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

Bad Experiences Make Good Stories

story-telling-4x3

It’s true! Here’s a bad experience of my own turned into a good story:

I was second speaker at a conference, talking about the elusive mystery of work life balance. So elusive, the first speaker was missing. He eventually turned up twenty minutes late and spoke AT the audience instead of WITH them. I had to re-energise, re-engage and refocus a hostile audience. I gained a lot of value from that crappy experience. It propelled me to morph into a specialist public speaking coach.

He Lost Me At “Hello”

Here’s how I translated that bad experience into a two minute introductory story:

“It was hot, it was sticky… it was a tropical conference at the top of Australia.
pause
A government minister was to open the conference and he was twenty minutes late. He shuffled in apologetically, flanked by four flunkies and hid behind the lectern. He studiously read a long paper written by someone else. He spoke quickly, his eyes down. Who was this man? Why was he here?
pause
I had no idea what he was talking about because he didn’t appear to be saying anything in ordinary English. I couldn’t tell where he was going or what was the point. I found the  audience much more interesting. There was a lot of glazed eyes, long suffering sighs and checking of text messages…
pause
I didn’t hear the rest of his speech because, “he lost me at “hello”.

bigger pause
Two important things I learned at that hot, sticky conference:

One, when a speaker fails to acknowledge and personally connect with his audience, they switch off and stop listening.
Two, when a speaker fails to make his message customised and relevant to the audience, they switch off and stop listening.
pause
What is the point of speaking if no one is listening?

bigger pause
As I was the speaker following him, I felt jittery. He was not only over time, but he’d lost our audience. This meant I had to work hard to regain attention and respect from the audience and keep my own spirits up after a dismal start.
pause
The turning point for me was the realisation that there is a big market  to show speakers how to connect heart to heart with an audience and to keep them listening.

bigger pause
The result of that turning point experience is my public speaking course, “Free Your Inner Public Speaker”, which you are now experiencing.“

 

Being Personal Is Being Real
When you begin your speech with sharing a personal story, it begins a relationship with your audience. Start with a simple, graphic opening line. Pause to let the audience catch up and have their own experience of relating to what you said. Briefly tell the rest of the story. Tell what you’ve learned from that experience and how it relates to the purpose of your talk. Engage their interest first. Then explain how it is relevant to them. Make eye contact one person at a time.

Drop Trying To Be Clever
Don’t struggle with trying to put something “clever” or “perfect” together (that’s a “should” coming from your head). Instead, take a leap to trust your instincts (coming from your body and heart) that what tumbles from your lips will be good enough. It’s your true story in glory and simplicity. Your story telling just may a bit of polish.

The key is to practise again from a fresh perspective, using what you learned from your first story telling practise. Ask yourself each time: What flowed and felt good? What didn’t?

And Don’t Forget To Pause
Taking the time to pause often while you speak, gives you time to gather your thoughts, tune into your feelings and speak from that place. It allows your listeners to catch up and travel along with you.

Sometimes speakers feel nervous or believe they don’t have anything of value to say, so they too speak quickly or nervously fade away. Which are fabulous ways to lose your audience. The “pause” draws people in – they want to be with you, because you are with them. Pausing is natural and normal and feels like relief.

Now It’s Your Turn
Choose a story from your past, it may be twenty years ago, it may be yesterday. Choose a turning point for you, a significant learning that caused you to change, grow or overcome a problem. Or maybe you didn’t overcome it. Perhaps that was the valuable learning.

Take a closer look at the format I used for my turning point story above, “He Lost Me At Hello”. Let that rest gently in your head like a memory, not a lesson.

Right now I want you to resist writing out your turning point story so it doesn’t get caught up as a carbon copy of the one above. Writing things out perfectly often leads to memorising and sounding like a stiff piece of cardboard. Trust yourself you can tell your story, what you learned from it and what you can therefore share or teach others, because… you were there… how could you forget?

