Celebrate your speaking independence!

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As an experienced communicator specializing in public speaking, this offer is for you.

It’s the “I’ve got to have it” flier on my best speaking tips and tactics. And the best news of all? It’s free.

I’d like to get this awesome free handout on Best Speaking Tips and Tactics from Phyllis. 

Click here to send me your info! Happy speaking!

 

What will you do on Independence Day?

Happy 4th of July!

 

 
Between all the outdoor events and festivities, fireworks, food, and time with family and friends, I’ve decided to place one thing at the top of my list on the Fourth of July 2017. Prayer.

Don’t get me wrong.

That doesn’t mean I’ll retire quietly at home in thoughtful meditation for the next few days ignoring this holiday completely. After all, we celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year, marking July 4, 1776 as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

My declaration on this Fourth of July is to “speak up” in prayer, words and deeds.

I will act with kindness and inspire reasoned discourse.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”     – Martin Luther King Jr.

Honoring our veterans

Memorial Day 2017

I wiped away tears yesterday morning after going through the drive-through at Starbuck’s (my guilty pleasure).

It was a lovely day. My window was open, and I was behind a gentleman with his window rolled down, too. I noticed his license plate frame engraved with the words “Air Force” and “Vietnam vet.” I waved my arm out the window, smiled, and yelled “thank you for your service,” pointing to his license plate. Mentioned that my Dad was a retired Air Force vet who had served in Vietnam. He nodded his head.

When I got to the window to pay for my coffee, the barista said there was no charge. The driver in front of me had picked up my tab.

I was surprised and startled. I smiled. Then I cried, all the way home.

Today – Memorial Day – I honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. They won’t be forgotten.

 

Public speaking – it’s all about the audience

Aud speaking tips

 

You’ve been invited to speak at a meeting. This could be something internal (within your organization) or external (for example, you volunteer with a not-for-profit organization and you’ve agreed to talk to a group of potential donors on their behalf). Following up on a previous post, here are some observations on audiences to help you become a more effective presenter.

Who are the people listening – or not listening – to you? Why are they there?
The event has been scheduled, the invites/notices have gone out, and you are the presenter. What do you know about your audience?

Audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting your presentation to them. This doesn’t mean “saying what they want to hear.” Audience adaptation should guide your content development and approaches to delivery.

Audiences can include reluctant attendees, indifferent visitors, agreeable supporters, and angry or fearful dissidents.

The “we have to be there” mindset.
For instance, I would contend that students in a public speaking class – and their motivation to listen to you – is somewhat mixed. (Hey, they’ve “got” to be there regularly, right? We refer to this as a “captive” audience.) In my experience, here are some of the reasons students are in class:

  • They want to get the information they need to do well on an upcoming test;
  • They hope the skills they learn will help in an upcoming job interview;
  • They want to get through the class to receive credit towards their degree and/or at least not get dropped from the course (if the teacher is recording student absences as outlined in the class syllabus they’ll meet the minimum attendance requirement);
  • They love learning.

The “who cares” listeners – uninterested or apathetic.
Perhaps a friend or significant other dragged these folks to your talk. Audience members are asking themselves “Why am I here?” Your biggest challenge will be getting people in this group to even listen.

The “we agree with you” point of view.
Most audience members share your opinions. As a collective group, your listeners relate to you, connect with you, and endorse your contentions and recommendations.

The “we don’t agree with you” and/or we’re angry or frustrated attendees.
What if audience members don’t concur with your main points? This is definitely a challenge if you’re trying to persuade. Can you establish “common ground” with listeners if they aren’t inclined to listen from the get-go? This – this – is why knowing about your audience is so important.

Here’s an example of a speaker at a recent community Town Hall, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) at an event in rural Frost, Texas. These Town Halls are set up as open forums for constituents to ask questions and hear from representatives. In this instance, Barton seemed to be unaware of the level of “resistance” he would encounter from audience members opposing his policy positions.

Listen to a portion of the presentation where Barton shouted back.

The bottom line.
Every audience is different. However, consider the potential “makeup” of attendees who have come to hear you speak before you arrive to speak. Tune in for the next post in this series on audience adaptation, some recommendations on ways to engage with your audience/s.

Who is your audience?

Audience analysis
The speaker-audience connection.

My friend, fellow communicator and screenwriter Jim Ramsbottom recently asked me to share some insights on public speaking and audience analysis as a guest on his podcast. Check out our conversation.

Listen to the interview.

Thank you, Jim!

 

Speaking and communication

expression
Through the years I’ve listened to plenty of speeches as a communications coach and teacher. I’ve worked with corporate executives to help them refine their communication skills and abilities. I’ve taught public speaking at colleges and universities. I’ve given informative and persuasive presentations to business audiences, too.

Public speaking involves sharing information with an audience to inform, persuade or entertain listeners. Seems simple enough. But let’s take a closer look and reframe our perspective a bit.

