Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

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.

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.

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.

 

Blog combines professional presentation with a personal touch

I want to share a blog post that I really like. It describes how my PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) colleague Jaclyn Law developed and designed her blog site. Jaclyn is a Toronto writer and editor who knows how to mix professional presentation with a personal touch that reaches audiences.

She kept it simple

I like that she succeeded in keeping the site simple, easy to navigate and attractive enough to her that she enjoys going to it and adding new posts. I think it’s really important that our sites – and everything we do in business – reflects who we are as well as what we do for clients. I’d love to hear your comments on the blog posting and her site:  http://jaclynlaw.com/?page=Blog

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.