advice

One More Mailbox

A few summers ago I did some running in my neighborhood. I’d start at my house, run until I hit what I felt was a good halfway point, then turn around and run home. I’d always like to push myself, especially with this big hill I’d run partially up so as I’d start to get to tired, I’d tell myself “just one more mailbox.”

Sometimes that next mailbox was twenty feet away, other times it was fifty. While running an extra mile or two seemed like something out of my reach, certainly I could go another twenty feet. And then when I hit that next mailbox, the next one was only a little farther away so I could repeat that process until my legs started to wobble.

Three Ways to Amp Up Your Presentations

Let’s face it, speeches are a lot more fun to watch when the speaker is energized and engaging. Plus you also pay closer attention and learn more too. Chances are that if you’ve ever fallen asleep during a presentation, the presenter’s style had more to do with it than the content of the presentation. I’ve seen presenters take a dry topic such as software testing and make it entertaining. I’ve also seen presenters take an exciting topic like getting rich and bore the audience to sleep. And yes, I’ve been guilty of giving a less than enthusiastic talk and could feel the drain of energy in the room.

So how can you take your speech and make it more fun and interesting for the audience? Well, first you don’t want to overdo it. A lot of speakers, especially those whose speaking experience is primarily at Toastmasters clubs, tend to overdo it. They overuse gestures and body language, do goofy things to get the audience’s attention like shout or make them do silly exercises or they throw excess humor into their talks. The good news is that you don’t have to go through all that bother. Simply be excited about your talk and do what comes natural. Here are the three areas to focus on.

Success is Simple – Just Follow the Instructions

One of the things I’ve learned recently as I’ve started to seriously workout again is that achieving a goal is a lot less complex than we make it out to be. Really, there are three basic steps: set the goal, create the action plan and then follow through with it. As I’m sure you can guess, most people fail on one of the last two steps.

Don’t Be a Matt Foley Speaker

The late Chris Farley was an amazing actor and comedian. It’s a shame that he died so early and so young. One of his more famous roles (and one of my favorites) was Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker. If you’ve never seen the skit on Saturday Night Live, here is a short clip.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_YK9wVK6IQ

The character is interesting because he’s the complete opposite of what most of us think of when we think of motivational speakers. He’s grossly overweight, sloppily dressed, rude to his audience and speaks in a condescending and angry tone. And of course, that’s the point of the character and why it’s funny. You might be surprised, but I’ve seen a number of supposed motivational speakers that fit into one or more of these categories. And in many cases, it lessens the effect of their message on the audience.

A New Direction

Okay, you might have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while – a long while. Was I too busy? Something bad happened? No ideas for writing? Well, fortunately nothing bad (at least nothing too bad) has happened and I have a lot of ideas for writing. But truthfully, I’ve been really busy with a lot of other things going on my life and I’ve been rethinking a lot of things. I know, sounds heavy but don’t worry – it’s nothing too crazy.

The big change in my life is that I started seriously working out. You may wonder what that means as it can mean practically anything. To me, it means a structured weekly workout programs created with targeted goals in mind. In my case, I have some pretty particular goals for how I want to look and feel so I train seven days a week with a mix of cardio and weights. Today, I just completed day 52 and it feels great.

Using Profanity in a Speech

If you asked me five years ago who I thought the best motivational speaker out there was, I would have told you Tony Robbins. Yes, he’d frequently mispronounce words like “nuclear” (as nuke-you-lure) and “produce” (as per-deuce). But his material was so good that I, even as an active member of Toastmasters, would overlook something so minuscule because the rest of his delivery and his material were fantastic. However, if you listen to Tony Robbins today he has an edgier presentation style. He uses more slang and hip words. But what really surprised me is the amount of profanity he uses. We’re not talking just words like “hell” and “damn” – he’s dropping f-bombs left and right. And the part that bothers me about it is it seems like he goes out of his way to use them.

Now, before you think I’m one of those people that is easily offended by bad language, let me assure you that I’m not. I grew up in the 80’s & 90’s listening to the likes of Andrew Dice Clay and 2 Live Crew – a comedian and rap group both known for their over-the-top language. On top of that, I find movies like American Pie and those in that genre to be hilarious – in fact, my favorite character in the films is Steve Stiffler who uses the f-word almost as much as Tony Robbins.

There Are Such Things as Dumb Questions and People Ask Them All the Time

When I was an instructor in graduate school, the syllabus I handed out to my students had a part that said “there’s no such thing as a dumb question. The only dumb question is the one you didn’t ask.” Having just finished my undergraduate studies, I knew this statement was garbage. I explained my thoughts to the person who insisted we put it in the syllabus, but she insisted that I was wrong. It wasn’t long before my point was proven.

In one of my classes, I was explaining how we’d be learning to use the internet – a relatively new concept back in 1996. One student raised his hand and asked “are we going to look at porn?” I replied by pointing out the dumb question quote in the syllabus and thanked him for helping me prove my point.