What We Can Learn from President Obama’s Eulogy for Reverend Pinckney

The public speaking world has been abuzz for the past week about a standout speech delivered by President Obama in the form of a eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people murdered at the historic Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 18th. Over the past week, David Meerman Scott and I have been discussing the both the content of the eulogy and its delivery –… Read More

Why the Conscious Mind Is Mostly Illusion, and What that Means for Speakers

A new theory, just published in the journal Behaviour and Brain Sciences (Morsella et al., 2015), reaffirms what I argued in Power Cues: our conscious minds have less control over our lives than our unconscious minds – much less control than most people think. That misunderstanding is, of course, natural enough, since the thinking in question is the over-confident sense of control coming from our conscious minds. This new realization has important implications… Read More

Speakers Need to Beware of the Air They Breathe

Speakers, beware! The very air you breathe could be sabotaging your presentations. A recent study found that dry air – which is to say virtually any air you might breathe in your air-conditioned office, the car on the way to the airport, the airport, the airplane, the car to the hotel, the hotel, and the conference room where you’re speaking – all that air – leads to less elastic vocal chords, something… Read More

Five Signs You Have What It Takes to be a Public Speaker

I frequently chat with people who wonder if they should throw their hats in the ring of public speaking and go for the rarified life of a paid public speaker. The money is appealing, of course, but mostly what they wonder is, “Do I have what it takes?” By that they mean, “Does the world want to hear me hold forth on my area of passion and expertise?” When I ask them… Read More

Five Common Rookie Storytelling Mistakes

In honor of this week’s launch of our new online course, Presentation Prep: 10 Steps to Persuasive Storytelling, I’m devoting this post to some of the rookie storytelling mistakes I’ve seen in my 18 years as the President of Public Words Inc. But first a word about our course. We’ve teamed with an online course development company called Choose Growth, and we’re hoping that you’ll find it fun to do, easy to… Read More

Authenticity, Artifice, and Presentation Prep

We live in an era when the demand for authenticity trumps a number of qualities that our society (and others) used to deem more important. Authenticity has always loomed large, in other words, but its stock has risen and fallen depending on the times. Right now it beats out excellence, cool, and artifice; to jump to the top of the charts or the bestseller list, you have to be ready to open… Read More

What’s Wrong With Acronyms?

Just because it’s possible to sum up the key takeaways in your presentation in one of those annoying acronyms doesn’t mean you should yield to the temptation. “And here’s an easy way to remember the four rules of successful selling – C. R. A. P. –  where C stands for Connection, R stands for Rapport, A stands for Assumptions and P stands for Positioning!” Of course, the silliness of the word phrase… Read More

How Much Should You Customize Your Speech?

Chris Brogan recently wrote in a blog post about his struggles with writing a new presentation for every occasion versus using a version of the same speech over and over again. He mentioned my work with him in the post. Guy Kawasaki opined, in a recent HBR piece, that you should customize a speech by talking about the conference or event or host for the first 3 – 5 minutes of your… Read More

What Sepp Blatter Did Right

The FIFA president gave a fascinating resignation speech after 17 years in the job, thanks to the recent indictments on corruption charges and no doubt some other things going on behind the scenes. Sepp Blatter was sorrowful, defiant, and unwilling to relinquish control – in the midst of his resignation he was talking about how FIFA needed to be re-organized as if he was the one to do it – but he… Read More

How To Get People To Pay Attention To You

We all know that the industrialized world is awash in information today; many have observed that this information overload puts a heavy burden on would-be communicators to get the attention of their audiences. Whether it’s a distracted spouse, a teenager playing a video game, a team worried about impending layoffs, a board that finds your report on sales initiatives tedious, an audience that’s looking forward to lunch, or a press corps that’s… Read More