Articles in category: Speaker Habits

If you’ve ever been in the audience when a talented speaker has given a presentation, you know what a pleasure it can be. A skilled speaker can keep an audience’s attention for long periods of time. They can educate, inform, and motivate without making people feel as if they are at the receiving end of a lecture.

There are many techniques speakers learn to accomplish this. Sometimes, however, a presentation is made stronger by what you do not say. By avoiding these toxic phrases, you can be more effective in your presentations.

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Let’s start with three truths about feedback:

  1. Most of the feedback you receive as a speaker is not very useful.
  2. Useful feedback is hard to find and uncomfortable to receive.
  3. To reach your potential as a speaker, you require substantial feedback.

These truths present a few conundrums:

  • If most feedback is useless, how and where do you find useful feedback?
  • If receiving feedback is uncomfortable, why would you want to seek it? How do you get in the right frame of mind to accept it?

In this article, we define useful feedback, describe how and where to collect it, and discuss how to adopt a mindset which embraces honest feedback.

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Discussion groups come in numerous forms, including:

  • committee discussions
  • internal corporate meetings
  • customer strategy sessions
  • industry or academic conference panels
  • brainstorming sessions
  • classroom discussions
  • book clubs

Discussion groups also range widely in terms of:

  • group size — 5, 50, or 500?
  • length — 20 minutes, 1 day, or several weeks?
  • setting — living room, classroom, boardroom, conference room, political chambers
  • consequences — discussion between friends versus international policy repercussions

Despite this diversity, all successful group discussions share one trait: a competent discussion leader. Leading a discussion is an essential skill for a well-rounded speaker.

In this article, we focus on how to plan a great group discussion.

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One of the most frequent questions I receive from Six Minutes readers breaks down to a very basic idea:  “How can I make money speaking?

For example, a recent question from Tanya M. asks:

A few years ago, I hated speaking in public. But I’ve been giving presentations quite a bit at work, and I’m getting compliments on my skills now. […] I’d like to know about ways that I can make money speaking in the future.

Can you help?

In this article, we examine 5 common ways that speakers make money. The good news is that Tanya — and you — can tap into any of them.

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The previous article in this audience analysis series defined what audience analysis is, and the types of questions that you should ask about your audience.

Unfortunately, finding the answers to these questions is not as easy as searching Google or browsing Wikipedia. Where can you find these answers?

In this article, we review nine strategies to conduct audience analysis which will lead you to the answers you seek.

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Do you remember how you felt the last time you were attending a presentation, and the speaker went over their allowed time?

Were you happy about it? Or were you mad that they now put you behind for your next appointment? Or did you leave before they wrapped up?

In this article, we examine the importance of finishing on time and give 5 tips for staying within your time constraints.

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Self-centric speakers deliver the speech they want to give, without concern for who is in the target audience or what they may be thinking, feeling, or wanting.

Audience-centric speakers deliver the speech which the audience wants to hear, using words, concepts, stories, and visuals which will resonate with audience members and lead them to action.

But how do you know what the audience wants to hear? How do you know what will resonate with them? How do you know what they are thinking?

In this article, we define what audience analysis is, and look at the types of questions you should be asking about your audience.

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College students come into my classroom not only with a flurry of fears and insecurities, but also with baggage in the form of bad presentation habits they have developed over the years.

My students’ bad habits didn’t happen overnight.  These habits develop through years and years of watching terrible presentations.  While most of us can recognize a terrible presentation, we don’t yet have the tools to make our own presentations great.

In a class called Professional Communication and Presentation, I teach my students how to break their bad habits. These lessons apply to all presenters: teachers, conference presenters, business executives… anyone who has a speech to deliver. Read on to see how you can un-learn these habits, too!

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I first read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People seven years ago, at a time when I was in a low-confidence slump. I’m so glad that I read it! The book is filled with insights which resonated (and continue to resonate) with me.

While 7 Habits is not specific to speaking, the lessons contained within that book have had a profoundly positive effect on my speaking pursuits. It influenced my decision to start Six Minutes, and I have long planned to devote an article to this book. When I heard about the passing of the author at age 79, I knew the time for this article was now.

Instead of selecting seven (speaking) habits of highly effective speakers, I thought it would be more interesting to discuss what Covey’s seven habits contain for highly effective speakers. In this article, I will briefly introduce each of Covey’s habits, and then discuss how speakers can adopt the lessons to improve their effectiveness as a speaker.

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The year is fast coming to an end, which means it’s time to set goals for the New Year.

Here are five best practices of public speaking that speakers don’t always follow, but should resolve to in 2012:

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