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 [...]

Storytelling, Framing, and Memory

We expect powerful people to give us the overview, the high-level view.  Specifically, a recent study found, we rate people as more powerful when they speak in abstract terms (9/11 was a terrible terrorist attack), rather than specifics (more than 3,000 people died). More generally, previous studies have shown that people learn new things using [...]

Seven Ways to Enchant an Audience

How can you go beyond the usual efforts to create a successful presentation – and enchant the audience?  What are the secrets to creating magic with a speech?  Here are seven ways to take your speech beyond the ordinary.  Some of these will be familiar to you, but I’m guessing that at least one will [...]

What Does Your Audience Want?

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So often speakers preparing a speech start with their passion, their expertise, or their response to an invitation.  But what does your audience want?  And is it helpful to begin preparation for a speech with that question? The answer to the second question is, of course, yes.   It is helpful because it focuses your attention [...]

Five Tips For Public Speaking Success

Powerful stories

I’ve seen a lot of speeches recently, coached and written a good number more for clients, and given a few of my own.  Here’s my latest list of good speaking habits, dos and don’ts, and lessons from the front, five this time, five the next time.  In no particular order except perhaps passion. 1. Don’t [...]

The World’s Second Most Famous Brain and What It Teaches Public Speakers

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In 1953, an epileptic had brain surgery to try to relieve the seizures he was experiencing that were making his life a nightmare.  A neurosurgeon, William Beecher Scoville, removed a piece of Henry Molaison’s brain about the size of an apple, and cured him of his seizures. Unfortunately, the operation also robbed H.M. (as he [...]

The FacebookIs10 Movie and Your Audience

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I’m pleased to welcome Public Words writer Sarah Morgan as a guest blogger for this posting.   How many Facebook movies have you watched this week? They’re probably all over your news feed–the delightful LookBack videos your friends are all sharing with the hashtag #FacebookIs10. And they’re a great example of how to make your [...]

How Do You Create Intimacy as a Speaker?

Andrew Stanton

I wrote last week about how speakers need to move deeper into authenticity to achieve intimacy with their audiences.  I see this new demand as part of the increasingly blurred working and home world that our always-on, Twitter and Facebook-saturated culture brings. The question is, how do you create intimacy?  I think you have to [...]

The 3-minute storytelling lesson you won’t forget

I was working recently with a team of executives on storytelling and delivery, and in one of the exercises I pressed them to present their pitches faster and in a more compressed style.  The world is impatient and you need to hook your listeners quickly. The executives struggled – and mostly succeeded – to tell [...]

Carmen Agra Deedy Reveals the Secret to Great Storytelling

Carmen Agra Deedy

If you want to master great storytelling, you have to learn 3 essential lessons.  All of them are contained in a wonderful TED talk by Carmen Agra Deedy about her mother, driving, and a universal insight. 1.  No story from your life is as interesting to others as it is to you.   You have to [...]