Posts Tagged ‘GTA’

Public speaking’s a lot like judo . . .

It’s interesting how some things apply to disciplines as different as public speaking and self defense. My friend Ray Litvak , who develops awesome web content at www.writingwebwords.com has joined with a partner to open Budokai Judo Club, a judo club in North York, as a second business. What I find interesting about what Ray does as a judo instructor and what I do as a public speaking trainer is that the same issues apply to public speaking and presentation training as they do to learning judo.

Confirmation again

Ray publishes a blog on Budokai’s website and as I read one of his first posts I found confirmation yet again of what I’ve said for many years: that most people’s fear of public speaking comes from childhood experiences, particularly the experience of being bullied. We hear about extreme bullying cases in the media – the ones in which the victim can no longer stand it and takes his/her own life. But what gets a lot less attention is the long-term effect of being taunted and ridiculed in the school yard, in families and, unfortunately, at work.

So what?

Ray shares his own history of being bullied when he was growing up in Toronto and how judo helped him, then he provides a similar story about Jonathon, one of his students, and how judo brought him self confidence. So what’s all this got to do with public speaking and presentation training? Plenty, based on my experience.

A huge impact

What I’ve learned from clients over the years is that the things we hear about ourselves have a huge impact on our self esteem. We tend to become who people tell us we are – until, like Ray and Jonathon, we stand up for ourselves and redefine ourselves. Now, please note that I’m not saying we have to confront our bullies and overpower them. Sometimes that’s just not possible. Sometimes we have to endure. But what we don’t have to do is believe the negative things those people are saying about us.

My answer is “NO!!”

My favourite line from the book and movie The Help is “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?” My answer is “NO!!” Bullies can say what they like about me but they can’t make me believe it if it isn’t true. I’ve been bullied and I won’t say that it could never happen again. But I can say that it would be a lot harder now to make me believe the garbage that some people can make up and throw at me than it was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

I know who I am

Why? Because I have a strong, powerful vision of who I am and what I do for others. And my vision is based in reality. I know who I am – warts and all – I love myself just the way I am and I do my best to help other people to come to that same acceptance and self-approval.

Who do you think you are?

I’ve written before about the importance of knowing your topic,  and why value is more important than speaking skills. But, important as these things are, they are hinged to one essential presentation element: Who do you think you are? Because without a strong, positive image of yourself it will be difficult for you to be convincing.

What can you do?

So, what can you do about it? Well, when I work with clients one-on-one, we analyze the origins of their self image. And while it’s much easier for you to do that with another person, you can do some of it yourself. First, consider the source. Who was/is your bully? What were his/her motivations? Were the things he or she said fair and accurate or were they simply stones thrown at your ego in an attempt to bring you down to the bully’s level? How did those comments make you feel? Was the feeling justified at the time? Do you still carry those feelings about yourself? Are they justifiable in your present context?

The issue is self image

Really, this stuff isn’t rocket science; I wouldn’t understand it if it was. But I do understand when a bright, promising, capable person sits down in front of me in Ajax, Toronto or North York and tells me he or she has public speaking anxiety, in spite of their obvious significant abilities and qualifications. The issue is almost always one of self image. And it usually doesn’t take very long to unravel the source – often a bully or insensitive adult – who had significant influence at an early age.

From victim to victor

I applaud the work Ray is doing with kids who need to manage the physical elements of bullying. He’s helping them to raise their self image from victim to victor and he’s teaching them along the way that self respect is based on using power as a tool to protect, not a weapon to destroy. We can do the same for ourselves in dealing with the non-physical elements of bullying that can live long after physical wounds have healed.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today at 416-762-8488 in Toronto or 905-655-0119 in Oshawa/Whitby and Durham.

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

How to talk to a dying friend

This post is dedicated to my dear friend David, who passed away in Toronto on June 3, 2012

All the public speaking training and presentation training in the world does not prepare you for talking to a dying friend; at times like that you just have to find what you hope is going to work and use it.

