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Learn to be the speaker

audiences love to hear

From Fears to Cheers

The fast, easy, natural way to become

an amazing speaker and presenter

Halina St James

Halina St James

Learn to be the speaker

audiences love to hear

From Fears to Cheers

The fast, easy, natural way to become

an amazing speaker and presenter

Halina St James

Copyright 2012, Podium

2 Shepherds Lane
Tantallon, Nova Scotia, CanadaB3Z 2K6
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without
written permission from the publisher.
ISBN 978-0-9732804-4-9
Published by Podium

For more information about executive coaching in presentation skills,

public speaking and other communication issues, contact:
Podium Media & Communications Coaching
or visit our web site

To order more copies of this book, call 902-826-1011.

Introduction How TalkitOut Gets Such Amazing Resultsvii
Chapter 1 Prepare to Unleash Your Passion and Your Power1
Chapter 2 How to Master the Three
Languages of Communication9
Chapter 3 Bodies Speak Louder Than Words27
Chapter 4 Inner Language: Let Your Emotions
Show (But Not All of Them)33
Chapter 5 Communication Impact: Putting It All Together43
Chapter 6 Sharpen Your Axe:
The All-Important Planning Stage47
Chapter 7 TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations59
Chapter 8 Capturing Your Voice in Print:
A New Way to Write Speaking Notes71
Chapter 9 How to Make a Message Memorable81
Chapter 10 Stand and Deliver89
Chapter 11 How to Make All That Hard Work Look Effortless97
Chapter 12 Its All About the Audience105
Chapter 13 Tune Up Your Inner Communicator117
Chapter 14 Every Day Uses For Your Speaking Skills123
Chapter 15 Making Group Presentations131
Chapter 16 Taking Your Speaking Skills Around the World137
Chapter 17 Writing for Others: Tips for Speech-Writers145
Chapter 18 How to Create Memorable Slide Presentations155
Chapter 19 Think Hollywood: Add Impact With Video165
Chapter 20 Let the Force Be With You: All About Technology173

i n tr odu c ti on

How TalkitOut Gets

Such Amazing Results
When we agree to give a speech or make a presentation, we know
we are going to have to speak our thoughts out loud. So why do so
many of us prepare our speech or presentation in complete silence?
We close the office door; we take the phone off the hook; we retreat
to some silent sanctuary. And we sow the seeds of another lifeless,
forgettable speech.
Theres nothing wrong with writing in silenceif people are going to
read your material. But if you expect them to listen to you, you need
a different way of preparing your content.
This book is about a new way of producing presentations, speeches or
slide shows. The technique is called TalkitOut. I developed TalkitOut
to get busy, stressed-out news reporters and anchors to tell stories
powerfully, so people would understand them quickly andmost
importantlynot switch channels.
The technique, which is unbelievably simple, dramatically improved
everyones performanceinstantly. I tested TalkitOut around the
world. It worked in every newsroom. It worked in non-news television
programs. It worked in different languages and different cultures.


I took TalkitOut to the corporate and political worlds. Because its

easy and fast, it was a perfect fit for busy executives. It dramatically
improved their speeches, sales pitches and slide presentations.
TalkitOut works by unleashing your true, authentic voice. We all
speak differently. We all have our unique personalities. Our individuality is our greatest asset when we speak.
Yet when many executives stand up and speak they all sound the
same. And they have the same impact on an audience; theyre not
as inspiring as their message or their true personality deserves. The
ability to be yourself matters. Unless we are authentic in our communication, well never truly connect to our audience.
A big part of being successful is building relationships. In all of our
speeded-up stripped-down communications by Tweet and email and
text messaging, we dont have a lot of time to make those relationships. The fastest way to impress, inspire and build lasting relationships is by being authentic.
Failing to find and liberate our authentic voice can really hold us
back, personally and professionally. TalkitOut understands the
importance of you being you. Its a tool to capture your authenticity
and unleash your potential. TalkitOut will:

capture your true voice

help you remember your material
establish a connection with the audience
save time
build confidence
provide the basis of your slide show

TalkitOut does all of this simultaneously. Ive tested it and proved

it over and over. This book will take you through TalkitOut step by
step. It will make you a powerful speaker in any situationpersonal or professional. It will help you build valuable relationships by
unleashing your greatest assetyourself.

viii Introduction: How TalkItOut Gets Such Amazing Results

Heres the really good news. Everyone has the potential to be a commanding speaker. You just need the right technique and the right
strategy. Youll find both in this bookand youll find them quickly.
I understand youre busy. You dont have a lot of time. So this book
is easy to use. You can read it from beginning to end or you can
jump right to the chapters that will transform you into an amazing speaker. You can go to any chapter any time. Keep this book
nearby as a handy reference whenever you are preparing a speech
or presentation.
Life for many of the executives and leaders Ive worked with is a
seemingly endless round of meetings. With all those meetings and
all that talking, we need to know how to command an audience and
get our points across quickly and effectively. Its all about strategy
and knowledge. If youre in business, you have a business plan or a
strategy for your company. Do you have a strategy for speaking? Can
you be successful without one? Frankly, the answer is no. You need
knowledge and a strategy to master public speaking. Thats your key
to success in front of an audience, just as it is in everything you do.
By the way, speaking well is not just for people in business or in the
public eye. Every time we open our mouths to speak, were speaking
in public. Thats why its important for everyone to know how to do
it well.
Public speaking is not a fate worse that death. Its a skill you can
learnand one that I will help you master. Whether youre a nervous
novice or an accomplished speaker whose presentations have become
a bit flat, my TalkitOut technique will make you better. I promise.
So lets start your transformation.

Halina St. James


chap te r

Prepare to Unleash Your

Passion and Your Power

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness
that frightens us.
Marianne Williamson, Author

Heathers Story

hen Heather came to see me she was terrified. She

was a living example of that old saying Id rather die
than speak in public. Heather absolutely hated giving
speeches or making presentations. But, as a manager, she had to.
The ability to deliver confident, credible presentations and speeches
was essential if she wanted to move up the corporate ladder.
For a minute I wondered if she really would die before she gave her
speech. She couldnt look me in the eyes. She turned bright red. She
was sweating. She stammered. And all this because she had to give a
one-minute presentation. I loved her. I just knew if TalkitOut would
work for Heather, it would work for anyone.


Heather worked for a large company with a strong public profile.

She was sent to me, along with four other managers, to spruce up
their presentation skills. That was a smart move on the part of their
boss. He knew the importance of speaking with confidence and
powerfor the company and for the employee.
At the end of my session with Heather, she delivered a passionate,
inspiring speech. We all had tears in our eyes as we applauded her
success. Heather was stunned she was so good. I wasnt. I knew right
from the start shed be a success. All of us, given the right tools, can
be compelling speakers.

Johns Story
Like Heather, John didnt want to see me. But for a completely different reason. He didnt think he needed coaching. John was an experienced and confident speaker. He was about to make an important
presentation to the board of a large corporation. He needed its support and money for his research project.
I was recommended to help him polish his presentation. He agreed
reluctantly, and we settled on a date for a three-hour session. The
day arrived. I was readybut John was a no-show. Our go-between
called him. John was tied up in meetings. He wasnt sure hed make it
to our session. Finally the go-between convinced John to see me after
his last meeting. When John finally arrived, there was only half an
hour left in our session. He told me he absolutely had to leave on time.
As I listened to Johns presentation, it became apparent he was
goodbut he wasnt commanding. He needed to go to the next
level, especially if he wanted that research money.
I started applying my TalkitOut technique to his presentation. John
saw the improvement immediately. The technique intrigued him.
After 30 minutes, I asked if he still wanted to leave. He said no. We
worked for another hour, polishing and improving his presentation.
He left satisfied and confidentjust as I knew he would.

2 Chapter 1: Prepare to Unleash Your Passion and Your Power

The Lesson of Heather and John

It doesnt matter if youre a nervous novice like Heather or a seasoned pro like Johnpresentation skills are critical for everyone.
Poor presentations are costing corporations tens of thousands of
dollarsin lost orders, wasted time and expensive
mistakes. They eat away at your reputation and Poor presentations are
your confidence.
costing corporations

tens of thousands of

Every time you open your mouth to speak you have

two choices. You can build relationships, inspire, dollarsin lost orders,
make the sale, get your message across, influence wasted time and
others and make a powerful impact. Or you can expensive mistakes.
bore your audience, lose the sale, and embarrass
yourself. The choice is yours. It all depends on what comes out of
your mouth, and how it comes out.
There are a few people, a lucky few, who dont have to make a choice.
They were born with the gift of the gab. They can stand up, fearlessly,
and delight and inspire an audience. Most of us werent born that
lucky. For whatever reason, we are simply terrified to speak in public.
And when we try, nerves get the better of us and our words lack the
impact we hoped for.
Its not our fault. Nobody ever showed us how to do it properly. This
book will. Lets start by understanding two key ingredients you need
to be a commanding speaker.

The Power of You

Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of

someone else.
Judy Garland, Actor, singer

You are your most valuable asset. There is nobody else on this earth
who thinks like you, walks like you or talks like you. Even identical
twins are not 100% identical, according to scientists. So why dont


you capitalize on your uniqueness? There may be a lot of reasons,

good and bad. I dont want to get into them here. I just want to give
you one amazing tool, TalkitOut, that will help you unleash the
power of you so you can live the life of your dreams.
The key to being a great speaker (and a success in life) is to be authentic; to be who you truly are, in any situation. Dont try to sound or act
like someone else. Speak the way you always do. Behave the way you
normally would. Dont use gestures that are foreign to you. Dont use
words that you never use on a regular basis.
Many people think they have to use big words, in complex sentences,
when they speak in public. They think it helps convince the audience
of their intelligence, the importance of the topic (and, sometimes,
their own importance).
Some people even change their voice. Men suddenly develop deep,
booming voices. Women get higher and softer. Unless thats you in
real life, dont do this to yourself. Be yourself. Your audience will
know immediately if youre not being authentic. Youll lose their trust.
Why would you want to be anyone else? Its such hard work. Its so
much easier to be yourself. You are a wonderful gifted speaker if
you just trust yourself and speak in your own true voice. Its time to
release the power of you.

Passion: One of Your Strongest Communication Tools

Do not keep your passion buttoned inside your vest. An audiences

biggest turn on is the speakers obvious enthusiasm. If you are
lukewarm about the issue, forget it.
Tom Peters, Author

Unleashing the power of you by being authentic and speaking in

your own true voice is the first key ingredient to being a powerful
and successful speaker. The second is passion. Combine passion

4 Chapter 1: Prepare to Unleash Your Passion and Your Power

with your authentic voice and you have the foundation upon which
great speeches are made and great speakers are born.
Passion is not necessarily unbridled emotion. Its not about speaking
loudly and getting all worked up, although it may bedepending on
your personality and your topic. By passion I mean believing in and
caring about what youre saying. You should never talk about something that leaves you cold. At the very least, you must be interested
in your topic. You need to connect to it. When youre connected, the
audience will know it and you will make a connection with them. Its in that connection that under- When youre connected,
standing and real communication happens. The the audience will know
foundation is passion.
Some people in the audience may disagree with
you. But theyll respect you because youre passionate. You may never convince everyone, anyway. Just
figure out whats important to you, and speak from
the heart.

it and you will make a

connection with them.
Its in that connection
that understanding and
real communication
happens. The foundation is passion.

To be a truly great speaker, you need to harness

your passion and your authentic voice to a strategic objective. This book will show you how to do that. It will not
only help you prepare great speeches, it will also make you a great
speaker. I say this without any qualms because my TalkitOut technique has transformed hundreds of speakers around the world. It
worksregardless of who you are, where you are, or what language
you speak.

Basic Tools You Need for Powerful

Speeches and Presentations
Its not about the message. Its about you. You can have the best message in the world, but if you cant deliver it, its worthless. Whether
youre speaking to a small group in a boardroom, a large audience in
an auditorium, or just one clientyou must deliver your message


Ive seen top CEOs who run huge corporations make lackluster
speecheseven though what they had to say was of great relevance
and importance to the audience. These were smart men and women.
They simply lacked the right strategy and technique to be a commanding speaker. Or maybe they were in the hands of speechwriters
who were equally ignorant.
So our smart people make mediocre speeches, with minimal impact.
Sure the audience applauds at the endbut are they just politely
applauding the speakers title, or are they grateful the ordeal is over?
What you want every time from your audience is strong heart-felt
applause because you inspired them, motivated themand made
a difference.
Speaking is personal. It means being yourself by revealing yourself.
Add technique and strategy and you will reach your audience. The
key is to be well prepared, well rehearsed and confident. This will
put you in control so you can deliver your message effectively and
make that message memorable.

The Greeks Had a Word for It

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, talked about the art of persuasion
in his work Rhetoric. He identified three key ingredientsethos,
logos and pathos.
Ethos is your ability to be credible to an audience. Ethos is about
being ethical, honest and clearly an authority on your subject.
Logos is your ability to be logical, to explain your ideas, products or
visions in a way that audiences understand.
Pathos is your ability to connect to an audience emotionally. Its how
you appeal to the audiences sympathies and imagination.

6 Chapter 1: Prepare to Unleash Your Passion and Your Power

Aristotle said all three elements need to be present when you want
to persuade someone. Understanding this is the beginning of
developing your speaking strategy.

Summary: Power and Passion

All speaking is public speaking.
Poor presentations cost money in lost orders and
wasted time.
Poor presentations hurt your reputation and self-esteem.
You need a strategy for speaking.
Dont imitate anyone when you speak.
Speak in your true authentic voice.
Believe in what youre saying, and show it.
Passion is a big turn-on for the audience.
You can have the best message in the world, but if
you cant deliver it, its worthless.


chap te r

How to Master the

Three Languages of

very time you speak, you actually use three languages simultaneouslyspoken language, body language and an inner
language. To be a commanding speaker, you must understand
the effect each language has on your message and your audience.
Once you know this, you can use the three languages strategically to
achieve success.
In the next three chapters we will look at the three languages, and
examine three revelations that will change the way you think about
planning and making presentations. Well start with the language
people are most familiar with.

Spoken Language

The spoken word now rules, in all its informality and occasional
vulgarity. The effects are felt in politics, public taste and even in
our writing.
Jack Rosenthal, President, New York Times Foundation


If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his

head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
Nelson Mandela, President South Africa

Language is always changing. Look at the way we wrote and spoke

not-so-long ago. A couple of generations ago we might have said I
shall go to the theatre with you tomorrow. Now its more like Sure,
Im up for it.

Our language has become less formal and shorter in almost all situations. That doesnt mean we cant use proper grammar, effective rhetorical styles and descriptive words. It just means that to be understood today we need to be conversational. There is
Being conversational more focus on plain language now than ever before.

means being real.

People want you
to be real.

Being conversational means being real. People

want you to be real. We want someone to talk to
us the way we talk. The age of the sage on stage
is dying out. More and more, audiences want to
engage with you. They crave conversations. And for the first time in
our history, we have technology that allows us to speak to anyone,
anywhere, anytime. This is amazing. And it will continue to change
the way we speak.

Halinas Revelation #1: You are Not a Reader

You are a speaker, a storyteller. Youve been asked to give a speech or
to make a presentation. No-one asked you to read a speech or read
a presentation. Yet so often we read at our audiences. When we read
aloud the written word, we speak a language designed for the eyes,
not the ears. We are being neither real nor conversational.
The problem starts the very moment we begin to prepare our speeches
and presentations. We use the same technique we would to write an
essay or a letter. And its the wrong technique. I will show you the
right technique, the technique that will make you a commanding
speaker. Thats coming up in the chapter on the TalkitOut Technique.

10 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

For now, its important you remember that you are a speaker,
that your most important tool is the spoken language delivered
conversationally by the real you. Lets examine some guidelines that
will help you develop a strategy for the spoken language.

Simple sentences are powerful sentences

If you cant explain it simply, you dont understand it well enough.

Albert Einstein, Physicist

You want to be conversational when you speak. To do that, speak

in simple sentences. Simple is not simplistic. Simple is powerful.
The simpler you are, the more powerful your impact. Being simple
means reducing complexity to its component parts for clarity and
Generally, when we speak we dont begin with adverbial clauses, or
prepositional phrases.
We dont say: Wearing a blue jacket and black pants, Jane came
into the room.
We say: Jane came into the room. She was wearing a blue jacket
and black pants.

We dont say: Having made a profit this quarter, we can give

everybody a bonus.
We say: We made a profit this quarterso everyones getting
a bonus.
We dont say: With the proposal in his hand, John went to meet
the board.
We say: John went to meet the board. He had the proposal in
his hand.
When were speaking we dont load up our sentences with subordinate clauses. Theyre too hard to follow. Every time you want to
use which, who, or that stop yourself. Youre heading into a


subordinate clause. Itll make your sentence longer and more difficult for the listener to understand. You can write with subordinate
clauses for readers because they can always read the sentence over
and over until they understand it. Listeners only get one chance to
hear the sentence youre speaking.
Dont say: The challenge that faces us today, just before the
reorganization which is going to make our company more
profitable, is to find the right director who will lead us through
these difficult times.
Say: We are about to reorganize our company. This will make us
more profitable. We need the right director to lead us.
Dont make your sentences longer by stringing separate thoughts
together with conjunctions such as and. (The worst one is and uh.)
Conjunctions creates run-on sentences. Run-on sentences are hard
for speakers to deliver, and harder for audiences to comprehend. Oh
dear, there was a conjunction in that previous sentence. If I was writing that in a speech I would separate the two thoughts into separate
sentences. Run-on sentences are hard for speakers to deliver. And
harder for audiences to comprehend.
Its OK to start a sentence with a conjunction. And to write in fragments. The benefit of doing it in the example above, is that we turn a
comma into a full stop. When we read we tend to skip over commas.
We dont really slow down. We do pause for the period, or full stop.
Those pauses are really important for speakers and presenters. They
help us signpost our thoughts. They help us add emphasis. And they
provide comprehension gapswhere the audience gets to process
the information were sharing.
Dont say: Were supporting the new changes and we hope theyll
move us forward towards achieving our goal and help us be the
number one choice for our clients and we believe theyll keep
everyone happy.
Say: Were supporting the new changes. We hope theyll move us
toward our goal. We hope well be the number one choice for our
clients. We believe these changes will make everyone happy.

12 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

One Thought Per Sentence

Another way to be clear and understandable is to limit each sentence
to one thought. People will be able to follow a complex concept if its
delivered in understandable chunks. Use a simple sentence structure: subject, verb, object. I found this description of a companys
services on their website. (I changed the name):
ABC is a dynamic organization focused on IT excellence through its
work on public policy, setting standards within the profession and
providing IT support to its community.
There are at least five thoughts in that one long sentence. Read aloud
the sentence above. Then read aloud the five sentences below. Listen
to yourself as you do.

ABC is a dynamic organization.

It contributes to public policy.
It sets standards within the profession.
It provides IT support to its community.
ABC does all this because its focused on excellence in IT.

Which version was easier to say? Which one do you think an audience would understand more easily? I suspect you picked the version
with one thought per sentence.
A good check is to count your words. If youve written more than 20
words in one sentence, youre too long. Start cutting. Simple sentences are easier to say. And easier to understand.

If youve written

To be fair, the first long sentence in the example

more than 20 words
above was written to be read on a screen. But too
often we accept what was written for the eye and in one sentence,
apply it to our ears and mouth. It just doesnt work. youre too long.
Personally, I think the five short sentences are easier on the eye as well as the earand should be up on the website.


Simple Words are the Most Effective Carriers of Meaning

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.

George Eliot, Author

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap

between ones real and ones declared aims, one turns, as it were,
instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish
squirting out ink.
George Orwell, Author
Why did the chicken cross the road? Its an old joke, and there are a
lot of funny answers. But one enterprising person decided to answer
in consultant speak:
Deregulation of the chickens side of the road was
threatening its dominant market position. The chicken was
faced with significant challenges to create and develop the
competencies required for the newly competitive market.
XYZ Consulting, in a partnering relationship with the client,
helped the chicken by rethinking its physical distribution
strategy and implementation process. Using the Poultry
Integration Model (PIM), XYZ helped the chicken use its
skills, methodologies, knowledge capital and experiences
to align the chickens people, processes and technology
in support of its overall strategy within a Program
Management framework. XYZ Consulting convened a diverse
cross-spectrum of road analysts and best chickens along
with XYZ consultants with deep skills in the transportation
industry to engage in a two day itinerary of meetings in
order to leverage their personal knowledge capital, both
tacit and explicit, and to enable them to synergize with each
other in order to achieve the implicit goals of delivering and
successfully architecting and implementing an enterprisewide value framework across the continuum of poultry crossmedian processes.

14 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

We all laugh at this hyper-inflated business babble. But when some

people stand up and speak, they automatically use grandiose words
in an effort to impress their clients or audiences.
Simple sentences +
Their speech is verysesquipedalian. One of my
clients told me about that word. Sesquipedalian simple words =
means long winded.
You dont want to be sesquipedalian. But it takes some confidence
to understand that the simpler you are, the more powerful you are.
Simple sentences + simple words = clarity + understanding.

Avoid Jargon, Business-Babble, Clichs

Here are some examples of jargon, business babble and clichs you
should avoid:
Core competencies
Centers of excellence
Due diligence

Leading edge
Learning curve
Mission critical
Mutually beneficial

Out of the loop
Quick win

Sometimes you have to use jargon when its industry specific and
youre speaking to a single, specialist group. A doctor speaking to
other doctors would say tonsillectomy; she would not have to say
the surgical removal of tonsilsunless she wanted to. If a sailor
speaking to other sailors said head, the audience would know he
was talking about the toilet.
Dont use an inflated phrase when one good, hard-working word
will do.


Dont Say
Make the decision
Reach an agreement
Give approval to
Issue a warning
Conduct a survey
Will be able to
In order to


Avoid Acronyms
Then there are acronymsabbreviations of phrases. Speakers
seem to like these as much as over-inflated phrases. My suggestiondont use them. Never assume your audience knows what
they refer to.
Always mention the whole phrase first, then the acronymunless
the acronym is acceptable and common. Most people know that
ASAP means as soon as possible. BLT is a bacon, lettuce, tomato
sandwich and BYOB means bring your own bottle.
But unless you work in the financial industry you probably wont
know that SEQUINS are Select Equity Indexed Notes. And youre
probably an astronomer if you know that ALEXIS is Array of Low
Energy X-ray Imaging Sensors.
Unless your acronym has a universal understanding, explain it first.
Be especially careful about using acronyms with foreign audiences.

Its Good to Use Contractions

When we speak, we usually speak in contractions. We say I cant
instead of I cannot, Im instead of I am. Using contractions is conversational. It makes you sound more authentic because its probably the way you speak 99% of the time.

16 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

Yet when people prepare a presentation or speech, they tend to write

it first. And when they do, they use the full, expanded phrase. Thats
fine if people are going to read what you wrote. But if your strategy is
to be authentic and conversational, use contractions.
However, there are times when you might not want to use a contraction. Usually thats when you want to emphasize something. Say
the next two sentences out loud. Can you feel the difference and the
change in meaning?
I wont go to the concert.
I WILL NOT go to the concert.
Using will not makes the sentence and the speakers intention
much stronger. It implies dont try to change my mind. I will not go
to the concert. Unless you want to reinforce something, stick to contractions because thats the way we speak.

Be smart: keep it simple

Speaking simply does not mean being simplistic: it means taking
complex ideas and communicating them in a way that people understand. Former United States President Ronald Reagan was a master
communicator. He once said:
Our government is too big and it spends too much money.
You cant mistake his meaning. His sentence and words
are simple and clear. Simple means powerful. It means
the audience will hear you, and get your message.

Simple means

One of my clients sent this example of a jargon-laden memo she got

from her superiors:
As you are all aware two projects are currently underway to
re-engineer the transactional purchasing process and the
materials management inventory and logistics model. The


purpose objectives are to improve process efficiency, leverage

the supply chain, optimize inventory investment, set the stage
for enabling detailed life cycle costing and to increase productivity in the work place. The transactional purchasing design
is nearing completion with the materials management design
scheduled to be completed mid Sept. Decisions on implementation approach and timing will be determined at that time
of the close out of the two design projects. In the short term
expect communication on the implementation of several quick
hit benefits planned for the transactional purchasing process.
She had no idea what it meant. In the corporate world, clarity and
impact are constantly being sacrificed. People believe big words in convoluted sentences help them make a good impression. Its often just the
opposite. They make no impressionbecause they obscure the message. I once heard a CEO from a large multi-national corporation say:
Now maximizing value drives us to invest in our assets
and move our resources to opportunities that generate the
greatest returns and position us for continued growth.
What does this mean in plain English? Imagine this as part of a
twenty-minute speech laden with the same corporate jargon and
long sentences? How much would you remember?

I tell my clients
they have to become
word warriors.

I tell my clients they have to become word warriors.

They need a strategy for their content and simple language with which to deliver it. Dont get me wrong;
Im not advocating never using a subordinate clause
or a good meaty word. Im saying, be strategic about the way you
speakso your audience hears, believes and understands you.

The Hi Mom Test

I have a sure-fire test to see if youre being conversational. Put Hi
Mom in front of anything you think, say or write. Now speak it out
loud. Imagine saying it to your mom. If your sentence still makes

18 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

sense, use it. But if you cant imagine ever saying something like this
to your mom, you know its not conversational.
Try it on the speech I quoted above. Say this out loud:
Hi Mom maximizing value drives us to invest in our assets
and move our resources to opportunities that generate the
greatest returns and position us for continued growth.
It doesnt work. It will never work, because real people dont speak
this way to people they care about. The Hi Mom Test will guarantee
youre conversational.

