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 eye contact with your audience.”  It turns out that people are less persuaded by more eye contact… Read More

The Basic Building Blocks of a Great Speech – 7

You’ve researched your audience, asked the right questions, and learned the particulars of the occasion.  You’ve created the opening frame of the talk with an engaging story that hints at the glories to come.  You’ve plunged the audience deep into the issue that animates your topic.  You’ve bathed the audience in the keen light of your expertise or experience.  You’ve painted a wonderful picture of the future for the audience if it… Read More

The Basic Building Blocks of a Great Speech – 1

How do you put together a great presentation?  Here I’m presenting a series of 7 blog posts on the basic building blocks of a killer speech.  And no, for the pedants among my readers, I’m not very interested in the false distinction some maintain between a presentation and a speech.  Whether you’re talking to a few people, or a few thousand, it’s important and worth doing right.  And the same rules apply…. Read More

A Comparison of Two Inaugurals: Kennedy v Obama

President Kennedy gave 3 State of the Union addresses, and they are almost completely forgotten today.  His Inaugural Address, on the other hand, is cited frequently, and whenever great political speechmaking is discussed.  Rhetorically elegant, memorable, and inspirational, the speech deserves its iconic status. What will be the fate of President Obama’s Second Inaugural?  Will it become a frequently cited speech with the power to move people to action, or will it… Read More

President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address and How to Close a Speech – 3 Quick Tips

After an opening that grabs your audience and doesn’t let it go, the next most important moment in a presentation is the ending.  That’s because we tend to remember best the last thing we hear.  So if you want to knock ‘em dead, you’d better be prepared to have a killer close. But most people find that creating such an ending is difficult.  The easy part – if any part of a… Read More

Apps for iPad Speakers – December 2012 edition

What are the essential apps for iPad presenters? I compiled a list a year ago; it’s time for an update. And if you’re holiday shopping for that speaker in your life, and you want to give an iPad, this list will help you load up the gadget with the necessary speaker starter kit. I love the iPad for presenting.  I use it to create my notes, and then put them up on… Read More

Do You Have a Speaking Tic?

Some people say “like” and “you know,” so often that you want to strangle them. Others say “um” often and enthusiastically. Some people swallow nervously and spasmodically. Some people let their voice swing up in pitch at the end of every sentence as if they were always asking questions. For some, it’s happy feet – wandering around the stage as if they really loved walking and couldn’t wait to get off the… Read More

3 Steps for Quick Speech Prep

How to prepare for that big presentation?  It’s at once an intellectual, emotional, and kinesthetic activity.  It has a lot of moving parts.  Here’s a quick program to carry out before each speech that will get you in peak form. 1. The Intellectual.  Every speech has an intellectual ‘spine’ – the basic ideas that you’ll discuss during the course of the speech.  You should know what those are.  In order.  If you don’t, figure them out.  If you… Read More

5 Ways to Deliver Someone Else’s Deck Successfully

One common problem in the business presentation world – and the cause of many a mediocre presentation – is when the speaker finds herself delivering someone else’s talk.  Perhaps the company line is tightly controlled, so you have no choice.  Or perhaps there’s a new product out and you have to grab the only available deck to present about it.  Or maybe it’s just your boss who calls in sick and asks… Read More

Why Ignoring Body Language Is Like Betting on an Inside Straight

Every presentation is two conversations, and I find it ironic that speakers spend a great deal of time thinking about their content – the first conversation – and hardly any time at all thinking about their body language – the second conversation.  And yet the communications research has shown for a long time that if the two conversations are not aligned, people believe the second conversation every time.  That’s gambling against the… Read More