Article Category: Weekend Reviews

Public Speaking Tips: Weekend Review [2010-02-20]


Week In Review

Six Minutes weekend reviews bring the best public speaking articles to you.

This review features topics including:

  • frequently asked questions about Toastmasters;
  • tactics for persuasive speaking;
  • speechwriting tips;
  • storytelling help from a Google ad;
  • Obama’s State of the Union address;
  • hands in the pockets;
  • visual clichés;
  • Sarah Palin and notes on her hands;
  • the believability of Tiger Woods’ apology;
  • and more!

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Speechwriting

  • Cynthia Starks shares how to write a speech that matters.
    Click the PDF speech transcript which she attaches at the end of her article. It’s worth a thorough read.

My message to you today is simple – speeches matter.

In the political world, they can win votes, start wars or inspire a generation.

In the business world, they can attract customers, boost sales, motivate employees, influence investors, position individuals as thought-leaders and companies as pace-setters.

If you want to communicate passion, clarity of purpose, and a call to action, nothing beats a speech. Nothing else gives your message a human face.

  • Lisa Braithwaite rates the effectiveness of the Google “Parisian Love” ad (aired during the Super Bowl) against the recommendations from Made to Stick.
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  • Terry Gault delves into the elements of effective stories, also commenting on the Google ad.
  • Reveal something personal about yourself, the presenter. What are you really like? What is the company really like?
  • Use humility and vulnerability to build empathy. Don’t relate a personal success; instead, describe a personal difficulty so the audience will empathize with you.
  • Choose an incident or emotional experience – a common reference point – with which the audience can identify.
  • Develop characters for your story and make them come to life. Let the audience see the emotions of the characters in your story.
  • Nick Morgan critiques Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

This new tone represents a remarkable departure for President Obama.  The cynical would say, a new speechwriter got the SOTU assignment.  But presidents control their rhetoric, and they pay particular attention to the State of the Union, since it’s the one speech that everyone listens to each year.  So the new tone is deliberate.

Delivery Techniques

  • Laura Bergells criticizes the “hands in your pockets” posture.

It’s the lackluster “hands in pockets” gesture made popular by the slacker dufus in those “I’m a PC” commercials. He’s the guy whose posture represents disinterest. He has nothing to do, so he stands with his hands in his pockets, listening to what the more entertaining fellow has to say.

“Hands in Pockets” might be appropriate during the “Q” part of “Q and A”. It can signal, “I’m open to listening to you”.

But it’s not a polite posture to adopt while speaking.

Visual Aids

  • Jan Schultink (via Nikki Smith-Morgan) points to 101 visual clichés.
    How many have you used?
  1. The light bulb
  2. The tape measure
  3. The crystal ball
  4. The stopwatch
  5. The baton

Speaker Habits

  • Stephanie Scotti suggests the S.T.A.T. formula for speaker introductions.

Speaker — Why this speaker?

Topic — Why is this topic being discussed?

Audience — Why is this topic important to this audience?

Time — Why this subject at this time?

Sarah Palin and Notes on her Palms

First, the video showing Sarah Palin use of notes written on her hand:

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  • Jerry Weissman discusses the media debate about Sarah Palin’s palm reading, shown below.

Nancy Benac of the Associated Press summed up the sharp exchange on the subject, “Obama’s critics point to his podium and teleprompter as evidence of [his] disconnect. Palin’s critics point to her flesh-and-ink crib notes as one more sign she’s a lightweight. Or maybe all these two have shown is that they’re human and need a little help remembering key points.”

  • Scott Berkun puts the focus back where it belongs.

I’m all for criticizing speakers for the quality of their ideas. Ask if the points they make are clear, and smart, and fair, and useful.  Consider if they seem to believe what they say and passionately care about being useful to their audience. These are the questions that matter. Few speakers are able to do this with or without teleprompters or crib sheets.

Getting caught up in the trivia of props and prompters is a a complete distraction. I wish it would stop.

Critiques of the Tiger Woods Apology

View Tiger Woods’ apology statement yourself:

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  • Bert Decker assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Tiger’s apology.

Although it was painful for Tiger Woods to have his giant size ’statement’ this morning, the key question is: was he believable? Oh, we want facts (is Elin leaving? when is he returning to golf? is he staying in rehab?, etc) but that information we could get from his web page, where he has announced everything else. We want to see him. We want to hear and ‘feel’ him to judge for ourselves.

  • Theresa Zagnoli dissects the Tiger Woods apology statement.

As a communication expert, the Tiger Woods media statement today provided much to dissect. As a student of human behavior, there is much to discuss. As a human being, there is a great deal to ponder.

Find more helpful public speaking articles in previous weekend reviews which are published regularly on Six Minutes.
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