Posts Tagged ‘Speaking’

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Writing & Speaking at Work delivers practical insight and instruction to help readers become effective communicators no matter where their careers may take them.

What is Good Writing?; Developing a Good Style; Using Examples and Comparisons; Making Your Page Look Inviting; Making Your Main Point Easy to Find; Preparing Executive Summaries; Illustrating Your Ideas; Getting Beyond Periods and Commas; Learning Commonsense Rules; Making the Most of E-mail; Writing for the Web; Preparing a Resume and Cover Letter; Documenting Your Sources; What Is Business Speaking?; Using Good Techniques of Delivery; Developing a Clear Structure; Designing Visual Aids; Giving a Presentation Using a Computer; Rehearsing, Setting Up the Room, and Overcoming Nervousness; Preparing an Annotated Presentation

For anyone interested in polishing their professional writing and speaking skills.

Writing & Speaking at Work

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Too often we make things bigger than they have to be, and that’s definitely the case with public speaking. It is still rated as the number one fear for North Americans, and many others around the world. That reputation has also fed this phobia to keep it at the top of the list.

From personal experience, here are a few aspects that contributed to my fear of public speaking:

• I didn’t want to sound like an idiot in front of other people.

• I convinced myself that I would forget everything I’d have to say once I got in front of my audience.

Today I love speaking in front of people, and it doesn’t matter the size of the crowd. Let me share with you a few tips I’ve learnt to help you conquer your fear of public speaking.

Preparation of Talk

Benjamin Franklin said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”. When giving a “talk” (that’s how I like to refer to speeches of any kind) I prepare well in advanced for it. Even if you do not have the luxury of time there is a framework you can use to prepare your talk. Just like writing an essay, build an outline of your talk using the titles of Introduction, Main Body, and Conclusion. “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna say, say it, and tell ‘em what you said”, as the old adage goes, it’s just that simple.

In the Dale Carnegie course “Breakthrough to Success” I learnt to use plain language that everyone can understand. Many people feel the need to include big words or technical jargon to make their talk more impressive, but it doesn’t.

I was also encouraged to never write out my whole talk. Instead I remembered three or four key points that my talk was built around. This took a lot of the pressure off of me as I didn’t have to memorize every word and every line.

Each point was illustrated with a story that acted as an anchor in the audience’s mind and makes the talk extremely effective. Think about it, when you listen to someone give a “speech” to you what stood out in your mind. Aren’t memorable speeches covered with analogies, and stories that touch different emotions within us? Use the stories and analogies as bridges in your mind to connect you from one point to the next.

A key point to remember as well is no one knows every word you are going to say, so if you get stuck, draw a blank, or missed something just move on and no one will know. Don’t apologize either. Apologizing for missing something makes the situation more awkward for you and your audience.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It is how the good become great, and a few of the greats become legendary by practicing as much as possible. Knowing your material and practicing delivering it numerous times alleviates the majority of fear built up inside. I used many opportunities while I’m alone to go over my talk. It doesn’t have to be from start to finish every time, but it helps cement the points of your talk in your head. So when I’m driving, in the shower, or at my desk and I know I’m alone I just go over my talk. As time drew closer to delivering my talk I would then start timing it. It is difficult at first, but once you persevere the timing becomes easier, and it’s almost as if you have a countdown timer in your head. A small suggestion is if it’s a fifteen-minute talk you have to give, practice to finish 30 seconds or a minute earlier. No one likes to listen to a person that rambles on, and if your audience knows you allotted time, they’ll be checking their watches.

In part two of How I Overcame My Fear of Public Speaking And How You Can Too, I will discuss finding your authentic voice and delivery style for giving your talk. For now, remember these three points: one) it’s just a talk not a speech, two) write out three or four points you want your audience to remember, anchor them with stories and analogies that also act as bridges from one point to another, and three) practice, practice, practice!!

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Intheir Classroom Instruction That Works research, McREL and Robert Marzano identified nine strategies that can be applied in any learning environment and result in significantly increased student learning. When implemented consistently and correctly, these research-based strategies can provide average percentile point gains as high as 45% on student achievement tests. Although most educators are familiar with the Classroom Instruction That Works research, teachers still need help transferring the theory into practice.