Distill The Essence

Start by recalling the story… identify what you learned… and then distill the essence into something you find valuable and can assume your potential listeners will too.

Now say it out loud. It’s ok to ramble a few times. It’s may be easier to practise with some one else. Get the guts out, then reduce and create a story telling picture. Remember to pause as you recall it and to allow listeners to share in the picture you are painting. Another benefit of saying it out loud first, is your language will sound more natural.

If you want to write it out, you can do it now! And if you’d like to learn the rest of the “He Lost Me At Hello” story, you can download my free 6-page e-book and learn how to re-engage, re-energise and refocus yourself and your audience.
(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach, www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

 

3 Questions In The Mind Of Your Audience

How To Keep Your Audience Listening

In every audience’s mind, there are 3 unconscious questions. How well you answer them determines as to whether your audience will keep listening to you.

Interestingly, these 3 questions aren’t restricted to an audience evaluating a speaker. Whenever we are introduced to someone new or consider buying a new product, we ask ourselves the same 3 evaluative questions and objections without consciously realising it.

The 3 Questions

  1. Who are you to me?
  2. How will I benefit from this?
  3. And what kind of commitment must I make?

Whether we shop for groceries, analyse the government budget or listen to a colleague speak at a meeting, these are the same critical 3 questions in the mind of your audience every time.

You may now be re-evaluating the last time you spoke, whether it was in a small meeting, large group or a networking event. Did you establish the answer to those questions with your listeners? And did you do it right up front to counter unconscious objections so they quickly became engaged and interested?

Listen to Them, First

Answer those 3 unspoken questions in the first few minutes and your audience credibility escalates. Your listeners will relax and be open to hear what you say, because you listened to them, first.

As an added bonus, you’ll find it easier to write speeches, presentations and workshops if you begin by answering those 3 unspoken questions for yourself, right up front.

(c) 2016-18. Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article 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

End With A Bang Not A Whimper

About 90% of my clients struggle with ending their presentation on a powerful, memorable high note. It seems  the open and the middle get all the attention, while the end is an apologetic tack on – “Oh yeah – sorry – this is the bit where I ask YOU for something…”

The Eternal Struggle

Western society struggles with both letting go (death) and asking for what they want (assertion).

Whoever is speaking at any given time, is the Leader of the Moment. And that includes one to one conversations as well as formal presentations to a group. Listeners take their cue from the Speaker… otherwise how do they know when it’s their turn to speak, when to ask a question or if its time to move on?

Even more significantly, how can listeners / clients trust what you are saying or follow your advice, if you don’t appear to trust yourself? Your non verbal communication speaks more powerfully than your words.

Apologetic Whimper

“Trailing off” affects both the speaker and the listener, not to mention your career. In particular:

  • Your listeners look to you for cues as to what to do next. If you don’t lead, someone else will take over.
  • Your message or conversation gets dissipated, lost in the melee of fading umms, ahhs and sad darting eyes. It is your ending, not your message that will be remembered unfortunately.
  • Your self confidence suffers when you finish on a hesitant quaver, reverberating through your voice to your inner core beliefs about your ability to get what you want and to be heard.

Memorable Bang

  • Before you structure your talk, decide on the purpose and outcome you want for you and your listeners. HINT: Being clear about the outcome and your purpose is VITAL to end well.
  • State your intended outcome at the beginning of your presentation. The rest will then flow in a smooth, logical manner toward that outcome and your listeners will join the dots and know what to expect. In other words, Listeners will see the point if you spell the point out.
  • If you feel yourself meandering, just stop right there. Take a breath and look around. Take your cues from your listeners. Ask them if you are unsure: “Is that clear? Do I need to add anything else?” In other words, have a conversation with them.

Quite often, when people struggle with an ending, they have delivered a monologue, based on the assumption that they are solely responsible for delivering everything perfectly and they will be judged accordingly. It’s a heavy burden… no wonder many of us start to falter at the end of a presentation / conversation.

