Posts Tagged ‘presentation training’

Public Speaking vs. Insensitivity

My public speaking and presentation training practice deals a lot with the fallout from insensitive people. And that’s because we often define ourselves based on the comments of insensitive people.

We all have them

We all have insensitive people in our lives, and they’re insidious. They dig into insecurities to give them life. And those insecurities can haunt us long after the insensitive person has moved on, and if you think that doesn’t affect our public speaking and presentation abilities, guess again.

It’s insecurity

So, why are some people so insensitive to other people’s feelings? I don’t have a definitive answer to that one, but in my experience it’s usually based on insecurity and the need to overcompensate for feelings of inadequacy. And when we call the offenders on their abuse the fallout can permanently damage important relationships. So we hold back, because many of these people are central to our sense of clan and community.

I see the damage

I see the damage insensitive people wreak in my public speaking and presentation training practice. I see it in the person who is bursting with passion and terrified to stand up to tell the world about it. I see it in highly capable people who have been told in innumerable ways that they are inadequate. I see it in the stress of people so deeply imbued with criticism and bullying that they are too paralyzed to even try to communicate, influence others and improve their world.

I do something about it

I try to do something about it. I encourage people to put their oppressors – and the insecurities they engender – in their proper place. I encourage them to act and think positively, regardless of what they hear, to build invisible fences between themselves and their antagonists.

It’s difficult

I’ve been bullied. I’ve been emotionally blackmailed. I continue to experience it from time to time. It’s difficult to deal with for any of us because, on many levels, we feel helpless. We’re damned if we engage our antagonists and damned if we don’t.

What to do

So here’s what I suggest we do: Instead of creating a scene, consider the source. What qualifies these people to make their comments? In my experience, the answer is “nothing at all”. So if they’re unqualified to comment, why give them credence?

Dump the garbage

The next thing to do is dump the garbage. As soon as we have the opportunity, we need to dump that crap and get on with the positive elements in our lives. And we can do that by talking to someone who understands. We can write about it, we can exercise, do yoga, meditate, play an instrument –anything that helps to cleanse our souls.

 

Avoid them

My favourite strategy is simply to avoid dealing with negative people as much as possible. It’s a big world and there are countless creative, exciting, positive people out there. So why would I want to hang out with frightened, angry individuals whose negative view of the world reduces them and everyone around them? I simply don’t do it if I can avoid it.

 

We’re terrified to speak

So what does all of this have to do with public speaking? Everything. Many of us are so accustomed to being criticized and bullied that we’re terrified to speak up. And in most cases, those perceptions have been visited upon us by others, most of whom had no idea what they were inflicting upon us.

 

You’re not what other people say

So here’s my message to you: You’re not what other people say you are. You’re a combination of what you believe you are and what you do for others. How does that relate to public speaking? Here’s how: the person who has the passion, drive and confidence to deliver something of value possesses the power to change their world for the better.

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 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.

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.

Difficult public speaking task successful

Hats off to the Duchess of Cambridge. She took on a difficult public speaking task recently and came through with shining colours.

She was a little nervous

“Kate”, as she’s known to most of us, delivered her first official speech at the East Anglian Children’s Hospice this week and, like most new speakers, she was a little nervous. Like most speakers, she struggled at the beginning, even though she undoubtedly worked with highly skilled presentation trainers and public speaking coaches. But she got through it fine and, overall, she did quite well.

She looked down at her notes

If I wanted to be hyper-critical, I could talk about how she looked down at her notes as much as she looked at her audience but for me, that was a small issue. She’s not accustomed to speaking in public. She is the future Queen of England and is therefore required to stick to her script to the letter and, as such, she knew that every word she spoke would be recorded, transmitted to millions of people, evaluated, assessed and criticized. Not your run-of-the-mill after-dinner address, even if she did have presentation training from top public speaking trainers.

A formidable group

She had plenty at stake and she knew it. Given that kind of pressure she did quite well, particularly given of the nature of the group she was speaking to. She was facing child residents of a hospice and their parents, knowing that those children would never mature, that those parents faced a future without their child; that this “precious time” as Kate referred to it, was short. What a formidable group to address as her first audience.