I did my best

We got the call about 5pm on Sunday, June 3. David, my sister-in-law’s life partner, who had been unconscious for more than a week, was about to be taken off life support. An hour later I entered his room at the Toronto General Hospital to support her but I ended up doing my best to support both of them during a very difficult time.

That voice . . .

David had always been a slight man but the voice that had come out of that 135-pound frame had commanded attention. He’d had the voice I’d always wanted and the kind of projection that I encourage my public speaking workshop participants to develop. He’d have been a natural for radio but, interestingly, although his first job was with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he never appeared on air, preferring the sales area, and he continued to work in sales with many companies throughout his 50-year career.

Silent

It was strange to see him lying there, connected to machines and silent. Because David was never silent. He l-o-o-o-ved (that’s the way he liked to pronounce it) to boom that voice at whomever was present and regale them with stories about the years he spent in New York, about his family members’ achievements and, of course, about his beloved Toronto Blue Jays.

Something he never said

But there was something he never told those people. No one knew that David had overcome a very serious stammer by using a very simple technique that works magic. He had discovered that if he paused before he spoke he could control his stammer.

No one heard

It was the very same technique that I teach in my public speaking training sessions to help speakers recover when they stumble during a presentation. He had perfected this technique to a point where no one heard the pauses and, during the rare occasions when the stammer slipped in, he was able to recover within a second or two.

Now he was silent

But now he was silent, a tube pushing air into his lungs, monitors graphing his bodily functions. We agreed that it was not a situation David would want to be in for long and so, after agonizing, my sister-in-law permitted his caregivers to turn the machines off and let nature take its course.

“Just keep talking”

His nurse came in and out a few times as she disconnected the machines that had been keeping him alive for more than a week. On one of those trips she smiled and said, “Just keep talking to him. He can hear you.” We looked at each other and my sister-in-law told him that the Blue Jays had won their most recent game, then turned to me and said, “I don’t know what to say . . .”

What should we say?

I knew how she felt. What should we say? I took his hand and thought about what would give him comfort in the final moments of his life and started. I don’t remember my exact words, but I do know that I told him how proud I was to have had him for a brother-in-law. I thanked him for taking such good care of my wife’s sister for the past 25 years. I said I knew his biggest concern would be for her and that he could rest easy because my wife and I would look after her for him. I reminded him that he had brought a great deal of comfort to others during their difficult times and now he could just relax and rest easy during his.

An audience of one

It was hard to know exactly when to stop talking, but I continued for as long as I thought he could hear me, at one point even saying that I would “try” to sit through a Blue Jays game for him (he knew I didn’t care much for baseball). In short, I tried to do what any speaker should do for any audience. I simply tried to think of what was most important to him and express it in a way that would comfort him. Comfort was the value I needed to provide to this audience of one.

A difficult subject

Death is a difficult subject for most of us, although it gets a little easier as we age and its inevitability becomes more obvious. I’ve talked before on this blog about talking to bereaved family and friends and now I’ve discovered, through personal experience, how to talk to loved ones who are in their final stages of life.

Farewell, my friend

I wish David well on his journey and I sincerely hope that the words and thoughts I shared with him gave him some comfort in his final moments.

Public Speaking training can reduce pessimism

A client mentioned recently during our public speaking training session in Toronto that she tends to be a pessimist and that she thought her tendency was affecting her public speaking ability. She asked me what she should do to turn that around.

Begin with awareness

I believe that change begins with awareness and acceptance of your current status, accompanied by deep-seated desire to change and a long-term commitment to move toward the status you want to reach. In my experience, permanent change is a gradual process. It takes time, it takes awareness and it takes patience. I think many of us are aware of our current status but we’re not aware of the limitations that our view of the world can place on us. That’s totally normal, by the way. We all develop perspectives on our lives. Those perspectives often limit us. And because they’ve been with us for so long, they just become part of our “reality”, even if our perception of “reality” is holding us back.

