Talk about a loaded question. Imagine you’re sitting in your interview all dressed up and everything is going smoothly. Then you get tossed this humdinger of question. How do you answer? Do you describe the person sitting across the table from you? Do you tell the truth and say that you’re ideal boss is one that’s never around? Is there such a thing as a good answer to this question?
If you either did not watch the Miss USA pageant last night or missed the story covered in the news, there was some backlash to an answer on a question on gay marriage. Taking the brunt of the storm is Miss California, who came in second, as people were shouting in the hallways after the event demanding that she be stripped of her runner up title. Normally, I’d ignore a story like this because it reeks of fluff – a term my high school social studies teacher, the late Mr. Bob Swanson, used to describe items that were printed in newspapers but had no real value. However, times have changed and there are some important lessons to be learned here.
I don’t normally watch a lot of TV so I ignored all the hullabaloo surrounding Susan Boyle for several days. I noticed clips of her and Simon Cowell on CNN & Foxnews and figured she was just this year’s William Hung. Then I saw her video on Youtube.
If you haven’t seen her video yet, I highly recommend that you stop reading and watch it first — simply click the play button above. I had no idea what to expect when I watched it for the first time, and I think that’s one of the reasons it inspires me so much.
So you’re listening to someone read your introduction to the audience. It’s your turn to finally take the stage. You walk out, shake the hand of the person introducing you and face the audience. The clock has started and you have only a few precious moments to capture the audience’s attention or it’s forever lost. Or do you?
The power of the written word has both the advantage and disadvantage of tone. Yes, you can type in ALL CAPS to convey anger or use punctuation creatively to get your point across. But when it comes to verbal communication, whether it’s speaking to groups or having a one on one conversation, how you say it can drastically change how it’s heard.
Now there are a number of different aspects of communication that can be changed and tweaked to get a point across. For this series, we’ll just focus on some of the verbal only ones. We’ll start with what I call the “Three E’s of Effective Communicating.” They are:
It’s no secret that most people feel some sort of discomfort when it comes to public speaking and one of the root causes of that discomfort is the fear of boring the audience. It’s every presenter’s nightmare to give a speech that causes snoring and glazed eyes.
So how do you keep your audience awake? The key, obviously, is to not do anything that might make them disinterested in your talk. Keep in mind that sometimes an audience is tired because of things beyond your control. These reasons can include the timing of your presentation (either too early or too late in the day), the physical environment of the room or the audience consuming too much food and/or alcohol before your talk.
Toastmasters is a great way to become a better speaker (provided you choose the right club). But the vast majority of the people who join Toastmasters only speak at their own club. Yes, you can become a better speaker just by giving talks to your club – but you’re also missing out on some great opportunities.