She stayed focused

Kate was very controlled. Partly because it’s her job to appear steadfast and strong. But I’ll bet that there was more than royal protocol running through her head as she prepared for and finally faced that audience. It’s an open secret that she and William hope to have their own child in the near future but, regardless of what private thoughts may have been on her mind, she stayed focused on the need to keep the audience’s attention on her royal visit rather than her unseen royal emotions.

She didn’t flinch

She could have so easily drifted into maudlin sentimentality or revealed her emotions, but she didn’t. It’s not easy for a woman who obviously loves kids to speak to terminally ill children and their parents as though they are any other group of parents and children. But she did it. Yes, she looked a little uncomfortable but she didn’t flinch.

Focus on her audience

Of course Kate has had plenty of public speaking training and we can expect that her presentation was heavily rehearsed. And I suspect that her presentation trainer helped her to contain her emotions. Her presentation trainer probably told her to focus on her audience, not on herself; and that what they felt would be more important than how she felt as she spoke.

Emotions can be difficult

We all have a duty to our audiences. After all, they are – or should be – the reason we’re up there in the first place. Emotions can be difficult to control. But sometimes they have to be squarely placed in the back seat while we navigate through what our audience needs to hear.

Stay focused

While it’s important in most instances to let our passion speak for us, as speakers, we have to recognize when it’s more important to stay focused on the message and to stick to it, regardless of how it makes us feel. You can see how Kate handled her challenge here.

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 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.

Protect your public speaking voice

I recently had a client who was training to deliver presentations to a number of divisions across Toronto and the GTA over a period of several days. The steady grind was taking a toll on his vocal chords and he asked what he could do to lubricate them.

Lots of dry throat remedies

Lubricating vocal chords just doesn’t come up very often very often in public speaking training, so of course, I did what everybody does these days: I Googled it. As always, there were lots of different opinions, and dry throat remedies, including a few that surprised me. And of course we have to take just about anything we read on the internet with a grain of salt until we’ve tried it ourselves or checked it out with someone we trust.

An interesting gargle

Speaking of salt, Dr. Van Lawrence, laryngologist for the Houston Grand Opera recommended the following gargle recipe: 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 tsp. of clear corn syrup, and 6 oz. of warmed, distilled water. He suggested that you gargle silently for two minutes, that you avoid rinsing and repeat this gargle as often as you need to. He also recommended drinking two quarts of water each day.

Saliva stimulators

But blues singer Isabella Snow has her own dry throat remedies. She says that water is only effective for a moment or two after drinking it, that nothing lubricates a throat better than saliva and nothing stimulates saliva production better than a sip of pineapple juice. If that’s not readily available, a bit of strawberry juice wins second prize, followed by honey and olives. The worst things you can drink, she says, are water, tea and beer. I’d add coffee to that list as well. You can learn more – and hear some of her blues styling here. If you listen to the clip at that link you’ll understand why she should know a thing or two about voice lubrication.

Last resort: water

In spite of what Snow says about water, if it’s the only lubricant you can easily turn to, I’d use it. I tried her pineapple juice alternative last week and it worked for me. But I don’t always have access to pineapple juice so my second choice would be water, consumed in small sips – just enough to lubricate my larynx, but not enough to bring on the need for a bio break in the middle of my presentation.

Probably the best approach is to experiment a bit to see what works best for you. You can buy expensive voice lubricants but if something as simple and inexpensive as pineapple juice, strawberry juice, baking soda and salt will work just as well or better, why not give them a try?

Vocal chords are delicate

One last suggestion: give your voice and your body plenty of rest. Remember that the vocal chords are just a set of muscles. But because they’re very delicate, they need proper care. And like any muscles, they can become strained. So if you’re doing your presentations over long distances that require traveling in dry atmospheres such as a commercial jet or train coach, be sure to keep your throat moist.

None for the road

Avoid excessive alcohol or coffee consumption and social situations like loud night clubs or sporting events where you may be tempted to strain your voice. And make sure you get plenty of rest. Rested vocal chords will perform better and longer than strained ones. And you’ll present your material with greater enthusiasm overall.

