Don’t Let Your Audiences Be Passive!

People don’t like to be passive.  They don’t like to sit still and do nothing.  They’d even rather shock themselves repeatedly than just sit and think, according to a study recently published in Science. The study received a fair amount of press attention, possibly because it harkened back to the infamous Milgram study from many [...]

Storytelling, Framing, and Memory

We expect powerful people to give us the overview, the high-level view.  Specifically, a recent study found, we rate people as more powerful when they speak in abstract terms (9/11 was a terrible terrorist attack), rather than specifics (more than 3,000 people died). More generally, previous studies have shown that people learn new things using [...]

Speakers: Your Vowels Matter!

I’ll be giving away some speechwriting secrets today.  In particular, how to create a mood with your words.  It’s not just about meaning.  Or even body language. A team of psychologists and phoneticists based in Germany has tested the effects that vowel sounds have on our moods.  And it turns out that “I” sounds (“hi”) [...]

Speakers Alert: Here’s One More Reason to Exercise

Speakers need to understand how the brain works because, well, because they’re always talking to brains in the audiences they encounter.  At least, that’s the hope. Some recent studies shed light on an essential part of the way the brain works.  The findings have two implications for speakers – one for themselves, and one for [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

What Just About Every Speaker Does Wrong

People don’t like to change their minds.  They hang on to the status quo like passengers on the Titanic hung on to the few life preservers available. That presents speakers who are in the world- and mind-changing business with a challenge.  How do you get those audience members to let go of their life preservers [...]

Why I love James Bond

bond

I love Bond movies. I love their existential over-the-top silliness. I love that the UK is still the center of the universe in Bond movies. I love that one person can still save the world in them. I even love all the Bond actors and the slight variations they brought to the role, from the [...]

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 [...]

Are You a Freak? Then Chris Brogan Has Words for You.

When I first met Chris Brogan it was as a stage presence; he was holding forth with his co-author Julien Smith of Trust Agents at SXSW about the new world of the Internet.  The crowd was SRO and the mood was friendly: there were clearly a lot of Brogan and Smith fans in the audience.  [...]