Work with strengths

Our early life experiences tend to define who we think we are. I know this because I have lived it, particularly when I was a young man from a small town who came to Toronto. But we can rise far beyond what anyone would have ever expected, based on our early-life trajectory to excel and do much more than we might ever have imagined. We simply have to recognize our strengths and work with them to move forward toward greater life potential and satisfaction, including the ability to speak confidently in public.

Perceptions persuade

Your perceptions can persuade you to withdraw from experiences in an attempt to protect someone you may have been at one time long ago. The problem is letting those old values and identifications get in the way of current reality. And the current reality may be that you are a mature, intelligent, sophisticated, powerful person whose old perceptions are no longer working for you and instead are working against you.

The hard part

So what can be done? Well, like I said, it begins with awareness and acceptance. Once you become aware and accept, you have to decide if you want to change. And that’s where the hard part begins. It’s hard because so many of us grew up in environments where people tried to hide who they were, expected others to take responsibility and leadership. Most of us grew up among followers, not leaders. That can make us afraid to take responsibility. In a community where those around us were directed by others, we never learn leadership. And that makes the concept of leadership a little intimidating and frightening, particularly in a large, highly competitive area like Toronto and the GTA.

People want leadership

Too often, capable people are concerned that if they excel and stand out from the crowd they will be considered “uppity” and “too big for your britches” by those around them. But here’s the dichotomy: Most people WANT leadership! They want someone strong up front to show them the way and to deal with the issues. They may carp, complain and criticize but they don’t want to be leaders themselves. Why? Because they’re terrified of taking responsibility.

Risk can be valuable

It took me a long to time to realize that. Sure, everyone wants to be on top but the problem is that most – almost all – of those people don’t want to take any risk. But life – real life, not just existence – is about risk. I’m not talking about foolish risk. I’m talking about researched, measured, responsible risk. If we never step up, we get left behind. Responsible risk can be a very valuable thing.

Create affirmations

So how do we get from pessimism to optimism and the confidence to speak in public? One good route is to create a list of positive affirmations and repeat them as often as circumstances allow. You can learn about positive affirmations here: http://www.vitalaffirmations.com/affirmations.htm. The article will suggest some affirmations but you can make up your own and they will probably be more powerful for you because they will relate directly to you.

Appreciate the good stuff

Please understand that affirmations are just meaningless mumbo jumbo if you just mouth them without feeling them. You need to look at yourself and your life, pick positive things and really appreciate them. Most of us take all the good stuff in life for granted and complain about what we don’t like. It should be the other way around. We should treasure the good stuff and take the bad stuff for granted because “stuff” is going to happen but, for the most part, we’re very well off. Positive affirmations are about really appreciating the good stuff.

It takes time

It takes time, it takes patience, it takes self-forgiveness when we slide back a bit. But if we’re really committed to making change in our lives it really is possible. Whether it’s public speaking in Toronto, skiing on the slopes, sky diving or just looking in the mirror and liking what you see no matter what’s happening around you, positive thoughts about the little things can take you a long way.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today at 416-762-8488 in Toronto or 905-655-0119 in Oshawa/Whitby and Durham.

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Sometimes the words don’t matter

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that I talk a lot about speaking in public and how powerful it can be in a host of ways. Most of us struggle with finding the right words and using them in the most appropriate way to influence others, to share feelings and ideas. I train people to become better public speakers but I learned of a tragedy yesterday that got me thinking about how difficult it can be to speak at all under some circumstances and that sometimes words, for all their power, are inadequate.

When words don’t matter

A potential client mentioned that she was going to attend the funeral of a small child in Toronto and she didn’t know what to say to the parents. Of course, that got me thinking about when I’ve been in similar situations as well as the times in my life when I’ve faced major losses and what I needed from others. As I thought it through I realized that’s a time when words don’t really matter.

An unmovable force

I’m no expert in these areas and, fortunately, I’ve only had to deal with them a few times. But those experiences have taught me a great deal. And what I’ve learned is that those situations are so stark, so powerful, that nothing anyone can ever say will resolve them. The death of a loved one is an absolutely unmovable force that leaves us grasping to cope with its finality and our feelings of helplessness and isolation.

