- Tips on powerful body language from coach Janine Driver, from a report by guest blogger Debbie Friez;
- Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation) came out this month, and we pointed out new features that may help speakers;
- Our speechwriter colleague Jeff Porro launched a new blog on CEOs and speeches;
- Allyson Kapin (aka @WomenWhoTech) is using Twitter to make women more visible on this social media site--in ways that may help them get more speaking opportunities. The effort comes out of her frustration with programs that feature few women;
- My contribution to a collection of posts on using PowerPoint in 2009 and new ways speakers should reform their approach to slides;
- A book on women speaking up in meetings -- surprise, you're better at it than you may think -- caught our readers' attention;
- The U.S. has a new First Lady, and one from the past, Eleanor Roosevelt, was not only originally a reluctant speaker, but a source of inspiration for our readers this month; and
- Our 7 bite-sized ideas to get you speech-ready got lots of attention when a speaker at the interactive conference SXSW saw them on Twitter and said "this is just what I need!"
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
- Calm. This is the internal part: Doing what centers and calms you in anticipation of a speech--which, for most folks, is the most unnatural of settings--can counterbalance anxiety. Too many speakers fail to take a few moments to breathe, stretch and center their focus before a talk. (Find a handy stairwell or hallway for this purpose.)
- Care. Are you well-rested? Hydrated? Fed? (I've had trainees faint in speaker training without breakfast, or get to foreign countries and find no available food before a talk--so tote protein bars, if you must, but fuel up.) Wearing comfortable shoes? Stretched out? Care of the speaker is a critical part of avoiding anxiety, in my view.
- Collected. We use this as a term for calm, but I mean collecting all the things you may need in advance of your speech: notes, text, handwritten cues on your speech, a box to stand on if you're shorter than the lectern, a Yellow Pages to prop up your text if you need it closer to your eyes...whatever. Gather your props, aids and helps ahead and you'll feel that much more prepared.
Let me ask you: When you speak, what's the 'opposite of anxiety?' Define it for us in the comments.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Body language expert, Janine Driver, aka “The Lyin’ Tamer”, is calling 2009 “The Year of the Woman”, and she has made it her goal to help women be aware of their body language. Speaking at the February 24 Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) professional development session, Janine made us all aware of our own body language and provided insights into projecting ourselves more positively. Here are some of the great tips you can use for your next presentation, media interview or just everyday life:
Driver noted that, as women, we need to work extra hard on projecting power, because these gestures are usually thought of as being manly.
- Keep your hands at your side, not clasped, to show power.
- Never hold a large sheet of paper when presenting. You should always use small note cards (if you need them), and hold them at your side, if possible.
- Don’t create a wall with your feet or hands. You should “open-up” your body.
- “Steepling” (creating a steeple with your fingers in front of your stomach) is a great power gesture. President Obama uses an open steeple gesture. Hillary Clinton has also been seen using it.
- Women tend to have a small stance (six inches or closer). Having a wide stance shows power. Cindy Crawford is a great example of a woman with a wide stance.
- One hand on your hip conveys attitude, whereas two hands on your hips projects control.
- When you shake someone’s hand, the hands should meet side to side. If the other person gives you the palm-down shake, you should bring your other hand over and lay it over theirs.
- Point your belly button at a person when you shake their hand to show openness.
- The more times you change locations or do different things during a meeting, the more the other person will feel like they know you.
- Never hide your thumbs in your pockets, it is not powerful.
- The last person through a door is usually the most powerful.
With the economy stuck in meltdown, dragging down earnings and stock prices, a CEO’s ability to perform well behind a lectern, in front of cameras and microphones, or at a hearing table is more important than ever. In fact, I’d argue companies must have CEOs who can inspire confidence through speeches and presentations or they simply won’t survive.Porro's offering tips, analyses of famous speeches, and inspiration. Check out this newcomer blog!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Soon after, a discussion ensued, and, within minutes, Kapin started a new "event" on Twitter: She put forward the idea that women imitate an established Friday event, called #followfriday, in which Twitter users suggest other users folks should follow. The difference? This would happen on Wednesdays, under the hashtag #women2follow. And here are the results, which are changing moment by moment. Women and men are suggesting women worth following on Twitter.
Another top 10 list with one woman and 9 men. So irking. Hello we women in tech and social media experts do exist. Just look outside the box.
It remains to be seen how this will play out, but it's already a community-builder. It's a twist on what other women speakers have done--like create their own "speakers' bureau"-- in order to get visible in hopes of getting more women placed on conference program. If you're on Twitter, it's one more option to make you more visible as an available speaker. You can follow me on Twitter here.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Goldin-Meadow recently presented new research at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science about how parents' gesturing influences vocabulary development in their young children. I'm looking forward to sharing insights from this book with you.
Buy Hearing Gesture: How Our Hands Help Us Think
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
- Breathe. Take 10 to 20 deep breaths a few minutes before you're going to speak. (Step into a handy stairwell or restroom if you don't want to be observed.) It's a physiological way to calm your body so it responds better while you're speaking.
- Sip. Starting an hour before your talk, hydrate your vocal chords. For preference, choose water rather than caffeinated beverages, and avoid alcohol if you're an after-dinner speaker. Got a cold or sore throat? Try hot water with lemon.
- Stretch. Make sure you're limber before a speech. Stretch your arms and legs (that stairwell, again) and do some shoulder rolls and neck stretches to keep your body looking and feeling calm.