Take Ownership: Use the Active Voice

When you speak, stay away from the passive voice. I call it the
Im-not-responsible-voice. People use the passive voice to evade
accountability. Thats why its a favourite with politicians.
Dont say: It is thought that profits will rise this quarter.
Say: We think profits will rise this quarter.
Dont say: A new manager will be announced tomorrow.
Say: We will announce a new manager tomorrow.
Dont say: Our new product line will be launched in May.
Say: Were launching our new product line in May.
Speak in the active voice. We do it all the time when were speaking
to friends. Its only when we stand up in front of an audience that
we start using the passive voice. Maybe we think itll make us sound
more intelligent. It doesnt. There is nothing more powerful than the
active voice.
If you want to give your active voice a punch, use strong action verbs.
If youre describing someone walking into the room, you could simply say Jennifer walked into the room. But did she?


Perhaps she bounced, stumbled, swished, scampered, hopped, flew,

stamped, stalked, crept into the room? Each one of these action verbs
immediately evokes a strong image. Combined with an active voice,
well-chosen action verbs mark you as a powerful speaker.

The Pause: A Powerful Communication Tool

Timing is not so much knowing when to speak, but knowing when

to pause.
Jack Benny, Comedian
Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Will Rogers, Actor

The pause is one of the most important tools a speaker has. Your ability to shut upstrategicallywill determine how
Your ability to shut good a speaker you are.

will determine how
good a speaker you are.

Most of us enter babble-land when we speak. Were

nervous. We think we must fill every second with
sound. In fact we need to do just the opposite. We
need to pause for the audience to understand and
reflect on what weve said. We need to pause for dramatic effect. And
we need to pause for emphasis.
Look at your text strategically. Where should you pause? What would
the effect be? Once youve decided, then insert a BFP, a Big Fat Pause.
In the section on Write it Out, you will see how dramatic a BFP looks
on the page. It forces you to stop talking. And when you do, the audience can absorb what you said.
My clients often think theyre pausing when theyre really not. Weve
been socially conditioned to fill in dead air. So being comfortable
with silence is really difficult for most of us. Try thinking one thousand and one, one thousand and two before you speak. That will
produce a decent pause.

20 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

Pauses can really change the way an audience perceives a sentence.

Say this sentence out loud without any pauses:
The winner of a trip to Paris is John Stewart.
Now try it with the following pauses:
The winner (PAUSE) of a trip to Paris is John Stewart.
The winner of a trip to (PAUSE) Paris is John Stewart.
The winner of a trip to Paris is (PAUSE) John Stewart.
The winner of a trip to Paris is John (PAUSE) Stewart.
The placement of the pause subtlety changes the feel of the sentence.
Which emphasis is right? It depends on what you want your audience to understand.
Theres another important role for a pause. We need to pause to draw
breath and to think. If you suddenly lose your train of thought during your speech, use a pause to recover. The pause puts an end to the
Being comfortable with the pause marks you out as a superior speaker.
Many people run through their presentations seemingly without drawing breath. A speaker who pauses not only helps the audience understand the content but also sends a subliminal message that says Im in
control, I know what Im doing, dont worry, youre in good hands. When
the audience senses this, they can relax and focus on your message.

Vary Your Pace

The basic rule of human nature is that powerful people speak slowly
and subservient people quicklybecause if they dont speak fast,
nobody will listen to them.
Michael Caine, Actor

When you start pausing, you will automatically vary your pace. You
wont fall into a repetitive reading tempo. People naturally speed up or


slow down when theyre speaking. It depends on what theyre saying.

Slow down or speed up depending on the effect you want to achieve.

Emphasize the WOW

False eloquence is exaggeration; true eloquence is emphasis.

Rev. William R. Alger,

When you speak, decide which part of your presentation you want
the audience to remember and make sure you emphasize it. You add
emphasis by saying it a bit louder, or very softly, or by pausing before
you say it.

Emphasis directs the listeners attention to whats important.

Emphasis subtly changes the meaning of sentences. Say this sentence out loud and emphasize the words in bold:
I never stole the money.
I never stole the money.
I never stole the money.
I never stole the money.
With each change of emphasis the meaning changes subtly. Whats
the right meaning? You decide, and emphasize what you want the
audience to remember.
By the way, I picked up that little exercise from the Zig Ziglar Organization. Zig Ziglar is a legend in the world of professional speakers.
He founded one of North Americas leading motivational and professional development training companies.

You Not I

Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.
Benjamin Disraeli, Politician

22 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

Dont over-use the word I. An experienced speaker

knows the audience is really interested in the value
you give to them. They want you to speak to them,
to connect with them, to help them.

The number of times

you say you should be
equal to, or far exceed,
the number of times
you say I.

So start by replacing I with you. This doesnt

mean you never refer to yourself in a speech or say
the word I. With a little creativity you can change any sentence from
focussing on I to you.
I lost 30 pounds in just 10 days when I started the Acme diet.
Heres what I did.
You can lose 30 pounds in just 10 days. You can do this with
the Acme diet. Heres what you do.

The number of times you say you should be equal to, or far exceed,
the number of times you say I. Your speech or presentation is really
not about you. Its about them, the audience.

The Power of Three

The Power of Three is a technique of using three similar phrases to
drive home your point. US President Barack Obama used this a lot
in his speeches. He used it at the beginning of his victory speech in
Chicago on November 4, 2008. He said:
If there is anyone out there
who still doubts that America is a place where
all things are possible;
who still wonders if the dream of our founders
is alive in our time;
who still questions the power of our democracy,
tonight is your answer.
Later in the same speech he said:


Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of

Washingtonit began in
the backyards of Des Moines and
the living rooms of Concord and
the front porches of Charleston.
All of Obamas speeches are peppered with examples of threes. Its
a great device to drive home your point. It sounds good. It elevates
you as a speaker. And it gives you time to vary your pace. The Power
of Three has long been a rhetorical tool. When you prepare a speech
or a presentation, look for a chance to express thoughts in triplets.

The Power of Repetition

Repetition is the mother of learning.

Latin Proverb

Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through

repetition of thought.
Napoleon Hill, Author
If you want the audience to remember something important, repeat
repeat repeat.

Audiences are easily distracted. They may be tired. The room may be
too hot or too cold. The seats may be uncomfortable. You dont want
people to miss that really important point you just made. So repeat
it. You can say it again immediately. Or you can strategically repeat
the phrase a few times throughout your presentation. When you are
delivering an important point, make sure you lodge it clearly in the
mind of the audience.
One of the most famous examples of repetition was in a speech Martin
Luther King Jr. made in 1968. It was part of the Civil Rights March on
Washington, DC. King said I have a dream 11 times in 16 minutes.
The speech was a defining moment for the civil rights movement.

24 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

More that 40 years later, its still universally known as the I have a
dream speech. Thats the power of repetition.
There are many different rhetorical styles of repetition. The one King
used is called anaphora. Its where you repeat the same word or
phrase at the beginning of a succession of clauses or verses.
Winston Churchill used anaphora when he was Prime Minister of
Great Britain during World War II when he repeated the phrase we
shall fight:
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing
grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we
shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Epiphora is the use of repetition at the end of a word or phrase. After
Hurricane Katrina, in the USA in 2005, the president of one the districts in Louisiana used this technique in a television news interview:
Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency
and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a
sensitive idiot. Just dont give me the same idiot.
Commoratio is repeating the same idea using different words. A classic example comes from Monty Pythons Flying Circus. It was used by
actor John Cleese in the Dead Parrot sketch:
Hes passed on. This parrot is no more. He has ceased to be.
Hes expired and gone to meet his maker. Hes a stiff. Bereft
of life, he rests in peace. If you hadnt nailed him to the perch
hed be pushing up the daisies. Hes kicked the bucket, hes
shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined
the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot.


Summary: Spoken Language

Simple sentencesstick to the basic subject, verb, object
format. Avoid making your sentences complicated with
conjunctions like which, when, that, who.
One thought per sentence.
Use simple wordsavoid jargon, business babble, clichs.
Acronymsalways say them in full first. Then give the
Contractions: use themwe speak in contractions. Ill not I
will unless you want emphasis on the will.
KISSthe simpler you are the more powerful you are. Period.
Hi Mom Testsay this before a sentence to check if its
Use the active voice as much as possible. The passive voice
feels like youre not taking responsibility.
Pauseyour ability to shut up strategically determines
how good a speaker you are. Insert a BFP (Big Fat Pause)
strategically when you want the audience to understand or
reflect on something, or for effect (see Emphasize the WOW).
Count 1,001, 1,002 silently to make yourself pause.
Vary your pace. Avoid sounding like youre reading.
Emphasize the WOWIdentify what you want the audience
to remember, and emphasize it by saying it louder,
whispering or using a dramatic pause.
You not Iits not about you, its about the audience. Say
you more often than I.
Power of 3rhetorical style where you group similar phrases
or sentences, as in the backyards of Des Moines, the living
rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
Use repetition for clarity and emphasis. People may not get
your message the first time. Repeat key thoughts.

26 Chapter 2: How to Master the Three Languages of Communication

chap te r

Bodies Speak
Louder Than Words

I speak two languages, Body and English.

Mae West, Actor

Ariel: But without my voice, how can I

Ursula: You have your looks, your pretty face. And dont
underestimate the importance of body language, ha!
The Little Mermaid

Halinas Revelation #2: You Are an Animal

You are not an inanimate object. Youre a living breathing being,
an animal. The people listening to you are animals. Were pretty
smart members of the animal kingdom. We communicate with complex languages. But we also communicate with a more primal languageBody Language.
Body Language is our gestures, posture, facial expression. But its
also the way we sound, dress and look. Your body is always saying
something, through your movements, expression and appearance.
And the audience is picking up the signals, even when your mouth
is saying nothing.


The signals from your Body Language are so strong, they can affect
the audience. The audience may be spending more time wondering
about that pink streak in your hair than listening to what youre actually saying. I once missed a whole TV newscast because the anchor
had a lock of hair hanging in her eye. She blinked her way through
the news for 10 minutes. Instead of listening to her, I kept wondering
how long it would take her to simply brush her hair
Your Body Language out her eye.

can drown out

your words.

Your Body Language can drown out your words.

Your Body Language starts communicating things
about you from the moment people see you. You want the audience
to focus on your content, on what youre saying. To do that you must
be able to manage your body language. Here are some tips:

Use your hands naturally when you speak. If you talk with your
hands when you speak to friends, use them during your presentation.
Dont wave your arms like a windmill. Just do what you always do.
I have yet to meet someone who doesnt use their hands to some
extent during a conversation. Think of your speech or presentation
as a conversation with the audience, and you are well on your way to
that natural body language that helps you communicate effectively.
Standing perfectly still is unnatural. It will affect the way you speak.
Your whole body will tense up. Be yourself. Use your hands. Dont
clutch the lectern. Use it as a prop. Stand beside it
If you speak from the if you can. Dont lean on it. Keep your body erect,
but not rigid.

heart, the hands will

follow naturally.

At our workshops, people always ask what they

should do with their hands. I tell them not to focus
on their handsbut to focus on their heart. If you speak from the
heart, the hands will follow naturally.

28 Chapter 3: Bodies Speak Louder Than Words

Adopt a body position that matches your content. If youre talking
about something serious, dont stand casually leaning on one leg
with one hand in your pocket. It wont look right. The audience will
be confused by the casual body language and the serious content.
When the audience gets confused, they dont follow what you say.
By the time they re-focus on your words, they may have missed a
relevant point. And if that happens, the rest of the speech becomes
meaningless. Thats when they tune out.
Dont cross your arms or look down at the audience. It makes you
look aggressive or superior. Always stand, even if you are addressing
a very small group. When youre standing, all your internal organs
are hanging properly. Youre able to breathe deeply. Youre sending a
lot of oxygen to your brain, so youre alert. You can think on your feet
more quickly. Your voice will be stronger and more positive.
If youre using slides, dont turn your back on the audience to look
at the screen. How would you feel if someone was talking to you and
they turned their back?

Keep your body relaxed. Before you speak, go to the washroom or
somewhere private and give your body a good shake. Make faces
to loosen the facial muscles. Roll your shoulders. Shake out your
hands. Wiggle your hips.
Your body is your instrument. If its tight, you will sound tense. The
more relaxed you are the more natural youll sound. Do some deep
breathing to relax and to focus. Theres more on how to relax later.


Importance of Eye Contact

Look at the audience, not at your slides or your speaking notes. If
you are talking to a small group, try to make eye contact with every
person in the room.
If you have a large group, divide the room into quarters and speak to
each quarter. Stay away from bored or negative faces near the front.
Their state of mind may have nothing to do with you. Focus on attentive
listeners, but not to the exclusion of others. Keep looking at everyone.

Power-Positions for Speakers

Resist pacing back and forth as you speak. This is wasted energy.
Its not focused on the audience. Instead learn to use your speaking
space strategically to reached the audience.
The most powerful spot on a stage is centre front. You can train an
audience to expect to hear something important when you go to that
spot. Dont speak. Just walk to centre front. Pause.
The most powerful spot Then deliver your message.

on a stage is centre front.

I attended a terrific Boot Camp for Speakers organized by the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and
delivered by Warren Evans and Kit Grant. Here are the areas they
considered weak and strong on a stage.
Back of Stage
5. Weak
3. Strong

Warm, intimate, shows

pathos. Symbolizes the
future. Start position for you
to go on stage. Good place
to tell personal stories.

2. Strong (but aloof)

6. Weakest

1. Strongest

4. Less strong

Powerful, intense, climatic. Hold this for your

strongest information.

front of Stage


30 Chapter 3: Bodies Speak Louder Than Words

Light, humorous.
Symbolizes the past. Tell
jokes, share laughs here.

Appearance Matters: Women

Dress comfortably. Tight clothes for both men and women are distractingnot to mention uncomfortable. Wear clothes appropriate
to the occasion. If you were speaking to a rural community in a farmers barn, it would not be a good idea to wear 4-inch stiletto heels.
Here are some tips for women:
Avoid too much makeup. It will distract from your message.
Avoid dangling earrings, which sway with every movement
of your head.
Avoid gaudy jewellery. Its distracting.
Avoid low necklines. They are even more distracting.
If you wear glasses, make sure theyre non-reflective if you
have lights shining on you.
Wear colour. People will be able to see you better than if
you wear black.
If you need to wear a wireless microphone, make sure you
have a waistband on which to hang the transmitter.

Appearance Matters: Men

Here are some tips for men:
Shave twice if you have a heavy beard
Dont wear black suits. They can make you look too severe.
Three-piece suits tend to make you look stuffy and formal.
Loosen your belt one notch so you can breathe easily.
Make sure youre zippered up.
If you wear glasses, make sure theyre non-reflective if
youre in front of strong lights.

Casual or formal
As our language becomes more informal, so does our appearance. A
study at St. Marys University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, surveyed the
types of clothes worn by professors. Students were shown pictures of


a male professor dressed casually, semi-formally and formally. They

were also shown pictures of a female professor dressed casually,
semi-formally and formally.
One of the studys authors, Lucie Kocu, reported: Females were
credible, likable, competent no matter what they wore. Males were
credible, competent and yet not likable when they were dressed
more formally.
Bottom-line? Dress appropriately and respectfully.

Summary: Body Language

Halinas Revelation #2You are an animal.
Body Language speaks first, and louder than spoken
Handsuse your hands naturally. Speak from the heart and
the hands will follow.
Posturestand straight.
Relaxrelax your body. Shake it out before you speak.
Eyesalways look at everyone if you have a small group, or
divide a large room into quadrants and move your eyes from
quadrant to quadrant.
Pacingavoid pacing back and forth. It saps your energy
and is distracting.
Stage positioncentre stage front is the most powerful
Appearance: womenavoid plunging necklines, too much
make up and jewellery.
Appearance: menshave. Check your fly. Dress
appropriately for the occasion.
Casual vs formalpeople accept a less formal appearance
more in men. Women can wear just about what they want.

32 Chapter 3: Bodies Speak Louder Than Words

chap te r

Inner Language:
Let Your Emotions Show
(But Not All of the Them)

It isnt until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you

arenot necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit
withinthat you can begin to take control.
Oprah Winfrey, talk show host
Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a
waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.
Dale Carnegie, Author

eve talked about how you can use Spoken Language and
Body Language to deliver your message effectively. Now,
lets talk about your Inner Language
and how it affects your message and your audience. The Inner Language

is the language of

The Inner Language is the language of your soul. your soul.

Its your feelings and emotions. It comes through in
your words and gestures. They will send very specific signals to the
audience. These signals can enhance or detract from your message.
So you need to manage your Inner Language as strategically as the
other two languages.


Halinas Revelation #3: Its Not All About You

Understand, first and foremost, that yes youre the messenger but
its the message that matters. So stop obsessing about how you look
or what people will think of you because that preoccupation with
yourself will come through in your Inner Language. The audience
will pick up on it. Thats emphasizing the messenger. Focus instead
on the message and the audience.
An audience wants to know whats in this for me? See your presentation from their point of view. What do they want to know? What
are they going to take away from your presentation? Whats the best
strategy for giving them your wisdom? By focussing on them, and
giving to them, you will win over any audience.
That means being comfortable showing your emotionsat least
those emotions that will help the audience connect with your
message. Your strongest connection with your audience in Inner
Language is your passion.

Back to Passion

A great leaders courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion,

not position.
John Maxwell, Author

Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosopher

Passion is the single most important ingredient of any speech or

presentation. Thats why were speaking about it again. You must be
passionate when you speak. You must believe in what you sayor
the audience wont believe it.
All speaking is acting. Its bringing your message to life with your
words, body and feelings. Its showing the audience that you are
more than a speaking machine. One professional speaker from

34 Chapter 4: Inner Language: Let Your Emotions Show (But Not All of Them)

South Africa, Ian Thomas, talks about the team building lessons
hes learned by observing a pride of lions. To drive his points home,
he stalks, crawls and leaps around the stage like a
Passion is the single
lion. His passion for his subject is evident in every
most important
movement and every word.

ingredient of any

Leaping about a boardroom might seem a bit over

speech or presentation.
the top. And for most of us it isunless were equating team building and a pride of lions. We need to show our passion
in a way thats comfortable for us.
You need to be authentic. If you go over the top by overacting, the
audience will know. You wind up losing credibility. But the audience
will also know if there is no juice in your words. Once again, you
lose credibility. So find your groove, find your passion and show it
fearlessly. Not everyone will share your passion. But if you believe in
what youre saying, the audience will respect you for demonstrating
the depth of your feelings.

Connecting to Your Audience

Passion is a bridge that builds a connection to the audience. When
you connect with your message, when you feel it in every pore of
your being, the audience will feel it too. Thats
when youll connect with them. They will receive Passion is a bridge that
your message. And they will remember it.
builds a connection to

the audience.

The whole purpose of managing your Spoken, Body

and Inner Languages is to ignite and nurture that magical connection
with your audience.

Passion and connection lead seamlessly into persuasion. By showing

you care for your topic and making a connection with the audience,
you create the fertile ground for buy-in to your vision, product, pitch
or message. Ultimately thats why you get up to speak. To convince
and persuade a group of people that what you have to say is relevant
and worth their time and attention.


Keep Your Energy Level High

Another important part of your Inner Language is your energy. You
have to get your energy level up when you speak. Nerves will do that
to some extent. Well talk about dealing with nerves a little later.
For any presentation you have to speak with power and conviction.
Project your voice. But dont be strident. Being a little nervous is
good. It gives you some adrenalin energy. When we read, our energy
is even and often low key. When we speak naturally, we vary our
energy depending on what were saying. Try saying Honey we just
won $20 million without being excited.
Energy is important in another way. Humans have an energy component to their bodies. In acupuncture, the Chinese insert needles
into energy meridians in the body to promote healing. They call this
energy chi. Indian medicine talks about prana energy. Yoga has
energy centres called chakras. Western medicine is now exploring the mind-body connection, how the energy of our thoughts can
change our lives.
We exude energy. As the song goes When youre smiling, the whole
world smiles with you. I once emceed a three day conference with
about 300 attendees. There were a lot of speakers, many of them
delivering long, low-key slide presentations. I could see the audiences energy fading. So each time I spoke and introduced a new
speaker or made an announcement, I delivered it with gusto. I spiked
my energy levels to energize the audience. It worked. I had a lot of
comments from attendees saying my energy kept them in the room
and listening to the next speaker.

Dont Fade Away

A lot of speakers tend to fade out at the end of sentences. Their energy
sags and their voices get softer and lower. As a result, the audience
struggles to hear what is being said.

36 Chapter 4: Inner Language: Let Your Emotions Show (But Not All of Them)

People remember beginnings and endings of sentences more that

they do the middle. So keep your energy up at the end of the sentence,
speech or presentation. This is especially important if your sentence
ends with a call to action. Speaking demands a lot of energy. Keep
your energy level up all the time you are speaking.

Trust Your Gutometer

Energy is linked to our feelings and ability to sense things. As animals we sense each others feelings. Some people
are better at this than others, but generally we can I jokingly say we all
read our fellow beings. We sense when someone have a gutometer. Its
is sad or happy, engaged with us or not. Thats an
about two inches below
example of Inner Language communicating with
your belly button. Its
Inner Language.

where gut feelings

come from.

I jokingly say we all have a gutometer. Its about

two inches below your belly button. Its where gut
feelings come from. Some people call this intuition, or sixth sense.
What ever you call it, its important to tune into these feeling. Trust
your gutometer.

What does this have to do with public speaking? A lot, actually. If

youre nervous, depressed or distracted when you speak, the audience will sense it. Your Inner Language will be broadcasting your
feelings loud and clear, even if your Spoken or Body Language isnt.
Everyone in the audience has their own personal gutometer reading
you. So you have to be in tune with, and know how
to manage, your Inner Language before your speak. When you go before

any audience, you have

When you go before any audience, you have to go

with the right motive in your heart. You have to be to go with the right
confident and focussed on your presentation. Then motive in your heart.
your energy field will send out the right message to
the audience. And the audience will be more receptive to you.


As you speak, use your gutometer to scan the audience. Youll be

able to sense when the audience is not really listening, even when
they appear to be attentive. Adjust your presentation to get their
attention back. Always remember its not about you when you speak.
Its about your audience. Its about reaching them, connecting with
them and holding their attention from start to finish.

Strike the Right Tone

Tone can be as important as text.

Edward Koch, Politician

We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in

which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher
Tone is the gift-wrap around your words, the feeling they convey.
Its important your tone matches your content. Smile if the story is
happy. Youd be surprised how many people deliver wonderful news
with the tone of the voice of doom.
Tone will vary in speeches. Perhaps youre talking about a really
bad period in a companys history. You wont be smiling when you
do. But when you talk about how the company overcame the difficulties, lighten up and build to a full smile. We do this naturally
when we speak. We only tend to slip into a monotone when we
read aloud.

Watch Out for Tone Traps

If youre talking about a happy incident, but need to describe a really
bad one immediately afterwards, you need to change your tone dramatically to match each part. It would be too harsh and unfeeling
from the audiences perspective to go from a big beaming smile to a
furrowed brow full of concern.

38 Chapter 4: Inner Language: Let Your Emotions Show (But Not All of Them)

So you need to take a dip into neutral territory first. Give the audience a second or two to get ready for the new information. You can do
this with a pause, or a neutral phrase such as, Now, Id like to talk
about. The audience will see you as a caring,
thoughtful individual who is completely in control Sometimes people are
of the presentation.
so nervous when they

speak; they see only

Sometimes people are so nervous when they speak;

they see only the words and not the feelings behind the words and not the
them. To make your words come alive and be feelings behind them.
believable, you need to hit the appropriate tone. So
look at your presentation for tone trapsareas where you go from
one extreme tone to another. Have a plan for making the transition
between emotions.

How to Control Your Nerves

According to most studies, peoples number one fear is public

speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that
sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral,
youre better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
Jerry Seinfeld, Actor

Being nervous is no laughing matter. One speaker I met vomited before

his presentations. And there are countless horror stories about nervous
speakers blanking out, sweating profusely, racing
through presentations or shaking uncontrollably.
One reason were afraid

of the audience is their

There are many reasons why people are terrified of

collective energy. Its
speaking in public. But it generally boils down to
one thingbeing afraid of the audience. One reason all focussed on us
were afraid of the audience is their collective energy. and we know it.
Its all focussed on usand we know it. Have you
ever seen a seemingly-confident person step up to the podium and lose
it for the first few minutes? He shuffles his paper, and perhaps offers
a lame joke. He has trouble looking at the audience. A few uncomfortable minutes pass before he settles down into his presentation.


When he stepped up to the podium, dozens or hundreds of pairs

of eyes were focussed on him. All the energy behind those eyes hit
him at once. He was the complete centre of their attention. In that
moment all these strangers were evaluating him. If youre not used to
this kind of intense scrutiny, it can put you off your stride.
So heres how to cope with that sudden intense scrutiny. Walk up to
the lectern. Put your papers down, if you have any. Take a moment
and look at the audience. Dont say a word. Let yourself feel the
energy coming from them. Settle your own energy field. Take a breath
or two. Pause. Then begin to speak. Better to have a few seconds of
silence than a painful start to your presentation that you, and your
audience, will never forget.
The wonderful thing about the TalkitOut technique is that it either
gets rid of your nerves totally, or at the very least settles you down so
you do a great job. Thats because TalkitOut taps into the authentic
you. When youre being yourself, youre much more composed. Its
when you try to be someone else that you get nervous.