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As a mentor and motivational speaker, I teach people key principles that work to generate wealth for themselves over and over again.  I believe anyone who has the desire can start a motivational speaking career especially when they have the right tools and knowledge right in their hands.  Here are six things you can do to get those public speaking jobs and experience professional speaking success!1) Know who you want to target as a market and determine your affinity within this market.  Will their audience like what you have to say?  Who do you relate to and what’s your message?  Research your target market and see what kinds of products they purchase, what kinds of information sells in these niches, and lastly, review whether or not your materials match what you niche buys.2) You would also want to know your competition in your niche.  What are they selling and how are they doing it?  (Motivational speaking tip:  Never be afraid to learn from someone else.)  Research is really important.  As you discover how to get bookings for motivational speaking gigs, you’ll find that you’ll have a much easier time selling yourself when you know what your niche wants.  3) Create your marketing materials.  When starting a motivational speaking business, get this part out the way first so you can have time to focus on marketing yourself.  The easiest thing to start with is to write a book on something that you want to speak on.  Pull from things that you have experience with.  If you have a speech, write it down.  Solve a niche problem and then create a workbook program or an audio / video training program that solves that problem.  Sometimes, the market may choose you.  Conference planners may tell you what they need and if you can meet those needs with your materials.  Research your niche and see if there are any speakers that target what you’re targeting.4) Decide if you are going to promote yourself over a topic as you go after public speaking jobs.  If you’re wondering why you would want to promote a topic over yourself, the main reason is so that you can train other motivational speakers to do your talk.  Your speakers can speak for a lower fee or you can collect a booking fee from them.  Sometimes thought, a company will want only you.5) Develop a unique selling point (USP) for yourself.  Why should conference organizers hire you?  You have to have a hook as you develop your motivational speaking career.  Your hook may not necessarily be a physical characteristic but it is a personal branding that will help people to remember who you are. 6) Develop a marketing plan and market heavily to your niche.  Consider putting together a marketing package that lets people know who you are.  Include your biography, a photo, a demo clip (audio or video), price sheet of your product for sale, testimonials and possibly even a sample client list.  Get all of your marketing materials finished and then market, market, market!  If nobody knows about you, they can’t book you! is where you can find over 100+ hours of downloadable audio and video lessons that will show you how to make $100,000 to $1,000,000 dollars PER YEAR as a professional speaker. James Malinchak, the author of this article can be your online business coach and mentor. Simply visit to get started today with several FREE professional speaking audio recordings.**Attn Ezine editors/Site owners**Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or on your site as long as you leave all links in place. You may not modify the content and must include our resource box as listed above. You may sign up as an affiliate at and insert your affiliate links.

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Intheir Classroom Instruction That Works research, McREL and Robert Marzano identified nine strategies that can be applied in any learning environment and result in significantly increased student learning. When implemented consistently and correctly, these research-based strategies can provide average percentile point gains as high as 45% on student achievement tests. Although most educators are familiar with the Classroom Instruction That Works research, teachers still need help transferring the theory into practice.

