First Varsity Speaking Academy in the books!

I’m enjoying a peaceful night home after a successful maiden Varsity Speaking Academy.  Nine great participants and three wonderful coaches helped make this a wonderful event for all.  Hey, the sun came out today, too!

My appreciation goes out to all of you who took your time to come and improve your professional development.  You are all ready to stand tall on the platform!

One of the things we discussed was blogging.  Here’s my first challenge to all you VSA graduates.  Be one of the first three to post your comments about the Academy and win a prize! 

Ready, Set, Post…

Cheers,

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How to improve your negotiations skills in business

Do you negotiate in your job? 

I was recently quoted in an article for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) web magazine on why sound presentation skills are so important for negotiating.

(Note – you must be a member to read the article.  If you’re in the Human Resources business, you should consider becoming a member)

“The opportunity to perform and deliver in front of a group is the best way to prepare for being in a negotiation.”  Basically, the more you can practice your craft, even in a Toastmasters forum, the more confident and prepared you will be when it comes down to crunch time in negotiations. 

The article is written by Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR, who is a Wisconsin-based business journalist with HR consulting experience in employee communication, training and management issues. She is the author of Human Resource Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function (SHRM, 2002).

Cheers,

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Finding a story

I was presenting a class last night to a group who wanted to improve their speaking skills.  We spent the last hour discussing the importance of storytelling.  One of the participants was involved in Habitat for Humanity.  As we talked, it became clearer to him that opening his apresentation with a poignant story that engages the audience is far more effective that rattling off the methodology of what Habitat does, or how they do it.  People relate to people.  The other participants in the class were a great beta test for his story.

What about you?  What personal, humorous, or pithy story do you have that will connect you to your audience from the start?  Make it easy on yourself by starting a story file.  Make a written or electronic file and chronicle all your best stories so you can have them accessible for that next speech or presentation.  It will make the difference in how you connect.

Dan

 

Teaching Lesson for your Kids

Do you monitor what your kids post on their MySpace and Facebook accounts?

I’m giving a presentation to a group of young adults tomorrow morning.  The majority of my program deals with presentation skills.  We will tackle the dreaded word “like”; learn how to make actual eye contact with another human; and dress for success.

We also will discuss the dangers of having one of your funny posts cost you a job.  If you don’t think employees are using Facebook and MySpace to check out potential employees AND current ones, think again.  In researching this topic, I found a great article on the subject.  It’s a few years old but worth the read…

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/69160/prospective_employers_on_myspace_your.html?cat=31

Cheers,

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Speaking with Reckless Abandon

A funny thing happened last night as my two dogs waited anxiously to escape my bedroom and get to breakfast.  Charlie is my black lab mix and Captain Jack is my Jack Russell terrorist (whoops Terrier).  They both crowded around the door waiting to be the first to exit.  I guess it’s a dog thing.

As I started opening the door, Charlie wiggled his way in using his much larger body to block out Captain Jack.  He would have made a great basketball center.  Jack had other thoughts.  If you are familiar with a Jack Russell terrier, you know they are high energy and live in reckless abandon mode.  Captain Jack got behind Charlie and at the precise moment the door swung open, leaped on Charlie’s back and then in perfect “touch and go” motion, vaulted over his head and out the door.  You can’t make this stuff up!

Captain Jack offers a lesson for all of us in business.  He was focused on the prize.  He was willing to go at it with reckless abandon.  How do you approach your goals?  Do you go after them with that same energy level?

If you’re like me, you’ve seen business speakers who never change positions, voice inflection, or energy level.  Boring doesn’t begin to cover their presentation. Hall of Fame Speaker Patricia Fripp says the number one enemy of a speaker is “sameness”.  Well, “sameness” when it’s uninspired is probably the worst evil for a speaker.

I’m not suggesting you are there to be an over-the-top, Robin Williams-style speaker.  But you do need to be at a higher energy level that your audience.  You do need to engage them by changing your vocal variety, moving on stage appropriately, and being passionate about your message.  If not, you are guaranteed to bore the socks off your audinece.  If that audience is supposed to buy or be interested in your product or service, that’s bad news for you!

