Speech Tips

Archive for the ‘Speech Tips’ Category

by Steve Burnell

We’ve all seen it – the unprepared presenter. After being introduced, the presenter opens the PowerPoint file in design mode and searches for the slideshow icon. Meanwhile the audience looks at the list of slides in the left column, perhaps reads the presenter notes at the bottom of the screen. It’s an awkward moment for all involved. With proper preparation, that scenario can be avoided and the presenter can maintain some dignity.

By default, PowerPoint saves files in the PPTX (PowerPoint Presentation) format. When your presentation is complete and ready to go, saving it in a different format will allow you to immediately fire it up in full screen slideshow mode. No more awkward moments! That format is PPSX (PowerPoint Show). To save in this format, go to Save As and change the “Save as type” drop down box from PowerPoint Presentation to PowerPoint Show.

If you make any changes to the original PPTX file, be sure to save it again as PPSX and overwrite the existing file. Otherwise the changes you expect to be in the presentation will not be there. If you have deleted the PPTX file and need to make changes, open PowerPoint and use the Open command to edit the PPSX file. If you double click the file name or icon, the file will just open full screen as intended.

Take it a step further

It’s your turn to speak but you want to address the audience before displaying your first slide. Just open your file when you’re ready to proceed, right? Wrong! Be prepared by adding a black slide at the very beginning of your presentation. A black slide is simply a blank slide with the background color set to black. Since black cannot be projected, it will appear as if the projector is off. With a single click of a remote control or wireless mouse, your first slide instantly appears making you look pretty slick in the process.

At the end of a presentation, PowerPoint displays a black slide with the message “end of slide show, click to exit” across the top. Yeah, we know it’s over. Hide this pointless message by adding a black slide of your own to the end of your presentation.

With these few simple steps, you can avoid looking like an unprepared, awkward presenter to one in control from start to finish!

By Joe McGurn

Some people think that to be an effective speaker you have to be on the offensive, much like the offensive line of the the Boston Bruins.  They feel that they have to take control and outwit the opponent or the audience to get their attention, but in reality to be an effective speaker, all you really have to do is be your authentic self. While there are many people who are  successful at taking the stage by storm,there are just as many others who succeed in other ways. Speakers, like Wayne Dyer, and Steven Covey, feel that what they have to offer can change the world and make it a better place. They do not demand it or scream about it, they present quiet cerebral arguments for it. As a result intelligent people come to know and respect them. Do what feels natural and you will succeed.

First time speakers should realize that their speech has an important message in it and that it will never see the light of day unless they get up to present it. Nervous about your first speech? Here is what you need to do: 1) practice the speech 10 times a day for a few days prior to your presentation 2) An hour before the meeting take a walk for  15 or 20 minutes.  3) Visit with as many people in the room before the meeting as you can, introduce yourself, shake hands, and say hello to them (now they will be friends and not strangers). 4) Do some deep breathing exercises before you speak. 5) When you get before your audience, pause and smile at the audience, because you know them and they will all be cheering for you just like the crowds at the Boston Garden cheer for the Bruins.  Be yourself, you will be a success.

by Dave Gilman

Have you ever wondered how to lighten up your speech, in other words how to add more humor? If so, this speech tip is for you.

Please keep this in mind, your goal is not to become a stand up comic. Stand up comics are expected to get a laugh every 10 seconds. Imagine the pressure that would create! Rather your goal is to place occasional humor throughout. In a 5-7 seven minute speech, three to four entertaining moments would suffice. Too much more may be overkill.

The good news is, Toastmasters and presenters in general aren’t expected to get a laugh every 10 seconds, so when you deliver a funny line and get a laugh, it is a happy surprise to your audience. Before I get to three techniques that you can use to add more humor, I’d like to outline why it is important to lighten up your speech.

Humor in a speech or presentation accomplishes many things. To name just a few, humor makes you more likable as a speaker, it shows that you don’t take yourself so seriously. Humor also helps you you to connect with your audience as people like to laugh and are drawn to positive things. Now, getting back to the three techniques.

