Write Your Speech With A Kiss

And Make Your Speech Flow

Ever listened to a presentation that didn’t flow or make sense? What it needed, was a KISS.

To clearly link your ideas and emphasise major points or direction changes, write your speech with a kiss. The KISS principle is of course: “Keep It Simple, Silly.” A KISS efficiently tells your audience what you are doing next with your use of language, pausing or emphasis. This allows listeners to stay with you rather than wander off the path in wild confusion. Here are some KISS examples I’ve used when speaking:

Link With a KISS

  • “The PURPOSE of my 20 minute presentation is…”
  • “Now I’ve explained how to craft a snippet, you are going to PRACTISE on your own website…”
  • “If you only remember ONE THING today… make it this…”
  • “I’ve told you a little about my background, now I’d like to hear about yours. So next we’re going to 
do a warm up exercise to help us to get to know one another better…”
  • “The 3 steps of a, b and c, are pivotal which is why we’ve just spent half an hour on them.
 Now I’m going to show how YOU can apply the same ideas at work…”
  • Pause…”I’d like to talk to you about… ROCKET SCIENCE.” Pause.
  • “It’s been a big 3 days. Now it’s time to finish. I’m going to summarise, then open it up to 
your questions for half an hour. Then we’ll end with our powerful completion process and I’ll invite you to register for our ongoing program…”

Be Like A Book

To write your speech with a kiss, link sections of your talk with connective sentences to demonstrate logical progression. Use language, tone and pausing to emphasise major points and signify changes in pace and direction.

Think about how books are written to aid understanding; not just the content but the format and the structure. Consider:

A book is divided up into chapters, sections and paragraphs. These are broken up further into major headings, minor headings and general text.

Your presentation is like a formatted book, except your audience is listening to it, rather than reading it.

If you were reading a story out loud to a child, you would pause at the exciting moments, speak slowly to emphasise important moments and throw in some vocal drama here and there.

No Convoluted Slobberings

Whenever there is confusion in a story line, an argument, a speech…. the listener gets lost. Keep your listeners on a clearly lit path and write your speech with a kiss. No convoluted slobberings, just clear, logical links to gently invite your listeners to walk with you.

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© 2015-18, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Video Review: How To Use A Paper Towel, by Joe Smith

Ever tried to convince people to change their behaviour? How did that go for you?

Watch TED Talk, How To Use A Paper Towel 5 minute video by Joe Smith and learn how to:

  • build a case for change by using practical evidence and visual props;
  • physically demonstrate the ease of making the recommended change;
  • link to change to a higher purpose that benefits us all and uses inspiration to motivate;
  • invite group participation by making learning fun, easy and memorable… and building a habit.

Joe Smith, a USA lawyer, has a thing about reducing the outrageous waste of using too much paper towel when you dry your hands. Small thing to you perhaps, big thing for forests and pollution. In just under 5 minutes, Joe teaches the audience How To Use A Paper Towel with his simple technique – “Shake and Fold”. By asking the audience to call out the steps he simultaneously engages their attention, reinforces learning, increases ownership and makes it fun.

I’ve been using his technique now for years. It works! Saves paper and gives me a glow of virtuous satisfaction every time.

Watch How To Use A Paper Towel and learn not only how to dry your hands efficiently, discover how to imprint a persuasive argument and promote positive behaviour change in less than 5 minutes. Tip: Notice he introduces only one idea and sticks to it.

TED Talks: Ideas Worth Spreading.

(c) 2015-17, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This video review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Wake Up, People!

Transform Boring Talks Into Vibrant Story Telling

Oh dear. It’s your turn to present “the boring talk.” Facts. Data. Process. Working Party Analysis. Procedure. Treasurer’s Report. Policy Revision Announcements, again. Your shoulders droop in anticipation of everyone’s boredom, including your own. There goes that influential career, that great first impression… But wait! It doesn’t have to be like this!