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 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.

Presentation training vs. speech writing

I enjoy speech writing. It’s a little different from my public speaking and presentation training work but it uses a lot of the same principles. The difference is that I have to visualize my client doing the presentation or speech as I’m writing it. And for that, there’s nothing as valuable as good old face-face contact. My PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) colleague Bonnie Zink recently posted a link about the process and she agreed to have me post her comments here as a guest blog:

No substitute for face-to-face

I’ve been writing speeches for many years. I have learned through experience that there is no substitute for a face-to-face (F2F) (or phone call) meeting with the client before one word is written or edited. I find out several things during the meeting that I don’t feel would be as easily captured via email.

Capture their personality

First, a F2F meeting allows me to get to know the presenter. I’ve found that writing speeches is an exercise in living in someone else’s head. I need to know their speech patterns. I need to know their mannerisms. I need to know how fast or slow they speak (helps with gauging word count later on). I need to know if they are naturally witty. This helps me capture their personality on paper through the words I choose to write on their behalf.

The presenter’s point of view

Second, the F2F allows me the time to get to know the material from the presenter’s point of view. We discuss key topics. We discuss time allowed for delivery. I find out what their favourite quotes are. We discuss the presenter’s favourite anecdotes that may be helpful in showing the audience the concepts we are writing about. I find out who the audience is. I find out many more valuable tid bits that are priceless when it comes to writing (or editing) the speech.

The details

Finally, a F2F allows the presenter and I to get to know, and agree upon, the details of the project. We discuss deadlines, language, rates, as well as research and writing time estimates.

No substitute

I believe that there really isn’t a substitute for the F2F meeting. Email is great during the work, but an initial hour or two of face time is priceless. I find out more in that hour spent with the client than I can via the phone or emails.

Well said, Bonnie

As I read what Bonnie had written I found myself nodding in agreement. The only thing I would add is that it’s a lot of fun to, as she puts it, “live inside someone else’s head”. I’m glad to hear that other writers enjoy the process as much as I do. For me, speech writing is right up there with presentation training and public speaking training.

If you’d like to connect with Bonnie, here’s how to reach her:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BonnieZink
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BZWriter
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bonniezink
GooglePlus: http://gplus.to/BonnieZink

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 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.

Does that make sense?

As a public speaking coach, I was intrigued by a discussion on the Harvard Business Review Blog about whether a speaker should use the phrase “Does that makes sense?” while doing a presentation or training session.

Are you serious?

My first response was, “Are you serious? Do you really think this is an issue?” But apparently some people – particularly people who need something to write about – think it is. Well, it’s not an issue for me; it’s just a fact of life.

It’s my duty

In addition to my one-on-one presentation coaching sessions I facilitate a lot of corporate workshops and public workshops, where I’m presenting concepts that are very familiar to me which may be brand new to the people I’m speaking to. It’s my duty – and it’s the duty of every facilitator – to check in with the audience from time to time. If you don’t, you can’t be sure you’ve really communicated.

Communication is slippery

One thing I’ve learned from hard experience as a writer and speaker is that communication is a slippery thing. I don’t think you really appreciate how slippery it is until you’re writing material that’s published to tens of thousands of people or when you’re publishing to a small but very critical audience. It’s amazing what people can read into what you’ve said, how they can misinterpret, misunderstand and generally just not “get” what you’re trying to convey. And often it’s nobody’s fault; it’s just the fragility of the communications process.

I always check in

I always check in with my audience to make sure I’ve said what I think I’ve said. And I look for nods. If I don’t see them I follow up with something like, “Hmmm . . . I’m not seeing any recognition out there . . . Have I communicated?. . . Is this clear for everyone before I move on?” That usually brings a few nods even from a reluctant audience and I’m able to move forward.

I ask

I only speak in public for one reason: to provide value. And I don’t know if I’ve provided value if people don’t tell me. And most times – at least during a presentation or training – they don’t tell me unless I ask. So I ask. And I get responses.