Be Yourself

Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but

reasonable confidence in your powers you cannot be successful or
happy. But with sound self-confidence you can succeed.
Norman Vincent Peale, Author

The key to being a persuasive, dynamic speaker is to be yourself. But

what if youre afraid to be who you are, or youre extremely nervous?
Using the Talkitout Technique will definitely reduce
The key to being a your nervousness. So will believing in yourself.

persuasive, dynamic
speaker is to be yourself.

Take your cue from the movies. Imagine a scene

where the main character has to read a prepared
text. She has to persuade a group of people to take a tough decision. Theres a lot at stake. But something is wrong. Our character
doesnt want to read the text someone else has written for her. Maybe

40 Chapter 4: Inner Language: Let Your Emotions Show (But Not All of Them)

she doesnt believe in it. Or perhaps shes terrified of speaking. The

crowd shuffles, impatiently. Suddenly our character steps forward.
She looks around, glances at the prepared textand tosses it away.
She lifts her head, takes a deep breath and speaks passionately from
the heart. The crowd goes wild.
This is the point where the character risked all by being true to herself. And this is the moment where she gained all because she was
true to herself. The character has taken a risk. And in movie after
movie that risk pays off. It will for you too, if you are true to yourself
and speak from your heart. To be a great communicator you must
have confidence. You have to trust yourself.
The TalkitOut Technique forces you to be yourself because when you
say each thought out loud, its you speaking. You can cheat and pretend youre someone else, and try speaking in their voice. But the
result will be a lousy presentation. The audience will know you are
faking. They wont like you or trust you.
To be yourself, you have to have faith and guts. Faith that you are
as good as anyone else. Faith that the audience will love you for
who you are, not because you can imitate someone else. And guts
to speak in your own authentic voice. Believe in yourself, and others
will, too.

Summary: Inner Language

Halinas Revelation #3Its not all about you. You are the
messenger; its the message that matters.
Inner Language is the language of your emotions and
feelings. The audience can read these emotions.
Being passionate makes you believable.
When youre passionate you connect to the audience; when
you have a connection with the audience, its easier to
persuade them.
Its not just physical energy that matters. Its your vibe, too.
Clear your mind and focus on what youre saying.


Trust your Gutometeryour gut and intuition will let you

know if you are ringing true with the audience.
Dont speak in a monotone. Tone should match content.
Watch out for tone trapsdont go from the jolly to the
dismal in one breath. Separate the two feelings by talking
about something neutral, first.
Nervesif you use the Talkitout Technique, it will get rid of
most of your nerves.
Always be yourself.
If you believe in yourself, others will too.

42 Chapter 4: Inner Language: Let Your Emotions Show (But Not All of Them)

chap te r

Communication Impact:
Putting It All Together

ommunication impact is the impact of your Spoken Language,

Body Language and Inner Language (feelings) when youre
face-to-face with an audience, either live or on television.
Your appearance, your face, clothes, hair and movement will have
a strong impact on your audience. Thats not unusual. We all love to
people watch. If not managed strategically, your Communication
Impact may not be exactly what you intended.
Often the first time people see you is as you walk to the podium.
Immediately they start assessing your Body Language. They note
the way you walk. They check the way you sit or stand. Theyll even
be aware of the way you breathe. All of this can supportor detract
fromthe effective delivery of your message.
The way you sound has the second strongest impact on your audience. Do you speak too quickly? Too slowly? Too loudly? Do you mumble, or speak with a heavy accent? Do you pause when you speak? Do
you use words you speak comfortably? Do you vary your pace?


Is your tone, which is part of your Inner Language, interfering with

what youre saying? Are you feeling out of sorts over something that
happened earlier? Are those feelings creeping into your presentation? Or maybe you dont believe in what youre saying. The audience
will sense your discomfort.

The Mehrabian Myth

Albert Mehrabian, a professor of psychology, has become widely
known for his 55%, 38%, 7% rule of communication. Mehrabian
found there were three elements in face-to-face communication.
Body language (55%) had the strongest impact
on an audience
Tone of voice (38%) was second
The words spoken (7%) had the least impact
Mehrabian discovered if your body language and tone of voice didnt
match your words, when you were talking about feelings and attitudes, the audience would tend to believe your non-verbal communication and tonality of voicethe 55% plus 38%. Thats 93% of your
impact on an audience.
Mehrabians findings have been widely misinterpreted to mean the
words have the least impact of all in any situation. Thats not true.
Our words are very important. Mehrabians numbers are only true if
an audience sees you and if your Body and Inner Languages are out
if sync with your Spoken Language when you are speaking about feelings or attitudes. Then the words become less important.
Heres what matters to you as a communicator: for maximum
Communication Impact make sure you master the TalkitOut strategies for your Spoken, Body and Inner Languages. Make sure all three
languages work together seamlessly to support your message. When
they do, your Communication Impact will be exactly what you want
it to be.

44 Chapter 5: Communication Impact: Putting It All Together

Communication Mantra
The Communication Mantra sums up the strategy for the Three
Languages of Communication.

Have something to say

Believe it
Say it simply
Shut up

Its a handy way to remember how to become a powerful and persuasive public speaker.
Have Something to Say
Decide on your content. Dont try to deliver absolutely everything.
Pick 2 or 3 key areas to talk about. Less is more. Ask yourself what
you want the audience to take away from the speech. When they are
listening to you, they are wondering Whats in it for me? Figure out
the answer to that question and your speech will be a success.
Believe It
Be passionate about your speech. Connect to it. If you dont care, neither will the audience. Speak from the heart. When you do, you will
have the right tone, emphasis, pace and body language. Everything
will work. Then you will connect to the audience, and they will get
your message. Remember, realistically you cant
convince everyone. But even those who disagree Albert Einstein
will respect your point of view when you deliver
famously said If you
your message with honest passion.

cant explain it simply,

you dont understand it
well enough.

Say it Simply
Stick with simple sentences. Avoid subordinate
clauses or long, convoluted constructions. Use
strong, sturdy words. No jargon, business babble or clichs. Being
simple doesnt mean being simplistic. It means clarity, which leads
to understanding. Youll win over your audience with simplicity.
Youll lose them with complexity. Albert Einstein famously said If
you cant explain it simply, you dont understand it well enough.


Shut up
Avoid the temptation to keep babbling. Say what you have to say. Say
it in the most compelling way possible. Then shut up. The sign of a
confident speaker is his or her ability to stop talking at the appropriate time.
Now that weve talked in general about creating winning presentations, its time to move on to the specifics of TalkitOut. In the next
chapter we'll look at the all-important planning process. But first,
a recap.

Summary: Communication Impact

Communication Impact is the impact of your Spoken, Body
and Inner Languages together on the audience.
Your appearance and tone have a stronger impact on an
audience than you might imagine.
Make sure your Body language, Spoken Language and Inner
Language all match your content.
Communication Mantra
Have something to say
Believe it
Keep it simple
Shut up

46 Chapter 5: Communication Impact: Putting It All Together

chap te r

Sharpen Your Axe:

The All-Important
Planning Stage

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four
sharpening the axe.
Abraham Lincoln

he key to a great presentation is planning. The more you organize at the beginning, the less work youll have to do putting
your presentation together. Start by jotting down ideas. Resist
the urge at this point to write complete sentences, except for the controlling idea. Focus on capturing and organizing your thoughts.

Dont think about your slide show at this point. And if you have
slides you are hoping to re-use, resist the temptation to look at them.
I guarantee that if you focus on organizing your thoughts, youll find
that the slides evolve organically when the time is right (and the right
time is towards the end, not the beginning, of the TalkitOut process).

Be Creative
Get a pen and paper or a blank document on your computer. I favour
using a pen and paper to jot down ideas. The physical act of writing


will stimulate your right brain, your creative side. You can doodle for
more stimulation. You want to be as creative as possible.
As someone once told me: If you do what youve always done, youre
going to get what you always got. Unless youve been incredibly successful as a speaker, you dont want to get what you always got. You
want to evolve and develop. So put some effort into being as creative
as possible. Dont self-censor. Dont set limits on
If you do what youve your imagination. You are looking for the spark that
always done, youre will ensure you capture your audiences attention.

going to get what

you always got.

Ive created an easy to use formthe Think It Out

Formto help you plan your presentations strategically. As I describe each section, were going to fill it out. At the end
there will be a blank Think It Out Form for you to use for your presentations. You can also go to our website,
and download the form as many times as you want.
Start with your topic. What are you going to talk about? Put it at the
top of your page. Lets say your topic is what your company, Acme
Ltd., is doing to protect the environment. If it helps, think of a title, or
headline. In our example, weve decided to use the headline Green
Not Mean.
Who are you going to be talking to? How many? Refer to the chapter
on audience for more information. For this example, youre speaking
to Acmes 250 employees. (Theres much more about your relationship with your audiences, later).
Time of Day
This is important. Audiences react differently depending on the time
of day. Theres more on how time of day affects the audience later in
the book. For our example, youre speaking in the morning at 10:30
after a coffee break. Thats good because youll have an audience
thats awake and fresh from a break.

48 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

Controlling Idea
The controlling idea is the main idea you are developing. It describes
the direction youre going to take. Begin by deciding exactly what
will be the main message of your speech or presentation. This is the
big idea the one you want the audience to go away talking about
and thinking about.
Condense your message into one clear statement. Write it down.
Everything you say or do will support this statement. It will guide
your whole presentation or speech. It will keep you focused.
Lets imagine you are explaining what Acme is doing to support a
clean environment. You want to tell the audience all the good things
youve done and why theyre important. That is what your speech is
about. But its not a controlling idea. The controlling idea has to be
one clear simple sentence that expresses what you
want the audience to understand. Your controlling Once you decide on
idea should be something as clear and simple as your controlling idea,
We strongly support a clean environment because
keep coming back to it
its good for business.
Once you decide on your controlling idea, keep
coming back to it throughout your talk. Its like
background music; its always there. Let it guide all
your arguments and all the points you make.

throughout your talk.

Its like background
music; its always there.
Let it guide all your
arguments and all the
points you make.

It may take a bit of time to define and refine the controlling idea. But persevere. It will save you time in
the long run. It provides a clear focus for your whole presentation.
Its the glue that holds your speech or presentation together.

This is the opening of your talk. The hook grabs the audiences attention. It arouses their interest. It makes them want to listen. The hook
can be one word, one sentence, a quote, an outrageous declaration
or a short story. It can be anything you wantas long as it does its
job and engages the audiences attention.


But, please, no forced jokes. And please, dont recite a shopping list
of what you intend to talk about, as in My objectives today are blah
blah blah.
Please, dont automatically start with how happy you are to be
thereunless theres a compelling reason to say this. If someone introduces you, you can thank them quietly as the audience is
applauding. You dont have to publicly thank them for your introduction. And please, no lame Gee is that really me? remarks after the
Please dont do the old good morning routine. Thats the one where
the speaker comes on and says, Good Morning Everyone. The audience mumbles back Good Morning.. The speaker, predictably, says
What? I didnt hear you. Good morning! The audience is forced to
scream back Good Morning. All this routine accomplishes is to irritate the audienceso you now have to work harder to win them over.
All these openers are tired and predictable. You can do better. And
your audience deserves better. Be creative. People remember the hook.
Psychological studies show we can evaluate a person in about two
seconds. You want to make sure you not only pass that two-second
inspection, but you also have the audience begYou need to hook em ging for more. You want them to know what theyre
and hold em. about to hear will be worth their time. You need to
hook em and hold em. If you dont do that at the
beginning, youre going to have to work a whole lot harder later on
(and it may be too late).
One very successful banking executive I coached was speaking to
the annual meeting of senior executives and managers. She was
introducing a new program aimed at getting very young customers
acquainted with the bank. She looked around the room and said
Lets talk about babies. She paused, surveyed the audience again,
and said You heard me right. I want to talk about babies. With
that hook, she had everybodys attention. Her presentation was a
great success.

50 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

One executive started a speech by whipping out a pair of novelty

glasses with bushy eyebrows and a huge nose. He put them on and
said Now that Ive got your attention.
Your hook can be a bit of theatrics, a story, a question, a shocking
statementwhatever you want it to be. Do whats right for you and
for the type of talk youre giving. But whatever you do, make the hook
memorable. Understand the purpose of your hook. Is it to:

Introduce yourself and your topic

Make a connection with the audience
Put both the audience and yourself at ease
Present yourself as an authority on your topic

Or is it all of the above? Figure out what you want your hook to do,
and find the most creative way of doing it.
Lets return to Acme Ltd and the topic of Green Not Mean. Imagine
that the hook will be a story about how your 10 year old daughter,
Melissa, came home from school. Her teacher had been talking about
how we are destroying the environment. Melissa was worried about
her future. That got you thinking about what we all need to do to save
the environment.

Whats In It For Them?

The big question the audience wants answered pretty quickly is
Whats in this for me? You have to let them know the benefits theyll
get from your presentationand you have to do it
The big question
speedily. Then the audience will settle and listen
to your arguments. If they dont get a convincing the audience wants
answer to their unspoken whats in it for me?, answered pretty quickly
they will start tuning out.
is Whats in this for me?
In the Acme example, youll tell them they can help the company and
the environment and their children, without a lot of pain or expense.


Why Me?
Sometimes the audience needs to know why you are the one speaking
on this topic. This is especially true if they dont know you, or if they
know you in a different role. One politician Ive worked with was both
a lawyer and chartered accountant. So when he spoke to an audience
of accountants, he made sure they knew his Chartered Accountant
credentials early in his presentation. It made him more credible to a
specialist audience than if hed just been a visiting politician.
If it helps, tell the audience a bit about yourself. Make sure its relevant to the presentation. Keep it short. The audience doesnt want
your whole life history. For the Acme presentation, youre the operations manager. But before Acme you worked for an environmental
company. So you want the audience to know this.

This is the need-to-know-information. Without it, what you say
makes no sense. But its very tricky territory. If you have too much
context, youll lose your audience. They get bored with the history
lesson. But if you dont have enough context, youll confuse your
audience. They wont have the basic information to connect the dots.
So pay attention to your context, and where you place it in your talk.
It might work after the hook, or later on. It all depends on your strategy and your content.
There are no hard and fast rules as to what should come firstcontent or context. Perhaps the audience needs to understand a point of
context before you give them the content. It could be the other way
around. You decide.
Lets go back to the banking executive with the babies hook. The
context of her presentation was that the bank was implementing a
new customer service program. The content was how it would work,
why they were doing it, what each manager would be responsible for

52 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

and other details. Without the context, none of those details would
make sense. Context is important.
Dont assume the audience knows the context. In the age of information, when we are bombarded with facts, figures, stories and media,
the easier you make it for your audience to understand your point,
the more chance youll have they will remember what youve said.
Give them the information in manageable, logical, bite-size pieces.
And make sure they know how the pieces fit together.
For our Acme presentation, the context the audience needs to hear
will be how much money is lost by wasteful company practices.


Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because
they have to say something.

The content is the bulk of your presentation, where you develop your
arguments, where you convince, inspire and teach. Figure out how
many points you want to talk about. Then jot down a few notes for
each point.

Say what you need to say and no more. Less is more. Craft your
content carefully and pepper it with stories, anecdotes and details.
Usually for a 15 or 20 minute presentations, three
Give them knowledge.
subject areas or main points are enough.

Give them wisdom. And,

most importantly, give
them a good story.

The content section is where you really get a

chance to use one of the greatest tools a speaker
hasthe power of story. You dont want to build
your audiences expectation with a great hook, only to let them down
with a long, boring recitation of dry facts and forgettable figures.

If you want people to listen and remember what you said, dont just
give them information. Give them knowledge. Give them wisdom.


And, most importantly, give them a good story. (Theres more on storytelling in the chapter on How to Make Your Message Memorable.)
Understand the purpose of your context and content. Is it to:

Develop your arguments so you can persuade.

Build a connection with the audience
Get them to understand
Stimulate dialogue, feedback and questions

Or is it all of the above?

For our Acme example, you know youre going to speak for 15 minutes. Youre going to present three subject areas:
1. How Acme is wasting resources now.
2. How Acme can become green.
3. What this will mean in terms of Acmes bottom line,
growth and corporate reputation.

Your conclusion should support your controlling idea. If it doesnt,
your key points or main focus will probably get lost.
In presentations, your ending or conclusion is a power position. So
how should you end a presentation? It depends on your content, of
course, and what you want to accomplish. The conclusion could be
any one of the following:

a summary of your major points

a call to action
asking for the sale
a challenge
an answer to a question posed at the opening

54 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

You can use the dinner party ending to gently get into your conclusion. Usually at a dinner party, when its time to go, someone will
announce Well I guess I should be going now.
What inevitably follows is more chat until another, You can use the dinner
party ending to gently
similar, announcement.

get into your conclusion.

After this happens two or three times, people finally

leave. Its rarely a case of saying Well I guess I should be going now
and heading straight for the exit.

Socially we often signal our intention long before we actually do it.

Its polite. It prepares everyone for whats about to happen. So when
youre making a presentation and you want to be conversational
and natural, use the dinner party ending. Signal your intention to
wrap up a few minutes before you actually end. Your audience will
be prepared and more alert for your final words. The dinner party
ending is only one option. Understand the purpose of your conclusion. Is it to:

Get the audience to do something

Inspire them
Leave them thinking
Have them speak

Or is it all of the above? Think about what you want people to do after
youve finished your presentation. Develop your conclusion accordingly. People will remember what is said in the conclusion.
At the Acme presentation, youve decided to end by referring back to
your story about Melissa. Youll tell your audience that you discussed
your plans for a more environmentally-friendly Acme with Melissa.
It made her feel happy and secure. Everyone in the company will be
doing the same thing for their children.
We have now completed our Think It Out form for the Acme presentation. Heres what it looks like:


Think It Out for Acme Ltd. Presentation


Jot Down Your Ideas

Try to think of a snappy

Green Not Mean

How many and
who are they?

250 Acme employees

Time of Day
Specific time

10:30 AM

Controlling Idea
One sentence thats
your focus/premise.

We strongly support a clean environment

because its good for business.

Jot down ideas on how
to grab the audience.

Story about Melissas fears for the


Whats in it for them?

What are the benefits
for the audience.

They can help the company and the environment without a lot of pain.

Why me?
You worked for an environmental company
What are your credentials for speaking on this before.
Jot down the need to
know information

How Acme is wasting resources.

How Acme can become green.
What this will mean in terms of Acmes bottom
line, growth, corporate reputation.

Jot down the point(s)
you want to make at
the end.

Story of Melissas reaction to our plans

56 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

Heres a blank form you can use to prepare for your own speech or

Think It Out Presentation Planning Form


Jot Down Your Ideas

Try to think of a snappy
How many and
who are they?
Time of Day
Specific time
Controlling Idea
One sentence thats
your focus/premise.
Ideas on how to grab
the audience.
Whats in it for them?
What are the benefits
for the audience.
Why me?
What are your
credentials for speaking
on this topic.
Jot down the need to
know information
2 or 3 subject areas
your facts, ideas &
Jot down the point(s)
you want to make at
the end.


Summary: Planning a Speech or Presentation

The more you plan your presentation strategically, the easier
it will be to create it.
Do not start with slides.
Do not write sentences at the planning stage.
Jot down key words and ideas.
Use the Think it Out form as a route map for your
Topic: Try to think of a snappy headline
Audience: how many, and who are they.
Time of Day: specific time.
Controlling Idea: One sentence that expresses your
Hook: Jot down ideas on how to grab the audience.
Whats in it for them?: What are the benefits for the
Why me?: What are your credentials for speaking on
this topic?
Context: Jot down the need to know information.
Conclusion: Jot down the point(s) you want to make at
the end.

58 Chapter 6: Sharpen Your Axe: The All-Important Planning Stages

chap te r

TalkitOut: The Heart of

Powerful Presentations

You can type this shit, George, but you sure cant say it.
Harrison Ford, Actor (On George Lucas dialogue in Star Wars)
The moment you pick up a pen you begin to lose the spontaneity
of the personal relation, which contains the very essence of interest.
With shorthand dictation one can talk as if he were at his own
dinner-table always a most inspiring place. I expect to dictate
all the rest of my life, if you good people are willing to come and
listen to it.
Mark Twain, Author

hen Mark Twain was around 70 years old, he started dictating his recollections to his stenographerand discovered the essential difference between writing and speaking. He realized that speaking his thoughts, rather than writing them
down, made them more natural and conversational. What most of
us dont understand, and what Twain discovered late in life, is that
speaking and writing are very different communication delivery systems. And yet too often, and with disastrous results for speakers, we
treat them as interchangeable.


Most people, preparing for a speech or presentation, instinctively

begin by writing. We default to the delivery system
So it makes sense that that works for words that are to be read by the eyes.
if our words ultimately And then we wonder why the words sound clumsy
and stilted when we try to read them aloud.

are to be spoken aloud,

we must generate them
through our mouths, and
edit them with our ears.

The truth, as Mark Twain discovered, is that we use

very different vocabularies and sentence structures
when we speak. So it makes sense that if our words
ultimately are to be spoken aloud, we must generate them through our mouths, and edit them with our ears.
Many of us are taught from childhood that when preparing a speech
or presentation we need to:

Plan it
Write it out
Memorize it
Deliver it from memory

When you use the TalkitOut Technique this is how you prepare:
1. Think it out
2. Talk it out
3. Deliver it
As you can see, the emphasis is on speaking out loud right from the
planning stage. You dont write anything until you are completely
happy with the way your words sound. This ensures your words are
conversational and easy to deliver. And you save a
But the biggest problem substantial chunk of time because the memorizawith speeches created tion stage is built into the preparation system.

by tapping or scratching
words onto a page is that
people cannot easily and
convincingly speak out
loud what theyve written.

Trying to learn by heart something youve written

for the eye is a challenge. But the biggest problem
with speeches created by tapping or scratching
words onto a page is that people cannot easily and
convincingly speak out loud what theyve written.

60 Chapter 7: TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations

The Problem With Writing in Silence

How do you begin preparing your presentation or speech? If you are
like most people I work with, you sit at your computer, or grab pen
and paper, and stare at the blank screen or page. You think.
Then the thoughts come pouring out of the brain, race down the
arms to the fingers, get tap-tap-tapped into the keyboard, and pop
up on the screen as sentences to be processed by the eyes. Your eyes
send messages to the brain, the brain evaluates the words and sends
instructions for changes to the fingers, and the words get shuffled
round the screen. You carry on like this, silently, until finallyhours,
days, or weeks lateryou finish.
Or maybe you dont prepare this way. Maybe you create your slides
and then speak, using each slide as a guide. Again, you are relying
on your eyes to prepare your presentation. Either way, I believe this
is a waste of your precious time. You are doing things backwards.
The process of writing the words bypasses two vital organs. The
words are never tested on the lips. And the content is judged purely
on how it looks to the eye, rather than how it will sound in the ears
of the listener.
Dont get me wrong, theres nothing wrong with writing out a
scriptif people are going to read what you wrote. This is the way we
all learned to write essays and letters. It works if youre writing a book.
But it doesnt work when youre preparing a speech or presentation.

Use the Right Recipe: TalkitOut

You cant prepare

something thats going to
be heard the same way
you prepare something
thats going to be read.

You cant prepare something thats going to

be heard the same way you prepare something thats going to be read. Its like trying
to bake a chocolate cake using a lemon pie
recipe. No matter how fresh your eggs and juicy your lemons, youre
not going to make a chocolate cake. You have the wrong recipe.


If you want people to listen, to learn and to be inspired when you

address them, you need to prepare your material using the right recipe. That recipe is the TalkitOut Technique.
TalkitOut works because its an oral technique. Before the computer,
before the typewriter, before the pen, we talked. We told great epic
stories without writing them out first. We need to
Before the computer, go back and learn from that storytelling tradition.

before the typewriter,

before the pen, we
talked. We told great
epic stories without
writing them out first.
We need to go back
and learn from that
storytelling tradition.

The TalkitOut Technique takes the essence of

the oral tradition and makes it work for us today.
The technique is simple. The results are amazing.
TalkitOut will dramatically improve the way you
speak or make a presentation. But you have to follow the technique exactly, or you wont get optimum results.

Im going to ask you to do something you may

never have done before. I promise if you do, you
will dramatically improve any presentation you make. But its up
to you. If youre happy with the way youve always done things,
fine. Put this book down. But if you want to be a great speaker, try
TalkitOut. It will challenge you, make you growand turn you into
a dynamite speaker.

Forget the Old Way

The first step is to forget the way you usually write your speeches or
prepare your presentations. TalkitOut is like no other technique. As
you do it, youll see why it makes sense. Try it, and I promise it will
make you a powerful and persuasive speaker.
Begin by sketching out your thoughts or subject matter using the
Think It Out Form. Once you have focused your thoughts and created
an outline for your speech or presentation, its time to start talking
out the content.

62 Chapter 7: TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations

Sit On Your Hands

Yes, sit on your hands. Dont touch your keyboard or pen. Start with
your hookthe opening of the speech that will engage the audience and have them thirsting for more. Look at the idea you jotted
down on the Think It Out Form. Imagine your audience in the room
in front of you.

Talk Out Loud

Now say your first idea out loud to your imaginary audience. Dont
write it. Whether its one word, one sentence or a story, speak it out
loud. Speak the way you always do. Listen to yourself as you speak.
Dont be shy. Close your office door if you prefer. Dont whisper. Talk
in your normal speaking voice.
Get used to speaking out loud and listening to yourself. If you cant
bear to listen to yourself, how can you ask an audience to listen to
you? As you speak out loud, remember everything you learned in
the Spoken Language sections, especially to keep to one thought per
sentence. Keep each sentence short and simple. Stay away from clichs and jargon.