Turn Boring Into Compelling Story Telling
Facts, figures and data do not engage emotion or imagination. No picture is created when detailing complex data and procedural information in a droning voice. This means your labouriously crafted fact-filled presentation just sent people to sleep or at least created a texting opportunity.

What to do? You need to create a story that demonstrates the relevance and meaning of your data that causes your listeners to care. When people care, they wake up, get engaged and take ownership of your ideas and recommendations. Stories create action!

Information sharing allows you to make sense of the data. Story sharing allows you to make connection with listeners.

Both are important and need to be mixed together. But remember, people remember feelings before facts. Set your data free and make it compelling by placing it within the context of a relevant, emotion filled, picture based, prop assisted, short story, metaphor or analogy.

How To Turn Data Into Story Telling
Step 1:
Choose your central message. Consider your data to be shared. Ask yourself, “What will make my listeners sit up and relate and then care enough to do something about it?” (Or if you were in the group – what would get your interest?)

Step 2:
Best fit – you must ensure the story is the best fit for the audience and the data. Any hint of flakiness or irrelevance will lose engagement.

Step 3:
Decide on structure – the conveyance vehicle in which to house your data. Does it best suit a simple analogy because you have only 3 minutes to speak? Is it a complex series of steps that would be better understood within in a story which has echoing steps? Do you need to give a warning? A tale of dire consequences of inaction may be best.

Step 4:
Craft a relevant short story – use sensory description to engage emotion and imagination. Then add dynamic movement and interesting props to make your data come alive with meaning and feeling. Don’t assume listeners are silly – if you paint a clear picture they will work it out for themselves (and thus become more engaged.)

Step 5:
Never hurts to practise – don’t memorise – just learn the essential bits. Keep in mind that if you are interested, you will be interesting.

Example: I Use This Story All The Time… And It’s A True Story
Dull Version:
Welcome to our annual talk on Manual Handling and Safe Lifting Practise In The Workplace. Take out your Procedural Manual and add these extra pages in – they are colour coded – yes I know there are 48 different colour codes… As you know it’s important to maintain a safe workplace. Keep a look out for electrical cords you could trip over and faulty equipment…

Vibrant Version:
I’ve fallen off my bike, I’m 10 years old, a semi trailer is coming at me. Fast. Instead of keeping my eyes on the road, I had turned around to boss my brother about.

What I learned from that experience was the importance of paying attention and of keeping my bike in safe working order. My brakes you see, had failed and I knew it but hadn’t bothered to do anything about it…. today I’m going to talk to you about the importance of keeping yourself safe in your workplace. My hope is that none of you will experience anything similar to what I did that day on the highway…

How To Work With Geraldine On Story Telling
Story telling is easy with expert, objective help. Contact Geraldine to schedule a coaching session via skype or phone or book her to run a workshop for your organisation.

© 2015, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article or review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

9 Public Speaking Blunders & Their Remedies

Public Speaking Blunders

Public speaking blunders are made by everyone. Have you ever been part of an audience or group, and winced at something the speaker did or said? And as a speaker, have you ever been, winced at? Here are 9 common public speaking blunders and their remedies:

1.    No preparation
2.    No preparation
3.    No preparation
4.    Unclear purpose or message
5.    Fail to establish trust and rapport
6.    TALK AT rather than BE WITH
7.    Talk like a non-stop train
8.    Too much information!
9.    No “This is What To Do Next” message

Public Speaking Blunders 1, 2 & 3: No Preparation

Let me ask you: Do you want to feel cool, calm and connected when you speak? Do you want your audience to listen? And do you want to be invited back to speak?