What grieving people need

And those feelings, I think, are our clue to providing comfort to people who have suffered a loss. As I thought about the feelings of those grieving parents I realized very clearly that the words we plan to say to them don’t matter. Just by being there with them, holding a hand, giving a hug tells that person more than anything we can say because what those grieving people need to know is that they are still part of our world, that they have people in their community who care about them and who share the pain of their loss.

A touch can say “I care”

We communicate in many ways and one of the strongest ways we communicate is through touch. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a touch is worth a thousand pictures. I think there is something primordial in us that needs the comfort of another human’s touch to get us through the darkest, most difficult times. There is something about a tender touch that can say, “I care . . . I share your feelings” And at times of loss the gentle touch of a hand or a comforting hug can provide support that can’t be measured.

More than anything you say

As a society, we’ve drifted away from a touching culture and, indeed, we have to be careful these days that our touches are not misunderstood. Common sense must rule. But the next time you have the opportunity to show your support of a friend or colleague who has endured a tragic loss, remember that just being there, listening and extending the hand of friendship will mean more than anything you may think you need to say.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to best develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today.  You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area and across Ontario, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Presentation training vs. Toastmasters

As a Toronto presentation trainer, I had a chuckle or two as I flipped through some slides on SlideShare. Jeanne Trojan, who is a presentation trainer in the Czech Republic, was sharing her opinions under the heading 3 Reasons I’m not a Toastmaster.

Very courageous

I thought it was very courageous of her to criticize an organization like Toastmasters. That’s a bit like criticizing motherhood, but I had to laugh at some of her slides, particularly the one about how many times a speaker said “Um”. I’ll devote a future post to that one. I have strong feelings about it.

Not for everyone

I’ve had prospective clients react with surprise when I’ve suggested they consider going to Toastmasters instead of hiring me. I guess they expect me to act in my own best interest and try to convince them to use my services, but my services aren’t for everyone, just as Toastmasters isn’t for everyone. Presentation training for business purposes and delivering a speech at Toastmasters is like comparing apples and oranges. They’re just not the same thing. For one thing, Toastmasters evaluators are a lot ’nicer’ than professional trainers. But there’s good reason for that.

A very positive thing

Professionals need to hear all the negatives a business audience will react to but not comment on. If that same kind of tough evaluation were used on Toastmasters speakers it would probably be counter-productive. Many people go to Toastmasters to learn to cope with their fear of public speaking. They need positive support and they find it, along with some gentle criticism. I’ve known people who went from terror to a love of presentation because of the support and guidance they’d received from Toastmasters. And that’s a very positive thing.

The bottom line
So what’s the bottom line? Well, Toastmasters is aimed at ordinary people who want to develop some speaking skills. Is it the best place for people who want to become professional speakers? I know some who came up that way, but it certainly isn’t a replacement for professional training. They both have their place.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to best develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today.  You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and presentation coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout Ontario, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

This one’s for Ray

If it weren’t for website copywriter Ray Litvak I might be out of business by now.

He phoned me

I first met Ray when he phoned me about a year-and-a-half ago and asked for some presentation training for a public speaking gig he was preparing. I’d been in business then for several years and, like so many other people, after all that time I was still barely keeping the lights on. I loved helping people to develop their public speaking skills but I was spending most – almost all – of my time and energy finding clients.

The grind was wearing

I’d done most of the usual things: networking, advertising, printing brochures, joining professional associations, developing and writing a website and blog, etc. but I was having difficulty justifying the time I was investing for the return it was bringing. And the grind of constant promotion was wearing me down. I wanted to help people with public speaking training, not search for them.

“Nobody knows you’re there”

As a website copywriter, Ray told me he was very impressed with my blogsite. In his words: “Google really likes you. You have a Ferrari blogsite but nobody knows you’re there because the site hasn’t been optimized for search engines. The content is great but the site is invisible.”

