Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaking’

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.

Maintain control and attention

I watched a speaker use a very interesting public speaking technique today to maintain control of her audience. She was speaking about web development and there was someone in the audience who was also a web developer who knew as much as she did and maybe more.

A very simple technique

There were a number of questions during her presentation, as training people about web development can be complex. From time to time the expert in the audience would add his comment to her answers or would answer the question himself. He was trying to add value but his action drew focus and attention away from the primary public speaker. And to her credit the speaker held control of the room using a very, very simple technique.

She rephrased his words

She simply waited for the other expert to finish his explanation of the point and then she rephrased it in her own words. Now the interesting thing that happens here is that the audience member provided the information but in the audience’s mind, the final answer came from the presenter, not the person who provided the original information.

Own the room

I’ve always maintained that a speaker must ‘own the room’ both for her own sake and the audience’s. After all, the audience came to hear information from the person who is speaking, not from the audience members. That doesn’t mean I discourage speakers from allowing audience members to make comments. In fact I support that a hundred percent, because an interactive audience is a more attentive audience.

You are the expert

When you have a situation where someone is providing information during your presentation, training yourself to re-phrase his or her comments will help you keep control of your audience.  The audience will then associate that information with you because you were the last person they heard it from.

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.

Be a part of the group

Did you ever attend a presentation where a public speaker was not only on a dais but on a pedestal of his or her own making? This is particularly common among people who aren’t accustomed to public speaking. They see their public speaking opportunity as their fifteen minutes of fame. And not only do they feel they have to make the most of that public speaking opportunity, they also think that because they’re in front of the group they are very, very important.

Bonding is important

Well, I’ve got news for you – and for them. Most of the people who present in that fashion tend to be ignored much more than people who know who they are, what they’re doing and why. Think about it. If you set yourself apart from your audience, your audience has no reason to bond with you and bonding is very, very important in public speaking.

Make them part of the process

Instead of setting yourself apart, I suggest that you try to become a part of your audience during your presentation. Training yourself to open your presentation to the people you are speaking with will help to develop that bond that’s so important. You need to make them feel that they are part of the process.

Here’s how:

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Ask the audience a question that they can identify with. They will silently answer the question in their own minds, or if the group is small enough, ask people to give you their opinions.
  • Get out from behind the podium. The podium is a divider. It separates you from your audience. People will feel much more comfortable if you circulate freely. Moving in close to your audience shows that you don’t fear them and when you don’t fear your audience, they warm up to you.
  • Tell personal stories. Don’t be afraid to reveal yourself. Audiences love personal stories.
  • If you want to inject a little humour, make it at your expense, not anyone else’s. This will show the audience that you regard yourself to be no better, no worse and no different than they are.
  • It’s a good idea greet audience members before the presentation. You can stand near the door or circulate among the crowd while the audience is assembling and talk individually to as many people as you can. Speaking to people individually will help you to get a better gauge on your audience and to know just exactly who your audience is.

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.

Speak with confidence: know your material

When you’re delivering a speech, particularly if it’s to hundreds or even thousands of people, you have to assume that there’s someone out there who knows just as much about your topic as you do . . . and there may be someone who knows a little more.  So it’s absolutely mandatory to know your material cold if you want to speak with confidence.  It’s normal to feel some nervous energy just before speaking to a group.  A little discomfort with speaking is normal and it can even help you to deliver a powerful presentation.  But solid presentation preparation is a must.

It can cost you

One of the big issues U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin faced in the 2008 election was that she didn’t know the issues.  She was parachuted into the position with no background in Washington politics.  She was given a crash course and expected to fake it from there.  And she was eaten alive.  Whether you supported or opposed her political positions, the bottom line was that she didn’t know what she was talking about and it cost her dearly.

Feel confident

So how can you avoid a similar fate and how can you feel confident speaking to an audience?  Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Relax!  It’s the most powerful component of public speaking.
  • Speak only on topics on which you truly have expertise
  • Open yourself to discussion and/or disagreement; you can do this by saying something like: “I’ve studied this topic thoroughly, but I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I want to share what I do know and to discuss it with you.”
  • If your topic is outside your primary area of expertise don’t be afraid to share that with your audience but once you’ve dealt with the issue let it go and avoid referring back to it throughout your presentation.  Just relax and enjoy yourself.
  • Know your audience.  Ask the event organizer how many people will be attending, what their backgrounds are, whether there are likely to be experts in the field in which you’re speaking.
  • If possible, speak with audience members as they arrive.  This will not only help you to gauge the knowledge level of your audience but also identify specific areas of interest you may want to address.  It will also begin to establish relationships that will help both of you to relax.
  • If there is an audience member who is also an expert in your area, engage that person and invite him or her to share personal perspectives or experiences
    If you have other suggestions I’d like to hear them.

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.