It’s crucial

If you’re doing presentations or training, I suggest you check in with your audience from time to time. I’ll admit that when you’re doing a formal speech it’s less necessary but in my opinion it’s absolutely crucial in the training process.

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 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.

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.

Presentation notes? Absolutely!

I’ll be doing a presentation in Richmond Hill next week and, as usual, I’ll have my trusty notes with me. I wouldn’t think of doing a presentation without notes. It would be like taking a trip to an unfamiliar destination without a map. And that’s because every presentation I do is slightly different.

Why use them?

So if every presentation is different, why do I need notes? Well, that’s because I like to take little side trips here and there. And when I’m finished those side trips I like to come back to where I left the main topic. My presentation notes are a little different from a map. They’re more like a compass that brings me back when I want them to. I use them, but only to remind me where I am and where I want to go next.

It depends

Most public speakers feel that doing a presentation without notes is more polished, and on at least one level I suppose it is. But does that mean that working with presentation notes is somehow amateurish? I don’t think so. It depends on several things. It depends on the audience. It depends on the style of the address. And I think what it depends on most is how you use those notes.

What comes next?

No one wants to hear a speech that’s read word-for-word. But no one wants to watch a polished presenter squirm because he or she just had a momentary memory lapse, can’t remember what’s supposed to come next and doesn’t know where to go to find out. While I’ve seen lots of speakers who can apparently do a 45-minute talk without presentation notes, I’ve seen a lot more who know how to cleverly hide them. It’s very rare speaker who works without a net of some kind.

Essential information

It’s not a matter of whether you have presentation notes or don’t have them. It’s entirely about how you use them. Like I said, my presentation notes are like a compass for me and, like a compass, they provide essential, but minimal information. They consist of sub-headings with bullet points under each one. With a quick glance at my presentation notes I know exactly what I want to talk about for the next few minutes and if someone asks a question or makes a comment while I’m delivering the next section I always know exactly what point I want to come back to. My notes keep me on track and the presentation on time because I note where I should be time-wise  beside each sub-head. So if I need to jump ahead at some point I can do so smoothly.

I’m there to inform

My notes are precious to me because they ensure that my audience is going to receive every piece of information I want them to have. I’m not there to impress; I’m there to inform. And if having a sheaf of papers in my hand or on a desk is distracting then I’m doing a lousy job of engaging and informing. Because if I’m truly engaging and informing, no one is even going to see those papers let alone be distracted by them. Instead, they’ll be listening to my words, considering them and deciding how and if they want to put them into practice.

Presentation notes add value

Solid presentation notes used effectively can add significantly to the value of your presentation. And as you’ve heard me say so many times before, the value you impart is all that really matters.

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 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.

Presentation training elected Toronto’s mayor

Toronto’s new mayor obviously did some presentation training with a public speaking trainer and paid close attention to at least one of the skills he learned.

Focus, focus, focus

One of the first lessons a presentation trainer would have taught Rob Ford, Toronto’s new mayor would have been focus. There are thousands of issues in a city the size of Toronto and one of Ford’s biggest presentation training tasks would have been to select those key messages that would resonate best with Toronto voters.

One message takes the prize

Ford knew what the Toronto electorate wanted and he promised to deliver on their wants. He promised to cut the waste at Toronto City Hall and reduce expenses across the board without reducing services. Because he was long on promises and short on specifics, he was criticized by most of Toronto’s political pundits. But Ford stuck to the mantra he and his public speaking trainer focused on. Whoever worked with him understood that, even if it’s heavily criticized, a single message repeated again and again is more powerful than a number of messages or a change in direction.

His focus was obvious and intentional

On election night, Toronto political pundits said his focus on a single message was a strong factor in his decisive victory. In his victory speech, Ford himself said “We were focused. They could not get us off our message.” Ford must now shift his focus to reaching out to those he will need to help him begin to deliver on his promises. If his commitment is strong enough, if he can win the allies and follow up words with actions, he may again surprise his critics and deliver much of what he promised. That will require an incredible amount of focus, hard work and probably more than a little good luck. For Rob Ford, the hard part has just begun.

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 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.