He worked on my site

He wanted to work on my site and I wanted to help him with his presentation skills and promote him as a website copywriter and search engine optimization (SEO) expert, so he went to work on my site last summer. Within a few weeks I received my first query and after that they began to arrive once or twice a week.

I’d tried to optimize

To put this in perspective, I’ve had a website for many years and up until Ray started working on it I think I’d had a total of about three inquiries, one of which turned into a paying client. It was literally costing me more to pay annual registration and hosting fees than I was making from my site. And I had tried, in my own amateurish way, to optimize my blog postings but it wasn’t helping.

Top five listings

So why the sudden change? Simple. Ray’s website copywriting skills took my ranking from somewhere deep in the bowels of Google to the top of Page One – usually to the top five listings for my key words. And the e-mails started arriving. And the phone started ringing. And the customers started engaging me.

Committed prospects

Ray was very specific about warning me that, as a website copywriter, he could drive traffic but once the call or e-mail arrived it would be up to me to close the sale. And I had no problem with that. Usually, by the time potential clients contacted me they were already committed prospects and all I had to do was assure them that I could deliver what I promised.

A new workshop

Because I’ve received so many inquiries from people who want public speaking training but can’t afford or cost justify one-on-one sessions, I’m developing a new half-day public speaking workshop. I already have contact information for more than 20 people who want this kind of training, so I’ve got a nucleus of interested people to start with.

Optimizing each page

I recently overhauled my blogsite because I could finally afford to do it and, as time allows, Ray and I are optimizing each page and blog post to increase my range of key words and my find-ability on Google and other search engines.

My business has a future

I’ve heard some of the horror stories about business people who invested in search engine optimization and were appalled with the results. I’ve had the exact opposite experience. My business now has a future because of my search engine rankings.

Long-term benefits

The other thing I hear about SEO is that it’s expensive. But if you hire a good online copywriter and you can justify the cost in any way, based on my experience, I’d say you will have an excellent chance of reaping significant long-term benefits.

Lots of books

For those who simply can’t justify the cost in any way, there are lots of books out there that will get you started and, if you’re diligent, you can reach the top of the search engines for your area of expertise. The downside is that it takes a ton of time and commitment. But if you can’t afford to hire a website copywriter who’s as skilled and honest as Ray, you’re probably better off relying on a book than a self-appointed expert who may take you half the distance.

Thanks, Ray

I didn’t mean to write this much. When I started I simply wanted to express my appreciation to someone that I respect a great deal and to say “Thanks, Ray” for what he’s doing for me and my business.

p.s. If you want to check out Ray’s services for yourself you can start with a visit to his website at www.writingwebwords.com.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues?  I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that best provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today. You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout Ontario, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. 

Boring speaker introductions – and what to do about them

I’ve seen two speaker introductions in the past week, one in Toronto, the other in Durham Region, and neither of them did what speaker introductions should do. They were flat, unimaginative and uninspiring. But they don’t have to – and they shouldn’t – be that way.

Organizers provide a speaker introduction
It’s standard practice for conference organizers to provide a speaker introduction and a thank you message.  But they’re often written by people who have no particular feeling for the topic or the speaker and they usually provide pretty basic information. And too often, that basic introduction gets read word for word in a tone that says, “I have to read this to you. It’s kind of boring but I have to do it”.

Throw it away
Here’s a hint: It’s not necessary to use the prepared introduction at all. You can throw it away. And in some cases the speaker would be better served if you did that. Instead of using the canned introduction, you can do a little advance research on the internet to dig out some interesting facts about the speaker and use them to do the kind of speaker introduction that benefits everyone.

Talk to the speaker you’re introducing
A Google search is a good place to start, followed by Linked In, Facebook and other social media sites. And hey, here’s a novel approach: how about talking to the speaker before the presentation and jotting down a few significant notes? You just might uncover some hidden gems.

