A Good Use of PowerPoint

Readers of this blog will know I’m not a big fan of slideware for speakers. This position is so heretical for most of the business world that I often end up working with executives to simplify and otherwise improve their slides because they can’t live without at least something on the screen behind them. You can’t win ‘em all. Now, honesty demands that I confess that I’ve run across a new study… Read More

What’s Holding You Back?

I started thinking last week about the fears that hold executives back from performing with all their moxie when giving a presentation– showing up with 100% in the moment, fully present, and ready to go. Or, since we love exaggeration in the business and self-help world, and especially here in America, what prevents executives from giving their 110% all the time? So my challenge to you is the following (multi-part) question. What… Read More

What Health Care Executives Fear

I had the pleasure recently of working with a small number of health care executives on their public personas and speaking. Now, I have tremendous admiration for the vast majority of health care people because they’re in the business of saving lives, and that’s hugely important work. And it hits close to home for me. A gifted surgeon saved my life when I was in an accident at age 17. A health… Read More

The Pope and Donald Trump – a study in contrasting body language

Those interested in the study of body language had a fascinating opportunity this week to study two completely different approaches to power through non-verbal communication: the Pope and Donald Trump. The Pope, as all the world must know, was visiting the US for the first time, and Mr. Trump was all over the media, as per usual, but on “60 Minutes” for the first time on Sunday. Trump, of course, has been… Read More

How to Prepare for Public Speaking Disaster

What do you do when the show can’t go on? Last week was supposed to be a good week for BMW. The Frankfurt Motor Show was on, and BMW CEO Harald Krueger was on hand to present the company’s new line up of cars to the assembled press and audience. Then he fainted. Apparently, he hadn’t been feeling well. Worn out from traveling. The good news is that he was not seriously… Read More

The Body Language Lessons from the CNN Republican Debate

What are the body language lessons from the CNN Republican debates? First of all, they went on too long. The human body has trouble sitting for so long. I even felt sorry for the candidates standing for three hours under the lights. I watched both debates in their entirety, which means I was glued to CNN for more than 5 hours. OK for a political junkie, but hardly a way for a… Read More

The Dirty Secret of Public Speaking – and What to Do About It

One of the dirty secrets of public speaking is that audiences don’t remember much of what you say. I’ve seen a range of studies over the years showing retention of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of what an audience hears. Many, many efforts have been made to increase that percentage. Microsoft funded some studies hoping to find out that the judicious use of PowerPoint increased retention. It didn’t. Multi-tasking reduces retention,… Read More

10 New Ways to Reduce Performance Anxiety

I’m heading off to CNN’s AC 360 again to tape a segment on body language before the Republican debate. With that anticipation goes adrenaline, and with that adrenaline comes feelings of anxiety. So I was heartened to see a number of new ways of reducing anxiety in the research literature. I can’t do all of these, and I’m going to stick to my tried and true ways of reducing anxiety – breathing,… Read More

Are You Serious About Public Speaking? Here’s a Mistake You Have to Stop Making

Anyone who is serious about his or her public speaking needs to watch – who knew? – the Kanye West MTV acceptance speech from a week ago. (Tip of the hat to Tim Sanders for goading me into watching all thirteen minutes.) I don’t know if Kanye’s farrago is the longest acceptance speech ever, but it certainly seemed to go on forever, and covered (before I stopped counting) some 15 topics, each… Read More

The Dangers of Last-Minute Changes to a Presentation

Public speaking means – for most people – stress and a sudden flurry of decision-making under stress. The conference organizer tells you the audience is larger – or smaller – than expected. How should you adjust? The MC suddenly informs you that they’re running late, and it would be great if you could get your talk done in 30 minutes instead of 60. Do you adjust or insist on your full hour?… Read More