Three things will ensure that this happens – preparation, preparation, preparation. Doh. If you are a preparation-phobe, you need to ask yourself right now, “Why do I prefer to shoot myself in the foot rather than get what I want?” I have noticed that people who don’t do any preparation often fool themselves into thinking that if they just ignore the upcoming event, it will go away. Or a miracle will occur and they will find themselves channelling a witty dead comedian. Unfortunately these strategies rarely work. So do this:

•    Prepare emotionally by giving yourself time to become present and calm.
•    Prepare physically by organising items you may need such as notes, props, samples, handouts, cards, the clothing you intend to wear and, know the layout of the room.
•    Prepare mentally by clearly identifying your purpose and intended outcomes for speaking. Research your audience – what problems can I solve for this group of people? What are the common factors this group and I share to establish credibility and relevance?

Public Speaking Blunder 4: Unclear Purpose Or Message

If you don’t know where you are going, your audience certainly won’t either. And instead of listening to you, they’ll switch off. At the beginning of your talk, tell them your purpose in speaking. Tell them what you are going to be talking about and what they will be learning. Then tell them how they will benefit and what they will need to do, to benefit. The audience then understands you are inviting them to accompany you on a journey and there is a purpose and a benefit in joining you.

Public Speaking Blunder 5: Failure To Establish Trust & Rapport

Would you listen to or buy from a presenter you didn’t trust? As a speaker, if you fail to take the time to establish a relationship with your listeners, they will keep their minds, their hearts and their wallets closed. And you will have missed the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with your clients/audience and hearing what they have to say to you.

Public Speaking Blunder 6: Talk AT Rather Than BE WITH

The way to establish trust and rapport is to BE WITH your audience. This is a lovely phrase from Lee Glickstein. “Be with” means to slow down, wait and be fully in the moment in relationship with another. When you stick to a memorised routine, you might as well just talk to your bedroom mirror. And the audience feels it and switches off. BEING WITH your audience means being available and listening to your audience first. It means you are having a dynamic, two-way conversation. Everyone wants to feel heard and be seen. So forget you and your agenda, and think about them. What do they need from you, and how can you supply it? Talk about that.

Public Speaking Blunder 7: Talk Like A Non-Stop Train

Fast speakers can be exciting and energising for about 3.5 minutes. One of the quickest ways to lose an audience (now, where did I put those people?) is to have no space between your words and ideas. People need time to think about what you’ve said and if you don’t give them that time, they will not hear your next brilliant point. Because they will still be thinking about the point before that.

Public Speaking Blunder 8: TOO Much Information

Which brings us to information overload. Our whole society is brimming enthusiastically with so much to say about everything. Do your audience a favour and edit out any clutter. Identify the priorities (Ask yourself: “What would I want to know about this subject?”) and clearly articulate those points. No one knows what you’ve missed out and no one cares. People want personal connection from you, not technical content – they can get that from a magazine.

Public Speaking Blunder 9: No “This Is What To Do Next” Message

When you stand up and speak it is because you want to sell, promote or share a product, service or idea. The first part of your talk explains the problem your audience wants solving and the last part of your talk should be about providing a solution. There’s no point getting people inspired when you don’t lay out a simple plan to help them take the next step. Provide a handout, articles, a web address or ask people to volunteer what they intend to do differently tomorrow.

If your audience doesn’t know what to do next, they generally, will do nothing. In which case you have to ask yourself: “So what was my point in standing up and speaking?” Your job as the speaker is to help your audience understand how to move forward and show them how to take that next step. And preferably, a step in your direction!

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Communicating Under Pressure

Speaking In Difficult Situations

I am often asked by people managers about communicating under pressure; how to balance staying strong and non-threatening in a “difficult situation” like a performance appraisal or with a mistrustful group.

Working with people is one of the most difficult juggling acts we perform and many of us do it everyday, at home and at work. Finely turned interpersonal communication skills and a basis of empathy is needed, especially if you are supporting the personal and professional growth of others.

