basic Building Blocks of a Great Speech – 5

This post is the fifth in a series on the basic building blocks of a great speech.  You’ve researched your audience, asked the right questions, and learned the particulars of the occasion.  You’ve created the opening frame of the talk with an engaging story that hints at the glories to come.  You’ve plunged the audience deep into the issue that animates your topic.  You’ve bathed the audience in the keen light of… Read More

The Basic Building Blocks of a Great Speech – 1

How do you put together a great presentation?  Here I’m presenting a series of 7 blog posts on the basic building blocks of a killer speech.  And no, for the pedants among my readers, I’m not very interested in the false distinction some maintain between a presentation and a speech.  Whether you’re talking to a few people, or a few thousand, it’s important and worth doing right.  And the same rules apply…. Read More

5 Essential, OBVIOUS, Basic Public Speaking Tips

Here are 5 essential public speaking tips that are so obvious you should be embarrassed if you’re not doing them already. 1.  Make eye contact.  That means picking individual members of the audience, talking to them just like you’re having a conversation, with the eye contact that naturally goes with that.  DON’T look over the audience’s heads. 2.  Know your audience.  That means understanding their issues, their concerns, their hopes and their… Read More

7 Speaking Disasters You Will Experience and What to Do About Them

If you give speeches more than once a year, you will experience speaking catastrophes.  Here are 7 that have all happened to me and my clients, and will almost certainly happen to you – and what to do about them. 1.  Your Mind Goes Blank.  You’re going to have a Rick Perry moment – mostly likely more than one.  As our lives move faster and faster, the odds that our brains will… Read More

5 Ways to Avoid Looking Like an Idiot as a Public Speaker

I let the doctor talk me into a flu shot during my annual physical this week, and I’ve had a bit of a reaction to it.  I bled, my arm swelled up, and now I’ve got the mini-flu.  So, needing a laugh, I am thankful to friend and great speaker Micah Solomon, guru of customer service in the digital era, for sending me a link to the Onion TED-talk spoof.  It’s fun,… Read More