Be Creative
Say the first sentence or thought of the hook in as
ways as you can. Experiment. Be outrageous. Be
settle for the first phrase that comes out of your
mouth. If you cant think of a way to start, say anything that relates to your idea for a hook. Just keep
talking it out, out loud. Its like priming a pump.
Eventually all the talking will produce some wonderful verbal thoughts.

many different
creative. Dont

Eventually all the

talking will produce
some wonderful verbal


Write It Exactly the Way You Said It

When one phrase or sentence sounds right, when the words are easy
to pronounce, when its really conversationally you, thenand only
thenwrite it down. Write it quickly before you forget it. Youll know
this moment because your instinct, your gutomWrite it down exactly eter will tell you. Write it down exactly the way you
the way you said it. said it. Dont worry about spelling. You can correct
mistakes later.

Dont worry about

spelling. You can correct
mistakes later.

Now you have one sentence written down. Say

this sentence out loud and add a second sentence.
Again, try saying the second sentence in as many
creative ways as possible. When you hear that one absolutely right
way of expressing this new thought, write it down exactly the way
you said it. Write it down before you forget it. Remember your gutometer? If you listen to it, it will tell you when you have expressed your
thought perfectly.

Repeat the Process

Now you have two sentences written down. Say the first one out loud.
Then the second one. Now add the third thought. Say it in as many
different ways as possible. Again, once you hear the absolutely best
way to express this thought, write it down exactly the way you said
it. Now you have three sentences. Keep working this way as you build
the opening of your speech.
If your hook is a story, dont say it all at once and then try to write it
down. Rather, speak your story, sentence by sentence. Write it, one
sentence at a time, after youve said it.

Check Your Flow

By now youve written down a lot of thoughts or sentences. They dont
live in a vacuum. You need to check to make sure everything flows

64 Chapter 7: TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations

and makes sense. Every time you add a new sentence or thought, go
back a few sentences and speak out loud until the end of the newest
sentence. Listen to yourself. Does one thought flow logically into the
next? Is the information easy to process? Are there any barriers to
Think how the audience will receive your information. The audience
has only one chance to hear and understand what youve said. If they
were reading a copy of your speech, they could go back a few lines
and reread a section that confused them over and over until they
understood it. They cant do this when youre speaking.
So you have to make sure you make sense every step of the way. The
only way to do this is to speak out loud and listen
If it doesnt flow or make
to yourself every time you add a new sentence. That
way, youll know if the new thought fits with whats sense, youll hear it.
been said before. If it doesnt flow or make sense, youll hear it.
The last thing you want is an audience confused or bored because
they cant follow your train of thought. As soon as an audience starts
questioning what youve just said, they miss the next point. If they
miss too many points, the big danger is they give up and check out.

Keep Talking It Out Loud

After youve finished your hook, go on to your next section. Keep talking it out, one sentence at a time. Only write what sounds really good
to youthe stuff that makes your gutometer go off the Richter scale.
Write it exactly the way you said it the first time. You can always go
back and change it later. But usually the first way you say something is the best way. Its youspeaking in your authentic voice.
Remember from earlier in this bookyou must be true to yourself.
Every time you write a new thought or sentence, go back to the beginning of the section and say it out loud, adding the new sentence.
Check it for flow and logic. Keep working out loud until you finish.


Getting Unstuck
If you get stuck and cant speak the next thought, go back to an earlier section that youve talked out. Start talking out loud from there.
Focus. Really listen to what youre saying. When you get to the place
where you were stuck, just keep talking it out. Dont over-analyze the
process. Dont try writing it in your head. Just trust the words to fall
out of your mouth.
I know this sounds strange. But it works. The next thought will come
automatically most of the time. Just let go. Trust. Be present in the
moment. Talk it out and the right words will come.

Remember KISS and Hi Mom

Remember to keep the sentences short and simple. Dont be afraid
to speak in fragments. We do this naturally. As you work, think of
what you want to emphasize. Are you sticking to your focus? Where
should you pause strategically? Use the Hi Mom test to make sure
youre speaking naturally.

Step Away From the Presentation

When youve finished your presentation, step away for a few minutes
to clear your head. Drink water. Get a coffee. Take a short walk. Call
someone. Check your email.
After your short break, go back to your presentation. Speak the whole
thing out loud. Connect to it. Imagine the audience as you say the
words. Really listen to yourself. Does the whole thing make sense?
Does it flow? Can you say all the words? If it makes sense and you can
say it comfortably, greatyoure done.

66 Chapter 7: TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations

The Benefits of TalkitOut

1. Built-in Rehearsals
TalkitOut has a built-in rehearsal system. By talking it out again and
again, you are rehearsing your material. Its much easier than writing a script and then trying to memorize it. Its easier to remember
something that began as a spoken word rather than one you thought
of and wrote down without speaking it first.
2. Saves Time
Every time you repeat a sentence out loud, youre learning your speech
or presentation as youre preparing it. TalkitOut saves you time. You
wont need to rehearse much after youve finished. If you have no
time to rehearse, no problem. You know your stuff alreadybecause
youve talked it out.
3. You are Never Tongue-Tied
Talking it out gets your tongue and mouth working. Youll be able to
say your words. If you stumble during preparation, then you know
you cant say that word or phrase. So you change it. Better to stumble at the preparation stage than embarrass yourself when youre
4. You are Really Connected to Your Material
Youll become very comfortable with your material. Youll get connected to it. By the time you deliver your speech or presentation,
youll know the material inside out. You wont need to rely on written notes to save you. Everything you need to say will be programed
inside you.
5. You Capture Your Authentic Voice
TalkitOut lets you be you. Its your voice. Youre speaking the way
you speak, not the way someone else speaks. Youre not speaking
the way you write. Because its truly you, its much easier to perform.
6. You Are Confident
When you speak in your own voice, when your tongue can easily say
the words, when youve rehearsed during preparationguess what?


Youre confident. Youve banished many of your nerves because

youve tapped into the real, conversational you.
7. Logical Flow Equals Audience Understanding
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the TalkitOut Technique is that as you
listen to yourself, you hear if something makes sense or not. When
it doesnt, you can change it. If your information flows logically and
makes sense, the audience will understand.

Always Remember This

The TalkitOut technique does not work unless you actually talk out
loud before you write it. It wont work if you speak as you write. It
wont work if you speak after youve written.

The TalkitOut technique

does not work unless
you actually talk out
loud before you write
it. It wont work if you
speak as you write. It
wont work if you speak
after youve written.

You cant whisper the words. Or think the words.

You must speak the words out loud before you write
them. This is really difficult for some people. Were
not accustomed to doing this. Weve been taught to
write in silence, and then speak what weve written.
But for speakers this is doing things backwards. Its

TalkitOut is really easy, when you get used to it. But

you do have to be willing to unlearn the old way.
Dont be afraid to change the way you work. Once you see how amazing your public speaking is with TalkitOut, youll never go back to
the old method.
Ive tested TalkitOut around the world. The results were the same
every time. All speakersregardless of their experienceimproved
dramatically and instantly. You can too, I promise. You just need to
talk it out loud.
Heres the quick guide to the Talkitout Technique:
1. Say the first thought out loud in as many different ways as

68 Chapter 7: TalkitOut: The Heart of Powerful Presentations

2. When you hear the best version, write it down exactly the
way you said it.
3. Say the first sentence out loud again. Add the second
thought. Talk it out. When you hear the best way of saying
it, write it out exactly the way you said it.
4. Say the two written sentences out loud and add the third
5. Keep going like this until you finish.

Summary: The TalkitOut Technique

Mark Twain discovered the difference between writing and
speaking in his 70s.
If you are preparing a oral presentation, it doesnt make
sense to write it in silence.
Forget the old way of doing things.
Sit on your hands. Resist the urge to write before youve
spoken the words out loud.
TalkitOut ensures you are never caught out by tonguetwisters, you are really connected to your material, you are
authentic and you are confident.
The TalkitOut technique does not work unless you actually
talk out loud before you write.


chap te r

Capturing Your Voice

in Print: A New Way to
Write Speaking Notes

s you are speaking your thoughts out loud, you still need to get
your speech or presentation on to paper or into the computer.
But with the TalkitOut technique, you write it differently.

Neat sentences and paragraphs are greatif your audience is going

to read them. But they wont. Theyre going to listen to you. Neat sentences and paragraphs would make you read the
Neat sentences and
text rather than perform it.

paragraphs are great

if your audience is
going to read them.
But they wont.

In a conventional written format, like this book,

your eyes move horizontally left to right across
the page. This is the way we read in most cultures.
Heres what happens if youre reading your presentation out loud. As you scan the words your eyes are searching for the next comma or period, for a clue about when you can
take a breath. Because we are worried about running out of breath,
we tend to read mechanically. If your eyes are moving horizontally across the page and you speak whats written, youre going
to sound like you are reading. You become preoccupied with the
process of reading, rather than speaking the content and bringing
it it to life with your voice.


Fool the Eyes

You need to fool the eyes so when you look at the speech, it forces
you to speak differently. You will perform the
You need to fool the eyes wordsnot read them. Heres how you do it.

so when you look at the

speech, it forces you to
speak differently.

1. Use a large font so you can see the words easily,

even in poor light.
2. Talk out the first thought as you learned in the
previous section. Write it up to the point where you pause
or where you might have put in a comma. Then doublespace down the page and write the continuation of the
3. Use CAPS for words you want to emphasize. Or bold them
or underline them.
4. Once the complete thought is written, with vertical spaces
corresponding to pauses, double space down the page
again, in readiness for the next thought.
5. Talk out the next thought, double-spacing and moving
down vertically each time you pause or stop.

Double space for each pause and each new thought. Keep doing this
as you talk out your speech or presentation. Essentially, youre double spacing when you would normally insert a comma if you were
writing for the eye.

When you finish the hook and are ready to talk out the content or
context, go down three spaces. This is your BFP or Big Fat Pause
or Break For Pause. Use the BFP (three spaces) when youre changing direction in logic and you want to give the audience a second
to understand. Or if you want to have a longer pause for emphasis
or effect. BFPs help you slow down and bring a change of pace and
mood to your performance. They also let you take a breath.

72 Chapter 8: Capturing Your Voice in Print: A New Way to Write Speaking Notes

Kill Punctuation
Nobody is going to read a printed copy of your speech as youre delivering it. So you dont need to fuss too much about commas, periods,
colons or semi colons. These are the grammatical indicators the eye
needs to make sense of a written text. But since no one is reading
your text, you can generally dispense with all punctuationexcept
for periods and question marks. Keep those so you know when youve
ended a thought, or if your delivery needs to change to signpost a
question. Otherwise, the double-spacing down the page will give
you much clearer indications of how to shape phrases, and where to
pause for emphasis or effect.
You may decide to publish or post your speech after youve delivered it. In that case, you can easily reformat it for the eye. But always
use the TalkitOut format when you speak to an audience. It really
enhances your performance.
To illustrate the advantage of the TalkitOut style of setting out a script,
Ill use a corporate speech I found on the website of a major multinational company. Its written in the traditional style. Ive included the
typos as they appeared on the website. But I have removed the name
of the company.
Try reading the speech out loud. Can you do it without stumbling?
Do you understand it? Do you have to re-read certain sections to
get their meaning? Imagine the impact this speech would have on
an audience. Imagine how much theyll understand after hearing it
just once.

Before TalkitOut
The facts are clearour industry already is green; the
challenge for us all is to tell the story better and more widely.
One way to tell that story better isas and industryto
seize the opportunity for leadership on the critical issue to


the global society and to our industry of the reduction of

greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol has become the focal point for the
worlds attempt to manage green house gas emissions and
other aspects of climate change, in spite of debates that
exist in some quarters about Kyotos appropriateness and
We believe that our industry has the science and the critical
mass to establish global targets to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. We also believe that if we work with governments
and other stakeholders to establish worldwide sector-specific
targets, that we can manage better the business impact of
Kyoto and subsequent regulatory frameworks.
This is just a small section of a very long speech. This was written for
the eye. Its filled with jargon and long, convoluted sentences. Its not
written to be understood easily on a single hearing.
Heres the same speech, using the TalkitOut technique. Ive talked
it out and made it easier on the ear. And Ive written it using my
TalkitOut writing technique. Read it out loud. Put in tiny pauses after
each line. Emphasis the words in bold. Take a good pause when you
see a BFP Big Fat Pause3 line spacing.

After TalkitOut
The facts are clear.
Our industry is green already.
Our challenge
is to make sure people everywhere know this.
One way we can do it
is by telling our story better.
We can tell a better story
if we become leaders in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

74 Chapter 8: Capturing Your Voice in Print: A New Way to Write Speaking Notes

This is a critical issue for our industry

and for the world.
Thats why theres so much attention on the Kyoto Protocol.
Countries are trying to manage greenhouse gas emissions
and other aspects of climate change
through Kyoto.
Theyre doing it even though
theres a debate about
how effective and appropriate the Kyoto Protocol really is.
We believe our industry
can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We have the science.
Our industry is also
big enough to establish global targets.
We believe
we can work with governments
and other stakeholders
to create specific targets around the world.
Once we do that
we can do a better job managing
the business impact of Kyoto.
Did you find this easier to read? Easier to perform? Did you understand what you just read? My clients are amazed at how easy it is
to perform their speeches after theyve been transformed by the
TalkitOut Technique.
Here are a couple of before and after transformations from two of
my clients. Read them out loud. Youll see how much easier each
speech is to perform after its been talked out and written out using
the TalkitOut technique. Youll notice that the After TalkitOut versions are dramatically different from the Before TalkitOut versions.
Thats because the clients and I spent time planning and focusing


their presentations. We talked about how we could best engage the

audiences attention, and make the content memorable.

Client #1Before TalkitOut

Good morning. Im very proud to be here at the grand
opening of the Centre for the Built Environment. This
Centre is a showcase example of what is possible in our
province when everyone comes together with the same goal
in mind. In this case, the goal was to create a leading edge
educational facility where students, faculty and industry
partners could work together to develop sustainable
solutions for our built environment.

Client #1After TalkitOut

Imagine a roof
that breathes.
Imagine a wall
that grows.
Imagine a building
that lives.
look around.
Youre standing in it.
Nova Scotia
has gone from
imagination to reality.
Welcome to
the Nova Scotia Community Colleges
Centre for the Built Environment.

76 Chapter 8: Capturing Your Voice in Print: A New Way to Write Speaking Notes

This is where imagination

is part of the curriculum.
This is where innovation
is tested.
This is where students work
hand-in-hand with industry.
They find real solutions
for todays environmental challenges.
And when they graduate
they will take
what they have learned
in Nova Scotia
to the world.

Client #2Before TalkitOut

Good morning. Let me begin by saying what an honour it
is to be speaking at todays Recreation Month luncheon. Its
always a pleasure to come to this type of event, meet with
the many individuals with whom our department works
so closely and of course celebrate all the great work that
is being done in Nova Scotias recreation community. The
Department of Health Promotion and Protection, and indeed
all of government, has a long standing relationship with
Recreation Nova Scotia.

Client #2After TalkitOut

Change doesnt
happen in a bubble.
Someone has to initiate it.


People have to commit to it.

People have to work at it.
people have to accept it.
The Department of Health and Wellness
wants to bring major change
to the way we live.
Nova Scotians
arent active enough
their health is suffering because of it.
Its a steep hill to climb.
The government cant do it alone.
Thats why
its great to have strong partners
like Recreation Nova Scotia
climbing that hill with us.
The theme of this years Recreation Month
is Live It Everyday.
And that phrase
is at the heart
of all we do.
Its about
improving behaviours
and making the healthy choice
the easy choice.
Its important
we bring up our children
not only with the right values
with the right habits.

78 Chapter 8: Capturing Your Voice in Print: A New Way to Write Speaking Notes

We have to commit to this.

We have to work together on this.
And when society has changed
we will have achieved success.
In each of the examples above, the content becomes much more
interesting, and the language much simpler, because the words were
spoken before they were written. TalkitOut captures your natural
conversational style, rather than the more formal way we express
ourselves in writing.

TalkitOutMusic to the Eyes

TalkitOutwritten as I recommendis like a musical score for your
words. Its so much easier to read. All you have to do is glance down
at the page, lift your head and speak. Thats because:
Youve talked out every word onto the page. So you know
your content.
Your eyes move down the page because of the short lines,
double spacing and the large font.
Important points are in CAPS or bold so you know you
should emphasize them.
Every time you come to a BFP, you know you should stop
for a good long pause.
The eyes dont have a mass of print to follow horizontally.
As your eyes move down the page vertically, scanning the
short lines, its easier to see whats coming next.

Built-in Timer
Heres another benefit of using the TalkitOut Technique. If you time
one page as you speak it out loud, youll know how long it takes to
deliver. Lets say it takes 30 seconds to deliver one page. If you write
10 pages, youll have a five minute speech. So you can easily keep
track of how much material youve prepared.


Summary: Writing Speaking Notes

You need to write in a way that fools the eyes into
performing, not reading.
Write it down the page rather than across the page.
Use double line spaces to indicate pauses
Use a BFP (Big Fat Pause) by triple spacing. This forces you
to stop.
Use CAPS or bold for words you want to emphasize.
Dont use commas. Instead move your phrase down to the
next line.
You only need periods and question marks.
Time your first page. Multiply by the number of pages to have
the total time of your presentation.
Always talk it out before you write it out.

80 Chapter 8: Capturing Your Voice in Print: A New Way to Write Speaking Notes

chap te r

How to Make a
Message Memorable

Facts tell, stories sell.


Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
Robert McKee, Author

If You Want to be Remembered, Tell a Story

efore the pen, before the printing press, before the typewriter,
before the computer, we talked. And if we wanted to make an
impact and have people remember what we
Stories make sense of
said, we put our content into a story.

our world, define us,

inspire us, comfort us
and teach us.

Storytelling is as old as humanity. Stories make

sense of our world, define us, inspire us, comfort
us and teach us. When parents told their children
the story of Little Red Riding Hood going into the woods alone and
meeting the big bad wolf they were delivering an unforgettable lifelesson. Dont talk to strangers. Dont go into the woods or an unfamiliar place alone. This message was encased in a story so memorable
its survived to this day.


Most speeches overflow with facts, figures and information. Were

bombarded with information everyday in every way, from our cereal
boxes to our t-shirts. How can we possibly remember everything? We
cant. But we do remember stories.
Can you convert your facts and figures into a story people will remember? Is there an interesting anecdote or detail you can use that will
help people remember your information?
John Kotter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, believes we
learn bestand accept change most easilywhen
Those in leadership we hear stories that strike a chord within us. And he
positions who fail to has this warning for those executives who say their
content is too important to be trivialized by story:
grasp or use the power
Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or
of stories risk failure use the power of stories risk failure for their compafor their companies nies and for themselves.

and for themselves.

There are many types of stories you can tell. Apart

from entertaining stories, there are four main categories.
1. The Who am I? Story. This is your personal story,
capturing your values, behaviours and beliefs.
2. The Inspirational Story. This could be a proverb, anecdote
or parable that inspires the listener.
3. The Leadership Story. The story that identifies someone
as a strong leader, without actually saying shes a strong
4. The Organizational Story. This is the story of your
organization. Within the story of a companys creation and
development, you find expression of corporate values.

82 Chapter 9: How To Make a Message Memorable

Where Do You Find Stories?

Some people complain they dont have any stories. But stories are all
around us:
1. Childhood or family
2. Personal experiences
3. Client experiences (with their permission)
4. Co-workers
5. Travel
6. Sports
7. Hobbies
8. First or last experiences
9. Best or worst experiences
10. Books, Movies, TV
11. Inspirational people
12. Mentors
13. Everywhere

The Elements of Story

In the art of storytelling there are three important elements: the
protagonist, the antagonist and the quest. Usually the protagonist (a person, or your company) is on a quest to
achieve something. The antagonist (somebody In the art of storytelling
or something) tries to stop him or her. They duke there are three
it out to the climax. Somebody wins. Somebody important elements:
loses. Thats real storytelling because thats what
the protagonist,
happens in life. Theres always tension or conflict.
the antagonist and
Thats what makes a story fascinating.

the quest.

Whats not real is trying to paint a picture of your

company as perfectan organization that has never had a problem.
This will not ring true. Everything has good and bad qualities. So tell
the story honestly.
Which story would you believe and remember?


A) Our company has invented a new computer circuit that

will revolutionize your office systems. It will outlast and
outperform any other system in the market. Weve tested
it and it works. Duckworth International has been using it
successfully for 2 years.
B) We started working on a piece of new technology. We
believed it would really change the way office systems
worked. We worked on it for two years. Then we tested it
in our computer. It blew up the first computer. So we went
back to the drawing board. When we were ready to test it
again, it blew the monitor. Well that was an improvement
on the last time. It took us 3 years but finally we got it
to work. We sold it to Duckworth International. Theyve
been using it for 2 years now and are amazed with what
its done. Theres nothing like it anywhere in the world.
We know because we worked out all the problems. We can
guarantee our product is the best.
When you tell your story, be realistic. Include the good, the bad and
the uglybecause its honest. When your story is honest and real,
people will believe it.
Robert McKee has spent his life telling storiesas a screenplay writer,
author and consultant. He says, in his experience, most companies
and executives try to hide any problems under the
Include the good, the carpet. They dont want to talk about difficulties.
bad and the ugly They prefer to present a rosyand boringpicbecause its honest. ture to the world. But as a storyteller, you want to
position the problems in the foreground and then
show how youve overcome them. I know the storytelling method
works. Because after Ive consulted with a dozen corporations whose
principals told exciting stories to Wall Street, they all got their money.
For stories to work, they need to be relevant. The audience needs to
see a clear connection between the story you tell and the point they
think you are trying to make. If the story is irrelevant, the audience
may think the same of you.

84 Chapter 9: How To Make a Message Memorable

A Story is a Necklace
I think of story as a necklace. The pearls on the necklace may be
beautiful: flawless, good colour, matching in size, and very expensive. The pearls catch the eye. But they need the humble thread to
give them structure and glory. You might have rich, dramatic, inspiring anecdotes to sharebut holding them together is your simple
underlying narrative.
Your story doesnt have to be long. A few sentences that make a
strong point are better than a rambling tale that doesnt clearly demonstrate its relevance.

When Do I Tell a Story?

Try introducing a story at the beginning of your presentation and
ending it in your conclusion. You can also start the story in the beginning and have it run through your whole presentation, wrapping
your message and facts around the story.
You can have a Hollywood story format. Start your presentation in
the middle of a story. Then tell the beginning of the story, repeat the
middle part, and wrap it all up with a conclusion. Im sure youve
seen many movies start that way. Its a good way to hook and hold
the audience.
True stories are the best stories. If you borrow a story from someone
else, give them the credit.
Whatever format you use, tell a story. Tell as many stories as you can
in your presentation or speech. According to business
True stories are the
and leadership speaker and consultant Tom Peters,
you should tell a story every three to five minutes. So best stories.
if you have a 15 minute presentation, tell at least three stories.


Other Tools to Make Your Message Stick

Proverbs, analogies and metaphors are other devices to make your
story memorable. Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish novelist who
wrote Don Quixote, described a proverb as a short sentence based
on a long experience.
A proverb is indeed a short phrase about a universal truth: absence
makes the heart grow fonder, all that glitters is not gold, out of sight
out of mind. A proverb might make your message more meaningful
or memorable if used strategically.
An analogy compares two different things to point out a similarity.
The example is usually preceded by the word like. For example The
creative department at Acme Inc is like a kindergarten full of kids
high on sugar. This analogy paints a distinct picture in the audiences mind of adult chaoswhich may or may not be a good thing,
depending on the context of the presentation.
A metaphor expresses the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. Its a
figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between
two unlike things that actually have something important in common. Metaphors abound in our language: time is a thief, life is a
highway, love is a rose, hes an early bird, shes a night owl, rollercoaster of emotions.
Any of these literary devices serve just one purposeto bring life to
your story or information and facts so the message will stick with the

Summary: Making Messages Memorable

Tell a storyfacts tell, stories sell.
Encase your facts in a story to make them stick.
Tell personal, inspirational, leadership or
organizational stories.

86 Chapter 9: How To Make a Message Memorable

Stories are everywhereyour experiences, clients

experiences, (with permission), movies, books, family,
hobbies, first or last experiences, best or worst experiences,
travel, inspirational people and childhood.
Tell the good, bad and ugly in your story. Dont just focus on
the good.
Stories need conflict be exciting and believable.
A proverb is a short sentence about a universal truth.
An analogy compares two different things to point out a
similarityThe creative department at Acme Inc is like a
kindergarten full of kids high on sugar.
A metaphor describes a subject by likening it to an unrelated
objectAll the worlds a stage


chap te r

1 0

Stand and Deliver

Jobs was the best showman in American business and he worked hard
at his art, preparing maniacally for weeks before an appearance. He
got ready for a keynote much the way Oscar Wilde prepared for a
dinner party. He spent countless hours rehearsing the succinct lines
he would throw off as if they were improvisations.
Alan Deutschman, Author

ehearse, rehearse, rehearse. The more you rehearse, the

better youll be. Rehearse out loud. Rehearse in front of colleagues, family, friends or the bathroom mirror. Video yourself. Rehearsing makes you confident and comfortable.
Rehearse, but dont memorize. Understand what youre talking
about. If you happen to change a word or the order
Rehearse, but dont
of a thought when youre delivering, just go with it.
As long as youre not leaving out some crucial infor- memorize. Understand
mation, you can make small changes in the heat of what youre talking
the moment. You want to leave room for that kind about.
of spontaneity. Try to rehearse at least once. Always
rehearse out loud. Dont just think about your presentation, or whisper it, or mumble it. Rehearse as if the audience is there listening


to you. The more you hear yourself, the more comfortable youll be
when you actually deliver the presentation.
If you cant rehearsebut youve used the TalkitOut Techniqueyou
will still sound much better than if you had prepared by writing
everything in silence, then tried to read it out loud. If you dont have
time to rehearse your whole presentation, make sure you know the
hook. Rehearse the section(s) of your presentation that may be most
challenging for you. Often we recycle stories and examples from
previous speeches. You dont need to rehearse familiar elements as
much as the new sections.