There are many ways to be both non-threatening and strong when working in potentially difficult situations. And “difficult” can refer to many situations including those that are uncomfortable, frightening or require sensitive handling. I’m going to focus on just 4 ways for a Manager to use their body and words when communicating under pressure with staff. These techniques are also useful when facilitating groups:

1. Room Set Up

Create a sense of trust, credibility and security in physical environment by:

  • Manager to take the “authority” position, which means to keep a solid wall behind and a clear view of what’s in front with easy access to all tools and room to move. Taking an authoritative position allows you to stay physically strong and hold the space – you are in charge. Avoid creating a power imbalance like the classic joke of a manager dwarfing the participant with a big, high desk. You may like to set up arm chairs for informality or to create a sense of approachability.
  • Invite the staff member to sit comfortably with “room to move”, access to any needed tools and most of all, PRIVACY.

2. The SOLAR Posture

Use the SOLAR posture – a non threatening but physically strong stance demonstrating openness and receptivity, implying “I can handle it”.

  • Sitting – knees apart, lean forward slightly to show interest, and palms are open and facing the staff member or group.
  • Standing – fully face the staff member or group. Strong, wide legged stance (like the letter “A”) with palms open toward the staff member or group. Keep shoulders dropped, chest open and speak slowly with lots of appropriate eye contact and acknowledgement.

3. Explain Format, Purpose & Outcome

Everyone feels better and like they have a choice, when they understand where they are going, the reason and the benefit to them of the meeting or presentation.

  • Manager gives a respectful welcome, full face, eye contact, tell the staff member or group that you are going to begin by briefly outlining the format (structure), purpose and intended outcome of the session. Check their understanding and gain their permission to continue. After all, this is a 2 way conversation between adults, not an information dump or lecture.
  • Manager to summarise the main points at the end, check for agreement and leave genuine space for the staff member or group to provide feedback.

4. Edging Out

When a fire is burning out of control, you don’t give it more fuel. If the staff member or groups’ behaviour is  inappropriate, as the Manager you can take control by:

  • Acknowledge the person or situation respectfully and honestly,
  • Use body language to reduce attention to them – turn your body side on (edging out), reduce or remove eye contact and if there are others, increase your positive interaction with them to tap into group dynamics of peer pressure. At no point belittle or expose, just acknowledge, reduce and refocus. Trust your gut – sometimes the unexpected works.
  • Explain clearly what your next steps will be, the consequences if you don’t and then follow through your steps. If you are working with a group, don’t let one person wreck the experience of everyone else – your job is to work with the whole group and if necessary, ask the trouble maker to leave. Keep the group energy focused and don’t let it dissipate through distraction.
  • If the process or presentation is completely disrupted and cannot continue, take control by acknowledging the situation and stating that you are now ending it. Offer rescheduling options if appropriate. Then, go and reflect and find your own mentor to debrief and reassess the situation.

Firm Compassion

Always work with people from a place of firm compassion. This is both non threatening and strong. Don’t forget; this is a human being in front of you. Some days we wear pit boots and some days we are fragile as gossamer.

Finally, remember that you don’t always get to wear the Manager’s hat. Tomorrow it could be YOU in a group or on the other side of the interview desk, being “managed” by someone else.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Should I Sit Or Should I Stand?

Should I sit or should I stand when I present to a group? Believe it or not I get asked this question regularly. For those of you who are thinking, “Pish! What a question!”, there is a lot more going on here. The decision to sit or stand sends a non-verbal signal about your intention to establish authority, power, attention, intimacy, connection and relationship (or not).

A big demand or request of your group needs a big presence from a Speaker “willing to take a stand.” So, STAND UP! An informal group, especially a small one where people can’t hide in the crowd because there isn’t one, needs a Speaker who can build a trusting relationship, suggesting “I’ve been in your shoes, we’re in this together and I know the way out.” So, join the circle and SIT DOWN!

