Articles in category: Speaker Habits

For many employees, the opportunity to present to senior executives is simultaneously a career dream and nightmare. Standing in front of them means that you are doing something right in your position, and you also don’t want to waste the opportunity to make a significant difference. You need to strike a balance between keeping your cool and being humble enough to listen to their input and expertise.

If this were the only challenge, then more people would be successful in their presentations to key decision makers. But, the fact of the matter is that senior executives are one of the toughest audiences, no matter how much speaking experience you have.

This article will outline three significant challenges that accompany presenting to senior executives and will provide actionable steps on how you — as a top professional or executive — can further hone your skills and ensure that you are adequately prepared for the challenges that are to come.

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Do you ever feel nervous when speaking?

Does it seem like the audience knows you are nervous?

If so, read on! This article may instantly make you a more confident and more effective speaker.

The previous article in the Cognitive Bias series studied the Spotlight Effect. This article examines a closely related bias known as the Illusion of Transparency. We will define this cognitive bias and offer several everyday examples. Then, we’ll study how the Illusion of Transparency affects both the speaker and the audience. We’ll conclude with strategies to mitigate these impacts.

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The first article of the Cognitive Bias series defined cognitive biases and introduced the core idea that cognitive biases impact both the speaker and the audience.

This article examines the Spotlight Effect. As we’ll do throughout this series, we define this specific bias and offer several everyday examples. Then, we’ll study how the Spotlight Effect affects both the speaker and the audience. We’ll conclude with strategies to mitigate these impacts.

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The success of your next presentation or training course might be thwarted before you begin speaking… wait… what? How?

If your audience seating arrangement and overall room setup isn’t aligned with the design of your session, you are starting from a position of weakness.

In this article, we describe the core principles that factor into your room setup choices. We then offer an in-depth view of several popular options, and point out the advantages and disadvantages of each. Finally, we end with tips you can use to optimize the room for your audience and set yourself up for success.

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Researching your speech topic is easy, right? Just fire up a web browser, put in your search terms, check a few pages, and you’re done… right?

Hm. Probably not. It would be nice if 100% of our speech content came from our own minds or a few quick Google searches. In reality, though, conducting proper research requires a little more care. The rewards make the effort worthwhile; a well-researched speech provides lasting value for your audience and distinguishes you as speaker.

In this article, we:

  • discover how to embrace a research mindset,
  • provide simple strategies that will improve your research habits, and
  • discuss numerous resources which you can leverage to craft a winning speech.

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Why are speaking skills so elusive?

Why do so many people who speak incoherently fail to recognize how ineffective they are?

Can you be “born with” speaking skills?

In this article, we’re going to study a learning theory that applies to speaking skills and all other skills in your life. We’ll describe the four stages, identify the transition triggers, and discuss practical actions you can take to leverage this knowledge.

Read on!

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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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