Friday, October 30, 2009

Presenting at Your Peak

You are working on presentation skills—using language, your voice, your body, and presentation aids to heighten the impact of the ideas you are presenting.

1. Speak up. Ideas presented with energy and a dynamic voice will reach listeners not only at the level of understanding, but at an emotional level as well. Dynamic means loud-soft, fast-slow, and high-low. Practice is the key. As you practice, you will gradually develop an ear for monitoring your own voice so that you can murder unwanted monotone.

2. Dress up. Ideas are received more readily when a speaker meets and exceeds the dress standards of the listeners. When you look good, you automatically sound better to your listeners.

3. Move up. Practice posture and movement that conveys confidence in your ideas. Stand firmly on both feet. If you have nothing for your hands to do, let them hang comfortably at your sides. Don't feel confident? Practice is the solution.

Learning Activities

Practice, practice, practice! How many times should you practice your presentation aloud before giving it? You can not practice too often or too much. If you really want to improve, practice on at least three consecutive days. Emerson said, "Those things that we persist in doing become easier, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our ability to do it has increased."

Watch this video clip borrowed from Dancing With The Stars (results show, October 27). DWTS interviewed Nadia Comaneci (Olympic Gymnastics Gold), Gregg Louganis (Olympic Diving Gold), and Bill Walton (former UCLA and NBA star). Hear what these champions have to say about the importance of practice in preparing the mind and body for performance.


© Frank Richardson, 2009.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Say It With Style

We have shifted our focus from building great speeches to delivering great speeches. In short, we should agree that becoming an effective speaker depends not only on what you say, but how you say it. All of our discussion (and all of the preceding blogs) are intended to help with what you say. Now, let's talk about how you say it.

First, be aware that language choice serves three key purposes as you speak:
1. Word choice helps make your ideas simple, bold, and memorable.
2. Word choice awakens emotions in your listeners.
3. Words paint mental pictures.

Learning Activities

These are a few guidelines you should try to follow:
1. Avoid jargon (unusually specialized or obscure words) and its equally fatal companion, doublespeak.
2. Pronounce nouns, pronouns, and verbs correctly as shown in this list—

Syllable emphasis
moun tain' instead of mount' un
Lay ton' instead of Layt' un
cer tain' instead of cert un'

The infamous d/t swap
matter instead of madder
battle instead of baddle

Dropping the "g" (sorry Sarah Palin)
going instead of gonna
needing instead of needin

Pronoun Slurs
our instead of ar
we'll instead of will
I'll instead of ahl
you'll instead of yul
he'll instead of hill
she'll intead of shill

Vowel errors
mail instead of mell
pillow instead of pellow
just instead of jist
get instead of git

3. Try to increase emphasis on important ideas by using parallel words or phrases:
We won't be satisfied until . . . .
We won't be satisfied until . . . .
We can't be satisfied until . . . .

4. Increase the visual power of your ideas by using figurative metaphors:
"living on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity"
"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."
"battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of brutality"

Try some new approaches with your language. Have a little fun.

© Frank Richardson, 2009.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Putting the Power into PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint is the industry standard for preparing and delivering presentations in business, education, health-care, and the professions. Follow these simple guidelines to get the biggest bang for your buck with most listeners:

1. Select a solid, dark color background and use it consistently throughout the presentation.
2. Select type in contrasting colors (white, yellow, etc.) so that it will be easily readable. Use a simple typeface.
3. Use large type sizes that are easily readable by groups of viewers (text 32 pt., titles 44 pt.).
4. Avoid slide transitions and goofy sounds that distract from your message. Fade and dissolve are the best transitions for most viewers.
5. Whenever possible, make a statement with the slide title instead of just using a heading.
6. Cite the sources for your support on the slide and say them aloud (i.e.,

If you will do these few things, your viewers will be able to see, read, and understand your ideas easily. They'll think you are wonderful and will thank you.

Please watch the attached sample presentation. Try to see how the presentation follows the guidelines listed above.


© Frank Richardson, 2009.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Citing Sources

As an improving public speaker or presenter, you should practice citing your sources until it becomes second nature for you. Remember that an effective citation tell readers who said or wrote it, where the information can be found, and when it was published. Citing a source of support this way probably takes less than ten seconds, but it adds much to your credibility as a speaker.

When citing a web site, limit the address to Don't recite the www or any /slashed additions. But, do give the full web address to the home page (i.e., Mothers Against Drunk Driving at Don't be afraid to cite as often as you can.

Learning Exercise

Formulate a source citation for the following sentence taken from Time Magazine, Oct. 19, 2009, p. 16: "Less than 20% of schools cook school lunch from scratch; many rely on packaged reheatable foods."

© Frank Richardson, 2009.