professional speaker

Your Pre-Speech Checklist: Ten Things to Do Before a Big Speech

desk_1Part of the reason that even experienced speakers feel a bit nervous before a speech is that there is a lot that must be done before you even walk on stage. If you don’t have a pre-speech checklist, here are some things for you to do before your speech in chronological order:

1: Practice:

For shorter speeches (such as a Toastmasters speech or other speeches under 20 minutes), I recommend practicing the entire speech at least three times. For longer talks, practice it in pieces and practice the parts that you struggle with several times.

2: Check your facts:

Public Speaking Success: A Lesson From the Yale Class of 1953

collegeA number of speakers, books and other motivational programs talk about a famous study done with Yale’s class of 1953. The study states that only 3% of the graduating class had written goals. When the class was surveyed again 20 years later, they found out that the 3% who had written goals had a combined wealth that was greater than the combined wealth of the 97% that didn’t have written goals! What an interesting story. And it’s no wonder that so many self-help & personal development gurus and motivational speaker share this story. Too bad the study never happened.

A Fast Way to Improve Your Articulation

It’s amazing how sometimes you can find a good resource in the oddest places. I recently came across a children’s book that I found especially challenging to read out loud as it was full of tongue twisters. But before I get into that, let’s talk a little bit about tongue twisters.

Tongue twisters are short poems or rhymes loaded with words that have similar sounds. Sometimes the words all begin with similar sounds (alliteration), sometimes there’s a repetition of words that contain or end in similar sounds (consonance) and in some cases there are words spelled the same way but have different pronunciations (homographs). Some examples of tongue twisters include:

Joe Wilson: Unprofessional or Brilliant?

Last night during President Obama’s speech, Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina shouted “You lie!” in the middle of it. When I first heard about it, I kind of laughed to myself as I thought about how other countries have more spirited debates during these types of speeches. But then I thought a bit more about it and I felt that Rep. Wilson was, politics aside, both unprofessional and disrespectful. As I read the reactions later today, I started to believe that it was a bad idea for him to do that because his actions made him and his party look bad, and gave the other side ammunition and motivation that could change the momentum of the debate. But then as I sat down to write about it, I realized that Rep. Wilson’s outburst could only be described with one word: Brilliant.

Tips For Toastmasters: Speaking at Rotary and Other Service Clubs

dinner by thomas rolaSo you’ve got a speech that was a bit hit at your Toastmasters meeting and you feel it’s ready for prime time. So what’s the next step along the path to becoming a professional speaker? I recommend taking your show on the road and speaking to local service clubs.

Service clubs are a great way to test the waters for your presentation. They offer you a real audience that will give you real feedback. While Toastmasters clubs are a great venue for learning how to speak, the audiences at these meetings are quite forgiving.

Toastmaster or Terrorist?

bombImagine walking into a conference room and finding a strange device. The device has a timer attached to it and three lights – red, yellow and green. You’ve never seen such a device before so you wonder what it is. Could it be a bomb?

Well a few days ago at a corporate building for Chase Banks in Columbus, Ohio, such a device was found and it caused quite a scare. Thousands of people evacuated the building while police investigated. What was this device? Well if you’re familiar with Toastmasters, you may recognize it as a set of timing lights for speeches. In fact, an employee of Chase hooked up the device to use to time a presentation. Who would have thought that someone simply trying to time a presentation could have caused such chaos?

Are Your Services Priced Correctly?

Last week I received an email from a speaker that we’ll call “Ken” (obviously not his real name). After a few tips and quotes about public speaking, Ken had a very nice looking coupon. The coupon had attractive fonts, good use of color and even had a professionally taken picture of Ken. But the thing that caught my attention was the large text that read “all services 80% off.”