Completion

Ending anything is about letting go. Easier said than done I know. Learn to “let go” of your words and trust they will be received with the good intent with which you send them. This is a good point on which to finish the last blog for the year. The theme for next year is “Shut Up and Let Your Body Talk”.

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

Prepare To Speak!

Countdown Steps To Prepare For Your Next Presentation

I’m often asked, “What can I do to best prepare to speak?”  I recommend getting out of your head and into your body. This means, prepare yourself emotionally, physically and mentally weeks in advance. Or if it’s a big deal or event, prepare months in advance. Take the time to get very clear about your purpose and message.

When we feel emotionally tense, our bodies follow suit and tense up. Tension, particularly relating to stage fright, manifests itself in the chest, shoulders, throat, jaw, head and stomach for many people. This results in a kind of “holding oneself in” paralysis. A bit like a rabbit in the headlights – there you are speaking in front of a group and you whisper to yourself – “If I don’t move and look like a chair – they’ll forget I’m here”. Doesn’t work unfortunately. And you aren’t a rabbit.

Tension can also result in a “blank mind” and a disconnect from yourself and your audience. And “head spins” can come from a lack of oxygen (breathing too quickly from your upper chest and not being grounded, so slow it down and feel your feet on floor). It’s interesting that issues relating to the “head” figure so highly when it comes to fearing public speaking. The remedy I recommend is to: “Get out of your head and into your body”. I love this phrase; you’ve probably noticed I use it a lot. It really is a simple counterpoint to speaking nerves and tension.

Follow this countdown to prepare to speak:

Some Weeks Before Your Presentation:
Practice using the Calm Barometer and the Inner Calm Exercise daily to build a new calm habit – follow the links below to these exercises. (These are not quick fixes but a long term solution to retraining your body’s reaction to tension.)

Some Days Before Your Presentation:
Visualise yourself speaking with ease in front of your audience. Consciously choose to relax your traditional tension spots. See yourself taking your time and using the physical exercises written directly below…

The Day Before Your Presentation:
Raise your shoulders to your ears, hold, and release, letting your shoulders gently drop. Repeat twice more. Then, hug yourself tightly, just like you are holding yourself in with tension, and release, throwing your arms generously open, kind of like you are ‘hugging the world” – (I know, I know, it sounds dicky in print, it’s better at my workshops.) These exercises open your chest, face, airways, shoulders and tummy, releasing tension and awakening intention. Go for a walk and stop thinking about your presentation. Daydream. Physical exercise helps you regain perspective and breaks obsessive thoughts. Really, life goes on. Will you remember this presentation in 5 years time? And, will anyone else?

Directly Before Your Presentation:
Take a deep, even breath from the base of your stomach and release evenly. Feel your feet on the floor. Gently roll your shoulders back. This opens your chest, drops your shoulders, opens your throat and magically gives you a confident posture. Imagine the top of your head is suspended by a silken cord and the rest of your body follows effortlessly. (Thank you Alexander technique.) Use your Calm Anchor if you have one and embody your personal strengths.

Directly After Your Presentation:
Rather than go straight back into your head and do a vicious deconstruction of every mistake you made during your presentation – just don’t go there right now. Your adrenaline is pumping and what you need to do is reground yourself so that you continue to be fully present with others – answer questions, accept invitations, make decisions, network and so on. Consciously let your breath flow evenly and let your body take care of dissipating your stress hormones.

The Day After Your Presentation:
Make sure you have been for a walk or engaged in some kind of relaxation activity to switch your brain off and reboot your system. When you have surfaced, it’s time to evaluate you and your presentation constructively:

  • How effectively did you handle nervous tension this time?
  • When were your listeners most engaged with you?
  • How might you do the same presentation again?
  • Knowing what you now know, how might you help yourself prepare to speak next time?

When you give yourself the gift of generous time to prepare to speak, you’ll be able to handle speaking tension before, during and after, sooo much better. You’ll also be able to focus on your message and purpose with calm clarity, allowing you to captivate your group with authenticity and presence every time you speak.

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au