Here’s a 3-minute video about when to sit or stand:


3 Scenarios Doomed To Fail

  • Imagine yourself announcing this as the Speaker as you sit cross-legged on the floor: “I want you to take back your power now!” as your audience sits above you on chairs.
  • Imagine yourself trying to build rapport as the Speaker standing and waving your fist in the air: “Scream this out now… no, no, no!” to a small group of 7, seated unconfident women who’ve never met each other before.
  • Imagine this and it really happened to me about 25 years ago: I went to a poetry reading (I know, I know) and an indulgent young man read his banal drivel about unrequited lust while lying on the floor with his back to us listeners. Mind you we sniggered and yawned and he didn’t notice a thing.

None of these scenarios will work as intended. Your choice to sit, stand or lie down needs to be congruent with your message to make a powerful impact and inspire the right kind of action.

Sit To Present When:

  • You are speaking to a small, informal group.
  • You purposely need to focus on building trust and rapport first.
  • You want to draw people in, like story telling, sharing a “secret” or personal revelation.

Stand To Present When:

  • You intend world domination! Well ok, let’s call it leadership and authority.
  • You wish to direct all energy and attention on you and your message (“all eyes front and centre”).
  • You want to fill the space, creating dynamic movement with your whole body.

What You Can Do

  1. To fit a formal situation or to formalise an informal one (like a rowdy group) – STAND UP.
  2. To fit an informal situation or build intimacy – SIT DOWN.
  3. You can always switch from sitting to standing during a presentation. It adds variety, energy and emphasis.
  4. Trust your gut. Sometimes it feels right to stand and sometimes, to sit. Just don’t lie down on the job.

Above all, don’t  follow “expert advice”,  including from me. Do what feels right for you in that moment. Sitting or standing – pish – it’s a bigger question than it seems!

© 2012, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Take Control As MC Or Anarchy Will Prevail

Time To Bring Out Your Inner Control Freak

Forget all that mush about egalitarian sharing. The fact is, as Master Of Ceremonies or MC, you must take control of your Event or anarchy will prevail. Anarchy includes people talking too long, ignoring agreements and cues to finish, interjecting, power plays, energy dissipation… the list goes on.

To ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak but not at the expense of others, take control to protect everyone’s right to be heard and to keep the show on the road. Here are tips for MC’s to work effectively with both sides of the fence, Guest Speakers and Audience.

Guest Speakers
Make personal contact with Guest Speakers beforehand and advise your requirements for the Event. This defines a clear boundary of expectation on either side. Be sure to include: length of allocated speaking time, clarify purpose of speaking topic and intended outcome, whether it’s interactive, time or not for questions, expected start and finish time for speaking. Provide Guest Speakers with the Program so they can see their own place within it and understand how to fit the context. After all it’s your Event, not theirs.

When the Guest Speakers arrive, connect with them personally – as the MC your job is to help them feel at ease. While chatting, reinforce the length of time they have to speak. Ensure they understand the Program is packed and keeping to time is important – check their understanding by looking into their eyes. Discuss the signals you will send to let them know when they are Close To Time, or Time to Wrap Up or Time To Finish. This reinforces there are consequences to poor time management and that as MC, you willing to take immediate action to keep the show on the road for everyone’s benefit.

When the Guest Speaker is presenting, make sure you follow the agreed signals. Sometimes Guest Speakers get on a roll and can’t stop, or become addicted to the adrenaline rush of all that attention, so as the MC, it’s is your job to shepherd them graciously off the stage so that others will have their turn.

Thank and acknowledge the Guest Speaker privately as well as publicly. This also sets up a good management relationship for next time.

The Audience
When the “floor is opened to questions”, things can get very exciting if you are dealing with contentious issues. Your diplomatic lion tamer skills are needed. (You may find it useful to watch Jenny Brochie the facilitator from the SBS television program, Insight, for great role modeling.) Of course if the subject fails to raise a ripple of interest, you may want to have some staged questions or prepare some of your own if the Audience is quiet.

Prompt Audience interaction by clearly displaying a time set aside for questions or discussion in the Program.

