When I was a kid…



One great way to make a point to a very adult audience is to tell a kid’s story. Not just any kid’s story but something that happened to you! Every adult has started as a child. We all experience the FEAR of learning how to ride a bike or trying something new. Or we had that special relative or teacher who had that profound effect on our lives. We have all had that first day of school and how we felt.

The problem is that we have forgotten those child moments and it is our job as speakers to remind our audience. By telling the audience on how specific events, relatives or teacher taught us as a child, your audience will then apply this information to their own life. According to Professor Stone, family stories tell us, “who we are and how we got that way.”

Start with your own life. Begin writing in a journal about your own life stories. Remember, the more you write, the more you will remember.

One problem is that you know your family story better than your audience. So you must practice, edit, revise and practice again. Practice your story in front of someone and ask their impression. You might be surprise as to what they see.

So…let me tell you a story when I was a kid.


Be memorable!


I was riding in a Hotel Shuttle with some of my client’s employees. As we talked, one of them enthusiastically broadcast that she had taken and thoroughly enjoyed one of our IT training classes. I asked her who the instructor was; she replied with the name of our most successful and popular instructor. I then asked,” What do you remember most about that class?” She replied, “The magic tricks”. I was not surprised with the answer.
Despite what the woman’s response may invoke, this instructor was always in demand by our clients, all over the country, was always asked for when his expertise was needed. He was always booked. He wasn’t just magic tricks: he was an excellent instructor. But he had that extra “thing” – the magic – that enhanced the lesson and his reputation. He was memorable.
Some people are memorable because of who they are: iconic people in politics, business, sports and media. Others are memorable because they are experts in their fields: Nobel Prize winners and Hedge Fund Managers.
But for the rest us, we need to create our memorable. How do we do that? It varies with the individual. For some, it’s donning a costume, such as an Air Force Fighter flight suit, a clown costume, or being dressed to portray Abraham Lincoln. For others, it’s kinetics events on stage: gymnastics, juggling chain saws and performing magic tricks. Olympians often wear their medals when speaking. A few speakers give away prizes and gifts. Every memorable speaker has a memorable, that thing you remember about them.
Everyone has their own memorable and it’s uniquely yours. Find it. Embrace it. Perfect it. And you will be memorable.


Oh…we can talk to each other!


So how do I become a better conversationalist? It is fun being a great speaker standing in front of 300 people but how do you talk to anyone, one on one. These are some simple but effective ideas.

First, you need to be interested in what people have to say. Start by asking questions and then listen to the answers. One great way to learn how to listen is by learning how to evaluate a speech. Evaluating speeches teaches you how to listen. Listening allows you to get to know people and what is happening in their lives. Most people want to be understood and tell their stories.

People like to receive compliments. If you tell someone how great of a job they did in a particular event, people respond favorably.

You need to avoid debates. You can have a discussion back and forth but don’t try to change someone’s opinion. It doesn’t work!

Work on your humor skills. People like to talk to people who are funny. Again a learned skill.

Use these ideas and the next time you are sitting on a plane, you can have a great conversation with the person next to you!

The power of listening to your audience!

non verbal

Last week I was standing in our reception area and I began to briefly speak with my Facility Director. As I finished the 30 second conversation, we were approached by our Regional Security Director. He is a great guy but Alpha male to the extreme. What should have been a 3 minute quick conversation turned into a 30 minute conversation. All because the security director was more interest in telling his needs and recommendations rather than listening to his intended audience, the Facility Director.

You as a speaker must realize that as you are speaking to your audience, your audience is speaking back to you. Hopefully, your audience is not doing that by heckling which is the verbal form of communication. The majority of time your audience will communicated to you non-verbally. You can see in their body movements, lack of interest or constantly looking at their cell phones. If you see that your audience is not interested in what you are saying, you must change your speech. Either leave out parts of the speech or add more passion. Whatever your course of action, you need to change something!

It’s in the Hello


Hello and welcome to another “Speaking Nugget”

NPR broadcasted a piece on first impressions on May 5, 2014.

It highlighted how important the word “hello” is in building relationships.  Some Scottish scientists labeled it the Jerry McGuire effect from the movie “Jerry McGuire”.  They go into it in the piece.

What is important here is how much attention we pay to our hello;  whether it be a packed auditorium, class or conference room setting, not to mention the one with a co-worker, friends and family members.

Have you ever spent the time seeing if your hello resonates with the people you meet?  After this you just may want to test your Hello and observe the reaction you get back.

OK, here is the clip from Jerry McGuire

Good bye.  We will handle that at another time.

To change or not!


You are a speaker of many years. You give countless presentations every year. You have a very comfortable life as a trainer, speaker or coach. I have a few very simple questions.  

How often do you update your material?

Do you have 20 years of experience or one year 20 times over?

Do you discard a certain percentage of your material whether you think it needs it or not? 

One problem all of us have is that we get comfortable with what we know. Rather than changing or adding to our material, we just use the same material over and over. If you as a speaker or presenter want to stay current, you will need to discard a certain percentage of content every year. This forces you to constantly evaluate your content and decide what to remove and what to add. Many great presenters are constantly reading very diverse materials, giving them new insights into what they are doing. These new insights lead to new actions for their audiences. We as speakers should be in the position of leading our audiences rather than playing catch up. It is your choice.


Message or ?


Are you delivering the message that you want to deliver?  Most people are literally clueless on the messages they deliver to others.  We have a choice: of attracting people to us or repelling them away from us.

When we speak there is the message and the Meta message.  Simply put, what is actually being said and received?  For example let’s take two rather straight forward words “Great job.”  The meaning of Great is ‘notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding’, and the meaning of job ‘a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation’.

Now let’s add some intonation and body gestures and we can change the words “Great job” from praise to rebuke.  Say the phase “Great job” starting with high energy and open gesture you get one meaning.  Work your way down to lower energy and more subdued gesture and you get a deceasing feel of “great job.”  When I do this in a communication teaching session, I am able to control the majority of the audience’s emotions from a high to a low in 8 second or less.

With the change in voice and gestures you can change the meaning you are conveying.  We do it all the time in our personal lives; however, when in front of an audience it takes practice to get it right.  Put the time in to make sure your message is on target.