Last week, I wrote about what the first presidential debate can teach public speakers. This time around, I decided to switch gears a bit and consider the vice presidential debate with an eye toward those in Guns-land who are currently (or hoping to be) interviewing for gigs. Because I found myself traveling home via NJ Transit during the debate itself, I was forced to follow the whole thing on Twitter using a CNN hash tag. But being left to my devices gave me a great perspective on what TV audiences found most affecting, effective, distracting, and annoying – much of it focusing on Joe Biden and Paul Ryan’s presentational styles. When it was all said and done, I came away with four themes interviewees can learn from. Read More →
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Whatever else you thought about the performances turned in by President Obama and Governor Romney’s during Wednesday night’s presidential debate (as well as that of Jim Lehrer, who had the nerve to keep interrupting them with questions!), the occasion was generally a study in good public speaking tactics. Though President Obama and Governor Romney shared a number of similar presentational techniques, the two did take some divergent approaches. Here’s a quick review of things they did right and not-so-right, as well as a few key takeaways that can help make you a better public speaker. Read More →
Joel Scwhartzberg is the Michael Jordan of public speaking. Sure, that’s a cliche that gets thrown around a lot these days (“My uncle is pretty much the Michael Jordan of dishwasher repair”), but in this case the comparison is apt. He won the U.S. National Championship in after-dinner speaking. He won the Massachusetts State Championship in persuasive speaking. He was ranked among the top ten public speakers overall in the US. The man is in the National Forensic Association’s Hall of Fame for his public speaking.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We asked Joel to share his thoughts on the upcoming presidential debates (the first of which occurs the night of his Guns Academy class) and what the Guns’ audience can learn from them. Below is the first of several posts on the debates and career management.
The upcoming presidential debates aren’t real debates at all, of course, but a series of well-rehearsed, carefully-worded, tiny speeches written by committee. (So much for candid truths). But while not much new can be learned at this point about Obama and Romney’s policy positions, a lot can be learned from their public speaking styles. Read More →
Movies and television shows don’t start with the big reveal. Essays and articles don’t put their conclusions first. Your speech is no different — audiences want you to slowly but deftly ease them into the topics of your speeches. (Foreplay would be another apt analogy, but let’s keep this PG.) Successful introductions establish three things first and foremost:
1. A comfort level and rapport between you and your audience
2. Who you are
3. Your point — what you’re going to be discussing — and its relevance
Not all intros fit the bill. For example, you may want to start with the funniest joke or anecdote in the world, but if it doesn’t connect with these objectives, it does you no good.
Suggestions for strong introductions: Read More →
Too often, people approach their public speeches as if they were book reports. In lots of book reports, you simply describe something in which you generally have no stake. But to succeed in just about every conceivable professional setting, you need to not just describe your point, but SELL your point. Read More →
Being on a conference panel is like your first day at a new school: to succeed, you need to play nice, stay focused, know what you’re talking about, and dress sharp. The dressing sharp part is on you. For the rest, here’s how to be ready:
Don’t go in cold. Prepare 2–3 points in advance that relate to your expertise and the mission of the conference or event. Think about how you can help this audience. What do you know that they should too? If you can, mention these points in advance to the moderator –- he or she can help you make them. Also be prepared with stats, examples, or outcomes that illustrate your points. If you know a great and related joke, bring it, but don’t force the funny. Read More →
President Obama got panned last week for a very pan-worthy joke about spilled milk he made during his State of the Union address. Should he have gone there? Should you go there? I often get asked if people should use humor in their speeches and presentations.
Frankly, it’s like me asking my wife if I should whip up a soufflé for our next dinner — or like Mitt Romney asking if he should sing at his next campaign stop. The answer is simple: do it if you can; absolutely not if you cannot. Read More →
I give an annual presentation for members of a religious group about how to ensure that their faith is presented fairly in the media and in the rest of society. What they most want to know is what to do during panel discussions, TV interviews, and other unscripted scenarios in which participants aren’t in control and are sometimes taking unfriendly fire. Here’s what I tell them…. Read More →
This Wednesday, November 30, the top public speaking coach and presentation expert Joel Schwartzberg will teach a Hired Guns Academy class on how to add strength to your professional talks, appearances, and job interviews. Below, he gives a quick tip to ensure that your messages come through loud and clear.
Many public speakers present too softly, but I’ve rarely met one who’s too loud. Even when I implore students to speak “too loudly,” almost all of them end up speaking with perfect or near-perfect volume.
Now that we know there’s little risk of being too loud, consider what increased volume will do for you as a speaker: it prevents you from speaking too quickly, from mumbling, and from meandering off point. It gives you time to think and create thoughts. It grabs audience attention and holds it. And it increases the likelihood you’ll end your sentences with periods instead of question marks — a strong indication of a confident speaker. If you’re on a microphone, make sure it’s adjusted to your “loud” public speaking level, not your “soft” talking level.
All this, from one little tip of turning up the volume — why not give it a try? A lot of voice goes a long way.
More presentation advice from Joel:
- Use Public Speaking Skills to Nail Your Next Job Interview
- How to Survive a “Perry” Bad Public Speaking Misstep
- Want to Speak Well? Look to the Pros.
Rick Perry’s debate “oops” on Wednesday night deserves sympathy, even if you’re no fan of his politics. Who hasn’t lost a thought before? And the painful truth is that the more pressure you put on yourself to remember a forgotten point, the less likely it will be to come. Anxiety is a mortal enemy to thinking calmly, or even coherently. By the time Perry relaxed and remembered “Department of Energy,” the damage was done.
This wouldn’t have happened had Perry been allowed to use notes. Where’s Sarah Palin’s palm when you need it? If you know you have trouble remembering a key phrase or point, write it down. The purpose of notes is to help you remember your key points, nothing more.
But the biggest “oops” actually has nothing to do with Perry’s memory; it has to do with how he handled — or in this case, mishandled — the embarrassing moment. Instead of distancing himself from his mental hiccup immediately, he allowed it to linger for nearly a minute. If that seemed like a long time to you, imagine how it felt to him! Read More →