PowerPointer #3 Don’t Suck the Life Out of the Room

Want to suck the life out of a crowded room that is waiting to hear you speak?

All you have to do is start your presentation by clicking on the projector.  Hopefully, masks will drop from the ceiling and your audience can be revived!

If you MUST use PowerPoint, then open your presentation without the slides.  Don’t even turn on the projector until after you’ve opened with a story, anecdote, or powerful statement.  You have a much better chance of engaging your audience from the start and giving your presentation a chance for success.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Practicing What I Preach

I have been a lector at my church for the past 6 years and absolutely love it.  Two weeks ago, we had a lunch meeting with the priest and he asked us to consider singing the words “The Word of the Lord.”  Singing!  Now, I have no problem getting up in front of the congregation, or anyone, and speaking.  But, singing?  Even if it was only 5 words, I was intent on turning down the offer.

Last week, the lector at Mass accepted the challenge.  What do you know, a bolt of lightning didn’t break through the church and strike him down!  I realized that I was doing what I tell others not to do.  It was time to practice what I preach.

You see, it’s not about how YOU feel up there.  It’s about the experience of the audience.  If singing those 5 words delivers a more impactful message, then it’s about them, not me.  I did a little practicing and testing, and felt comfortable enough to try it on Sunday.  I’m here to tell you, nobody booed or threw tomatoes.  This was after all church, not open mic night!

Learn from my lesson.  Don’t be afraid to experiment or try things that take you out of your comfort level.  If it’s good for the audience, better delivers your message, and improves their condition, then do it!

P.S.  My singing will NOT be on You Tube!!!!




You may have seen or heard about this by now.  MSNBC host Contessa Brewer introduced the Reverend Jesse Jackson by the wrong name.  You can see Jackson seething as he’s called the Reverend Al Sharpton.  I found this on Alan Weiss’ blog and Alan made an excellent point about “being in the moment.”  Here’s mine…

Did she not read the copy before she started speaking?  Could she have done something other than throw her copywriter under the bus?  This is about being in the moment as Alan says. It’s also about being prepared.  It’s also about taking responsibility for your mistakes.  Have our television anchors, hosts, and politicians all become so dependent on scripts and teleprompters that they are not focused on us?

Have you become so dependent on your proposal, your speech, your notes, your outline, your report, that you are not focused on the job at hand?

Take a lesson from Ms. Brewer and focus on what’s in front of you…

Character Driven

I am a big fan of the CBS series, NCIS.  My family recently purchased the DVD set of Year 1 and it included special features about the show.  For those of you not familiar with the series, it chronicles the adventures of a team from the Naval Criminal Investigation Service based in Washington D.C.  The show stars Mark Harmon and is in its 6th season as a huge hit.

I always enjoy watching the special features. I enjoy learning what happens in the background to make shows or movies successful.  In NCIS, creator Donald Bellisario discussed at great length why the show has been a huge success.  Just like in his former work with Magnum P.I. and Jag, Bellisario felt that the show needed to be “character driven” instead of plot driven.  He knew that audiences identify with characters first and foremost.  Characters must create some sort of emotion, from love to hate, to evoke interest from the audience.  In NCIS, the protagonists are all likeable with their own small quirks and flaws.  They are real.  Think of your favorite television shows.  Regardless of the genre, comedy, drama, mystery, etc., the characters are really what keep you involved, interested, and coming back for more.

Think about your speeches or presentations.  Do you develop that kind of strong characters in your stories?  If not, you are missing a golden opportunity to influence your audience, and perhaps worse, bore the heck out of them!

The development of your characters doesn’t have to take a long time.  However, your audience must be able to see them, hear them, like them, or relate to them.  Here are four tips to help bring your characters to life:

1.    Give them a name.  It doesn’t have to be a real name.  You might shorten a name to Mr. T or even maybe more powerful, a brand.  I’ve used a brand name in one of my speeches, calling a character “Angry Dad” in a story from my coaching days.  Just using the brand gives you a partial visual of this character.
2.    Help your audience see.  Does your character have brown or blonde hair?  Are they short or tall?  Walk fast or with a limp?  You get the idea.  It can be a one or two word description as part of a sentence, but this still helps us visualize.
3.    Help your audience hear.  Does your character have an accent; a lisp; speak quietly; or loudly? Again, it doesn’t take much to sneak in clues.  Heck, in this one you can even model the sound for your audience by copying it during dialogue.
4.    Give them the best lines.  Make sure you include your characters in dialogue and give them the best and funniest lines.  Your audience will come to love them and your story.

Television shows like NCIS are no different than you writing a speech.  A successful TV show and a speech must both have a strong open and close, an intriguing plot or message, and must effectively use characters to keep the audience engaged.