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Many women speak softly. Yet they often do not realize the power of their voices. We’ve learned over time that our visual image is powerful. Unfortunately, our voice often gets overlooked.
Let’s look at this phenomenon with an example loosely adapted from a real situation experienced by one of my coaching clients.
Sara Lynn Smith is the assistant director for crime prevention in Mid-Town USA. She’s been asked by the local Rotary Club to speak about Crime in Our City. This is a topic she feels passionate about. She prepares her talk by writing it out and developing her speech, going over it and over it in her mind. She types it on note cards, triple-spaced in a large font. Then she studies her Dress for Success books. She selects a conservative navy pants-suit and a crisp white shirt. She wears comfortable well-polished pumps. She puts on a soft shade of red lipstick-not too brassy, and a small amount of blush on her cheeks. She takes her long hair and braids it in a French knot. Looking at herself in the mirror, she smiles. She looks professional and smart.
Walking out the door, she grabs her computer case and her notes and departs for the meeting. After the introductions, she walks up to the podium, she perches her reading glasses on her nose, and looks directly at the audience.
“I’m, uh, so, glad to be here today. Thank you, for, um, inviting me to, um, speak to you. I think this is a topic of great importance to our community. (clears throat). Excuse me. . .but we can do a lot in our community that, err, well, we just haven’t done. I’ve worked for 18 years as the assistant director in the office of crime prevention and, um, well, you see I’ve seen a lot of things. Without the community, I don’t think we will ever, err, at least, I doubt we can ever (laughs) make crime go away.”
Sara Lynn Smith took care of all the preliminaries. She carefully wrote out her speech and put it in a format which would make it easy to refer to. She selected her clothes with a lot of thought, wanting to give the impression of a smart, professional woman. On the surface she did everything right. But if you were in the audience at the Rotary Club, what would you think of Sara Lynn? Would you think she was a confident woman? Do you see a smart, professional woman before you? Are you still listening to her speech?
In all likelihood, you’ve stopped listening to Sara Lynn. Your mind is probably wandering. You will not remember her or her speech. She’s made little impact on you. Why? She forgot to add power to her voice. She left out that one very important component of communication.
The Major Components of Communication
According to research done by Albert Mehrabian at UCLA in the 1960′s, there are three major components of communication: Visual, Vocal, Verbal. He found these three components have weighted percentages. In other words, visual communication gives the message more power than vocal, and vocal gives the message more power than verbal. If you skip or ignore or shortchange one of these components, your message suffers.
By visual communication we mean all the messages you send through the eyes: gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, personal appearance. Dr. Mehrabian found that the power of the visual message is 55%.
By vocal communication we mean all the sounds we make (including silence): um’s, sighs, laughs, chuckles, grunts, groans. Vocal also includes articulation, modulation, pacing. Dr. Mehrabian found that the power of the vocal message is 38%.
By verbal communication we mean the words. The power of the verbal message is a mere 7%.
Think about your last speech. How much time did you spend on the visual? On the vocal? On the verbal? If you are anything like Sara Lynn, you probably spent the majority of your time on the words writing your speech’re-writing it, adding and subtracting content. You may have given a little thought to your appearance and how that might be interpreted. But, like Sara Lynn, you probably ignored your vocal message. You probably left one-third of your message to chance. Most people are like Sara Lynn. Most people forget the power of the vocal message. Adding power to your voice is as important as adding power to your visual and vocal message.
Ten Tips for Adding Credibility to Your Voice
- Avoid nervous laughter. This is typical of women. Listen to your own voice and eliminate unnecessary laughter.
- Don’t end your statements with upward intonation or a question mark. This suggests a lack of confidence in what you are saying. End statements with a period! (Unless, of course, you are tentative about what you are saying).
- Don’t apologize for saying what you think. Say what you want to say and add emphasis to the words that give your statement power. For example: “This idea will fail without a preliminary pilot.” Instead of, “Excuse me, but. . . I believe if we don’t do a preliminary pilot, this idea might fail?”
- When pitching your ideas to the top brass, make every word count. Summarize your core idea and support it succinctly with powerful proof or evidence. The higher the level of the people you are speaking to, the more precious their time. They’ll get bored if you volunteer too many details or start giving a chronology of how you arrived at a point.
- Answer questions without preamble. In other words, when someone asks you a question, make sure the first sentence out of your mouth answers it. Listeners may tune out if you don’t directly address the subject that they raised. And they may doubt your trustworthiness if you evade the issue at hand.
- Say what you want to say, even if you have to interrupt. Women often fear interrupting and therefore never say anything or apologize so much that others have lost interest in what they are about to say. – Avoid qualifiers: “I think or I believe or maybe” messages. When you preface your statements with “I think” when you don’t think but you know, it sounds tentative. If you are unsure, then say you are unsure. Otherwise communicate with confidence.
- Avoid fillers. What are fillers? “ums, ahs, you know.”
- Watch out for sounds that may take away from your message, throat clearing, breathless voice, shaky voice.
- Move your mouth as you speak. If your mouth is not moving, you are either mumbling, talking too fast or speaking too quietly.
Speaking up with confidence takes time, dedication and practice. Most of the tips above are unconscious habits. You do them and do not realize it. To erase these unconscious habits takes dedication. With that kind of dedicated effort, however, you’ll soon notice people listening to you and responding to you with a new-found respect.

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The use of props to help you to illustrate your talks when speaking in public has long been commonplace and can be a highly effective way of getting across your point. Using slides to reinforce your message is probably the most common way of doing so, but the technology to put slide shows together has not always been there. So what did the best public speakers use before?

Well they regularly adopted the method of “Chalk and Talk”. In other words they got hold of a flip-chart and a few colored pens and wrote or drew whatever they needed in order to emphasize their points and bring their speeches to life.

And even now, in the days of the “all-singing, all-dancing” computer-generated presentation, “Chalk and Talk” can be a most effective way of making your presentation.

Here are some of the reasons why:

- It helps to keep your audience focused on you. They are required to constantly switch their attention between you and the screen when slides are used. However if you are standing beside a flip-chart and writing upon it there is no problem for the audience to easily see both.

- In a one-to-one situation you will often grab a piece of paper and write or draw on it to illustrate something to the other person. For instance you might draw out the directions to somewhere on a freehand map or simply write down an address or phone number. So using a flipchart is just an extension of that and can give your talk a much more natural feel.

- It can build your audience’s confidence in you in that as you write as you progress through your talk, it will appear that you are truly talking spontaneously and so must really know what you are talking about. That will ensure that those in attendance will be genuinely engaged. You, of course, will have prepared thoroughly, and what you put on the chart will in reality be well-rehearsed!

- It can help you to pace your talk and ensure that what you illustrate is always what you are talking about at that moment. It makes it easier for the audience to follow your talk and relate to the point you are putting across.

- You can more easily get your audience involved if you wish. For example you can ask them a question and write down their answers. You can then talk around their feedback, focusing on any aspects that you already know can be used to reinforce any point you want to make. This can be especially effective if you are at a business meeting or doing some form of training or coaching. If you make someone think that something that you wanted to put across anyway was in fact their idea, your esteem as a speaker will be greatly boosted.

- It is a low-tech method and so can boost your confidence as you don’t have to worry about what can go wrong with computers and projectors you might otherwise use. Just make sure you have a good supply of spare pens in case one runs dry.

“Chalk and Talk” is a time-proven technique and one that you can easily practice to see how it will help your presentation. So why not give it a try and you will soon see just how well your audience reacts.

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