Number 1. – The Clash of Context

Many humor practitioners use this. The Clash of Context introduces an element of surprise. American humorist Jack Handey gives this as an example: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”

Clash of context is about situations or comments that clash unexpectedly with the “normal” expectation of an observer. For example, with Handey’s remark you expect him to use the “walk a mile in their shoes” phrase as a figure of speech. He then upends your expectation by using the phrase literally, which gives the context a funny twist.

Number 2. – You Are the Joke

Light-hearted self mockery instantly creates laughter and likeability. By poking fun at yourself its show the audience that essentially that you are just like them, that no one is perfect, and that you have the confidence to simply be yourself.

In order to use this technique, choose something that could be perceived as a negative, and then make a statement that relates to it in a humorous way. One way to do this is by making a list of obvious physical attributes that an audience would notice when you walk up in front of a room or on stage. Suppose you are delivering a speech at a gardener’s convention. An example could be “Just the other day, I was complimented on my leather gloves, however, I wasn’t wearing any.”

Number 3. – The List of Three

Three is a magic number in our universe. Let’s face it, there is the Holy Trinity made up of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, the fact that we live in a 3-dimensional world which includes height, length, and depth. And last but not least, Miley Cyrus recently had three hit singles. Just as three is a magic number in our universe it is also a magic number in comedy. Using the “List of Three” formula, the speaker sets up a pattern with two serious ideas, and then adds a twist on the third.

For this formula to work, it’s an absolute necessity that your first two statements be real and serious. You want to lead the audience down a path of sincerity and then surprise them with a joke! The surprise is what makes people laugh. There are two easy ways to set up this formula which are Big-Big-Small and Small-Small-Big. 

Big-Big-Small: “It’s a scary world out there: We’ve got terrorism, the war in Iraq, and … Lindsay Lohan is out of jail.”

Small-Small-Big: “There are three subtle clues that your marriage might be over: You’ve stopped sending each other love notes. You’re not kissing as much. Your husband’s new girlfriend has issued a restraining order.”

In summary the Three Techniques are:

Number 1. – The Clash of Context – this is where you change the context of what is normally expected
Number 2. – You Are the Joke – where you poke fun at yourself with confidence
Number 3. – The List of Three – where you list two serious items followed by putting a twist on the third

In your upcoming speeches, consider adding in any of the three techniques. By adding in humor you can create a much deeper connection with your audience and help them lighten up.

Source: Toastmasters Magazine October 2012

by Dave Gilman

“There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.”
― Mark Twain

Most of us can reduce our anxiety of public speaking and increase our confidence by avoiding a few poor habits, while incorporating some helpful tips to reducing public speaking nervousness:

1. Don’t Expect Perfection from Yourself
One of the keys to public speaking success: to keep going gracefully. The audience will never know most of your mistakes, unless you halt your speech, break down, and confess them. Carry on with poise. Give yourself permission not to be perfect.

2. Avoid Equating Public Speaking to Your Self-Worth
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a successful professional who has worked hard to get to where you are today. Public speaking is only a small part of your overall professional ability. If you’re not confident at it, there are many ways to help you improve. Whether you’re good at public speaking or not has nothing to do with your value as a person. It’s simply a skill that you can learn and become better at with practice.

3. Avoid Being Nervous About Your Nervousness
Nervousness is our adrenaline flowing, that’s all. It’s a form of energy. Successful speakers know how to make this energy work for them, and turn nervousness into enthusiasm, engagement, and charisma. They have fun with it. It’s okay to be nervous. Make the energy work for you.

4. Avoid Trying to Memorize Every Word
Attempting to memorize every word will simply increase stress, and cause greater nervousness if the sequence of the words you’re trying to memorize goes amiss.

5. Avoid Reading Word for Word
Dry reading disseminates information, often at the risk of the audience tuning out. Speaking is creating an impact with your content and personality, so that not only is your message understood, your professional profile rises. I will provide more tips in the future on how to memorize your speech, but not word for word. Donna Denio’s speech tip presented at a recent meeting was right on point and worth trying too.

By Dave Gilman

Did you know that many people who stand in front of a room are never heard by the audience? This is not because speakers aren’t projecting their voices loud enough, it is referring to the audience members who are simply tuned out or distracted. That is the topic of this speech tip: How to maintain the audience’s attention.

