Celebrate your speaking independence!

fireworks
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!

 

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?

 

 

 

Speaker anxiety? Try this

Levi reads

 

Here’s a winning combination and it makes perfect sense to me. Connect “audience dogs” with speakers to help alleviate speaker anxiety! I love dogs and teach public speaking.

I’ve already shared this information with my friends at Canine Companions for Independence – an organization helping people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. They opened a new CCI training facility just last year in Irving, Texas.

Communication is easier with a friend. Watch this video.

Woof!

P.S. The picture you see here is my dog Levi, an adopted terrier mix. In the interest of full disclosure, he isn’t a trained audience dog.

 

 

I’m just saying…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love Texas. Although I wasn’t born here, I got here as fast as I could. My family landed in Wichita Falls, down the road a piece from where I live now (Dallas-Fort Worth).

Today I’m fixin’ to tell you some things about giving a speech. Here are some handy-as-sliced-bread and smart-as-a-hooty owl speaking tips.


Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly.
Everyone can talk, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to an effective presentation. Outline your main points and practice your speech out loud (more than once) prior to the day you’ll speak.

This ain’t my first rodeo. Make sure your audience understands how you know so much about your topic. Are your observations based on personal experience? If not, cite credible sources to support your contentions.

She speaks ten words a second, with gusts to fifty. More words, uttered quickly, can impede the speaker-audience connection. Speak clearly and concisely to enhance understanding.

Don’t leave your audience as confused as a goat on AstroTurf. Make your speech fine as frog fur.

Speaking and eye contact. Does it matter?

Writers write to communicate. Speakers speak for the same reason. So doesn’t it make sense that an article or blog post could be “converted” into a speech, word for word?

the eye

The short answer is no. Reading a manuscript doesn’t make it a speech (at least not a very good one). So why do so many speakers “read” their speeches? Laziness? Lack of preparation? Fear? The presenter just doesn’t know any better? As an audience member, I may not know why the speaker is reading, but chances are I’ll be tuning out shortly. An effective presentation engages listeners, and eye contact is one of the best ways to do that. Here are some top-of-mind tips to enhance eye contact.

  • Prepare and practice. Develop a clear statement of purpose and organize your main points. Use note cards, not sheets of paper. Rehearse your presentation out loud — more than once. Look up, not down.
  • During your presentation, scan the room. Don’t focus on a single audience member, or zero in on a spot above their heads at the back of the room. (Student speakers have told me this “looking-over-their-heads” advice was given to them — I disagree).
  • If you’re using visual aids such as PowerPoint, don’t turn your back to listeners and read from your slides. It’s okay to glance at your visual, or even turn sideways, but reorient yourself to face the audience.

Tune in later for more on how to improve your speaking skills and confidence.