The Secrets of Great Storytelling

I worked with a great team of people involved in teaching K–12 students last week, and it was an honor to coach them because of the important work they’re doing. When our society gives teachers the material rewards they deserve for what they do, they we will demonstrate that we really do care about the well-being of our children and grandchildren. Until then, it’s only lip service that we pay. OK, enough… Read More

Comedians Really Are Better Talkers

Do you have the gift of the gab? Or do you struggle for words when you’re standing in front of your colleagues – or a conference full of expectant attendees? New research suggests that if you’re struggling for words, it might be because you’re going about speaking in the wrong way. A recent study of some real pros – professional comedians – found that they do indeed speak a bit differently than… Read More

Five Tips For Effective Communicating

I spent a day recently working with a team of people who belong to a part of the government that I can’t mention. But aside from talking about hamsters and flying cars instead of the real work they were doing, so that they didn’t have to kill me at the end of the day, the training focused on body language and storytelling as it usually does. And the concerns and struggles of… Read More

What a story is and is not – part 2

This is the second of a two-part post on storytelling — what it is and is not. As I said last time, connecting with another person is one of the highest forms of social being for humans. At the heart of it is good storytelling. When I’m telling you a story, and you’re engaged in it, you match your brain waves to mine. If I’m telling you a story with a familiar structure,… Read More

What Storytelling Is Not

This is the first of a two-part post on storytelling — what it is and is not. Connecting with another person is one of the highest forms of social being for humans. At the heart of it is good storytelling. When I’m telling you a story, and you’re engaged in it, you match your brain waves to mine. If I’m telling you a story with a familiar structure, your brain actually anticipates… Read More

What is your story?

People have told an infinite number of stories since we first gathered around a campfire in the dark and needed to pass the time and keep the shadows away. How many have you heard? How many do you remember? How do you find yours? There are an infinite number of stories, but only a few great ones. Because great stories are based on values. So find your story by starting with your… Read More

The Three Tasks of a Public Speaker

The work of a public speaker is never done. You can never complete your expertise – true knowledge of a subject is the work of a lifetime. You can never finish perfecting your presentation – even Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech had some slips of the tongue, and it is generally considered one of the best speeches of the last century. It’s too early in this century to talk… Read More

How to help your audience remember what you say

Our memories are not as good as even the most pessimistic of us fear they are, alas. That has disturbing implications for speakers. We study our field, master it, craft a speech, master that, practice delivery – and give the speech with as much passion as we can muster. And the audience remembers perhaps 10 percent of what they hear, according to one classic study.

Here’s how to handle a problem most speakers face

You’re a speaker. You’re going to give the morning keynote speech at 9:00 AM at a top conference with an audience of 1,000. You’re pumped. As part of the invitation to speak, you’ve been asked to attend a dinner the night before, in order to meet the audience, mingle with them, and – by the way – say a few words. How do you respond? It’s hard not to accept, but what… Read More

How to Give an Impromptu Speech

A client and friend asked me the other day about impromptu speeches. His question, basically, was, to give consistently good impromptu speeches, do you memorize something (or a few pieces of something) and then trot those out at the key moment? Or, if you actually make them up in the moment, how do you think about that? My reaction was to tell him that he shouldn’t memorize but he should prepare –… Read More