Archive for public speaking

Four Common Mistakes Made by Public Speakers

Posted in leadership, public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2013 by pastajon

Unfortunately, not every successful leader is a strong communicator. It is a mystery to me how someone can lead well, but speak in public poorly, but it happens all the time.

Recently I listened to two speakers, both successful leaders, who made these four common mistakes:

  1. Sharing too much information. We are all tempted to believe that we can wow an audience with our shear wealth of knowledge. But we can only absorb so much information before we tune out due to overload. Remember to keep your ideas succinct and few.
  2. Not telling a good story. A great presentation is a blend of information and story – one without the other compromises the effectiveness of a speech. A good story is more than just telling us your history or the history of your organization. A good story involves characters, a little background, setting, dialogue, conflict, a twist, a happy ending, etc. Never underestimate the power of a good story.
  3. Failing to speak with passion.I used to make this mistake as a preacher when I first started preaching – I’d give a bunch of background info with any excitement and then I’d finally warm up to the good nuggets of content towards the end. Why waste everyone’s time on the boring stuff? Why not get right to the good stuff as quickly as possible and speak from our hearts and with passion? Both these speakers started getting a little more excited towards the very end of their speeches – oh, if they had only started there and talked from their heart!
  4. Not interacting with the audience. We had two hours with these accomplished leaders and part of it was for Q & A. There was 7 minutes left when it was handed over for Q & A. SEVEN MINUTES out of 120! Ouch! I know the audience would have loved to have been reached out to and included in the presentation. Why not interact with the audience and ask them questions? This endears a speaker to the audience every time it is done right. And the audience may want to hear about something you didn’t think they wanted to hear about – a chance for another story!

I’m guessing that if we master these four areas as speakers, doors will open for us in leadership as well.

Go get ’em!

Advertisements

Speaking Spontaneously

Posted in public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , on March 7, 2013 by pastajon

Two kinds of people: PUSHERS and PULLERS.  Pushers always have words inside them, like bottomless Pez dispenser.  Pullers have to pull the words out of themselves, much like an undesirable object in a puppy’s mouth.  Whether it is after being called on for Table Topics at a Toastmasters meeting or after you’ve responded to a question in a business meeting, pushers and pullers alike are critical of their responses.  A puller will inevitably THINK, “I wish I would have said THIS instead!”.  Since a pusher says what they are thinking, they might think, “I wish I had thought of something else to say”.  What does a pusher say (since I am not a pusher)?  We are on a growth journey and none of us arrives instantaneously.  So don’t be too hard on yourself – expect failure along the way.  In either case, both categories can benefit from the following strategy for speaking spontaneously:

 

  1. PRE-LOAD : Fill your tank ahead of time and tie the question to what is on your mind (reading, experience, thoughts and ideas, etc.); what we value and are familiar with affects what we believe about life (positive spin). demonstrate

 

  1. PLUNGE : Pause and start slow and turn the question over in your mind and talk about the question as you develop the body of your question.  Ask good rhetorical questions about the question; analyze it.   demonstrate

 

  1. POINTS : there are several things I’d like to say about that…; 1,2,3 points; contrast: this –vs- that; plus/minus; tie into what is on your mind; tell a story; positive spin – how does the question relate to your values/experience? demonstrate

 

  1. PUNCH : summarize; when inspired, end with a wow! (quote, wit, declaration, let some dynamics fly!, etc.) demonstrate

 

Putting the Pitch into Your Pitch

Posted in exercises, public speaking, toastmasters with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by pastajon

Have you ever sat through a boring presentation?

Of course we have.

A boring presentation, specifically one that uses a monotone voice tells us two terrible things: the speaker isn’t excited about their message and the speaker doesn’t care about his audience. Ouch!

But before we a too quick to cast judgement on others, have we ever been guilty of a boring presentation?

I know I have been.

As public speakers we must utilize inflection. Inflection utilizes several components: volume, rate, pause, pitch, and timbre (tone variation – think Bob Dylan -vs- Johnny Cash).  The hardest of these elements to utilize is pitch. There are three reasons why pitch is so hard to use: 1. fear often constricts our throats and makes it really hard to change the frequency of our voice, 2. we often mistake and substitute volume for pitch, and 3. we are often ignorant of our voice quality and pay it little mind.

Three ways to add pitch to our presentations:

1. Loosen up our throats.  A big ol’ yawn before going on stage is an easy way to open up our throats. It doesn’t hurt to loosen up like we would before an athletic event – roll our shoulders, roll our heads, jump up and down, etc.  Anything to stay loose can serve our throats.

2. Intentionality. We are unlikely to use pitch if we don’t plan to use it.

BIG SECRET HERE: find an interval in pitch (like twinkle, twinkle little star – do to sol in the eight note major scale) and start speaking on that higher note.  We will be surprised at how starting on a higher note will raise our awareness and use of pitch immediately!

3. Accept your voice and use inflection to make it sound even better. If we don’t like our voice we are more likely to ignore what we can do to make improvements. I used to cringe at listening to my voice on a recording, but every time I use inflection and start speaking at a higher pitch I am happy with the improvements I am making to my voice quality.