Most speakers are flattered
And if you feel a little shy about approaching the speaker before the presentation I suggest that you just relax and do it anyway. Most speakers are flattered and happy to share some personal tidbits. An informal chat will probably be good for both of you. I’ve seen a number of introducers, who were clearly in awe of the speaker, add their personal discomfort to the formal (read: b-o-r-i-n-g) introduction. You don’t want to do that and a quick chat with the speaker will help you avoid it.

You’re introducing people
Think about it. What are you doing? You’re introducing people who’ve never met: the speaker and each member of the audience. Now, admittedly the introduction is one-sided, with the speaker being introduced in detail and everyone in the audience not being introduced individually at all. But really, the purpose is the same: you’re trying to build a bridge between the speaker and the audience. You’re telling each member of the audience why they should be interested in this person. And by doing that, you’re telling the speaker that the audience has been prepared to open their minds to the presentation.

Warm up the audience
What most people don’t know is that an audience needs to be warmed up. The speaker needs to develop a bit of a relationship with members of the audience before they are ready to accept and trust what’s to follow. It’s like any other introduction: You have two strangers coming together for the first time. Neither knows the other and there’s this cool breeze in the room until they break the ice. Your job as the person who’s introducing the speaker is to shorten that getting-to-know-you phase by telling the audience who it is who’s about to address them and why the presenter and/or the presentation will have value for them. You’re the front person, the warm up guy/gal.

Generate excitement
If that process is reduced to an obligation and a formality I think it should be dispensed with entirely because the silent message is: “I’m bored, this introduction is boring and the speaker may be boring too.”  But the implied message should be: “I’m excited to be here. I’m delighted to be introducing this dynamic speaker. You’re really going to like this . . .”

Get the process started
The speaker needs you; the audience needs you. You are a very important person if you’ve been selected to introduce someone. You set the tone and the mood. You get the process started.

Get a little animated
I like to get a little animated when I introduce a speaker, to share a few significant things in their background and to wind it up with something like “Would you please join me in giving a warm welcome to . . . Jane Doe!” It’s my tamed down version of Ed McMann’s famous nightly introduction on The Johnny Carson Show: “And now . . . h-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-re’s Johnny!!”

Ad lib
Obviously, you don’t have to go as far as Ed McMann. In fact, you may be able to do a very adequate job with the material conference organizers provide. All you have to do is rewrite the main points into bullets set in large type that you can easily read.  And ad lib from there. Keep your bullets short enough that you can scoop them up with a glance (without losing eye contact with your audience), show your smile in your voice as well as  your face and generate a little excitement.

Keep it short
One final word: I like short introductions that take about a minute or less. There are occasions where a longer introduction is appropriate but, for most presentations, a one-minute introduction is perfectly adequate. We don’t want to hear an entire biography; we just want to know why we should listen to this person and what he or she is likely to provide for us. We want to be warmed up, to get a little excited and anticipate what’s to follow.

You can do this
You can do this. It’s easy. Just create some good material, get a little excited and share your excitement with the audience.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to best develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today.  You’ll be glad you did!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a public speaker, speech writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and throughout Ontario, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

The King’s Speech says it all

The King’s Speech, had me sitting on the edge of my seat when my wife and I went to see it, just before it received several Academy Awards. That’s because I heard Lionel Logue, the speech therapist, saying many of the things I find myself saying in my public speaking workshops.

“You don’t have to be afraid . . .

There were so many places in the film where I was nodding and silently muttering “Absolutely!”, to myself that I can’t remember them all. But there was one snippet of dialogue in the film that stood out from the rest. It sent me scrambling through my pockets for a scrap of paper and a pen to scribble these words in the darkness: “You don’t have to be afraid of the things you were afraid of when you were five”.

People are running and hiding

No truer words were ever spoken. And yet, this world is full of people who are still running, hiding and trying to protect themselves from things that happened when they were small children. I encounter them all the time in my public speaking workshops. I have helped more clients than I can remember to exorcise cruel teachers, bullies and traumatic events that they’ve hidden, sometimes from themselves, since childhood. These people had been swallowing their self confidence because they were still intimidated by people and events that no longer had any logical place in their lives.