Lose the Paper

The best speeches or presentations are paperless. No script, no auto
prompter and no reading from slides. Scripts, auto prompters and
slides suck the juice out of your performance, tempting you to read at
the audience rather than perform for them. These crutches put your
brain into neutral. You dont have to thinkjust parrot what you see.
To be really effective, you need to lose the paper. Start by reducing
the pages of notes to a few cue cards or a single pageand then to no
paper at all. The next chapter will give you the technique for speaking without any paper.

Dont Memorize
Rehearse until you can deliver your thoughts without paper. The
point is not to memorize your presentation or speech but to understand what youre saying, how youre saying it, and why. Because
you talked it out, your rehearsal time is minimal. But the more
time you put into rehearsing your presentation, the better it will
be. When you feel comfortable with your material, stop rehearsing.
Do one more rehearsal on the day of your presentation, to refresh
your memory.

90 Chapter 10: Stand and Deliver

Some Delivery Tips

Dont be afraid to let the audience see some of your personality when
you perform your speech. Dont be over-dramatic. But if you feel strongly about something, dont hide your feelings. Let your passion show.
Use your hands to help reinforce the points you are
clutch the lectern, and dont hold your notes, if you
are using them, as a barrier between you and the
audience. Dont put a hand in your pocket and jingle the change or keys there.

making. Dont

Dont be afraid to let the

audience see some of
your personality when
you perform your speech.

If you need amplification, get a wireless microphone so you can move around. Dont use hand-held microphones
unless youre really comfortable with them. Many speakers forget to
hold the microphone close enough to their lips to pick up the sound.
Watch your movement on stage. Resist the temptation to pace about
wildly. It can be distracting. Limit your movements to three steps.
The best advice is to move for a reason. Some speakers plunge right
into an audience. Be careful. If you jump off a stage into the audience, many people wont see youunless you are being projected on
screens around the room.
If you walk down an aisle while speaking, some people see only your
back. Make sure every move you make is made for a good reason.
Everything you say, everything you do, and every slide you show has
a single purposeto help make your message memorable.
If you are planning some kind of movement on stage, rehearse it as
often as possible. Get to the venue early and rehearse the move there.
Familiarization will make you comfortable.

Centre Stage: Your Power Position

Centre stage is generally perceived as the most powerful position. If
you have an important point to make, thats where you should be.


You can train your audience to anticipate the kind of information

youre going to deliver by the way you position yourself on stage. If
you have something really important to say:

Walk to the centre front of the stage
Look at the audience

Every time you have a really important point you want the audience
to remember, head for the front centre of the stage.

Every time you have a

really important point
you want the audience to
remember, head for the
front centre of the stage.

Start by using two or three positions in a few places

in your speech. Dont over-think your movements
on stage. They should appear natural. Soon youll
get familiar with the idea of using the stage strategically. You will move automatically according
to your content. Moving about the stage and using
props or slides has to be motivated by the message. The objective is
always to make your message stick.
If youre speaking in a smaller room, like a boardroom, position
yourself facing the door. That way, youll see who comes in or out.
And late-comers will be less distracting to the rest of the audience.
If you are showing slides, position yourself to the right of the screen
from the audiences perspective. Our eyes normally read from left to
right. So as people read your slide, their eyes will come to rest on you.
Make sure you can move about the room without going in front of
the projector. You will create a shadow on your slide and temporarily
blind yourself.
If you are using slides or video, make sure you have remote controls
that work. If you dont have remotes, position equipment near you,
but to the side, so you can reach buttons easily and quickly.

92 Chapter 10: Stand and Deliver

Avoid Exaggerated Dramatics

Speaking is entertainment. You can capture an audiences attention
with pauses, acting, storytelling, emphasiseven singing. These
techniques bring your words to life. They help the audience remember you and your message. What you dont Speaking is
want to do is over-act. I saw a famous author bomb entertainment.
because he over-used his favourite techniquethe dramatic silence. It was an after-dinner speech, with well over 400 business people in the audience.
After the introduction, the speaker walked on stage and stood at the
side of the podium. He rested his elbow on the podium. He smile and
gazed out at the audiencefor a good minute or so. The audience
became very quiet, waiting to see what he would do next. The dramatic silence had certainly got peoples attention.
But still he didnt speak. The seconds ticked by. People got fidgety.
When he finally started to speak, he was addressing an audience that
was out-of-sorts because of the uncomfortably long silence. After the
speech, many said how obvious they found his technique, and how
annoyed they were with it. Use dramatic techniques to reach your
audience. But take care not to over-use them.

Using Props
Props are wonderful. They create interest and variety. Props can act
as cue cards for a speaker, instead of notes. They can be items that
you demonstrate and later sell at the back of the room. Props can be
your personal signature that people will associate with you. Props
make your message stick if you use them properly. One professional
speaker (a man) put on a pink ballet tutu to make his point about
associating words with images.
Another speaker was talking about workplace bullying. To make her
point, she donned a crown to talk about the evil Queen Bee dominating an office.


Canadian professional speaker Toni Newman travels around with a

red step ladder. She climbs up, perches on top, and speaks about the
effect of changing your perspective. The point with all these props is
that they support and reinforce the content.
On the other hand, one executive handed out small toys to about 40
managers sitting in a circle. The managers were told to feel the toys.
But they werent told why, or what relevance the toys had to the topic.
It was an awkward moment.
If youre handing something to a large group, give them a few minutes to get the item. Then tell them why they have
If you use a prop it. If youre showing the audience an object, hold it
up long enough for everyone to see. Turn it towards
effectively, the audience
every section of the room. If the prop is complex,
will remember the point. make sure you know how to use it properly.

So choose well.

If you use a prop effectively, the audience will

remember the point. So choose well. But dont let the props overwhelm your presentation.

Speaking From a Podium

Podiums can help or hinder a speaker. A lot of people hide behind
them. Some clutch the sides as if they were in a rowboat tossed on a
stormy sea. Here are some podium dos and donts;
1. Make sure the podium height is correct for you. If youre
short, get a riser behind the podium. If youre tall, get a
taller podium, or have a riser under the podium.
2. If the podium is a modern acrylic see-through type, keep
what you place on it to a minimumjust your notes.
And make sure your outfit is not distracting from the
waist down.

94 Chapter 10: Stand and Deliver

3. You dont have to stand behind the podium. You can stand
to the side and have your notes on the podium, to glance at
as needed. This wont work, of course, if you are using the
podium microphone.
4. If you are behind the podium, stand back a step or two.
This will keep you from clutching or leaning on it. It will
encourage you to use your hands naturally. This in turn will
enhance your speaking voice.
5. Make sure the notes, water, and props are yours and not
something a previous speaker left there.
6. Take a few seconds to get yourself comfortable at the
podium before you speak. Place your notes the way you
want them. Make a final check on microphone height.
Make sure youre not leaning down into it. Keep your eyes
away from the audience as you do this. Take a couple of
deep breaths. When youre ready to speak, lift your head,
look at the audience, smile (if the content warrants a smile)
and begin.
7. If the podium has a light and youre using it, make sure it
doesnt obscure your face. Adjust the height so its closer to
your notes. Make sure you can still turn the pages.
8. Dont be afraid to place your podium exactly where you
want it to be. Usually its better to one side, especially if
youre using slides.
9. Standing behind a podium separates you from the
audience. Look for ways to come out from behind the
barrier and engage more with them.
Finally, go to the toilet before you speak. If youre speaking after a
meal, check your teeth before you leave the bathroom. Andmen
and womencheck clothes and hair before stepping on to the stage.


Summary: Stand and Deliver

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse out loud

Try to lose the paper completely. Its a crutch.
Rehearse any movements you plan to make.
Use your hands naturally.
Focus on your speech and nothing else.
Stay in centre stage, especially for key points.
Dont go into the audience unless everyone can see, or theres
a compelling reason.
Walk for a reason.
Dont turn your back on the audience.
If you use a hand-held microphone make sure you bring it up
to your lips when you speak.
Show your passion and interest in your subject matter.
Never memorize word for word. Just make sure you
understand what youre saying, and why.
Use props that are appropriate for your message. Practice so
you are comfortable with them.
If youre using a podium, make sure its the right height.
Dont clutch it. Stand away from it so youre not tempted to
lean on it. Position the podium in an ideal place on stage or
you. Only put what you need on the podium. Try to step away
from it if you can.
Check your clothes and your teeth before you go on stage.

96 Chapter 10: Stand and Deliver

chap te r

1 1

How to Make All That

Hard Work Look Effortless

I never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours

to prepare it.
Mark Twain, Author

he best speeches or presentations are the ones that look unrehearsed, as if they were given off-the-cuff. The person speaks
confidently, without notes. The audience hangs on every word.

A lot of people think the speaker is winging it. What they dont
know is the amount of work that went into making the presentation
appear effortless. The speaker may have been refining the speech and
rehearsing the delivery for weeks. The late Steve Jobs was a master
of the relaxed, no-notes presentation when he was rolling out new
Apple products. But he was notorious for the hours he spent rehearsing, so his performance could appear spontaneous.

Never, Never Wing It

Your ultimate goal as a performer should be to get rid of all paper
when you speak. Lets examine some ideas on how to get to the stage
where you can speak confidently without a script.


No matter how good you think you are, no matter how well you know
your material, no matter how comfortable you may
No matter how good
feel, resist the temptation to just get up and speak
you think you are, no without planning or preparation. You will rarely be
matter how well you able to deliver your main points in a focused way.
know your material, no Speakers who are unprepared tend to ramble.

matter how comfortable

you may feel, resist the
temptation to just get
up and speak without
planning or preparation.

The Tool of the Devil

In my mind the paper your speech is written on, or

the teleprompter you use, is the tool of the devil.
It forces you to read aloud the written word, rather
than speak conversationally. I encourage people to reduce the number of words in their scripts, and eventually lose the paper completely.
If youre giving a slide presentation or a speech thats 15 to 20 minutes long, you should be able to do it without a scriptas long as you
have planned it carefully and talked it out.

When You Should Use a Script

If youre delivering a more formal and longer speech, or if you havent
had time to rehearse, or if your speech is on a sensitive or technical
topic, you may need to follow a script. In any of those circumstances,
use what you created using the Write It Out format. Simply read your
speech. Because you talked it out first, and wrote it down the page
rather than across the page, youll be able to glance down and deliver
it conversationally, confidently and without sacrificing any detail.
In the TalkitOut Technique, you can read from notes but you do it
very naturally. You transcend the restrictions of simply reciting the
words on the page. It works because youve talked
Whenever you can, try to it out in your own voice. You are using words your
lose the tool of the devil. tongue can get around in short, clear sentences.
Whenever you can, try to lose the tool of the devil. Lose the paper.

98 Chapter 11: How to Make All That Hard Work Look Effortless

Lose the Paper: Step 1

Give me a couple of years, and Ill make that actress an overnight success.
Samuel Goldwyn, Producer

We want to look confident and sound conversational. But it doesnt

happen overnight. People who are overnight sensations usually
worked hard for their moments of glory. The same is true for people
who speak fluently without referring to notes. Theyve worked at it.
Theyve planned and rehearsed, sometimes for weeks.

The good news is you dont have to be born a speaker. None of us

is. Its a learned skill. So we need to learn the skill of letting go of
the tool of the devil. The first step is to plan your material as we
described earlier in the Think-it-out section.
Reduce the broad sweep of your topic to a simple headline.
Define your controlling ideathe big thought you want to
audience to take home with them.
Come up with a creative way of hooking your audience.
Figure out how much context your audience needs to
understand your message.
Set limits for your content so you have a logical flow and
dont overload the audience with information.
Work out the most appropriate way of ending your
Answer the so what question from the audience, who will
be wondering whats in this for me?
Answer the why me question.

Lose the Paper: Step 2

Now you have an outline, talk out the speech or presentation as
described in this book. Dont write anything until you have tried
several variations of each phrase. Which variation has most impact?
Build your presentation by speaking each thought out loud, building
a logical and conversational flow.


Once the words sound good coming out of your mouth, write them
down in the TalkitOut format: space down the page every time you
want to pause; double space for bigger pauses.

Lose the Paper: Step 3

Memorize the hook. Know your opening lines or opening story cold.
This will give you a good clean start and the confidence to continue.
Once you know the hook, throw away the paper.
Put the rest of your speech or presentation, up to the conclusion, into
bullet points of 3 to 4 words or less. Dont go over 4 words. If you can
use just one word, great. The more words you have, the more temptation there will be to read. Remember people didnt ask you to read
to them. They asked you to speak. These bullets are the bulk of your
presentation, your guide, your road map. The fewer words you have,
the better it will be. The idea is to understand and internalize what
youre sayingnot to memorize it. If youre using slides, those bullets can be written on the notes section of your slides.
Know your conclusion. Dont memorize it. Jot down a word or two on
paper if it helps. Just make sure you understand the points you want
to make at the end.
So you have memorized your hook, you have bullet points for the rest
of your presentation on one sheet of paper or a few cue cards, and
you know your conclusion.

Lose the Paper: Step 4

Rehearse your presentation until you are comfortable with it. Then
put it away until youre ready to present. Rehearse one more time just
before you are due to deliver it. If you need it, you have your page
with the bullet points to keep you on track. By now you should be so
familiar with the material, you are able to deliver without referring
to the notes.

100 Chapter 11: How to Make All That Hard Work Look Effortless

Lose the Paper: Step 5

Delivery day. Remember the goal is not to say everything exactly as
you did when you were planning it. It doesnt matter if you use different words. What matters is that you stick to the strategic plan for the
speech, and speak in the authentic voice you used when you talked
it out.
When you are totally focussed, you may change a word or two here
and there. You will be really connected to what youre saying. You
will be in the moment. It all comes from letting go of the script.
Without reading, you can really connect to your speech in a way a
crutch like paper doesnt allow.

Scriptment: The Hollywood Way to Wing It

Here is another way to prepare your speech without relying on
paper. Its called scriptment. Some movie producers use this with
their actors to develop a film and get an authentic performance from
the cast. To use scriptment you have to be very comfortable with the
TalkitOut Technique, because the next step is preparing and delivering with no script.
In movie-making, scriptment starts with a story, good characters
and knowing what emotional points everyone needs to hit. Once this
framework is agreed upon, the actors fill in the dialogue as they shoot
each scene. Nothing is written before hand. In our
context, they have defined the controlling idea and Once the framework
they have gone through the think-it-out process.
is there, the client

adds the words by

When I work with a client who doesnt want a

scripted speech, we collaborate on the structure of just speaking them
the speech first. We figure out the big take-away for never writing them.
the audience, the perfect opening (hook), the tone of
the speech, the benefits for the audience, the content and the conclusion. All of this is put down in point form. Once the framework is there,
the client adds the words by just speaking themnever writing them.


The client practices the hook out loud until it can be delivered flawlessly. Then the client practices the rest of the speech out loud. Once
theyve done the whole speech, they can throw away the paper where
they jotted down the structure and just go do it. Or they can follow a
piece of paper with main points.
Scriptment looks effortless and really captures your true voice.
Unlike winging it from some slide-show notes, you will make sense
to your audience and hold them at every stage of your presentation.
They will get your message because you did all that preparation
work first.

Memorization Kills Your Spontaneity

Remember the object is not to memorize your presentation. Its to
understand it. When you understand what youre
When you understand saying, you are truly awake and focused on your
what youre saying, you words. You never need fear making a mistake. It
are truly awake and doesnt matter if you dont use the exact words, as
long as you follow the logical progression of your
focused on your words. presentation.

You never need fear

making a mistake.

Mistakes happen when people speak from memory.

When they forget a word, or lose their place, they
crash to a stop. They were not truly connected to the content; they
were focused on the process of remembering the content.
The only thing you need memorize is the hook. You will always have
a hook and conclusion. Generally audiences remember beginnings
and endings, so you want those to be perfect. Memorizing the hook
gives you a great start. It gives you confidence.
Knowing your conclusion, rather than memorizing it, gives you flexibility. It means your conclusion doesnt depend on saying one particular thing first. You can jump down to the conclusion anytime you
want if you are running tight for time.

102 Chapter 11: How to Make All That Hard Work Look Effortless

Running Out of Time

If you are running our of time when youre speaking, resist the urge to
speak faster or sprint through your slides. Hurling information at your
audience will not help them understand. In fact,
Hurling information at
your audience may be so confused they tune out.

your audience will not

help them understand.

If you think you may have time problems, or if you

consistently run out of time, you need to organize
your material more strategically. Take a tip from journalists. The
constraints of newspaper columns or broadcast minutes force journalists to put the new or most important points at the beginning of
their stories. So if anything has to be cut it will be the editorially less
important information later in the report. Try organizing your material the same wayin descending order of importance. If you are
running out of time, you know you have delivered your most important points and you can proceed calmly to your conclusion by leaving out some less important points.
Instead of trying to squeeze twenty minutes of content into two minutes, you will have a presentation with a clear beginning, middle and
end. The audience wont know you had to make some strategic cuts.
Theyll have received all the most important points, and theyll be
impressed by your apparently effortless time-keeping.
Never try to stuff an audience full of information because of time constraints which may not be your fault. You might be the last speaker at a
session where all the others went over time. Complain later. Right now
you need to abandon your prepared speech. Edit your content quickly
in your head or on a piece of paper. Accept that you have to jettison
some information. With your controlling idea as your guide, strip out
all the material that is not essential. Your audience will be grateful.

Summary: Effortless Presentations Take Effort

Never wing it.
Effortless presentations are the result of a lot of hard work.
Memorize your hook.


Reduce the rest of your content to cue cards or a single page.

Knowbut dont memorizeyour conclusion.
Rehearse until you are totally comfortable with the content
and understand it thoroughly.
Dont try to memorize a complete speech or presentation.
Use the scriptment technique if youre an experienced
speaker and comfortable with the TalkitOut Technique.
Organize your material in descending order of importance
if you anticipate time constraints. That way you will always
deliver the important points and you have the option of
skipping the less important points and going straight to your
If you are running out of time, jettison non-essential parts
of your presentation. Never try to beat the clock by
speaking faster.

104 Chapter 11: How to Make All That Hard Work Look Effortless

chap te r

1 2

Its All About the Audience

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou, Author

ow do you want your audience to feel after youve spoken?

Happy? Inspired? Challenged? Intrigued? Invigorated? Lets
hope its a combination of many positive emotions. You certainly dont want them to feel bored or that theyve
Connecting with the
wasted their time. If the audience leaves the room
feeling good about the experience, chances are audience is an art. It starts
they will remember your message.
with understanding that

an audience is giving you a

Connecting with the audience is an art. It starts

truly great gifttheir time.
with understanding that an audience is giving you
a truly great gifttheir time. You are being invited into their heads
and hearts. Honour this precious gift.

Know Your Audience

You need to know whos in the room. It doesnt matter if youre making a presentation within your own company or to a room full of
strangers, you still need to ask these questions:


How many in the room?

Who are they?
Are they a homogenous group or from many different
You also need to find out:
Are they younger or older?
Mostly male or mostly female?
What do they do?
And you need to know:
Why are they in the room?
Are they supportive or suspicious?
What do they already know about your subject area?
The answers will determine your content, your delivery, your
approach and your appearance.

Figure Out Their Pain

Once you determine the audience, figure out their pain. In other words,
whats missing from their lives that you can fix? What do they need to
hear from you? You may not always be able to offer
Once you determine solutions. But you can always show understanding.

the audience, figure

out their pain.

If youre speaking to a company, find out what

challenges they face. What are working conditions
like? Put yourself in their shoes. Image what its like working for this
company. Speak to some regular employees, not just bosses. Do your
research diligently. The more you know about your audience, the
more effective will be your speech or presentation.

Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Evening Speeches

What time of day are you making your presentation? This is important because it will tell you what to expect from your audience. In the

106 Chapter 12: Its All About the Audience

early morning, the audience may not be fully awake. This is a time
to gently ease into your message. Dont expect a huge reaction, even
though they may be engaged. Humour is tricky with an early morning audience.
Mid-morning is a great time for a presentation. People have started
their day. Theyve dealt with their emails. Theyve had their coffee.
Theyre awake and alert.
During lunch and the early afternoon, they may be very energetic.
Most people are at their peak at this time. They may be difficult to
control. (I speak from personal experience. I remember how hard I
had to work to keep some degree of control over a room of 300 women
for a luncheon speech).
As the afternoon progresses, energy levels dip. People have more difficulty concentrating. This is when you will need to draw on devices like
repetition, more visuals, audience interaction, maybe even humour.
In the evening, the audience expects to be entertained. The most
difficult spot is last speaker at an evening dinner. People have full
stomachs. Theyre relaxed and may be more interested in speaking to
their table-mates than listening to you. So you have to work harder.
Entertaining an after-dinner audience doesnt necessarily mean you
have to be funny. You could be speaking about a serious subject. Just
dont be boring. Pepper your speech with stories. An after-dinner
speech is a great place for storytelling.
Constantly ask yourself What does the audience expect from me?
Misjudging that expectation can lead to disaster. A person who had
been making headlines turned up to give an afterdinner speech to more than 500 people. The per- Constantly ask yourself
son had a great story to tell, and the audience was What does the audience
eager to hear it. But the first thing he did was fire expect from me?
up his Powerpoint slide show. Instead of speaking
from the heart about his incredible experiences, he tethered himself
to graphs, charts and speaking notes. It was the wrong time and the
wrong audience for an information-heavy slide show.


You, Not I
An important way of engaging with an audience is to get them thinking about your presentation from their perspective. That means more
use of You and less use of I.
Instead of saying:
I had a very unusual experience the other day. I was sitting
at my desk reading email when suddenly I heard my bosss
Have you ever had an experience like this before. Youre
sitting at your desk. Youre reading your email. Suddenly you
hear your bosss voice.
Look for every opportunity to replace I with you. Every time you
say you, you are strengthening your connection with your audience.

Pulse Checks
Keep checking the audience is engaged. Use your instinct, the gutometer we talked about earlier. If you are truly connected to what youre
saying, and attentive to the energy coming back to
If you are truly connected you, you should be able to feel if the audience is
to what youre saying, still with you.

and attentive to the

energy coming back to
you, you should be able
to feel if the audience is
still with you.

You can also build pulse checks into your speech.

This can be as simple as asking the audience a
question. An easy pulse check is to ask Does this
make sense to you? Check for evidence, through
head nods or shakes or murmurs, if the audience is
getting your message. Be prepared to modify your
presentation based on your observations.

108 Chapter 12: Its All About the Audience

Another pulse check can be to ask for questions. But you must be
prepared to spend time answering themso budget the time for
questions carefully.

Call and Response Technique

Many professional speakers encourage their audience to get involved
verbally during a speech. They use a technique known as call and
response. Its an effective tool, but not one for a novice or nervous
Heres how it works. The speaker calls out to the audience with a
question or a simple choice. The audience provides the response,
which is usually shortjust one or two words. The words which
make up the response have already been planted by the speaker in
the call.
American speaker Mike Domitrz uses this technique very effectively.
Domitrz speaks on dating, sex and safety to students, educators and
the military. In his Can I Kiss You? program, Domitrz invites a college student, Daniella, on stage. He asks her where she would place
her hand to let her date know she was interested in him. This is how
Mike used the call and response technique:
Mike: She touched the leg. If you agree thats most common,
say most common.
Audience response #1: Most common.
Mike: It is. Lets say that it happened. He looks down, sees
her hand on his leg. There are two most common reactions
he could have. Option number oneOh how nice. Or option
number twoHands on my knee. Getting close to some
other areas. Yes! She wants me. Do you think its one or
Audience response #2: Two.


Mike: Alright. Almost everywhere we go, people say two,

which is interesting because that means we completely
misread Daniella. She was only letting us know she was a
little interested, and we took it much further. Do these kind of
misreads happen a little bit or a lot?
Audience Response #3: A lot.
Mike: A lot. Body language is very unreliable. How many
agree? Even if youve been in a long term relationship, you
can misread each other. If thats true, say misread.
Audience response #4: Misread.
In audience response #1 and #4, Mike is giving the audience the
answers most common and misread. His direction is very clear. In
audience response #2 and #3, Mike asks the audience a question. The
audience replies with the correct answers. (Correct within the context of Mikes presentation).
Mike executes the call and response technique with enthusiasm.
Because of his passion, he gets the audience engagedand excited
about contributing to the dialogue. Mike is a Certified Speaking
Professional (making him one of the top 10 per cent of speakers
within the National Speakers Association in the USA). Hes had
plenty of practice. If you want to try this technique, you have to be
confident, energetic, connected and passionate. And you must signpost clearly and simply to the audience the choice of responses to
your call.
Theres a twist on the call and response technique. Mark Victor
Hansen, the author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books,
uses it effectively. Instead of asking the audience to speak, he asks
them to touch a part of their body. For example he would say If you
agree, touch your forehead or If thats right, snap your fingers. He
told me he believes touching a part of the body helps people remember his message. Plus it has the element of audience engagement.