“Speaking” isn’t the end game. We are communicators. Speaking is the channel, the tool we use to communicate; writing is another form of communication. As a communicator, speaking can be incredibly powerful in connecting with others.

Through public speaking, we can share our feelings and points of view. We express ideas, personal narratives, or experiences. We may convey emotions or impart deep concerns.

What makes some communicators stand out when addressing an audience to persuade?

They inspire, enhance understanding, and influence through personal examples, credible evidence and documentation. They maintain eye contact with the crowd. They compel listeners to act. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ll be publishing more tips and tactics right here – verbal and nonverbal thoughts and recommendations – to help you become a more effective communicator in the public speaking setting. Stay tuned.

Next up:  we’ll examine your audience. Who are they? Why are they listening to you?

 

 

 

Human error and Cold War memories

pbs-doc-recounts-the-nuclear-accident-that-nearly-destroyed-arkansasCommand and Control is the long-hidden story of a deadly 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas. Portions of the film were shot in an abandoned Titan II missile silo in Arizona. [Photo: courtesy of WGBH, PBS]

In 1980 in Damascus, Arkansas a Titan II missile complex exploded as a result of human error nearly detonating the missile’s nuclear warhead, a weapon 600 times more potent than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. I recently watched a documentary about this event that brought back some childhood memories and changed my thoughts on “human error.” Check your local PBS listings for this Command and Control documentary on American Experience.

My connection to this story: as an Air Force brat, my Dad was in the 390th Missile Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base when we lived in Tucson, Arizona in the late 60s. There were several Titan II missile sites in southern Arizona. The Strategic Air Command’s 390th Strategic Missile Wing and its 18 Titan II ICBM sites around Tucson were activated in 1962; the squadron was deactivated in 1984. Following this duty assignment my father went to Vietnam, and upon his return, we moved to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas where I entered high school as a sophomore.

The Damascus incident recounted in this documentary focuses on human error in a compelling way. Think about it – machine “errors” happen every day for most of us, big and small. Your coffee pot stops working unexpectedly on the day when you really needed that caffeine. On your drive to work, you run over a nail and your tire goes flat. Your newly installed computer software doesn’t work as promised.

Now consider nuclear weapons.

The thing is, nuclear weapons are just machines. And like all machines, sometimes they break, and sometimes, there’s user error. When the system that controls these civilization-ending weapons isn’t prepared for the inevitable technological and human screw ups, then we’re in real trouble.

According to American Experience Producer Mark Samels:

As safe, secure, well-designed, and well-operated as our nuclear weapons system may be, it’s subject to the X-factor—human fallibility. The most powerful weapons that we’ve ever created have a threat built into them. And that threat is us.

On another serendipitous note, in high school, I participated in local and state debate and individual events tournaments including oratory. This event required students develop a self-written, ten-minute speech on a topic of their choosing, informative or persuasive in nature, delivered from memory.

My presentation focused on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during the final stage of World War II. I criticized our country’s decision to drop the bomb describing the utter devastation and loss of life and suggested that surely there were other options to bring the war to an end. Admittedly, remembering the point of view I asserted was naive in many ways, but seeing the pictures of injured children and reading about the loss of life was unforgettable even today. Something else I remember – my parents knew about my topic choice, yet neither tried to dissuade me from developing this presentation. Even my Air Force Dad.

Let’s realign “health care” with caring

healthcare_gov
As a health care marketing consultant with years of experience working in hospitals, and as someone who relies on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for my health insurance coverage, I’m very concerned about the “repeal and replace” promise made by the new incoming GOP administration.

Politics aside, it doesn’t make sense to “stop” an existing program without something else, especially when an estimated 20 million Americans are now covered.

The best way to foreclose the possibility of repealing Obamacare and failing to install a good replacement, then, would seem to be to hold off on repealing it until you’ve got that replacement.

The Washington Post covers this issue and “repeal and delay” points of view.

Statistically speaking, I’m only one in 20 million who will be impacted by changes in Obamacare. Personally, this matters to me. I’m guessing it matters to millions of others, too.

How to make – and keep – New Year’s resolutions

happy-new-year-business

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re like me, these are the “things I said I would do,” including my goals, desired accomplishments, behavior changes, and so on. Contemplating the bold new world of 2017 deserves some focused thought leading to action, right?

The challenge is the “leading to action” part. Wishful thinking and “desired” results will take us just so far.

What’s on your resolutions list for 2017? How do you plan to turn your intentions into reality? Are your commitments realistic and achievable, and what will you need to do to make them happen?

By the end of 2017, if we look at our list of unfulfilled resolutions, we’ll probably move them into the “items to trash” bucket. We might resurrect them for the “new” new year. Time marches on.

Perhaps we should create a smaller list of “to-dos.” Let’s identify the key ideas worthy of our attention. Things we can and should do – and actions that will make a difference to others.

At the top of my list is blogging more. I will continue to share insights with followers on ways to become a more confident, effective speaker, and offer some best practice tips for writing.

Stay tuned and welcome to 2017!

 

About 2017

new-year-hope