How Your Unconscious Mind Betrays You – and What You Can Do about It

Back in the cave person era, by all accounts, we evolved this exquisite mechanism, the fight or flight response, to handle brief, intense moments of danger, when we needed to be on high alert and face the world ready to fight or get the heck outta there. We’re not even consciously aware of this mechanism, [...]

The Promises a Speaker Makes

A speaker makes two kinds of promises to an audience – the explicit and the implicit.  Explicit promises involve foreshadowing, framing, and creating signposts in your talk (by the end of the talk, you’ll know how to charm sparrows from trees and have them eating out of your hand; there are five ways to prevent [...]

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 [...]

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”) [...]

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 [...]

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

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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 [...]

How To Reinvent Yourself – Or Detroit

I’ve become a story in a book.  In fact, it’s a story about stories.  I have Josh Linkner to thank for that.  I started working with him about five years ago, and while I’ve gotten a little older, he’s become a) the CEO of a venture capital firm, Detroit Venture Partners, b) a wildly successful [...]

How the World Sees Speakers – A Review of Sally Hogshead’s New Book

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I first met Sally Hogshead when she was at the beginning of her author-speaker-wisdom leader life, fresh from a meteoric career as the youngest advertising agency chief in the U.S. with the coolest clients.  She’d handled a difficult pregnancy by, among other things, writing an amazing little book, Radical Careering. That alone should tell you [...]

Eye Contact And Public Speaking — It’s Not What You Think

The invention and wide use of eye tracking technology in psychological studies means we can finally re-visit that old chestnut that absolutely everyone has heard of about speaking:  make eye contact. And apparently it’s time to re-think that old rule. A recent study, not surprisingly, perhaps, shows that it’s not as simple as just, “Make [...]