Always Arrive At Your Speaking Gig Early

landing-735299_1280One of the worst feelings in the world is rushing to prepare to take the stage.

If I’m speaking somewhere within a reasonable driving distance, I’ll leave early enough that I can arrive at my gig at least an hour early, and usually earlier than that.  It’s important to find the location and get comfortable once there.

Leaving early also allows me to take my time when driving, so my mind is free to rehearse my presentation at a comfortable pace, knowing that I have loads of time to get where I’m going. That rehearsal time is of tremendous value in helping me confirm in my own mind that I’m as prepared as I can be.

When I have to fly somewhere, or when it’s a longer drive, I avoid traveling on the day of the event. I’ll travel the day before I’m scheduled to present. The primary reason is the likelihood of delays. At the time of this writing, I have never missed an engagement due to travel delays, all because of this policy of mine.

The other reason I prefer to travel the day before an event has to do with physical energy. Even a comfortable train ride, a short flight or a leisurely drive can be tiring, and I like to conserve my energy for the stage. I recommend that you consider following the same policy, whenever practical. When you give yourself enough time to relax,… Continue reading

The First Ten Seconds Are Critical

microphone-704255_1280When you’re telling a story as part of your presentation, you need to set the stage for it in the first ten seconds. Your audience has a very short attention span, and if you begin a story with a long, drawn-out introduction of facts, you’ll likely lose them, and then have to work that much harder at getting them back again.

During the first ten seconds of your story, your audience needs to form a picture in their minds as to what the situation is. It’s not critical that they know how the story fits into your presentation at this point, but they do need to be able to imagine the setting in their minds, so they can follow you throughout your story. As soon as it’s clear that you’re telling a story, your audience will begin framing the story in their own minds. They need to know who, what, when and where in the first ten seconds. The “why” can be explained later on, that’s the suspense factor.

If you move through a story without first painting a picture in your audience members’ minds, they’ll have a hard time following the events as they unfold, because they’ll have no point of reference.

In early 2010, a student in one of my courses spent the first five minutes of her two-minute talk telling us about the history of a little town in England where there was a small shop that… Continue reading

Have A Plan B for Everything

student-849816_1920I don’t use PowerPoint very often, but I will if it enhances the material I’m about to deliver. I also prepare another version of the same presentation, only this one doesn’t require the visuals. I do this in case I arrive at a location to speak, and the projector that was promised doesn’t show up, or it doesn’t work for whatever reason, yet, I can still go on with the presentation.

In early 2010, I was making my first presentation to my Business Education and Networking event called “Your Stage.” I was presenting an education piece on why bullet points shouldn’t be used in a presentation. I’d spent many hours creating an animated slide deck that visually demonstrated how information flows into the brain. My slides were well designed, but complex in their animation, because the complexity was required in order to demonstrate the process properly.

As I began explaining the process, my computer went black. For no obvious reason, it just shut itself off. The timing couldn’t have been more precise. It was as if Murphy himself was standing by with a remote control, and timed the blackout with expert precision.

I simply kept speaking, as if the computer switched off at my command. Instead of using the slides to provide a visual of the process I was explaining, I described it using gestures. I’d already practiced this in advance, just in case I needed to go to a… Continue reading

Don’t Worry About Being Perfect

For my entire life, I’ve been a musician. I’ve played in bands since I was very young and have traveled the country performing live on stage and recording in studios. My best friend, Dave, was always with me in these bands. We’ve always played music together.

In the late 1980s, our band broke up, so Dave and I decided we were going to do things differently. We decided we weren’t going to find another drummer and bass player. Instead, we were going to enter the age of electronic music.

We went out and purchased all the latest electronic equipment and hibernated for a year in the basement. We learned and programmed the drums, the bass and the background orchestration so he and I could be the only ones on the stage. With Dave at his keyboard, and me playing my guitar, we could present a full band sound with only two guys.

After a year of programming and rehearsing, we took to the stage and for the next ten years we performed as a duo. So, what does all of this have to do with public speaking? Read on, and you’ll see.

As we played, we could always feel a difference between the music from the computer and the music that used to come from our live band. The difference was that the music coming from the computer was perfect. It was flawlessly timed and it was perfectly in sync,… Continue reading

Decide what stories to tell

Think about your life for a moment. What are your core vperson-941311__180alues? What is the one message you would want to share with this world on your death bed?

Who are you, really? What do you stand for? For what or for whom would you fight? What wrongs would you right? What truths would you spread or inequities would you rectify?
Ponder these questions, and come up with your own answers. The answers you come up with will form the basis of your story, the story you will bring to life, and this will help you begin your part in making this world better as a result of your existence.
Once you have an idea as to what your core messages are, even if there is only one, then you can decide which stories to tell to support your message.
What events have transpired that make you who you are today? What people have influenced your character, sense of morality, justice or spirituality? What challenges have you overcome? What adversaries have you claimed victory over? What adversaries have claimed victory over you?
These questions will help you to reflect on your life and to extract events from your memory bank that are worth sharing with the world.
No matter how old you are, or how uneventful you believe your life has been, there are events that have unfolded that make you who you really are. Those are the events… Continue reading

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