The next time you’re up in front of a group – maybe it’s a Chamber of Commerce audience, an investor group, or a networking meeting – gauge the room and make sure you are attacking your message with the same reckless abandon that Captain Jack did.  Just be careful on the landing!

Cheers,

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Michael Phelps and Speaking – My Comments in The Baltimore Sun

What does it take to go from superstar athlete to superstar speaker?  Jill Rspeakersosen from the Baltimore Sun interviewed me on Michael Phelps sudden stardom and his speaking opportunities on Oprah, Jay Leno, MTV, and tonight on Saturday Night Live. 

Read the entire article and my thoughts on the subject by clicking here – http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/olympics/bal-phelps0912,0,262210.story

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Speaking off the Cuff

As my mentor Patricia Fripp always says, “Life is a series of sales situations”.  How right she is!

Most of the time, you have to give a “presentation” off a question, situation, or mishap that you weren’t expecting.  Are you prepared to do that with confidence?  What happens if you can’t?  Want to learn how?

Below, you will see a video from last Tuesday where I competed in my Toastmasters Club Table Topics competition.  For you non-Toasties, this is an opportunity to speak for 2 minutes to a question that you don’t know is coming.  It’s a great way to simulate business situations.  As you watch the video, I’ve included three strategies I use.  You may find these valuable.

By the way, let’s get one thing out of the way.  This is NOT a professional video shoot!  Yes, it’s dark; I’m not always centered; the lighting is terrible; and oh yes, the video bag is in the way at the start.  Now go find the keys to helping you learn how to speak better off the cuff!

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Do You Have SPAM in your speech?

I logged into my blog today to find I needed to moderate 81 new comments.  81!  If you have a blog, you know that the chances of every single one of them being SPAM is just about a certainty.

I started wading robotically through all of them clicking SPAM, when all of a sudden one caught my eye.  It was a comment posted by a fellow Toastmaster in the United Arab Emirates to the post I had about You Tube last week (To read it, click on that blog).  I was fortunate not to go blindly through and mark it as SPAM (The other 80 were SPAM by the way).  Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed a nugget.

Do you use the same care when you read over your speech?  Is there a chance any SPAM gets caught in your writing?

Here’s what I mean.  So many times we get caught up in writing very specific and technical information for business that we lose sight of the nugget that our audience needs to receive.  I’ve been guilty of this when presenting educational sessions for insurance.  In a sense, it’s like a bunch of SPAM that your audience will just gloss over.  If they do that, they could miss the nugget.

Make sure your presentation has the “right stuff” to keep your audience engaged – humor, stories, high I-You ratio, high WIIFM (what’s in it for me).  That way, they won’t have to sift through the SPAM like I did and nearly miss the diamond in the rough.  Delivery is onl;y part of the process.  Writing the presentation and using strategies to keep the audience connected is vital to your success.

Next time you prepare your presentation, look to cut the SPAM out of it.  Be audience focused and you will reap the rewards.

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P.S.  Would you like to learn more about the startegies I mentioned.  There’s still time to register for my first Varsity Speaking Academy on October 6-7.  To learn more about you will receive from this dynamic workshop, click here.

 

 

Speaking of You Tube

In my last post, I mentioned You Tube as a business tool.  Here’s another one that can be linked to You Tube…

Do you know where your name shows up on the web?  You can keep track of it at no cost.  I use Google Alerts with my name and business to keep track of where my name pops up.  It’s a great way to see if you’re being quoted or if someone is using your intellectual property.

Recently, I had a Google Alerts hit on my Region 1 Toastmasters speech on You Tube.  I was amazed to see from where.  Somehow, a Toastmasters club in the United Arab Emirates saw it and embedded it in their web site for members to watch.  The number of my hits has skyrocketed.  Click here to see it.

You Tube is a great addition to your marketing.  It’s free, it’s viewed world-wide, and now since Google owns it, you can take advantage of its “search” capabilities”.  Use Google Alerts to keep up where your name pops up.  This should all be a part of your marketing system in the 21st century.  Use technology to advance your message.

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