Hi, this is your passion. I’m not available right now, but if you’d like to leave a brief message…

The best 12 words of speaking advice I’ve seen in a long time came from this article:

WRITE your speech from the heart. DELIVER your speech from your skill.

Your passion is real—but it isn’t always available on command. To convey the passion behind your ideas every time you speak demands skill and practice.



Well, that’s one way to wing it in an emergency

When I arrived at Jilin, I found that one panelist  […]  had a conflict and had to cancel [….]

But when [the other panelist] showed up at Jilin University’s Friendship Guesthouse, he said he wasn’t planning to talk about Snowden; he thought he was speaking on conflict resolution.So that left me with two hours to fill. And I had maybe 10 minutes of talking points, mostly cribbed from the Vanity Fair article I had read about Snowden the night before.

Ah, but I had one surprise (well, make it two): a Rubik’s Cube I bought at a campus shop at Northeast Normal U.

How Rubik’s Cube saved my lecture and my face

You can run (on at the mouth), but you can’t hide

More than 50 lies, half-truths, and instances of disingenuous spin. Rob Ford’s speech lasted 16 minutes, therefore Rob Ford took liberties with reality, on average, three times per minute. And that was in a speech where nobody asked him about drugs, alcohol, or criminal behaviour.

via Torontoist

One crucial thing speechwriters need to remember: the days of the one-way speech from the podium are over. And even if you’re betting that mainstream media are stretched too thin to check what you’re saying, there may well be a blogger in the audience with the resources to follow through.

In this case, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s speech gets a thorough point-by-point refutation (not just a rebuttal) from two bloggers at Torontoist. If you needed a reminder to avoid the temptation to fudge the truth for the sake of a good line, here it is.

5 tips from Alex Honeysett, and two more from me.

Alex Honeysett offers a solid set of 5 Public Speaking Tips for Entrepreneurs who are nervous at the thought of getting up in front of an audience. Her advice includes

  1. practicing
  2. knowing your space (really important, and so often overlooked)
  3. knowing your audience
  4. finding the balance between self-promotion and the content people came to hear
  5. breathing – which is to say, relax.

I’m going to suggest two more:

Know what you want: What do you want the audience to do as a direct result of your speech? Maybe it’s to march on the capitol. Or to adopt a new open standard in public health inspections. Or to stop using “perpetuate” when they mean “perpetrate”.   Build your speech toward that, and then ask them directly to do it.

Know your story: If you know the spine of your story, if you can trace the unbroken logical flow of narrative in your sleep, then no matter what else happens on stage – speaking notes catching fire, mic melting into slag, PowerPoint inexplicably replaced with porn, Involuntary Sudden Onset Yodelling – you’ll be able to recover.

You, in the back. Stop looking at me and start tweeting. 

Jeff Hurt reports on a study that suggests tweeting during a class isn’t distracting – it actually increases engagement:

Education Professor Christine Greenhow, Michigan State University, conducted a study on Twitter as a new form of literacy. Her results showed that adults who tweet during a class and as part of the instruction:

  • are more engaged with the course content
  • are more engaged with the instructor
  • are more engaged with other students
  • and have higher grades than the other students.

via Now Proven! Using Twitter At Conferences Increases Attendee Engagement.

So the next time you look up from your speaking notes into a sea of heads bent over laptops, tablets and mobile devices, don’t despair – as long as they’re tweeting and not, say, checking their email, your audience may be more engaged with you than ever.

Knowing enough to be useful is enough.

Lauren Bacon shares a personal demon (possibly a genetic one!) about public speaking and imposter syndrome:

My mother [is] a brilliant and successful woman who has spent her entire career in the nonprofit housing sector, and who runs an organization that she has built up from a small nonprofit with a few apartment buildings to a multimillion dollar, large-scale social enterprise that has inspired hundreds of social housing advocates.

She is amazing. And she has a terror of public speaking.

I was on the phone with her about a year ago, and she said, “Someone asked me to come and speak on this panel for [such-and-such conference]. And I said yes, but I don’t know what they hell I’m going to talk about, because it’s about social enterprise, and nonprofits and government working together, and I don’t know anything about that stuff!

I sat in shocked silence at the other end of the phone. Two gears turned in my head. Click. One: My mother couldn’t possibly be more of an expert authority on these topics. Two: That is exactly what I hear in my head when I am invited to do something I haven’t done before.

(from Expert Enough: Slaying Imposter Syndrome and Stepping Up to the Mic)

It hurts my head to think of how many great ideas, how much wisdom and how much experience is out there, untapped — locked away in the minds and memories of people who don’t feel they have the expertise that gives them permission to share it.

I have any number of theories as to why that applies so strongly to public speaking (theory #529: many of us associate public speaking with priests, and feel we have to be somehow ordained if we want to do the same). But I hope Lauren’s post helps more people who have valuable ideas, insights and stories to share to step up and take the mic.

Uh, how to, you know, fix a speaking, ahhhhhh, tic

There are several relatively painless ways to fix a tic. My favorite is to get someone, a friend, to count the tics over some specified period of time, like a speech, and then charge the offender an agreed-upon sum for each offense. Usually a dollar is enough to get the malefactor’s attention. And you’d be astonished how quickly the tic goes away after you’ve had to pay up a couple of times.

via Nick Morgan, Public Words: Do You Have a Speaking Tic?

A technique I’ve heard is to have that same friend clap once, loudly, every time you “um”. I’ve seen that work (although I’ve also seen speakers flinch in anticipation, even as they’re trying to stifle the “um”).

But don’t go too far down the aversion therapy road. If a tic’s resisting change, or if you start to see some other symptoms emerge, there may more involved than just a bad habit.

(By the way, Nick’s book Give Your Speech, Change the World is terrific. Hunt it down and read it.)

How Nancy Duarte prepares for a TED-esque talk 


Nancy Duarte delivering a presentation

Source: duarte.com

10 Ways to Prepare for a TED-format Talk

It’s kind of reassuring to know that even a public-speaking icon like Nancy Duarte can run over time (even if it did take a nasty chest cold to make it happen). But reading through these tips, it’s hard to imagine much short of a ferocious virus forcing you off-schedule if you followed them.

But that’s not what really stood out for me in this list (although I’ll definitely be adding a few of these to my repertoire). It was point number four:

A lot of times, as the presenter, you know your material so well that you think you’re making each key point clear. You might not be. Your coach should make sure you are telling people why. It’s the “why” around our ideas that make them spread, not the “how”. Articulate the why so your audience understands what’s magnificent about your big idea.

Whether I’m writing speeches or delivering them, I’ve always found that’s what cracks the nut. Everything else falls into place (sometimes with some shoving, I’ll admit) when you have the “why”.

How the author of The Information Diet preps a speech 

How to Prep for a Presentation, by Clay Johnson

Maybe it comes with doing a lot of thinking about which information is and isn’t important. But Johnson’s determination to do a superb job of something he considers very important shines through in this piece:

Fewer things generate a higher return on investment for time spent than giving a great talk. Fewer things are more disrespectful than having that kind of opportunity, squandering it, and wasting a room full of people’s valuable time because you didn’t prep properly. So when you get an invitation to speak, be of service. The doors that will open to you because you gave a great talk are plentiful.