110 Chapter 12: Its All About the Audience

Another call and response technique is to simply ask the audience

to repeat a phrase. I once heard a novice speaker use this technique
with poor results. He said I am confident. Say it now. I am confident. Most of the audience mumbled I am confident. The problem
was the speaker hadnt established trust with the audience. So the
audience wasnt ready for him to tell them what to do. The lesson
here is call and response is a great way to engage with the audience
once youve gain their trust. When you do it properly, you merely
have to pause and the audience will reply with the planted response.

Managing Their Experience

The audience wants a good experience when they hear you speak.
But they also want to learn something. How do you help them experience and learn? Generally there are three learning styles. People learn by seeing, or listening, or People learn by seeing,
doing. So if you can combine all three, your audi- or listening, or doing. So
ence will learn and experience at the same time.
if you can combine all

three, your audience will

Toni Newman is a professional speaker in Canada.

Usually she has her audience sitting at round tables. learn and experience at
No matter how many tables or people, at one point the same time.
in her speech she gets everybody up. She has them
move the tables to one side of the room and the chairs to the front.
Then she gets them sitting closely together at the front of the room.
Her message is two-fold. First, changing your perspective will make
you more innovative. Secondly, nothing is impossible. By having the
audience move furniture and sit somewhere else, their perspective
has been changed. The fact that they can rearrange a ballroom in
minutes confirms nothing is impossible. The experience helps the
audience understand Tonis message about the importance of perspective and innovation in customer experience.
What experience will be important for your audience? How can you
give it to them and how can you make sure the experience sticks? You
need to answer these questions, for your audiences sake.


Be Respectful
Respect your audience. Dont be the sage-on-stage. Yes, you are an
expert in your areabut they are experts in theirs. Youre sharing
information to make their world better. But by giving you their time
and attention, the audience will make your world better, too.

The Comfort of the Audience Matters

An audience that is cold will not listen well. An audience that is hot
will not listen well. Check the venue. Generally, start with a slightly
cooler room. As it fills up with people, it will get warmer.
Make sure the audience is seated comfortably. Hard wooden chairs
may be too uncomfortable for intent listening for a long period. If
hard chairs are the only option, build in more breaks or activities to
get the audience moving about.
Theatre-style seating places the focus straight ahead of you. A horseshoe divides the focus between you and the audience. And having
people at individual tables encourages table talk and takes the most
focus away from you. The horseshoe or small table configurations
work best for workshops and seminars.

Speak Their Language

Simple words, simple sentences and one thought per sentence are
powerful tools to reach any audience. Use words an audience can
hear and relate to. They will tune out the buzz words and jargon.

Hostile Audience
If you find yourself speaking to a hostile or uncooperative audience, you need to prepare more than usual. The first step is to figure
out why they are likely to be unreceptive. Do they object to you? Or

112 Chapter 12: Its All About the Audience

your message? Are they vulnerable for some reason? Are they facing
changes that could lead to wage- or job-cuts? Are they being forced
to listen to you? Make sure you know every type of objection they
could possibly have. Get an answer for each objection and strategically incorporate them into your presentation.
Here are a few points to remember when dealing with a difficult
Dont argue. Dont lose your temper. Your speech is not the place to
argue back and forth. You will lose the audiences respect. Make sure
you acknowledge and deal with topics of concern to them.
Dont be defensive. Falling into the trap of apologizing for your
position makes you look guilty or wrong. Present your point of view
confidently. If you make a good enough case, people will respect
youand you will probably win some converts. At the very least you
will have aired an alternative perspective and encouraged a debate.
Dont fall for trigger words in questions from the audience.
Trigger words are words that elicit an emotional reaction. For example, How could you spend so much public money on a junket to South
America? In this case the trigger word junket implies an abuse of
funds. Seasoned politicians have been known to lose their temper
when a heckler asks a question with an emotionally-laden trigger
word. Simply ignore the trigger word and calmly state your message.
Use paraphrasing to disarm a hostile member of the audience.
You can prcis what the person said, to indicate you were listening
carefully to their point of view. You can thank them for their perspective. Sometimes the simple act of letting someone get their opinions
off their chest, and have that opinion acknowledged, is enough to
defuse a hostile situation.
Watch your body language. Dont adopt aggressive or defensive
postures: no frowning, squinting, sighing, crossing your arms, fingerwagging or looking down at the questioner. You will send signals that
only make the challenger more aggressive. Stay relaxed and neutral.


Watch your tone. If youre replying to a hostile question, keep your

voice calm and even. Dont get loud. You dont want to be involved in
a screaming match.
Dont forget the rest of the audience. Its easy to focus on one
loud or difficult person. But how does your audience feel about this?
Are they embarrassed, upset, fed up, bored? Dont sacrifice them to
indulge one person.
Have an exit strategy. If youve tried everything to get a hostile person or audience on side and it hasnt worked, make sure you have an
exit strategy. You could tell the person youll be happy to continue
the debate after the presentation but for now you need to move on.

Using Humour
Humour is a good tool that gives an audience a chance to relax. You
dont need to open with a funny story, unless it really is the best opening. Beginning with a joke is a tired old routine. But if you can make
your point more effectively, or engage the audience more quickly, by
beginning with humour, by all means do. Make sure its relevant.
If you are starting your presentation with a joke and you are scheduled to
speak second, pay close attention to how the preceding speaker ended
his or her presentation. If they ended on a very heavy note, abandon
your opening joke. Move your humour deeper into your presentation.
Jokes are tricky. The best jokes poke gentle fun at yourself. Or they
help us see the ordinary things in life from a slightly different perspective. Some quick tips for using humour:

Make sure you know the punch line.

No off-colour jokes.
Dont use humour at someones expenseunless its your own.
Avoid religion or race.
If your joke works, wait for the audience to finish laughing
before continuing.

114 Chapter 12: Its All About the Audience

If they didnt get it the first time, never repeat a punch line.
Gracefully move on.
If they dont laugh, move on or use a comeback line: Thats
the last time I buy a joke from X (someone in the company).
Humour loves the expectant pause. Timing is everything.
Make sure the humour is something the audience will
understand. If you have a mix of Baby Boomers, Generation
Xers and Millennials in your audience, you run the risk
of having part of your audience laughing and the rest
scratching their heads at your joke.
Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse your funny story out loud.
Make sure there is a point to your funny story, in the
context of your presentation.
If in doubt, leave it out.

Managing Q&As
If you have a Question and Answer session in your presentation,
do it before your closing remarks. You cant control questions and
answers. You dont want to have to end your speech
or presentation on a negative remark or question If you have a Question
from the audience.
and Answer session

in your presentation,

Tell the audience what you plan to do: Before I

finish, Ill answer any questions you have or Im do it before your
about to wrap up, but first does anyone have any closing remarks.
questions? Spend a few minutes answering the
questions. When question time is over, thank the audience for the
questions, pause and deliver your prepared ending. That way, you
make sure the audience gets the experience you intended for them at
the end of your presentation.

Summary: Connecting with the Audience

Control the audiences experience.
Research the audience carefully.


What is their pain or their biggest challenge?

Respect that they have given you their most precious
gifttheir time.
Morning audiences need to be woken up.
Audiences at lunch time and in the early afternoon are at
their peak. They will be more receptive to your message.
Late afternoon audience may be getting tired.
Evening audiences want to be entertained. This is not the
time to have a fact-laden slide show.
Use the word You more than I.
Do Pulse Checks to see if the audience is engaged. Use your
gutometer or ask if what youre saying is making sense.
Use a Call and Response technique for more audience
engagement, if you feel confident.
Manage the audiences experience with activities that involve
seeing, listening and doing.
Make sure the audience is physically comfortable. Control
the temperature in the room. Try to have comfortable chairs.
If not, get them up more often with breaks or activities.
Speak their language. Be simple but not simplistic.
Understand why an audience might be hostile. Dont lose
your temper. Dont be defensive. Keep your body language
relaxed and your tone even. Dont just focus on a single
hostile person. Have an exit strategy.
Manage your question and answers by scheduling them
before the end of your presentation.
Use humour strategically. Make fun of yourself, not others.
Never use off-colour humour.

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chap te r


Tune Up Your
Inner Communicator

I heard you twice the first time.

Branford Marsalis, Musician

e a good listener. What does listening have to do with speaking? A lot, actually. Listening to your audience can determine
what you say next. You can plan and prepare before an event,
but when you go live things are not always in your control. You may
have to edit your presentation or speech on the spot, depending on
what you hear or sense from your audience.

You listen to your audience when they ask questions or make comments of course. But you should also be listening to them when
theyre laughing or applauding. You should be listening when they
are as quiet as mice with socks on.
Its surprising how your life changes when you practice active listening; thats really tuning in to other people, and not just pretending
to listen. In this section I want give you some tips for active listening,
whether youre having a conversation with one person or many.


Listen Harder to Speak Better

We have two ears and one mouth. That is probably because listening
is twice as hard as talking.

The more you listen, the better youll speak. Listen not only to the
words spoken by the other person, but to the tone of those words and
watch the body language used to express them. In
The more you listen, other words, listen to the speakers Spoken, Body
the better youll speak. and Inner Languages (whether its an individual or
a large audience). Here are some tips to help you
hone your listening skills so you can be a better presenter:
1. Be Honest
If you dont have time to truly listen to someone, arrange to talk later.

2. Pay Attention
Give the person your full attention. If youre on the telephone, dont
multi-task by reading or typing on your computer. People will hear
you tapping the keyboard. This will not help build a good relationship. If you get a business call on your mobile phone while youre
driving, pull over to talk or arrange to talk later.
3. Show Active Listening
Give the speaker a response that says Yes Im listening to you. I hear
you. Use your body language to acknowledge you hear the other person. Nod, smile, lean forward, maintain eye contact, have an open body
posture, be relaxed. If youre on the phone, you can inject a few phrases
that shows youre listening such as I see, of course, I understand.
4.Demonstrate Understanding
This shows not only that youve been listening actively but you actually understand whats been said. Do this through your words, tone
of voice, body position and gestures so the other person knows hes
understood. You can paraphrase what the speaker said: My understanding of what you said is or Let me see if I understand what
youve been saying.

118 Chapter 13: Tune Up Your Inner Communicator

5. Reflect Feelings
When a speaker is feeling very strongly about something, his emotions are engaged. In order to really listen to the person (as opposed
to just hearing their words), you need to be in touch with their feelings. Let the speaker work through the emotion before you respond.
Then paraphrase the feeling and the facts to let them know youve
heard what they said and how they feel.
6.Dont Judge
Everyone has the right to their opinions. You may not agree, but you
should generally respect the other persons right to their feeling. So
dont judge verbally, or non-verbally with your body language.
Always say something even if its just Ill get back to you. Be honest, and respectful. Treat the other person the way you would wish
to be treated.

Take a Tip From the Buddha

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the
mind on the present moment.

When the Buddha urged followers to live in the moment he was

talking about a state of wakefulness, of total awareness focused on
the present moment. Thats the state you need to
You should be so aware
be in for successful presentations.

you can feel every

heartbeat in the room,
see every movement, and
sense the effect your words
are having on everyone.

You should not be thinking about your last meal.

Nor speculating about how you will be received.
Your mind should be firmly anchored on the presentation and the audience. You should be so aware
you can feel every heartbeat in the room, see every
movement, and sense the effect your words are having on everyone. In this state of alert concentration, you are in complete
control of your actions and words. You exude power and confidence.


Make sure every word means something. Dont waste the audiences
timeor yours. Borrow a technique from the Buddha. Let your
ego go. Dont focus on having a certain outcome. The outcome will
always be perfect if you are fully awake and connected to the present moment. You will be speaking from the heart, and your words
will inspire. You will say and do the right thing. There is no failure
in this state.

Trust and Be Yourself

Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but

reasonable confidence in your powers you cannot be successful or
happy. But with sound self-confidence you can succeed.
Norman Vincent Peale, author

The wonderful thing about the TalkitOut Technique is that it captures

your true nature, your authenticity. If you try to be someone else,
your presentations wont ring true. The audience will sense somethings not right. Youll be making more work for yourself.
The key to being a persuasive, dynamic speaker is simple: be yourself. But what if you are afraid to be who you are, or youre extremely
nervous? Take a lesson from the movies. Im sure
The key to being a youve seen a scene like this: the main character
persuasive, dynamic has to inspire a crowd of people to action. She
speaker is simple: has a prepared text. But she hesitates. Shes nerbe yourself. vous, and the words shes been given dont ring
true. They are not her words. She stands before the
crowd, looks around, glances again at the prepared text. Again she
hesitates. Suddenly she tosses away the paper. She lifts her head,
takes a deep breath and speaks passionately from the heart. The
audience goes wild.
This is the point where the character risked all by being true to herself. And this is the moment where she gained all because she was
true to herself and trusted herself. The character took a risk. In movie
after movie that risk pays off. It will for you too, in real life, if you are

120 Chapter 13: Tune Up Your Inner Communicator

true to yourself and speak from your heart. To be an effective communicator you need confidence. And you have to trust yourself.
TalkitOut forces you to be yourself because when you say each
thought out loud, you are tapping into your natural, conversational
voice. You can cheat and pretend youre someone else. You can drop
you voice, or raise your voice. You can pound the podium with your
fist. But the result will be a lousy presentation if the audience senses
that youre not authentic. They wont like you, or trust you.
To be yourself takes faith and guts. Faith that you are as good as
anyone. Faith that the audience will love you for who you arenot
because you can imitate someone else. Guts to speak in your own
authentic voice. If you believe in yourself, others will too.

Affirmations and Visualizations

Remember, affirmations are like planting seeds in the groundyou

dont get a full grown plant the next day. As you continue to say the
affirmation, either you will be ready to release whatever you dont
want, and the affirmation will become true; or it will open a new
avenue to you.
Louise Hay, author
Visualizations and affirmations are proven ways of developing more
confidence. Many professional athletes and successful business people use them regularly. They visualize themselves in a winning situation. They affirm it. It happens.

An affirmation is a short, simple, positive sentence in the present

tense: for exampleI am a powerful speaker. You repeat the affirmation silently, or aloud, as often as possible, especially when youre
on the in-breath. Write out the affirmation. Paste it up where you can
see it everyday to remind and inspire you.
Visualization is imagining yourself in a winning situation. See yourself giving a dynamite presentation where youre energized and in


control. See the audience listening attentively, leaning forward and

totally engaged. You are using the conscious mind to program the
subconscious mind.

See yourself giving a

dynamite presentation
where youre energized
and in control.

Affirmations and visualizations are not new.

People have been using them for a long time.
Its all about The Power of Positive Thinking that
Norman Vincent Peale wrote about. And as Louise
Hay reminds us, affirmations and visualizations take timebut over
time they will change you.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book The Power of Intention, speaks about visualizations. He calls them imagination. He says we can use our imagination to think from the end. In other words, imagine or visualize
the end result you as a powerful speaker. Then let it happen. Dyer
declares: Theres no stopping anyone who can think from the end.
You can think from the end in your professional or personal life.
Visualize your success just before you step up to speak. It will give
you confidence. With a combination of visualization and affirmation
you have a tool for self-growth. It will build your confidence. This
simple technique has worked for many people. Theres no reason
why it shouldnt work for you.

Summary: Tune Up Your Inner Communicator

The more you listen, the better you speak.
Active listening includes being honest, paying attention,
acknowledging youre listening, reflecting back what the
speaker said, recognizing the emotional sub-text, and not
being judgmental.
Always be in the moment when you speak. Dont let your
mind wander.
Believe in yourself.
If you need to give your confidence a boost, try visualizations
and affirmations.

122 Chapter 13: Tune Up Your Inner Communicator

chap te r

1 4

Every Day Uses for

Your Speaking Skills

very time we speak, we have an opportunity to showcase ourselves as commanding speakers. Our speaking style is part of
our brand, embodied in the way we introduce ourselves, pitch
our products, or set up our voicemail. Not only does it reflect us, it
also reflects the company we work for.

Introducing Yourself to a Group

Be different. Imagine you are among 1015 strangers meeting at a
business function. The organizer asks those present to introduce themselves. One by one the guests get up and follow a familiar formula. My
name isI work forMy job is. Name, rank, serial number. Impersonal
and predictable. Almost every sentence begins with I. Since the guests
are at round tables, most just stand where they are and speak. So part
of the audience is always looking at the speakers back.
Now its your turn. Do it differently. Walk to the front of the room,
so everyone can see you clearly. Start by outlining a problem and
offering a solution for the audience. Get their attention. Differentiate
yourself. Once they are paying attention, introduce yourself.


It works. I found myself at one such event, with 20 strangers sitting

at round tables. When it was my turn to introduce myself I stepped to
the front of the room and asked: What do you do when you have to
introduce yourself in a room with tables? I outlined the options, and
why the decision about where to stand was so important. If people
can see you (and read your body language) they are more likely to
engage with you and listen more attentively.
If your first few words are interesting enough, the audience will be
eager to know your name. And they are more likely to remember you
than those other guests who stuck to name, rank and serial number
dreary routine. Im happy to report I got an ovation for my introduction. Everyone following me went to the front of the room instead of
standing at their tables. They gave us a benefit, or some useful information, or a storybefore giving their names. It made the whole
experience worthwhile. We all learned something relevant. And it
was interesting.
Even in a short introduction you can quickly bring value to strangers, grab their attention, and stand out from the crowd. Be creative.
Think of what you can say that will help the audience. Give them a
nugget to take away, a taste of what you could do for them. They will
listen to you and they will remember you.

The Elevator Speech

The elevator speech is your sales pitch. You are aiming for maximum
impact in minimum time. Its called the elevator speech or pitch
because it should last as long as a typical elevator ride, 30 seconds
to one minute. Imagine yourself stepping into an elevator and there
inside is your perfect potential client or employer. You have a short
trip to try to make a lasting impression. A good pitch takes planning
and practice. Those 30 seconds can mean the difference between a
deal and no deal, a job and no job, credibility established or just
another unfocused dreamer. Here are a few tips:

124 Chapter 14: Every Day Uses for Your Speaking Skills

1. Focus your thoughts. What do you want a potential client

or employer to remember most about you?
2. Establish the win for the client. How would your product
or service improve the clients business or life? This is
where you establish the value you can deliver.
3. Answer the unspoken so what? Establish how your
product or service is better than others.
4. Deliver your ask. Describe your goal. Be specific in
expressing what you want from the encounter.
5. As you rehearse, speak out loud the elements of your
elevator pitch. Use the simplest, boldest, most positive
words you can think of. Avoid jargon. Whats the evidence
to support your claim? Avoid hype.
6. Once you are comfortable with how the thoughts sound,
write them down.
7. Count the words and divide by 3 to calculate the length of
your pitch in seconds. If its too long, start trimming.
8. Review it carefully. Is every word working hard for you?
Strip out any padding.
9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Get out there and try your
pitch as much as possible. This will help you refine it.
It will get better and better.
10. Have two or three key points to make that you can
interchange, depending on whom youre meeting.
11. Smile and use a friendly, warm tone. Be relaxed and
courteous. You dont want to come over as desperate
for business.


12. Expect nothing but the pleasure of connecting to a new

person. Youre not closing a deal here. Youre building a
relationship for the future. Your elevator speech is the first
step to future conversations.
13. Enjoy it. If you really are having fun meeting new people,
they will sense it and enjoy meeting you too.
14. Trust your instincts. If you sense the person really is too
busy, or just doesnt want to spend time with you, cut your
loses and move on.

Voicemail announcements are often taken for granted. But for many
potential clients or customers, voicemail is where they first hear us.
Use the 15 to 20 seconds of a voicemail announcement to say something positive about youbeyond speak at the tone.
A voicemail announcement can reveal a lot about a person. Weve all
experienced disinterested voices rushing through scripts laden with
the stilted prose of the worst consumer-contact training programs.
We all know how refreshing it is to hear a friendly voice delivering a
sincere message. That friendly voice needs to be you. Here are a few
tips for recording and leaving voicemails:
1. When you record your voicemail announcement, stand
as you speak. This will give your message energy. Most
people record while hunched over their desk or phone. This
produces lifeless messages. Stand when youre leaving a
message for someone, too.
2. Smile as you speak. This will keep your tone warm and
3. Use pauses, to give people time to hear the information.
Pause after your name. If youre leaving another contact

126 Chapter 14: Every Day Uses for Your Speaking Skills

number, pause before you give it. Pausing strategically will

stop you from barreling though your message, as many
people do. A well-paced message says you are considerate
of the person at the other end.
4. Slow down, especially if you are giving contact
information. If youve ever been frustrated by having to
replay a message several times to make a note of a name or
number, youll understand the benefits of a measured pace.
Imagine the person at the other end reaching for a pen to
write down your information. Be helpful.
5. Emphasize the most important elements of your message.
You can add emphasis just as effectively by using a pause
as you can by raising your voice.
6. Be polite. You never know who will hear your message or
who youre leaving it for.
7. Avoid the standard all-purpose message. A formulaic
message says you dont care about the person receiving
it. Be as creative as content and circumstances allow, and
speak conversationally.
8. Avoid loud music or other disruptive noises in the
background. If background noise is unavoidable, speak
closer to the microphone, enunciate clearly and use pauses
and emphasis where appropriate.
9. No commercials please. This is not the time to promote
yourself with a list of what you do. In fact you may be
turning people off and losing business.

Public Address Announcements

Every time I fly, I grit my teeth and clutch the arm rests of my seatnot
because Im afraid of flying, but because what I hear is the equivalent


of fingernails on a chalkboard. Im talking about announcements by

flight attendants.
Many flight attendants rush and slur their way through announcements. There seems to be not an ounce of genuine concern, never
mind passion. How does that make me feel as a passenger? Definitely
that they dont really care about me or my safety. Im sure they do.
But, as with so many other aspects of communication, theres a
world of difference between what is intended and
It doesnt take much to what is perceived. Perception rules.

put life into repetitive

announcements, whether
in a store or on a plane.

Many stores make announcements about specials.

Its a wonderful promotional opportunity. But its
wasted if the shopping audience isnt hooked,
engaged and persuaded by the message and the voice. It doesnt take
much to put life into repetitive announcements, whether in a store or
on a plane. The challenge is to make a repetitive message fresh every
time you do it. Here are some tips for better announcements:
1. Its not about you. Focus on the people hearing the
message, and speak to them rather than mechanically to
the microphone.
2. Break down long, convoluted sentences. Use simple, short
sentences with one thought per sentence. The pauses
between sentences create comprehension opportunities
that make it easier for the message to be received and
understood. This is especially important in a noisy
environment, like an airplane or supermarket.
3. Speak the way you would speak in a natural, normal
4. Slow down. We need to hear everything. Our lives may
depend on it.
5. Stand and smile to make your message energetic and
pleasing to listen to.

128 Chapter 14: Every Day Uses for Your Speaking Skills

Summary: Every Day Uses for Your Speaking Skills

Every time you speak, whether its an introduction, voicemail
announcement or message over a PA system, its an
opportunity to showcase yourself as a speaker.
Every time you speak publicly, you are saying volumes about
who you are and the company you work for.
When you introduce yourself to a group of strangers, be
creative. Dont just rhyme off your name and job description.
Describe a problem and offer a solution. Then give your
name and other relevant information.
Focus your elevator pitch. Clearly articulate the benefits you
are offering. Answer the so what? question. Dont forget to
clearly express what you are looking for. Rehearse as often
as possible. Dont expect to make a sale. Youre building a
Make sure your voicemail announcements and messages
demonstrate consideration for the people hearing them.
Stand when you record your message, smile when you speak,
and pause to emphasize important information.
Avoid distracting noise in the background.
If you have to make repetitive announcements, dont rush
through them in a bored tone.
Speak conversationally using short sentences and simple,
clear language. Limit yourself to one thought per sentence.


chap te r


Making Group

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

Ryunosuke Satoro, Japanese Poet

any people in business are called upon to make group or

team presentations. A group presentation can have tremendous impact. Generally, its more
interesting for the audience. Members of a team The fear of speaking
can pool their creativity. They can support each in public is eased by
other. The fear of speaking in public is eased by the knowledge that the
the knowledge that the success or failure of the
success or failure of the
presentation does not rest wholly on the shoulders
presentation does not rest
of one person.

wholly on the shoulders of

one person.

The disadvantage is that a group presentation, if

not planned and rehearsed well, can go spectacularly wrong. People miss their cues, information is repeated, and
those not talking look uncomfortable as they wonder where to direct
their gaze.

