Public Speaking

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.”

It’s the Audience, Stupid

bored audienceWhy do so many speakers insist on using their audience as a form of group therapy for their own personal issues? I’ve seen speakers (including those that were paid to give their talk) use their presentation (I don’t dare call it training) to enact revenge, guilt the audience into cheering for them and to get things off their chests. Why?

Giving a speech is not about you – it’s about the audience. Someone has invited you to share your knowledge, wisdom or experience to their audience. They’re not interested in hearing about the guy that flipped you off in traffic, the cab driver that ran four lights on your trip from the airport or something idiotic that your Senator did (unless that’s the purpose of your speech).

Lessons from Michael Jackson

The King of Pop. Pedophile. Talented. Wacko Jacko. Everyone has an opinion of Michael Jackson – some loved him, some hated him. Although I wasn’t a fan of his music and found some of the things he did a bit odd and creepy, I certainly can appreciate his talent as a performer and admire the way he touched his fans. I remember when he went to court in 1993, people who he had never personally met waited outside willing to stick by him regardless of the outcome. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that it’s pretty impressive how his fans truly loved him.

Quick Tip: How to Stop Mumbling

You have a lot to say and are enthusiastic about what you have to say, yet you’re lacking one key ingredient – no one can understand you because you mumble. You may mumble and not even be aware of it – although a good indicator is when people are always asking you to repeat yourself because they didn’t hear or understand what you said.

Mumbling is caused by a number of things such as trying to talk too fast, not opening your mouth all the way while speaking, blocking your mouth, not speaking loud enough, or having a dry or sore mouth. Unless there is something physically wrong with your mouth, the key to dealing with mumbling is practice. Just like people can control their stuttering with practice, a little effort and awareness goes a long way with mumbling. Here are two easy ways to deal with mumbling.

Read out loud:

Acting and Public Speaking

In 2002, I took an acting class. I had always wanted to be on TV or in a movie and I figured that this would be a good place to start. What I didn’t realize at the time is how acting and public speaking can work together – the skills that you learn in one can help you in the other.

To be a good actor, you need to memorize your lines and make the audience believe that you are the person you’re pretending to be. To be a good speaker, you need to speak clearly and effectively to get your point across. Can you see how one can help with the other?

What I Learned at Toastmasters Last Night

As I mentioned in another post, I attended the 30th anniversary of the Toastmasters club I used to belong to last night. While you can outgrow the format that Toastmasters uses, you can never outgrow learning and at each Toastmasters meeting I’ve been to (with only a couple exceptions), I’ve learned something useful. Sometimes I learn something new about communication while other times I’ll learn about something unrelated to speaking through one of the speeches that night. Speeches are a true gem because everyone has a story to tell (a point I emphasize in the classes I teach). So have an open mind when you’re listening to someone talk.