Posts Tagged ‘public speaking 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 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.

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.

Politicians provide public speaking training

I love listening to politicians, particularly because their actions often provide valuable public speaking training lessons.

Hudak made himself a target

Training, specifically Canadian training for recent immigrants, has become a hot issue in the current Ontario election. A couple of days ago I heard Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak tear into a plan floated by the Liberals to provide a $10,000 incentive to any company that hired new immigrants to allow them to get some Canadian training. Hudak sounded a bit like a junkyard dog and, with just a little froth around the corners of his mouth, he tore into the plan with venom saying his government would provide jobs for Canadians, not “foreign workers”. And with that one little phrase Hudak made himself a public speaking target that Liberal leader, Dalton McGuinty lost no time in attacking.

“The Tea Party element”

With the smoothness that comes from years and years as a ruling party leader, McGuinty pointed out that “in my Ontario there is no ‘them and us’, there is only ‘us’”. He went on to contrast his party with the Conservatives by referring to some of Hudak’s supporters as “the Tea Party element”. What a beautiful comeback! Whoever wrote those words for McGuinty deserves a raise.

Know your audience

It’s all delightful theatre but what are the lessons here? I think the first one is, know your audience; know what your audience needs and wants to hear. Hudak may have been appeasing some of the elements in his constituency with his reference to “foreign workers” but in this case I think McGuinty was more in tune with the broader electorate.

Choose your words

The second lesson is: choose your words carefully. Labeling new immigrants as “foreign workers” is dangerous territory and potentially inflammatory to Ontario’s millions of immigrant voters. Hudak virtually handed McGuinty the high ground and McGuinty was more than happy to occupy it.

Present your facts well

The third lesson is to know your facts and present them well. Based on his comments, it sounds as though Hudak grabbed the basic information and just came out swinging whereas McGuinty gave a considered, measured controlled response. If Hudak had analayzed Mcguinty’s policy more thoroughly and offered a better alternative he would have come off sounding much more attractive to the majority of voters.

Prepare your messages

And that brings me to the final message: know what messages your words and actions should deliver and prepare them well. One of McGuinty’s key messages in this election is the need for stable, experienced leadership and Hudak gave him the opportunity to deliver that message once again. Unfortunately for Hudak, he left the impression that he’s an angry reactionary, not a steady hand. As public speakers, we must always remember that it’s the unspoken messages that can be most lasting and powerful of all.

Win with honey

To be fair, a little later the same day, Hudak came off as cool,and relaxed and well informed. He needs to cultivate that persona more and the hot headed critic less. That old adage about winning more flies with honey than with vinegar still applies.

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 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.

 

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.

Making a promise adds power

A good way to get and keep your audience’s attention when you’re doing a public presentation is to make a promise. When you commit to what you’ll deliver at the beginning of your presentation you can grab attention right away. Your promise can sound something like this:  “Over the next hour or so, I’m going to share with you the four best ways to ____________”.

Create curiousity

Tell your listeners exactly what to expect. If you know your audience, aim your promises directly at what matters to them and use words and phrases that are meaningful to them, you’ll create curiosity and interest in your presentation. You’ll also enhance your credibility as an expert in your subject area.

Training yourself to use this approach

Training yourself to use this approach when you’re public speaking can help you to hold your audience. They’ll know what’s coming and be waiting for the information you’ve promised. One public speaker I know here in Toronto likes to use a slight variation on this technique. He likes to follow each promise with a question: “Would that have value for you?” In addition to being a public speaker he’s also a sales trainer and he uses each question as a trial closing. He’s testing the audience members to see if they want to buy what he has to offer. But he’s also building suspense. He knows the audience will want the information he’s providing, but by asking the questions he increases their anticipation of its value.

Deliver what you’ve promised

As long as there is audience anticipation there is attention. But of course, anticipation by itself is not enough; you must follow through and deliver the value you’ve promised. That’s simply part of the bargain. And it’s important that you do that in a logical order and build on each previous point, then sum up at the end and do a brief review of each of the points.

Deepen understanding and acceptance

By reviewing at the end you will deepen your audience’s understanding and acceptance of what you’re telling them. Repetition drives your message home. That’s why we keep seeing the same commercials over and over again on TV. I’ve talked about repetition here before http://www.sayitwithpower.ca/public-speaking/repetition-adds-power and I’m repeating it for one good reason: repetition adds power. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it but if your presentation is focused and balanced, using devices like promising value and following through on delivery will strengthen your message and help your audience to retain it.

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.

Repetition adds power

As difficult as it can be get up and share information with an audience, it can be more difficult to get them to retain what you’re saying. A good way around that is to use simple repetition.

Remember Obama?

If you think back to the Obama campaign in 2008, you’ll automatically think of Obama’s tag line “Yes, we can!” With those three simple words, Obama captured the imagination of the American people and he repeated them hundreds of times during the campaign.

I want people to remember

You’ll see lesser known speakers do the same thing. For example, if you came to one of my presentation training workshops, you’d hear me talking about relaxing and providing value. And you wouldn’t hear these phrases just once you’d hear them several times throughout the public speaking training session. That’s because I believe in them and because I want people to remember those messages from my presentation training course.

Drive your message home

Let’s face it, when you do a 45-minute public presentation no one is going to remember everything. And they’ll even forget those parts of the speech that are most important to them if you don’t repeat them. So no matter what you do in other circumstances don’t hesitate to repeat yourself when you’re doing a presentation. Training yourself to do that and making it a natural part of your presentation will help to drive your message home.

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.