The King’s Speech deserved an Oscar

I’m no film expert, so I can’t comment on whether The King’ Speech deserved an Oscar Award for best picture. But I do know that The King’s Speech deserved an Oscar Award for the truisms it points out in regard to public speaking. Obviously, the stakes were much higher for King George VI than they are for most of us. And obviously, the king’s speech impediment was the primary focus of the film. But it if you just substitute the word “public speaking” for “stammering”, the film is full of messages for anyone who is required to speak in public.

The first step in resolving fear

I had to smile when Lionel Logue told the king that he could help him improve his speech “. . . if you want to change”. That was one of my “Absolutely!” moments. Because, believe it or not, the first step in resolving fear of public speaking is to want to change. And you might be surprised at how many people really don’t want to change. Because they’ve become so accustomed to their fear that it’s become an integral part of them. And if they let it go, they will no longer be who they’ve come to believe they are.

They will be more capable

And they’re right. They’ll no longer be who they’ve come to believe they are. They will be more confident and, because they are more confident, they will be more capable and more satisfied with their own existence.

The truth

I thought The King’s Speech was a very moving film. Not because the primary character had to deliver a speech that could affect the future of the entire western hemisphere, but because it told the truth about the fear most of us have toward public speaking. More people need to hear and heed the words of Lionel Logue: “You can do it . . . you needn’t be governed by fear . . .”

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a public speaker, speech writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Public speaking training: courage, humility and practice

Jim Coyle wrote an interesting column in the Toronto Star a while back about Ontario power Generation president Tom Mitchell that makes some statements about public speaking training. Mitchell had just delivered a speech to a Toronto crowd on the refurbishment of the Darlington generating station, just east of Toronto. As he waxed poetic about the complex “nuclear choreography” required, he joked about his speaking skills, referring to his description as his “inner artsy coming out”. He added that, “Public speaking was not a required course in engineering school.”

The value of courage and humility

It takes courage and humility for someone at Mitchell’s level to make that kind of comment. But he obviously recognizes the value of courage and humility when it comes to public speaking. You don’t have to be “artsy” to be a good speaker; you just have to be genuine. And Mitchell has obviously learned that lesson well. He’s discovered that taking any and every opportunity to speak in public builds presentation skills. For someone in his position, building skills in public speaking, training yourself to communicate effectively, is absolutely essential. You learn by doing. Public speaking itself becomes public speaking training.

An opportunity to connect

And when you become comfortable with speaking to groups, something very satisfying and valuable happens. As Mitchell puts it, “. . . I’m beginning to like it a bit . . . it gives me an opportunity to connect with people – and vice versa.” Did you notice that last phrase: “it gives me an opportunity to connect with people – and vice versa”? That’s an awesome ability – to be able to connect with people and have them respond.

Charismatic leaders inspire

We’ve all heard about the charismatic corporate or political leader who can “connect” with his or her people, inspire them and encourage them to follow him or her anywhere. And most of us have worked for the taciturn boss who speaks when he or she is spoken to and generally avoids human contact. And those of us who have had that opportunity are familiar with the outcomes.

We build bonds

The real value of public speaking and training ourselves to communicate effectively is the bond we build between ourselves and our audiences. It’s hard to build a positive relationship with someone who’s afraid of you. And it’s hard to resist someone who can take you into his or her confidence.

Reaching out gains support

Mitchell knows this and he uses it. By opening himself to his audience, Mitchell opens his audience to him. “Lately I’ve been focused on this subject of connections,” he says, and goes on to goes on to say that he feels his industry has “become disconnected” from the people it serves. And based on some of the comments I see in the Toronto Star and other media, I’d say he’s right. But let’s give credit where credit is due. Mitchell knows that by reaching out, by standing up and speaking, often to a skeptical audience, he can gain more support than if he let his fear of public speaking control him and force him into silence. Particularly because negative rumours fill the silences left by those who refuse to embrace the opportunity to communicate.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and presentation workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a public speaking trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.