In order to connect with your audience and jar people out of their daydreams you need more than just a good speech. Some speakers make the mistake by thinking that because they have a well written speech it will maintain the attention of the audience. That is a mistake. Let’s face it, many people have short attention spans and wandering minds. It is strictly up to the speaker to not only gauge the audience’s level of response, but also to hold their attention as well.

There are three techniques that you can use to in order win back the attention of your audience. But before we go over that, it is important to understand the signs of a fading, bored, or distracted member or audience. You first have to take note of eye aversion, facial expression, and body language. Members who are not looking at you, or who have blank expressions staring off to space are most likely tuned out. Conversely members who are tuned in will have solid eye contact, their heads will turn with your movement, and their faces will light up. If you get down the level of micro-expressions you can actually see foreheads wrinkle.

Now that you know a few examples on how to spot the signs of the disconnected audience, I will outline three techniques that you can use to win back the attention of the room:

Number 1.) – Use a Power Phrase – One example is how the speech tip is opened with “Did you know…”. If you listen carefully you’ll hear this phrase used repeatedly in television ads. Some say that curiosity killed the cat, but as humans I believe we are just as curious, and this is why the phrase works so well, we want to know!

Number 2.) – Do you have any idea of what number 2 is? I will give you a hint: It’s what you just read? Encourage Audience Participation – Ask a question, ask for a show of hands, take a poll, or have people stand up to be counted. By encouraging participation, which can appear seemingly small, it can actually shift the energy of the entire room.

Number 3.) – Tell a Story. Simply by saying “Let me tell you a story” never fails to stir people. Stories connect with us at the deepest level and make emotional connections. No amount of data can add up to the impact that a story can make. Tell more of them.

The three techniques explained are by no means a complete list, but rather a few ideas to get you thinking on how you can add in various elements throughout your speech that will help you to connect with a disconnected or distracted audience. As a recap remember to:

Number 1.) – Use a Power Phrase
Number 2.) – Encourage Audience Participation
Number 3.) – Tell a Story

By adding in any one of these three techniques, more people who stand at the front of a room will be heard. Didn’t you know?

By Dave Gilman

Ask any professional speaker what his or her experience has taught them, and most will respond, “To get an arresting opening, something that will seize the attention immediately.”

Here are five examples of how you can open your speeches more effectively, one that will seize the attention of your listeners immediately.

Number 1. Ask a Question

A few years ago, we heard Toastmaster’s member Ken Jacobs open a speech by stating “I’m going to begin by asking you to reflect on a question: “If a decision had to be made about you, would you have it made by a machine or a person?” Opening with a question works instantly with an audience, and in Ken’s instance he even got every person in the room involved. He got us thinking, he got us involved at the outset.

Number 2. Begin With a Story

I will give you an example “Last summer I traveled to India. It was during this trip that my life was changed forever.” Who would not want to know more? From ancient times to today people love to hear stories. We want to know what is going to happen next. We get pulled in.

Number 3. Present Shocking Facts or Statistics

To be an effective speaker you must demand attention immediately. This can be achieved by stating a shocking fact such as: “Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” It is at this point you could then go into your speech, that supports your shocking fact or statistic.

Number 4. Arouse Curiosity

A good example is “Eighty-two years ago, and just about this time of the year, there was published in London a little volume, a story, which was destined to become immortal. Many have called it the greatest little book in the world.” It is after these two first sentences that you draw in your listener, arouse curiosity, and hold them in suspense. At the outset they may be wondering what is this book? Where can I get it? What is it all about? And your listeners will be seated at the edge of their seat wanting to hear more. Who isn’t susceptible to curiosity?

Number 5. Use a Quotation

Here is an example “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” This was stated by Joseph Campbell an American mythology professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion. By opening with an effective quote, your audience will pay attention.

In summary, the five possible ways that you can open your next speech is:

1. Ask a Question

2. Begin With a Story

3. Present Shocking Facts or Statistics

4. Arouse Curiosity

5. Use a Quotation

Remember, a good opening in a speech will jar us out of our daydreams, seize the moment, and hooks the attention of your listeners.