Why Can’t I Leave my Body Language to Chance?

  Regular readers of this blog (and my book Power Cues) will know that I’m an advocate for a version of mindfulness that involves first learning to monitor your own body language, then others’ and then controlling your body language in order to control the conversation you’re having with other people, whether it’s a meeting, or a presentation, or even a simple one-on-one chat. But why should you do that work? It’s… Read More

Why You Should Become Intentional

Sometimes when I work with clients, there’s a moment when the full implications of what I’m asking from them in terms of intentionality become clear. Wait, you mean that I’m responsible for my body language from the moment I walk out on stage until the end of the presentation? Or, you mean I have to be conscious of my body language for the entire meeting? The shocked look in their eyes reflects… Read More

How to think about storytelling

Back in the day when I was trying (and not succeeding) to make a living as an actor, one of the classes I took introduced a simple game that I’ve been playing off and on ever since. It was at first useful for developing Improv skills as an actor, then for storytelling skills as a speechwriter, then for passing the time in the car with young children, then as an icebreaker for… Read More

Phil Simon’s Message Has Been Received

I’ve known Phil Simon for a while now as a speaker and author on management, and so when he told me he was writing a book on my favorite subject, communication, I thought it was time to have a chat. Specifically, Phil’s taken on that perennial problem, jargon and business nonsense-speak. I can only stand back (way back) and applaud as Phil takes on this monstrosity. Here’s the Q and A –… Read More

How to train your brain for peak performance

So if we’ve got at least three brains and two of the three are busy sabotaging us at key moments of stress and performance, what can we do about it? What we’re going to focus on now is the unconscious work that you have to do to keep from giving up leadership automatically in those first few minutes of any conversation, meeting, negotiation, presentation, or high-stakes event, where the top dog gets… Read More

How Your Unconscious Mind Determines Your Communications

I posted recently on the dangers of leaving your body language to chance. I’m going to continue on this subject for a couple more blog posts. Your unconscious mind is busy 24-7 running your body, freeing up your conscious mind to think about things like the temperature of your latte and your Spotify playlist. That’s all good. But the unconscious mind also makes decisions for you and determines how confident or not… Read More

How to Give an Impromptu Speech

A client and friend asked me the other day about impromptu speeches. His question, basically, was, to give consistently good impromptu speeches, do you memorize something (or a few pieces of something) and then trot those out at the key moment? Or, if you actually make them up in the moment, how do you think about that? My reaction was to tell him that he shouldn’t memorize but he should prepare –… Read More

What’s Wrong with TED?

What’s wrong with TED?  There’s no question it has been an extraordinarily successful venture.  It has transformed the world of public speaking in a number of ways, most of them obviously for the better.  But it has had some subtler negative effects too, and that’s what this post covers. It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time, before TED, when it was difficult to get the measure of a professional… Read More

How to Fail as a Professional Public Speaker – the Seven Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Speakers

I work with professional speakers, people aspiring to become professional speakers, speakers on the way up, and all the variants in between.  There are as many stories about their roads to success as there are individuals.  And yes, of course, the road to success goes through the swamp of failure and frustration before it gets to those sunlit uplands of glory that Winston Churchill spoke of in a slightly different context. But… Read More

Should You Approach Your Audience When Giving a Talk – Or Walk Away?

A recent research result was reported in the media as indicating that there may be something called “approach aversion” that people instinctively have toward people and objects coming toward them.  My first reaction, when I read this, was really?  Cake?  Ice Cream?  If only I had approach aversion to those delicious items my dietary problems would be solved. More seriously, the research has interesting implications for speakers because it poses the question,… Read More