Next when you address the Audience, repeat this information, speak slowly, watching your words sink in as you articulate the parameters. For instance, “We have 10 minutes for questions so that’s probably about 3 questions…”, or “Each person has  5 minutes to share their view. Any longer and I’ll have to gong you off (sound the gong to show consequences) to ensure everyone gets a chance” (stating context and appealing to universal fairness.)

After you’ve described the parameters and if you anticipate heated discussion, ask for everyone’s agreement up front and wait. Say nothing until you see a sea of agreements. This method uses group dynamics to enforce the parameters, rather than you.

And of course, you must stick to the parameters. No matter how scintillating the Question from the Audience, the same rules must be applied. If they stir strong interest within the group, suggest they meet later after the program is finished. This keeps the Event on track, provides options to continue the discussion and means Audience members build trust in your ability to handle the situation. It may also give individuals the confidence to speak out, knowing they too will get a fair go.

When you clearly and graciously take control as the MC and Event Coordinator by setting parameters in advance and reinforcing consistently throughout the Event, both Guest Speakers and Audience will relax and enjoy themselves under your firm guidance.

© 2011, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Tips On Speaking To A Hostile Audience

Do You Know How To Handle It?

Ever spoken to a group, discovered they were hostile and you were in the firing line? Hostility is scary, especially en masse. With adrenaline rushing through your veins and theirs, do you know how to handle it?

In a hostile audience situation, I’ve had clients react with the following:

  • Die a little inside and carry on valiantly with sad ‘please don’t eat me” eyes.
  • Get angry and either leave or beat up the audience, creating more hostility.
  • Trust their gut and adapt to the situation. They may break the tension with something spontaneous and genuine, they may verbally acknowledge how the group is feeling or even ask the group for permission to proceed. They may cut short or change the presentation after negotiation with the group.

3 Ways To Help You  & Your Audience

1.  Research Your Audience
In advance of your presentation, research your audience. Ask the organiser lots of questions. If you can, briefly interview a few participants to hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth.” Make it clear it’s confidential to promote honesty. Ask gritty questions about motivation, morale, problems, typical problems experienced and identify what they really need.

2.  Establish Trust and Rapport
It’s just not possible to win all of the people all of the time. Start with just one person in the group. Someone who wants to be there and is willing to listen. They may be leaning forward, smiling or just making eye contact with you. These are the people to whom you give 100% of your attention. Speak directly to them. Notice their reaction to your words. When you take the time to build trust and rapport, that’s what you‘ll also get in return.

3.  Beyond Your Control
I’m not talking about giving up, shoulders drooping, when confronted with a hostile group; I’m talking about recognizing when a situation is simply beyond your control.

Sometimes it is better and smarter to make a strategic retreat or renegotiate, learn from it and survive to play again another day. The key here is to learn how to not let it affect your self esteem.

My Workshops From Hell

The three most difficult workshops I ever facilitated had 3 things in common:

  • Vague organisers who didn’t disclose the participants hated one another;
  • Very late bookings with-ever changing details and numbers;
  • I ignored my intuition to not accept the jobs.

Looking back, I learned an enormous amount from these disasters – some parts of which were beyond my control (participants hating one another; disorganised and vague organisers) and some of which were within my control (good intuition and ability to set boundaries and create trust.)

What You Can Do

  1. Learn as much as you can about your audience to relate your subject, tone and examples to their needs.
  2. Establish trust and rapport, one person at a time.
  3. Renegotiate when you can. Treat your audience with respect to earn their trust. Recognise that some situations are beyond your control and not your fault. Grab the opportunity to learn from them.

Speakers are tightrope artists, balancing the sometimes conflicting needs of audience, Hirer, Event and themselves. Ultimately, you cannot control other people’s reactions, but you can seek to control your own. And hostility may be in the eyes of the beholder. A hostile audience to one speaker, may be thrilling to another.

© 2009-2018, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au