- Re-open. You'll never have a higher level of attention than at the start of your speech, so use it. Practice your opener several times, so that you can do it without referring to your notes and make early eye contact with the audience.
- Annotate. If you're working from a text, take the time to plan and write in stage directions to yourself: "pause here," "gesture toward audience," or just underscoring words you want to emphasize will help you add grace notes to your speech.
- Center. Find your core, your center of gravity, and the best stance that will hold you steady when you're not moving around the stage. You want to be able to stand in a relaxed stance, without swaying or hanging on to the lectern, to look most authoritative--and to keep attention on your words.
- Smile. Smiling helps in two ways, relaxing your mind and your body. Bring a funny picture, child's drawing, or photo that only you can see at the lectern to start your speech with a welcoming face.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Consistently, the group members who spoke up the most were rated the highest for such qualities as "general intelligence" and "dependable and self-disciplined." The ones who didn't speak as much tended to score higher for less desirable traits, including "conventional and uncreative."To test whether those who speak up are actually more competent, a different set of teams of four were asked to solve math problems from older versions of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT). Once again, speaking up in the group mattered:
When the work was finished, the people who spoke up more were again likelier to be described by peers as leaders and likelier to be rated as math whizzes. What's more, any speaking up at all seemed to do. Participants earned recognition for being the first to call out an answer, but also for being the second or third — even if all they did was agree with what someone else had said.Researchers divided groups into all-male and all-female participants for this pair of experiments. (I'm looking for similar studies that mixed genders for a similar experiment, so we can look at what TIME calls "the wild card of gender.") Does this inspire you to speak up more in meetings? At a minimum, it should inspire you to focus on speaking skills as one part of your leadership arsenal.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
While I'm not a big fan of presentation slides for speakers, I know that into each life some PowerPoint must fall. So here's a useful site, Vischeck, which checks your slides (or other visual work) to make sure that color-blind people can actually see it. From the website:
Many pictures, documents and web pages are hard for color blind people to read because the people who designed them didn't think about the problem. Vischeck lets them check their work for color blind visibility. It is also interesting to anyone who is just plain curious about what the world looks like if you're color blind.One in 20 people have some form of color blindness, and the problem is most acute with shades of red and green, so think of this as a way of ensuring that your audience has a fighting chance to pay attention to your slides. A related part of the site, Daltonize, corrects for color blindness. A hat tip to Casey Wright, who passed this resource along on Twitter.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Buy the 6-inch Amazon Kindle
Sunday, February 8, 2009
He's a clown with something to say--but can't quite get it out! Beginning with an empty stage and a single microphone, shy clown Jamie Adkins musters the courage to face what he fears most: speaking in public. Over the next hour, he uses everyday objects, discarded props, and acrobatic feats to create his very own one-man vaudeville act, with hilarious results! Whether on the ground, on a ladder, or on a high wire, new challenges face Jamie every step of the way, but for every problem there's always a solution. The New York Times says "this dexterous clown walks a daffy line"--showing why you should never give up when all goes wrong. Because you'll never know what you can do until you try! Age 5 and up.Adkins seems to like clowning around nearly wordlessly with situations where words become a problem, as in here, where he performed on Broadway about writer's block. Go here for tickets and more information about the performances, which take place March 27-29, with some shows already sold out. Take a young girl with you and use this as a chance to talk about public speaking fears, and to encourage her, as a woman, to tackle public speaking.
From here inside the Beltway, there's no question that local audiences are excited about seeing and hearing from the Obamas, and the idea of anyone reiterating policy priorities from what must be highly vetted talking points is hardly cause for alarm. So why does a First Lady's speaking -- in 2009 -- occasion such notice? Comparing a policy speech to social lunches and suggesting that the speech is somehow risky and out-0f-line is ridiculous in this day. Even the article's title ('Mom-in-Chief' Touches on Policy, and Tongues Wag') uses a tired term suggesting female gossip, when, in fact, the "pro" and "con" observations in the article come from two established female authorities, a scholar of first ladies from Rutgers University and a co-director of the National Women's Law Center.
Missed in this coverage: Obama's an excellent woman speaker, playing an important and often-overlooked role in cheering on career government workers at a time when more work lies ahead. My wish for future coverage: Go ahead and keep the spotlight on her--but don't make her seem like an exotic, out-of-place example, so that women seeking to do more of their own public speaking feel encouraged, rather than called out for odd behavior. (Photo of Michelle Obama's portrait in the First Ladies exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History by aka_lusi from Flickr.)
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Even if you don't go that far, using Ignite's parameters--five minutes, 20 slides--is a good practice tool. (Remember, no audience ever complained about a speaker who kept remarks brief!) Dickinson notes in her post that she realized at one point her title alone took up too much time to say, proving that parameters can help you sort out what's important to convey--and inspire you to keep it brief.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
“I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I may cry when I’m sharing something that’s of great significance to me,” said Nancy Reiley, 62, who works at a women’s shelter in Tampa, Fla., “and for some reason I sometimes will cry when I’m in a public speaking situation. “It has nothing to do with feeling sad or vulnerable. There’s no reason I can think of why it happens, but it does.”
While inconclusive on all the reasons you might cry in such a situation, the article notes that the prevailing views of tears as catharsis no longer provides a complete view. The article notes that, for biochemical and cultural reasons, women cry more often and more easily than do men.
What about you? Have you cried during a speech or presentation? What do you think was happening?