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7 Habits Standout Speakers Have, That You Don’t, But Should

18 Jul

We’ve all sat through a speaker, or ten, feeling like we didn’t learn a thing. Working as a news anchor, reporter, host, emcee, and corporate communications expert, it’s been a privilege spending 20 years on both sides of the microphone telling stories, raising money, and teaching, well, talking. Speakers who inspire us are unforgettable and audiences can’t get enough of them. Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Suze Orman are gifted speakers who mesmerize audiences around the world. So how do they do it? Why do we listen? What does it take to be an A-lister? Here’s how they do it and how you can too.
1.  They tell their audiences what they don’t already know and can only get from them. This skill takes preparation, preparation, preparation. People want three things from a speaker: motivation, information and inspiration. To get it right takes an extraordinary amount of prep work. The audience will only remember 7% of what you say, so prepare and provide signature, relevant information your audience can’t get anywhere else but from you. Audiences do not want to hear what they already know.
2.  They are relevant and practice, practice, practice vocal acumen. Standout speakers are well-read and know the deal like nobody’s business. They know their audience, their material and bridge local or world headlines, when possible, in the moment. Are you mindful? Is your message relevant and purposeful?  Next, find your voice and deliver. Are you saying something worth listening to? If not, go back to number one.

3.  They feed their audience 800 calories of protein, not 3,400 calories of sugar. Think of your material as food for thought. Your audience can only digest 800 calories of protein-induced information that will motivate, inform and inspire. In this day and age of social media induced short attention spans, people are turned off by information overload, because any place is better than a head spin. Perfect critical points, so well, that audiences can’t help but share them – and you – on social media, which could land you your next speaking gig.
4.  They weave relevant, relatable moments into their material. People crave connection, especially in the new age of disconnectedness. Did you fall? How far? Did you fail? Why? How’d you fix your fumble? Michael Jordan was cut by his high school basketball team, a newspaper fired Walt Disney for lack of imagination and 12 publishers rejected JK Rowling’s first book. The audience wants to know what inspired and humbled you along the way and will share your story with others.
5.  They add a splash of appropriate humor. Humor is humbling and humility builds a trust bridge with your audience by showing them you’re approachable, relatable and empathetic. Empathy is a powerful leadership tool.
6.  They mono-dress and leverage facial acuity. Wear camel, grey or navy blue, head to toe. Classy monotone colors not only look good on just about everyone, but monocolors draw the audience to your FACE, which is exactly where you want it because that is where your message is front and center. Facial expressions account for 55% of the audience’s focus. Your face is a critical component of communication and messaging in life. In fact, your face is so memorable, people can recognize you across an entire football field or spanning 50 years in age. It’s important that your facial expressions match your message. Think back to a moment when something big happened. You won’t remember what was said, but you’ll certainly remember how people felt and the expressions on their faces. Our faces are a blueprint of trustworthiness.
7.  They provide solutions. People don’t buy products, they buy solutions. You don’t buy a drill because you need a drill, you buy a drill because you need a hole. Be the solution. Be the speaker that solves a problem for the audience and they’ll ask you back for more.

[Oh, and don’t forget to bring a ‘leave-behind’ (website, book, or business card) so the audience can share you with others.]

You CAN Get Rid of Your Fear of Public Speaking for Good

20 May

fear_of_elevatorsWhen the doors close, my world stops.

I can’t think, can’t breathe, my stomach pings, my wide-eyed glare transfixed on the blinking numbers above the doors.

Until it STOPS.

As soon as the doors open, I’m the first one off.

That’s my life with elevators. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid them even when it means – which is usually – climbing 318 steps daily steps to my 4th floor office and my 5th floor apartment. I’ve showed up at doctors’ offices, events, parties, and interviews, breathless. I’ve convinced my high rise friends to ride down to get me, ride up with me, and, yup, ride back down. I recently annoyed the hell out of my daughter as we rode 30-something floors to visit friends near the top floor of the Viceroy in Miami.  Along for the sketchy, jerky ride was a popular NBA basketball player perplexed – or entertained, I’m not sure – by my panic ‘routine.’

Actually, I’m not really sure if it’s elevators I’m afraid of or if it’s falling hard and fast into the bowels of the earth tumbling in its dark center trapped and buried with bitey bugs and slimy worms and silence where no one can hear or save me and I’ll be alone and that’s…The End.  

Sounds pretty rational to me.

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Simple Steps to Power Up Public Speaking

25 Feb

It’s not the Oscars, Grammys, or Emmy Awards by any stretch, but tomorrow, for the first time in quite some time, I’ll step up on a stage in front of a live audience to emcee my first prominent event in the big Atlanta ocean.   Continue reading