NCIS is character driven.  Is your next speech?

© 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Know Your Stage

On Monday I was listening to an intriguing interview with horse racing expert Andy Beyer from the Washington Post.  His comments to Mitch Levy from Sportsradio 950 KJR indicate that he believes that jockey Calvin Borel was the reason that Mine That Bird didn’t win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.  He feels that Borel was too overconfident and didn’t do his due diligence in preparations leading up to the race.  Borel had never raced at the Belmont Stakes; a track that is the longest in the country.  Beyer said not only did Borel not do a practice ride or walk the track, he didn’t even watch any of the preceding races that day.  In the end, it cost him the chance to immortalize himself in the sport as the only jockey to win a triple crown riding two different horses.

How well do you research your track?

If you do any speaking on a platform – Toastmasters competitions, Association meetings, Banquets, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce – then you should be checking out your track prior to the event.

One of my favorite stories about this comes from my friend Jim Key, who was the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking. The championship that year was in Atlanta and when he checked out his stage, he found that it had a very pronounced squeak in several spots (in fact you can hear them in his winning presentation).  Because Jim was diligent in detection, he was prepared for the results of where he would be walking.  Had he not done this, the squeaks may have distracted him just enough to keep him form winning.  Just like in horse racing, speech competitions are normally won by a nose!

Regardless your reason for being on stage, make sure you check it out in advance.  Walk your speech and check for squeaks, nuances, areas where you might not be as visible, and areas where you might have had props.  The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to deliver your game-winning speech.


(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Controversial Can Make You Memorable

This past week, my daughter Kelli gave a speech at our Toastmasters club.  Her objective was to present a persuasive speech.  Kelli decided to give a presentation arguing that her generation, Generation Y, was the “best.”  She labeled three “myths” or misconceptions about Generation Y (born between 1979-94) and de-bunked them by giving solid examples to her point.  She worked hard on her delivery and gave a fine speech.  You could say I was a very proud dad.

What followed during the rest of the meeting was even more impressive than Kelli’s speech.  Several members commented about her topic and her views during their opportunity to speak.  They all enjoyed her speech, but more importantly they were moved in some way.  They may have agreed or disagreed; revealed what generation they belonged to; or even felt “called out” a little bit and defended themselves.

Being a “Yes” person is rarely a way to become memorable.  As a presenter, you become memorable when you are provocative, insightful, and challenge widely held norms or paradigms.  Kelli made each person at the meeting check in on their personal generation and how they are perceived.  When people are still talking about your speech an hour later, that’s when you know you’ve made an impact.

Do people talk about your speech or presentation after you walk off the stage?  Are they still challenged days after the meeting has ended?  Will they see you and bring up your message again?

If the answer is “NO,” then you might need to find some ways to become more memorable.  Do you have an opinion on an issue that bucks the trend?  Do you have a strategy that might be considered “risky?”  What wild idea do you have that can change the world – or at least your audience?

You don’t have to be arrogant or brash.  Being influential means that you can calmly, but persuasively, deliver an opinion that challenges your audiences thinking and helps them to become better educated, introspective, or renewed.

My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always says that you must become an “object of interest.”  One way to accomplish this is to not be afraid to ruffle a few feathers with your message.  This isn’t about getting 10’s on your evaluation or high marks from judges.  This is about offering sincere methods and ideas to help improve the lives and condition of your audience.  They may not agree with you and that’s okay.  If they are still talking about you days, months, and years later, then you were successful.  The next time you have the opportunity to be controversial or contrarian; don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity.  The spoils generally go to those who are brave enough to speak out against the tide.

The jury may still be out on Kelli’s thesis about Generation Y.  However, my guess is we will still be talking about it for years to come.

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(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

Speaking to Influence Workshop – October 1-2

Registration is now open for my Speaking to Influence Workshop on October 1-2 at the Clearwater Casino Hotel in beautiful Suquamish, WA.  To learn more, click on the navigation button above for the workshop.  To hear how business professionals like you gained value last year, check out the video below…


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Need to write a speech?

Do you need to write a speech and panic has set in?  Fear no more!  I’ve just started a speech writing and analysis program as part of my coaching services.  It’s not up on my web site yet but will be soon.  I wanted to get this information out now just in case your next big speech is around the corner.

Here are examples of where I can help you…

  • Have a huge business presentation coming up where you need to lead the charge?
  • Are you giving a speech to the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club?
  • Are you competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest?
  • Do you have to prepare and deliver a eulogy or toast at a wedding?

These are all situations that need an influential presentation.  Let me help you deliver a knockout punch.  Contact me today at 360-271-1592 or dan@danweedin.com to learn more.


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