Unfortunately too often, the coordination and rehearsal gets overlooked. After an initial meeting, the project degenerates into a group


of individuals working on their own. The first time the group actually
gets together is the day of the presentation. So they have their first
rehearsal in front of the client. Not a good idea.
One of Podium Coachings long-standing clients is a large advertising company. Staff are called on regularly to present their creative
ideas to clients in a group format. The group usually consists of the
account manager, the creative director, the communications director
and sometimes others. If its for a big client the presenters will be the
president and vice presidents of each department. Theres always
a lot at stake, so its important the presentation is smooth, professional and lands the contract.
Putting on a high-stakes group presentation is like mounting a small
theatrical play. You plan it, block it out (plan peoples movements
and the logistics), rehearse it and then deliver it. This section is
about how you can work together as a team to create and deliver a
winning presentation. All the advice about individual presentations
applies when youre working with a team. But there are a few additional elements you need to be aware of.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

Get all the presenters in the team together for an initial planning session. At this session discuss:
the audience youre presenting to
who in the audience is for or against the project,
proposal, or idea
how many people will be in the room
why is it important to reach this audience
what positions do they hold
time of day of the presentation and how it will
affect the presentation

132 Chapter 15: Making Group Presentations

Step 2: Define the Scope and Intent of the Presentation

Once you know the audience, discuss the strategy the team will use
to convince them:
Figure out the Controlling Idea of the whole presentation.
Each presenter will use this to guide them when theyre
preparing their contribution.
Define the benefits for the client that each team member
will focus on
Agree on the best Hook for beginning the whole presentation
Team members can decide on the hook for their sections.
Discuss the main points each team member will focus on.
Its important everyone knows what others will talk about.
This will prevent duplication.
Identify stories that will illustrate the points you are
making. Every team member should have one or two short
stories in their presentation.
Dont try to cover everything in the presentation. You can
always give the clients a handout of relevant additional
Focus on leaving a memorable impression rather than
delivering a data dump. Impressions last. We forget facts
and figures.
Plan for visuals to make your point, and coordinate with
everybody elses visuals so you have a coherent look.

Step 3: Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Once youve established your objective and you know what to expect
from your audience, decide on the format of your presentation. There
are no hard and fast rules. Do whatever will showcase your content
most favourably to the intended audience:
Pick a leader for the whole presentation
Decide how to handle introductions: all at once by the
leader, or individually by participants


Agree on how to make transitions between presenters.

They need to be quick and smooth. Mistakes and pauses
diminish your credibility.
Limit the number of slides to 5 or 6 slides per person (or less)
Agree a unified graphic look for slides
Make sure you load the slides on one computer to save time

Step 4: Figure Out Where to Stand and Where to Look

Body language is important in a group presentation. The way team
members sit, stand and interact with each other will affect how the
audience perceives and receives the information:
When someone is speaking whats the rest of the team doing?
Sitting? Standing? Where? No hard and fast rules, except that
you need to think about it and include it in your plan.
When its someones turn to speak, do they walk to the
front or deliver from where theyve been standing? Be
consistent, and make sure everyone knows the plan.
When one person is speaking, the rest of the group should
look at the speaker.
Having the rest of the team focus on the speaker will
encourage the audience to pay attention to the speaker. Youll
have a better chance of making your points memorable. And
it shows cohesion among the group, subliminally telling the
audience you are a professional and a strong team.
Always stand or sit tall
Ensure uniformity in dress. You dont want some in jeans
and others in suits unless thats your strategic intent.
Be alert and ready to jump in if something goes wrong. In
all live situations, something unexpected always happens.

Step 5: Unleash Your Creativity

Be creative. The more creative you are, the stronger the impression
on the audience. Here are some ideas clients of Podium Coaching

134 Chapter 15: Making Group Presentations

have used in group presentations. They may not be right for you and
your audience. But they may spark a creative idea of your own:
Use a talk show format. Have the leader interview each
team members in a television talk show setting.
Do skits
Use a sport like football or basketball as a framework for
the presentation
Include videos to break up the monotony of speaking
to slides
Include humour
Use props
Tell as many stories as you can
Construct the whole presentation as a mystery plot,
giving the audience clues throughout and the answer
at the end
Kill the bullet points and use pictures instead

Step 6: Give Added Value to Transitions

Make sure each person adds value when they hand over to, or introduce, the next speaker.
Dont say:
Now heres Anna Jones, our Director of Communication.
Instead promote her benefit for the client:
Telling the media about your product is very important. Our
Director of Communication knows exactly how to do it. Heres
Anna Jones.
The idea is to ensure that every single moment of presentation time is
working hard to promote your cause. Little devices like value-added
transitions really increase the impact of your presentation.


Step 8: Rehearse
So often this very important step is neglected. The more you rehearse,
the more successful the presentation. Rehearsing will give the team
confidence. Theres a world of difference between knowing the plan
and being able to deliver the plan, especially when the clients skeptical eyes are focused on you.
Its in the rehearsal that each person will refine their individual roles.
This is the time to fine-tune the presentation. The group will become
united through the rehearsals. People can relax, knowing how their
part fits into the whole. You have time to identify and fix any glitches.
No matter how busy everyone is, you must find time to rehearse.

Summary: Group Presentations

Group or team presentations have impact if they are well
prepared and presented.
Have the team meet to discuss the audience and how best to
approach them.
Assign roles and pick a leader.
Decide on a format.
Get the body language right. Each person should watch the
speaker and know where they sit or stand when someone else
is speaking.
Be as creative as possible. Consider a talk show format. Or a
skit. Use pictures, videos and/or props.
Promote each speaker by incorporating value-added
information. Dont just introduce them by name and title.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

136 Chapter 15: Making Group Presentations

chap te r

1 6

Taking Your Speaking

Skills Around the World

Ich bin ein Berliner.

President John F. Kennedy, Berlin, 1963

hen President John F. Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963

he reached out to his audience by speaking a few
words in German. He meant to say I am a Berliner (Ich
bin Berliner). However he wound up saying Ich bin ein Berliner
which means I am a Berlin-style pastry. Another translation is I
am a donut. Either way, the American president made an impressionbut not exactly the one he intended.

Speaking to an international audience is fraught with pitfalls. It

requires care and attention if you want to make
Its easy, but dangerous,
your point, sell your product or convince an audito assume international
ence of your point of view.

audiences will understand

Increasingly, English is the dominant language, all the nuances of the

certainly for international politics and business.
English language.
So its easy, but dangerous, to assume international audiences will understand all the nuances of the English language. These nuances are shaped by history, culture and usage. Here
are some tips to help you steer clear of awkward situations.


Hello. How are you?

These four little wordsHello. How are you?are a key to breaking
down communication barriers. Make a point of learning how to say
that simple greeting in the language of the country you are visiting.
Its amazing how saying this simple greeting in your hosts language
changes their perception of you. Even if you dont get the pronunciation right, your audience will appreciate the effort.
But saying the words is not enough. Language and culture are inextricably entwined. So what are the cultural traditions that accompany your greeting? In North America we shake hands. The first
time I was in Saudi Arabia, I held out my hand to an Arab man. He
stepped back, holding both his hands in the air as if I was pointing
a gun at him. He said he was sorry, he couldnt touch me because I
was a woman. It was an awkward moment. Not all Arabs or Muslims
would necessarily do this when they meet a woman, but some simple
research will save you from a potentially-embarrassing blunder. This
is important even, if youre a man. In some instances, a Muslim male
will not shake the hand of a non-Muslim male.
If you go to Japan, bone up on your bowing technique. Men and women
bow differently. The angle of your bow is important. In Thailand,
learn how to make a wai properly. Press your palms together, fingers
up and hands close to your chest. Bow slightly. The higher the fingers
(never beyond your nose), the more respect is shown.
Thank goodness we can do our meet-and-greet research in seconds
on the internet. While youre at it, check other rules of etiquette
for the country you are speaking in or visiting. Your time will be

Keep Your Language Simple

Use simple sentences and simple words. Avoid long convoluted
sentences where the main thought may get lost as you skip from
one subordinate clause to another. This is especially true if you are

138 Chapter 16: Taking Your Speaking Skills Around the World

describing a complex concept. Keep your presentation or speech

short. Its hard work listening to someone in another language.
Avoid idiomatic expressions. Its all Greek to me, lets go Dutch,
armchair quarterback, beating a dead horse, different strokes for
different folks, squeaky wheel gets the grease, where the rubber
meets the road are just a few phrases that will confuse most foreign
audiences. Use examples your audience can relate to. No sense talking about a blizzard white-out to an audience in Africa.
Dont raise your voice. If you cant make yourself understood, shouting will not help. Speak at an even pace. Dont slow down unnaturally. Pause more than you usually do, to give your audience time
to understand and reflect on your words. Repetition is good in any
language. Just be respectful.
Dont tell jokes. Whats funny at home may be a real insult abroad.
Handouts are a useful to help the audience retain your content, and
clarify any points that were unclear.
If youre mentioning any sort of measurement, use the standard of
the country youre in. Convert money into the currency of your hosts.
Read the local papers. Find out whats going on and perhaps work it
into your presentation. Its good to know whats on peoples minds.
Itll help you put your content into perspective.
If youre using technology make sure it works in
a different country. Europe has a PAL TV system
while North America has NTSC. Make sure your
computers, cameras and monitors work in the
country you are visiting. Make sure you have adaptors for electrical sockets.

You should use as

many visuals as you can.
They bridge the language
barrier and will help you
make your point quickly
and clearly.

Ensure your visuals (photographs or video) are culturally appropriate. You should use as many visuals as you can. They bridge the language barrier and will help you make your point quickly and clearly.


You may want to use a script if youre delivering a speech. If there is

simultaneous translation, a script will be handy for the translator.

Watch Your Body Language

How you move, gesture and dress are even more important when
youre abroad. The thumbs-up gesture can land you in a lot of trouble
in some countries, wheres its a real insult.
Dress appropriately for the country you are visiting. Pay attention to
the colour of your clothing. In Japan, for instance, white is the colour
of death; so a crisp white linen business suit can make the wrong
impression. In India, orange is a sacred colour worn often by monks.
Be prepared for different concepts of personal space. North
Americans typically surround themselves with three concentric circles. The outer-most circle ranges from about 10 to 25 feet, and is
our public space. Its the space we like to have around us when we
address a large group of strangers. A little closer, from 5 feet to 10
feet, is our social space. Thats where we are most comfortable in
meetings with strangers. Closer still, up to 4 feet from our body, is
our personal space. Depending on how we set the outer limit of our
personal space, we can start to feel very uncomfortable when strangers get too close. We tend to recoil from these space-invaders.
But visit some countries in the Middle East or Asia and youll quickly
discover that their concept of social space is much closer to our personal space. If you are unprepared you may step back to restore your
concept of an appropriate spaceleaving your host or client thinking you are stand-offish. Italians will have no qualms about standing
close to you. The Dutch, on the other hand, like to expand their personal space closer to what we think of as public space. Keeping your
distance is fine with them.
The way we react to the concept of personal, social and public space
is why we label some people as pushy or invasive and they in

140 Chapter 16: Taking Your Speaking Skills Around the World

turn label us as distant or aloof. Once again, the solution is to do

your homework. Youll learn something about another cultureand
youll avoid a possible blunder when you meet a client or deliver a
speech or workshop.

Help Your Audience

If you are speaking in English, the audiences attention span may be
shorter than usual because they have to work harder to understand.
Your audience will almost certainly have different levels of proficiency in English. The better English speakers may be engaged while
others are bewildered. Pace your delivery and simplify your words
depending on the importance of your content. You may not reach
everyone all the time. Identify the core elements of your message and
rely on simplicity of expression, sign-posting, emphasis, pacing and
repetition to deliver them successfully.
One of the best ways to engage with a foreign audience is by being
sincerely interested in them. If youre there on business, to deliver a
speech or workshop, do your homework before the trip, and dont
stop when you get there. Ask questions. Smile. Engage them in conversations about themselves.
Vary your tone of voice more that you normally do. Tone is the music
behind the words. And like real music, tone is universally understood. Tone will help your audience understand your meaning.
Tune in to the audience. Read the mood, the feeling, of your audience. Go deeper than just a scan of facial expressions. Use your
gutometer. Your instinct should tell you if the audience understand you.
Show respect. Unless youve lived in the country for a long time, married someone from it and lived according to their rules, you will not
know the nuances of language or culture. Be respectful in gesture
and speech.


Speaking Through a Translator or Interpreter

If language is going to be a problem, consider a translator or interpreter. Both do the same thing, but in different ways. An interpreter
translates what you say orally on the spot. You say a sentence or two
and the interpreter translates sometimes using all the words you said
or by prcising them. The translator works from a written document.
If you use either, check where they learned their English. Someone
who learned to speak English as a second language in Britain will
have a different set of idiomatic expressions from someone who
learned English in the southern United States. Send your documents
to the interpreter ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves
with your topic. They can check any unusual vocabulary. Use pauses
and slow your pace so the interpreter has time to grasp your meaning
before they translate.

Summary: Speaking in Other Countries

Learn to speak a few words in the other persons language, to
break the ice.
Use simple sentences and simple words. Avoid long
sentences with subordinate clauses.
Avoid idiomatic expressions.
Use examples your audience can relate to.
Dont shout.
Speak at an even pace.
Repeat key phrases.
Keep your speech or presentation short. Listening in another
language is hard work.
Give the audience handouts to reinforce your message.
Convert speeds, weights, temperatures and currencies to the
measuring system of the country youre in.
Find out whats happening from local papers.
Check your equipment is compatible with the technology of
the country youre in.
Use lots of visuals. They reinforce your message.

142 Chapter 16: Taking Your Speaking Skills Around the World

Dont be afraid of using a script to keep tightly focused.

Dress appropriately.
Use culturally-correct gestures. Find out whats appropriate
in the country youre in.
Understand personal space, so you know how close you
should be when meeting someone, coaching or giving a
Be sincerely interested in the culture of your audience, and
show it by asking questions.
Vary your tone to enhance meaning.
Watch the audience intently for signs of engagement or
Always show respect.
Consider using an interpreter or translator.
If you use an interpreter, pause a lot, and provide them with
as many documents ahead of time as you can.


chap te r


Writing for Others:

Tips for Speech-Writers

One corporate speechwriter describes the perception of her job by

fellow employees as being similar to the girl in Rumplestiltskin: They
bring me facts of straw and ask me to spin them into golden speeches
by morning. No-one has any idea how I do it.
From Professionally Speaking Blog by Ian Griffin

hats harder than writing a speech for yourself? Writing a

speech for someone else. The speechwriter has a difficult
job: to get the speaker to explain what they want to say,
translate it into a memorable speech, and have the speaker deliver it
with comfort, credibility and power. The role of the speechwriter is to
motivate, inspire and reach an audience through
The role of the
someone else. It takes a special skill to keep both
speechwriter is to
the speaker and the audience happy.

motivate, inspire and

Always remember its not you delivering the words. reach an audience
For the speech to be believable it has to capture the
through someone else.
authentic voice of the person delivering it. So its
important to work collaboratively with the speaker. Not only do you
have to understand the informationyou have to understand the
style and personality of the speaker.


And regardless of whos delivering the speech, always remember

its all about the audience. So, ask not what the
Ask not what the speaker speaker should say. Ask what the audience needs
should say. Ask what the to hear.

audience needs to hear.

Write Out Loud

Writing effective speeches requires a constant awareness of

the distinction between the written and the spoken word: the
speechwriter must learn to write aloud. While the best speeches
read as well as they sound, the novice speechwriter should give
priority to the ear and not the eye. His or her speech must be
written to be heard, not read.
Congressional Research Service report on Speechwriting
by Thomas H. Neale and Dana Ely

Use the TalkitOut Technique (talking out loud) just as you would if
you were preparing a speech for yourself. The only difference is, you
have to be a bit of a mimic. Get your clients voice in your head. Try
to imitate they way they speak. Formal or informal? Lively or laidback? How do they make their point in conversation? What rhetorical
devices do they use? Talk out the speech the way the client would.
Then the client can deliver your words with ease and conviction,
because it will sound natural.

Understanding the Clients Speaking Style

How do you imitate someone elses voice? Here are some tips:
Record a conversation with the client to get their
instinctive, strongest expressions of the points they
want to make.
Use some of those exact words and phrases when you
prepare their speech.
Understand the essence of their conversational style.
How do they construct their sentences?

146 Chapter 17: Writing for Others: Tips for Speech-Writers

What words and phrases do they like to use?

Do they like to include personal references?
Do they speak quickly or slowly? Do they use pauses?
How do they emphasize thoughts?
Do they like to walk when they speak?
Get their voice inside your head. Visualize them speaking.

Planning the Speech

Once youve had the initial conversation with the client, start
researching and preparing the speech. Use the think-it-out format,
the TalkitOut Technique and set out the words on the page the way
we way demonstrated earlier. Keep the lines short, space down the
page every time you want the speaker to pause, and double space for
even bigger pauses.
Here are some more tips for the planning stage:
Figure out the Controlling Idea. This is what you want the
audience to take away. Write it in one short sentence. Keep
checking that all your facts, stories and arguments support
the controlling idea.
Talk-out the speech, mimicking the speakers voice.
Keep it conversational.
Keep the sentences short, for emphasis and ease of
Hook the audience by opening with a story, a quote,
a big bold statement, or a question. Be creative.
Let the audience know whats in it for them soon
after the hook.
Dont forget context. This is the need-to-know information
without which nothing makes sense. Provide too much
context and the speaker will bore the audience. Not enough
context will confuse the audience.
Create the content. This is the bulk of the speech.
Three good points are usually enough in a 15 or
20 minute speech.


Create a conclusion that restates or reinforces the

controlling idea: this could be a call to action, a summary
of main points, a projection into the future, or the wrap-up
of a story that started earlier.
Stick to the agreed length of the speech. In the TalkitOut
format, each page is 30 seconds on average. Three words
equal one second.
Make sure you know how long the speech should be. Make
it a few minutes shorter, to allow for the unexpected.
If possible show the plan to the client before you start
talking-out the speech. Make any changes to the overall
plan before you start the first draft.

Introductions For Speakers

For my first big speech to an audience of 300, I let the introducer
write my introduction. The person used my bio right off the Podium
website. Without checking, she said I would be talking about some
specific things from my past that were in the bio. Unfortunately, the
anecdotes in the bio had absolutely nothing to do with my speech.
I had no intention of mentioning them. But now I had to deal with
them, because the expectations of the audience had been raised. I
learned a valuable lesson that day: never let someMany good speeches one else write your introduction.

have started badly

because they were
poorly introduced.

Many good speeches have started badly because

they were poorly introduced. People picked to
introduce a speaker are rarely professional speakers or speechwriters themselves. Nor are they
experts on your topic. So they grab a speakers bio and read it verbatim. Invariably this data dump is way too long, and does nothing to
prime the audience for the content of the speech. Its well-meant, but
not the build-up your speech or presentation needs.

On behalf or your client, find out who will be making the introduction. Write it for them, so that the introduction flows seamlessly into
the beginning of the speech. This is an important detail you should

148 Chapter 17: Writing for Others: Tips for Speech-Writers

not leave to chance. The introduction should never be a biographical

list of your clients achievements. The introduction is the opening
act, the warm-up to the actual speech. It should promote the speech
and the clients credentials by teasing, enticing and arousing the
audiences curiosity.

Understanding the Audience

The starting point for the introduction, and the speech, is to understand your audience. How you craft your content will depend on
whos in the room. Gather this information before your meeting with
the client. It will help you plan the speech. Heres what you need to
find out about the audience:

How knowledgable are they about the speakers topic?

How many will be in the room?
Whats the male/female ratio?
Who are they? Executives? Managers? Members
of the public?
Whats the age range?
Are they likely to be supportive, or skeptical of the speaker?
Are there stakeholders in the room?
Are there decision-makers in the room?
Will the media be there?
Is there something going on in the community, the country
or the world that may influence or distract the audience?
Should it be referred to in your speech?
Is there a sensitive issue that should be avoided or dealt
with diplomatically?

Planning the Logistics

As a speechwriter, you
cannot not leave anything
to chance. Your job is to
help the speaker give the
best speech ever.

As a speechwriter, you cannot not leave anything

to chance. Your job is to help the speaker give the
best speech ever. You dont want them worrying
about all the details involved in preparing and delivering the speech.


To enable the speaker to relax and have confidence in you, you need
to double-check the logistics and the technology, and make sure relevant information is shared with the speaker. Have a fact sheet ready
with the speech. Heres what you need to arrange:
What is the address? Whats the best route?
How long will it take to get there? Allow for traffic. Build in
extra time for contingencies.
Identify an alternative route, just in case.
Suggest the best way (taxi, car, train, foot) to get to the
If the speaker is driving, make sure they know where to
park. Arrange for parking if necessary.
Make sure the speaker can get to the location in time to do
a sound check and get comfortable with the room and any
equipment being used.
Find out the room size. Is it appropriate for the intended
audience? Can it be re-arranged if necessary.
Check the temperature in the room. As the audience fills up
the room, it will get warmer.

Advise the speaker on dress codes. Business attire? Casual?

Check the layout of the room. Tables or theatre seating?
Hows the room configured? Square, rectangular or L-shaped?
Are there any eye-line obstructions between speaker and
Will the speaker be on a stage, platform or the floor? Will
everyone be able to see the speaker?
Is there a podium? Is it high/low enough for the speaker?
Tall speakers will need a higher podium. You may have
to put the podium on a riser. Short speakers may need a
platform or riser to stand on.
Does the podium have a built-in microphone and light? If
the speaker uses these, will they block his/her face?
What kind of the lighting is there in the room? Will the
speaker be seen?

150 Chapter 17: Writing for Others: Tips for Speech-Writers

If the speaker is using slides, arrange lighting levels so that

the audience can see both the speaker and the slides. This
may be a challenge. But its important:
One professional speaker
one professional speaker travels with his
travels with his own
own lightbulbs to make sure the lighting
is perfect.
lightbulbs to make sure
If the speaker has a slide show, make
the lighting is perfect.
sure the equipment works. Make sure
the projector and computer set up doesnt interfere with
or limit where the speaker will be standing. This is doubly
important if the person plans to move about the stage. You
dont want the speaker moving in front of the projector.
Have a remote control. Test it. Have spare batteries.
Have the slide show backed up on a disk or memory stick.
Does the speaker want to use a wireless microphone, a
handheld microphone or the microphone on the podium?
Make sure the speaker knows how loudly he has to speak at
the microphone and how close he needs to be.
Who will do a sound check? Best to have the speaker do it.
Is it a breakfast, lunch or dinner speech? Will diners/
servers be clanging plates and cutlery during any part of
the speech? Let the speaker know. Dont try to deliver the
most important material amid distractions.
Is there muzak at the location? Make sure its turned off.
Are there machines (air conditioning/plant equipment)
running in the background? Get them shut off if possible.
Is there traffic noise? Is it an area with people walking by?
If you cant do anything about it, make sure the speaker
knows what might happen.
Make sure you have contact information for the organizers,
the people who set up the room for the speech, and the
audio-visual team.
Make sure you have all the contact information for the speaker.
Make sure the speaker has all the information, too.


Preparing the Speaker

You have researched, planned and written the speech. Now you are
ready to present the first draft to the speaker. (Hopefully you will
have time to go over it with him or her before they actually deliver.
This isnt always the case with busy executives.) If you are able to
meet a day or two before, heres what you need to do:
Have the speaker rehearse the speech out loud. Listen for
any phrases that sound clumsy or unnatural.
Listen for words the speaker instinctively substitutes for
what was written.
If possible, have the speaker rehearse a second time. This
time, listen as a member of the audience would. Does the
speech make sense? Does it have impact?
Watch the speakers body language. Make a note of any
distracting mannerisms. Discuss them.
Ask the speaker to memorize the Hook.
Ask the speaker if they want the speech or parts of it
reduced to a key word format.
If the speech is to be part of the public record, reformat a
copy in a standard written style for publication.

Summary: Tips for Speechwriters

Find out about the audience.
In your first meeting with the speaker, record him/her to get
some authentic phrasing.
Plan the speech using the think-it-out format. Get the
speakers buy-in before you start writing.
Mimic the speakers voice as you talk out the speech. Try to
capture their phrasing, vocabulary and inflection.
Write a short script for the person who will introduce the
speaker. Never trust someone else to write your speakers
Make sure the venue, audio and technical requirements have
been met.

152 Chapter 17: Writing for Others: Tips for Speech-Writers

Have the speaker rehearse the first draft out loud. Make
changes as needed.
Get the speaker to rehearse a second time. Listen as if you
were in the audience.
Ask the speaker to memorize the hook.
Ask the speaker if he or she wants any part of the speech
(other than the hook) in a key word format.
Prepare the slide show if one is needed.
If the speech is to be part of the public record, reformat a
copy for publication.


chap te r

1 8

How to Create Memorable

Slide Presentations

PowerPoint is the Rodney Dangerfield of software. It gets no respect.

Ken Goldberg, Berkeley Engineering professor

h poor Powerpoint. We cant live with it; we cant live without

it. It bores us to tears; it helps us understand. It kills a presentation instantly; it brings it to life. Such are the contradictions
with Powerpoint. The bottom linePowerPoint
(or Keynote or whatever slide show system you Its not the slide thats
use) is merely software. Its not the slide thats the the problem, its the
problem, its the slide-show creator. Slide shows
slide-show creator.
fail because we misunderstand their purpose.

Slide shows fail because

we misunderstand
their purpose.

Slides do not exist to bring life to a dull presentation; slides are not a dumping ground for all the
details your dont want to talk about; slides do not
let you cram even more data into your presentation. Most importantly, slides are not the star of the show you are. Slides reinforce
and make memorable the points you make in your presentation.

Too many presenters begin by creating their slides first. Then they
transcribe the content of the slides and use that as their speaking


script. The slide presentation will never rise above the level of a
childs early reading book: see dog, say dog. This chapter will try to
persuade you theres a better way.

Slides are not the star

of the showyou are.

Slides can corrupt us, by turning us into lazy

communicators. The slides become a crutch, and
when we lean on them too heavily we rob ourselves of creativity. The
TalkitOut technique is perfect for slide presentations. Its the right
recipe. Most people use the wrong recipe when they prepare their
PowerPoint. They focus on the formnot the content. Pretty pictures, bright colours and dancing graphics will not make you a great
speaker. Those devices may amuse, briefly. But they wont hold the
audiences attention. Sooner or later you have to give your audience
something to sink their teeth into.

Dont Be a Slide-Reader
Being a slave to slides can lead to an even bigger sin. Some presenters prepare their slides with lots of information packed into sentences and bullets, then get up and deliver by simply reading whats
on the slide. They turn their back on the audience, and read to them.
The most important rule for any slide presentation is this: never turn
your back to your audience and read word-for-word the content of the
slides. Fall into this bad habit and you risk alienating your audience by:
a) putting them to sleep
b) antagonizing them
c) boring them
d) insulting them

Kill Objectives
Of course I dont mean abandon your objectives for your presentation. I mean kill the objectives slide. Thats the slide at the top of
the pile that lists everything youre going to do or say. Some people
call it the agenda slide. Many people show it right after the title slide.

156 Chapter 18: How to Create Memorable Slide Presentations

Starting with the objective or agenda slide as your first slide is as

predictable as beginning a speech with Thank you for having me.
Im so happy to be here today. I would like to talk
Just like a speech, you
about blah, blah, blah.

need to begin your slide

presentation with a great
hook that grabs, intrigues
and engages the audience.

Just like a speech, you need to begin your slide presentation with a great hook that grabs, intrigues
and engages the audience. Differentiate yourself
by launching into your presentation in the cleverest, most creative, way you can. There are subtler ways of establishing your purpose than by showing a slide with a list of bullet points.
Speaking of which

Kill the Bullets

Do you really need those bulleted lists on your slides? Sometimes,
yes. But often theres another way of reinforcing your message. Some
of the most successful slides have no bullets at all. Instead they rely
on a picture or a graphic or maybe just a single word or sentence.
You could create a bullet point that talks about the importance of
environmental protection. Or your could build your script around a
relevant story, and support it with images of the worst and the best
of environmental protection. Which would best help your audience
understand why they should care about the issue?
Think of the recent presentations youve seen. How many relied on
bulleted lists? If the answer is a lot, or even quite a lot, thats a convincing argument for finding an alternative. The beauty of thinking
it out, talking it out and then writing it out is, first, your slide show
is driven by content. And second, it prevents you from putting too
many words on the slides. Generally, the fewer words, the better.

Reveal Information Strategically

If you do use bullets, dont display them all on the slide at once and
then start talking about each point. The audience will race ahead of


you, and theyll not be focused on what you have to say. While youre
explaining bullet number 1, theyll be reading bullet number 4.
By revealing your points one at a time, you deliver your information
to the audience in bite-sized, understandable chunks. Youre not
The audience is there to confusing them by putting up too much information too soon.

see you. The slides are

importantbut only to
make your message even
more memorable.

Keep it simple. Reveal one bullet at a time and

speak about it. Then go on to the next bullet. The
bullets are there as a headline to your spoken
content. Never forget, you are the starnot your
slides. If people came only to see your slide show, you could have
saved them the time and effort by emailing them a PDF of your presentation. The audience is there to see you. The slides are importantbut only to make your message even more memorable.

Dont Go Crazy With Graphics

Resist the temptation to pack your slides with numbers, graphs,
charts and text. You are asking a lot of an audience if you expect
them to absorb graphics on a slide as easily as if the information was
on paper they could read and reread at their leisure. If you dont give
the audience time to absorb the information on a slide, you risk leaving them confused or bored.
Instead, think of an image that would serve as a metaphor to reinforce your message, while you deliver the amazing statistics in a few
clear, simple, jargon-free words. Here are a few tips on how to make
graphics on slides work for you:
Reduce your graphic to the bare essentials.
Reveal the graphic. Dont talk. Give the audience time to
absorb whats on the screen.
The more information on the graphic, the more time you
should give the audience to read and understand the data.

158 Chapter 18: How to Create Memorable Slide Presentations

Once the audience has had a good look at the graphic, go

over it for them. Explain the significance. Reinforce the
basic information on the slide with your insight or context.
Dont turn your back on the audience. You can turn your
head to draw the audiences attention to the screen, but
dont turn too far or for too long. As a rule of thumb, always
face and engage the audience. Theyre there to see and hear
you. You are infinitely more exciting than any slide.
Dont give out copies of your slide show before your
presentation. People will either have read them before you
speak or will be reading ahead as youre speaking. Either
way, theyre not focussed on you and your message.

Kill the Effects

Enough already with words that skip, dissolve, twirl, bounce or flip
onto a slideespecially if accompanied by bongs, tinkles, piano
riffs or other odd noises. All these effects do is detract from you and
your message.

Less Is More
The fewer words on the slide the more powerful and effective the presentation, whether you use bullets or not. The more words, the more
confusing it will be for the audience to listen to you
Slides should clarify,
and read at the same time.

not confuse. They should

Slides should clarify, not confuse. They should enhance, not detract.
enhance, not detract. They should never be the
main attraction. Thats your role. Check each slide for the number of
words. Can you get rid of any, in the name of clarity?
Slides with bullet points should have a maximum of six bullets, with
no more that 3 words in each one. Avoid complete sentences at all
costs, unless youre using a quote.


After youve finished your slides, cut 25% out. Be brutal. Your audience will love you for it.

Using Quotes on Slides

A good quote can support a point perfectly. When you have a quote,
especially a long one, consider dividing it into readable chunks on
two or three slides. Give added value by including the authors picture and name.
Put up the slide and let the audience read it for themselves. You read
it silently in your head twice so the audience has enough time to read
the whole quote. Your silence forces their attention to the screen. You
get a break from talking, and you give the audience a change of pace
and style.

Focus On Content
For slides to make an impact, you must focus on the content before
the look. When planning a slide show, follow our guidelines for any
powerful presentation:

Think It Out
Write It Out
Reduce It (reduce the words as I showed you in Chapter 11.)

At Step Four, when youve reduced the words to 3 or 4 bullets, youll

have a ready-made guide for your slides. All you have to do is chose
which bullets become slides.
Actually your slide show starts at Step Two, when you are talking it
out. The words you emphasize verbally are usually the ones you will
want on your slides.

160 Chapter 18: How to Create Memorable Slide Presentations

Be Creative: Try Images Rather Than Words

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.


If we follow the Confucian adage, showing slides should help people

remember our information. Better still get them doing something.
But if your presentation doesnt lend itself to activities, focus on
making the slides as memorable as possible. Slides dont have to be
full of words. The key to slides that make an impact is simplicity and
creativity. Here are some ways you can bring your slides to life:
Use one powerful image that will support your point.
Use one word that fills the slide, or is small (but readable)
in the middle of the slide.
Embrace white space. Let your words or images breathe by
not crowding them.
Use videos.
Animate your graphics, as long as any moves are motivated
by content.
Use props to support your slide.
In the preparation stage, step away from your slide show
physically and mentally. Look at your show and see it from
your audiences perspective. If it feels like information
overload, adjust accordingly.
Use a storyboard to create a logical flow and narrative for
your slides.
Aim to inform, not overwhelm.
Aim to deliver insight as well as information.
Have fun.

Some Technical Tips

Go blank. If you want to temporarily obscure the screen, hit B on the
computer keyboard and youll get a black screen. Hit B again and
your slide will reappear. If you prefer a white screen, hit W.


If you want to skip some slides, you can do this easily if you know
the number of your slides. In PowerPoint you can find the number of
your slides by going to the Outline View and printing it. During the
show, type the number of the slide and press Enter. This will take you
directly to the desired slide.
Use the Appear effect to transition between slides. Its clean and simple and doesnt detract from you.
Be consistent. Use the same format, especially for bullets. Have them
all start with either a verb or a noun. If its a verb, make sure its the
same tense for every bullet.
If you use charts, tables or graphs, minimize the amount of information on each slide. Leave the slide up long enough for everyone to
look at it thoroughly before you launch into an explanation.
Use consistent font sizes. Titles are usually between 36 and 44 point
size, main text is 28 to 32 and the rest is 24 to 26. Dont go smaller than
24 point for your body text. Itll be too hard to read.

Summary: Better Slide Presentations

Slide show software exists to support you. You are the star of
the show, not the slides.
Dont have a script that duplicates word for word whats on
the slides.
Dont turn your back to the audience and read to them from
the screen.
Kill the Objectives/Agenda slide.
If you use graphics, include only essential information and
give the audience time to read them before you begin to
Focus on content. Start by thinking it out, talking it out and
writing it out before you create your slides.
Use the reveal button to reveal content on slides strategically.
Kill the bullets.

162 Chapter 18: How to Create Memorable Slide Presentations

Kill the gratuitous effects.

Keep text on slides to a minimum.
Give the audience time to read quotes.
Be creative. Use videos, photographsanything that will
make your message memorable.


chap te r


Think Hollywood:
Add Impact With Video

sing video is a great way of creating impact, whether in a

slide show or on your website. These days making video is
really easy. But do it badly and its an easy way to lose credibility. Were going to look at some ways to make your videos stand
out. Well-produced videos, with good audio, will
attract traffic to your website and reinforce your Well-produced videos,
with good audio, will
credibility in speeches and presentations.

attract traffic to your

Videos are engaging and compelling.

website and reinforce your
They draw people in.
credibility in speeches
You can build a relationship with your
and presentations.
audience more quickly with a video than
through the written word.
Audiences like video because they can relate personally to
the characters and scenarios portrayed.
Videos are great for changing the pace of a slide


Getting Started
The first step is to know the basics of video production. At the very
least you need to understand focus, framing and how to get good
audio. Understanding something about production values means
youll create good videos if you do it yourself. And if you work with
a professional, youll be able to give them a clear sense of how you
visualize the finished piece. Plus youll be able to assess the quality
of their work.
Like everything else, it starts with a plan. You need a strategy for
your videos just like you would for your business or speech. Here are
some tips:
What is the purpose of your video?
Who you are targeting? Think of your ideal client or
viewer. Put yourself in their shoes and see your video
concept through their eyes. Keep them in mind all the time,
especially if youre video blogging.
Shorter is better than longer. Aim for two minutes or less.
If you have a five minute video, try cutting it into five oneminute episodes.
If you do have a longer video, and cant cut it, clearly indicate
the length of the video so the viewer knows what to expect.
Put yourself in the viewers shoes: how much time would
you invest watching an online video?
Technical Tips
Always use a tripod.
Always use an external microphone. The microphone on
the camera will make you sound as if youre speaking from
inside a tin can.
Always use a light. It doesnt have to be elaborate. Just
shine it on your subjects face. Aim to capture a little
sparkle in the eyes.

166 Chapter 19: Think Hollywood: Add Impact With Video

Use medium to tight shots of your subjects face. Head

and shoulders is always a good standby. Too tight can feel
uncomfortable for the viewer.
Frame your subject to eliminate wasted space in the
picture. Avoid too much space between the top of your
subjects head and the top of the frame.
Pick an interesting, appropriate backgroundbut dont let
it overwhelm your subject.
Do a test shot and check the tape or file to make sure the
picture and sound are good. You dont want to record your
best take and then discover theres a tree growing out of the
top your head because of the way you framed the shot.

Presenting On Video
If youre videoing yourself, apply everything Ive talked about, especially my TalkitOut Technique. Start by planning
Video is a cold medium.
your presentation. Be creative. Then rehearse it.
You need to warm it up.
Here are some tips to help you:

So its really important

Video is a cold medium. You need to

you speak with passion.
warm it up. So its really important
you speak with passion. It helps to visualize speaking to
someone. I think of my camera as Connie Camera and
speak to her.
Use all the speaking tips Ive described in this book.
Dont shout. Let the microphone do the work but do
project energy.
Smile if appropriate.
You can introduce yourself at the very beginning of
your video or after youve said a few words. Or you can
superimpose your name at the bottom of the screen.


Pause strategically to help the viewer understand what

youve said.
Pause for video editing. A pause is a good place to change
camera angles if youre going to edit your video. If you have
longer content to deliver and are afraid of forgetting it,
record small chunks. Stop the camera at a natural pause.
Change the shot (make it wider or tighter). Record your next
bit of content up to the next pause or the end. You can stop
at pauses and change camera angles 2 or 3 times in a oneminute video. Then edit everything together.
Use your hands and move your body naturally. Be careful
of a lot of rapid movements. It may distort your video.
Stand or sit tall and project authority.
Use a visually interesting background that enhances your
content and appearance.
Look into the camera as you speak. I know theres a
technique of looking to the side as if youre speaking to
someone off camera. Personally I think this effect has been
done to death. You want to build a relationship with your
viewer so imagine them at the other end of the lens and
speak directly to them.
Watch your eye movements. The camera loves the eyes so
if youre shifting your eyes left to right or up and down, itll
distract from your message.
Wear something professional. Your whole appearance
should add to your content.
If youre a women, wear enough makeup to bring colour
and life to your face. If youre a man, shave, and wipe off
any perspiration on your face.

168 Chapter 19: Think Hollywood: Add Impact With Video

What To Do With Your Videos

Recording and editing video is so cheap and easy these days. And its
easy to lodge your videos with an online service like YouTube, so you
only need to post a link on your website, newsletter or blog.
Slide Shows
Is there a place in your PowerPoint or Keynote presentations for
video? A short, relevant video embedded into a slide show can add
real impact. But keep it really short. Its a great way to demonstrate a
product or process, oras we do at Podiumshow before and after
video transformations of clients whove been through our coaching
Is there a video on the web that is good teaching point for your client? Is there a video that will emphasis a point you are making? You
can find free software online that will enable you to capture video
clips for your slide show.
Showing a slide show with video or audio at a location youre not
familiar with can be nerve-wracking. Event organizers sometimes
assume that because they have a projector and screen, everything
will be fine. But not all projectors have audio speakers hooked up. If
in doubttake your own speakers and cables.
How about a daily video blog to showcase your speaking skills? Keep
them short. Make sure your background works with what youre saying. Use an external microphone. Use our Think-it-out formula to
plan your video blog. Then talk it out before you record it. Provide
good content. The audience will stay with you if they are getting
value for the time they invest watching.
Newsletters and emails
Its easier than ever to incorporate video into online newsletters or
promotional emails. Just remember not everyone canor wants
toopen, watch and listen to video, especially on an office or public
computer. Keep them short and relevant.


Web Series and Video Podcasts

If you have good content, and youre feeling creative, try producing a
video series. Strategically this is more about building a relationship
with your clients based on common interest than on selling goods
or services.
Web Courses
There are many web-based universities and schools now. Can you
produce a video course? Sell the courses individually, or as a package with a workbook and other supporting material.
Video Testimonials
If youve just delivered a workshop or speech, ask some of the participants for a testimonial on video. Make sure you use an external
microphone. And dont forget to ask permission to post the testimonial on your website.
Put your video on your home page. You can have the video start automatically when someone opens your page. Or they can click to view.
It depends on what you want to accomplish. Try to put the video on
the first screenbefore viewers have to scroll down the page.
However you plan to use your videos, make sure they are creative, wellframed, well-lit, and that the sound is crisp and clear. Now go shoot.

Summary: Add Impact With Video

Keep the videos short. Maximum two minutes.

Always use a tripod, external microphone, and a light.
Do a test shot to make sure your subject is well-framed, in
focus, and the sound is recording clearly and strongly.
Use videos creatively for slide shows, blogs, emails, web
series, educational courses, show and tell, testimonials and
social media.
Promote your videos through blogs and newsletters.
Use everything youve learned in this book to speak with
impact when youre videoing yourself.
Dont shout.

170 Chapter 19: Think Hollywood: Add Impact With Video

Use pauses for understanding and to change camera angles.

Be careful of quick movements. Some bandwidths wont
support them.
Look into the camera, not off to the side.
Introduce yourself verbally or by having your name in text at
the bottom of the screen.
Stand or sit tall.
Smile if appropriate.


chap te r

2 0

Let the Force Be With You:

All About Technology

I like my new telephone, my computer works just fine, my calculator is

perfect, but Lord, I miss my mind!

hat were talking about in this chapter is controlling,

rather than being controlled by, technology. First, one
basic principle: new technology obeys
old rules. As the emcee of a wedding, I was called New technology
on to introduce a bridesmaid who was making a obeys old rules.
toast to the bride and groom. She didnt memorize
her speech. She didnt use a printed script. She spoke from the notes
page on her iPhone.

Ive seen others use phones and tablets when presenting. Bravo.
Were saving trees and reducing litter, and we look really cool. There
may even be a buzz of anticipation in the audience because the presenter is doing something new and different. Danger is, that buzz
quickly evaporates when the speaker picks up the phone or tablet,
puts their head down, squints at the small type, and starts reading.
Reading to an audience, whether you do it from paper, a phone or
tablet, is a major turn-off.


You never make eye contact with the audience, so you cant build a
relationship. Because you are concentrating so hard on reading the
script, your tone can become boring. Because you are reading from
the page, you may miss chances to insert emphaThe screen of a phone
sis. Delivery can sound stilted because the senor tablet works better tences are too long.

if you have written a

few key words, not
complete sentences.

Technology can compound the problems that

come with reading a script. My bridesmaid had to
hold her phone practically up to her nose so she
could read the small screen. Im not saying dont use technology. Just
use it strategically. The screen of a phone or tablet works better if you
have written a few key words, not complete sentences. Glance down,
take your cue from the key word, look up and speak. Make sure your
battery is fully charged and check that your device will not auto-lock
after a few seconds.

Technology Only Exists to Serve You

If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or

prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.
Omar N. Bradley, US Army General

Technology is there to serve you. Too often we use technology for the
wrong reason. A well-known speaker bombed because of his love
affair with PowerPoint. Technically, his slides worked fine. But the
slide show was not appropriate for his subject matter. Using slides led
him down a path of graphs and pie charts, when the
When you consider
subject matter (and the audience) begged for stousing any technology ries from the heart of his remarkable experiences.

a phone, tablet, slide

projectorask yourself
if your audience will be
better served by it.

When you consider using any technologya

phone, tablet, slide projectorask yourself if your
audience will be better served by it. Ask yourself if
the content will be more understandable because
of the technology. If the answer is yes, then go ahead. Just remember
you are the star. You are the master. The technology is your servant.

174 Introduction: How TalkItOut Gets Such Amazing Results

More on Slide Show Presentations

Weve examined the editorial aspects of PowerPoint, Keynote and
slide show software in general earlier in this book. Lets look at it
from a technical perspective.
I was once on a double bill with another professional speaker. I
was speaking after him. We were both using PowerPoint. He had
everything set up including the projector and external speakers. It
seemed all I had to do was disconnect his computer and connect
mine. When I asked his permission, I thought he was going to have
a heart attack. He told me all the equipment was his. He traveled
all over the world and he didnt want anyone, not even a colleague,
using his stuff.
The reason for his strong reaction was that he was burned once too
often using other peoples equipment. So he invested in the smallest and best LCD projector, speakers and laptop he could find. His
equipment works every time, and he guards it like a mother hen her
chicks. I dont blame him at all.
At the break, the hotel staff came in with their equipment and I set
up. Everything worked. But equipment does go wrong. People forget
things. My worst PowerPoint moment happened when I was speaking to my own chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional
Speakers. I arrived in plenty of time with my laptop, ready to connect
to the associations LCD projector (which Id been assured was ready
for action). I walked in and there was the projector. But to my horror, someone had borrowed the power cable and taken it to another
province The hotel didnt have a spare. So while one of the organizers
drove to the nearest electronics store to buy a power cord, I had to
begin my presentation without my slides.
The lesson from that? When someone tells you they have a projector,
its a wise precaution to ask if they have all the cables and connections to make it work.


Be Nice to Technicians

There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The
most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the
surest is with technicians.
Georges Pompidou, former Prime Minister
and President of France

Despite what Georges Pompidou said, cultivate the friendship of

technicians. They can save you from last minute disasters. Make sure
a technician is around, or can be quickly summoned.
Back up your content on a memory stick or web based program. Have
access to an extra laptop if necessary. Get your own LCD projector if
you plan to speak regularly. Test everything every time before you
present. Assume nothing, and leave nothing to chance. And thank
the technician afterwards. You never know when you may return to
the same location.

Be a Rock Star: Dont Skimp On Sound Checks

Just like a rock star, do audio checks before you speak. Sound is very
important. Get someone to stand at the back and the sides of the
room to see if they can hear you clearly. Remember
Remember that the that the sound quality will change a bit once the
sound quality will room is filled with people.

change a bit once the

room is filled with people.

Pay attention to sound. If its not perfect, it will

detract from your message. If people cant hear
you properly, theyll tune you out. Here are some tips about good
If you have a wireless or lavalier microphone clipped to the
front of your clothing, what happens when you turn your
head away from the microphone? Is it still picking up your
voice? Does it pick up any rustle from your clothing?

176 Introduction: How TalkItOut Gets Such Amazing Results

If you are using wireless microphones, are the batteries

fresh? Does the transmitter have sufficient range? Are there
any other wireless signals that could interfere with the
sound quality?
If youre using a microphone attached to a podium, make
sure its the right height for you. You dont want to be
stooping to speak into the microphone. And you dont want
to be standing on tiptoe to reach the microphone, or have it
obscure your face. Adjust the microphone during the sound
check, not during your presentation.
Handheld microphones are great if youre an experienced
speaker. Theyre tricky if youre not used to them. Make
sure you hold the microphone at the correct height to pick
up your voice. If you turn your head, you must turn the
microphone with you. Dont walk too close to speakersyou
may pick up feedback. Dont clutch the microphone with
both hands. Youll look desperately nervous.
Many professional speakers buy their own headset
microphones and connect them to the available audio
system. These work very well. Theyre light and functional.
Are there any background noises that might distract the
audience? If youre speaking during or after a meal, is
the staff making noise clearing away dishes while youre
speaking? Ask to speak after everyone has been served.
Or make sure youre not delivering the key part of your
message while there is noise in the room.

Let There Be Light

Many places where we speak have lighting thats difficult if not
impossible to control. Its preset for meetings. Its usually harsh.
If its bright enough for your face, it may be too bright for your
slides. When preset room lighting meets a slide show, its usually


a battleand the main casualty is the image on the screen. Try to

control the lighting so both you and your slides are crystal-clear to
someone at the back or sides of the room.
One professional speaker carries his own light bulbs whenever he
goes. He screws them into the clients or hotels fixture to get the
atmosphere he wants for his presentations.
Spend time checking the venue and examining the lighting under
the conditions you will encounter when you are speaking. Its the
difference between an experienced and an inexperienced speaker;
the experienced speaker leaves nothing to chance. Your carefully
prepared and rehearsed presentation will lose much of its impact if
the audience can see neither your face nor your slides.
Spotlights are disconcerting the first few times you encounter them.
The brightness can be distracting. You cant see the audience. With
limited connection with the audience, you may feel isolated. Once
again, get to the venue early. Test the spotlights. Get them adjusted
so they are comfortable for you. Try looking just below the glare.
Dont use your hand as a shade. Dont comment on the brightness of
the lights. Please dont ask Is anyone out there?. It will tell the audience you are uncomfortable and inexperienced. It wont help your
credibility. The audience may lower their expectations, or disengage
at the very moment you need them to engage with you.

Summary: Technology
If youre reading from the screen of a phone or tablet, only
use key words.
Make sure your battery is fully charged.
Switch off the auto lock feature on your device.
Check that your laptop and LCD projector work together and
you have all the necessary cables and connectors.
Ask to have technical support there.
Back up your content on a portable drive.

178 Introduction: How TalkItOut Gets Such Amazing Results

If youre using a microphone, always test it. Discuss with the

client which type is best for the room youll be speaking in.
Use the type of microphone you are most comfortable with.
Hand-held is more difficult for the inexperienced speaker.
Anticipate and manage background noise.
If using a podium, make sure it is the right height for you.
Adjust the microphone and light before you speak. Place
the podium in the area of the room thats best for your
presentation. Thats usually the right side of a room from an
audiences perspective.
Adjust the lights so everyone can see your slide show
If theres a spotlight on you, look just under the light.


Also Available from

Podium Media & Communications Coaching

Media Mastery

Talking to the Press, Without the Stress

How to deliver clear, compelling, credible messages
in television, radio and newspaper interviews

Former BBC reporter/producer shares practical

advice on preparing for any media interview

by Neil Everton
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Learn to be the speaker

audiences love to hear
Honest, direct and useful feedback for anyone
(that means everyone) who speaks in public.
Seth Godin, author and speaker
Ive been looking for a long time for a method of public speaking
that would allow me to communicate my ideas in a compelling and
exciting way. I found that with TalkitOut. Its the best leadership
investment I ever made. Fred Morley, Executive VP and Chief
Economist, Greater Halifax Partnership

alkitOut creator Halina St James shows you how to shake off the anxiety associated with speaking and presenting. Instead, with her proven
technique, youll discover your authentic voice and deliver speeches and
presentations that hold audiences spellbound. Youll learn how to:

focus your message

engage your audience with your opening words
use words that work for the ear rather than the eye
capture your natural speaking voice
use all three languages of communication
use stories to make your message resonate
conquer nerves and command the podium

alina is a former television news producer and reporter for the two
big networks in Canada, CBC and CTV. She covered wars, revolutions, summit meetings and Olympic Games in Barcelona, Atlanta and
Lillehammer. Halina created TalkitOut to help television reporters and
anchors tell their stories better. Then executives and politicians started
asking for training, to help them communicate better. She founded Podium
Media and Communications Coaching in 2005. She is a presentation skills coach,
workshop leader and professional speaker. Halina lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.
ISBN 978-0-9732804-4-9

9 780973 280449