Saturday, August 22, 2009

Will a bigger Kindle help speakers?

Over on the don't get caught blog, I've posted a rundown of features of the new Amazon Kindle DX, a larger version of the popular electronic book reader. The size alone may make a significant difference if you're using it instead of paper text for your next speech. Check out the links above and below to get a full picture of what it can do for you as a speaker!

Buy the Kindle DX

Related posts: Testing the Kindle on the lectern

New Kindle offers more features for speakers

what's your speaker presence?

Lots of speakers can tell you right away what they want to say, or what their audience wants to hear. But before you plunge into preparing your points or how you'll handle the Q&A, take some time to consider your presence and impact. How you want to be seen, or the impact you want to have on the audience, should be the starting point--not an accident or afterthought--for your speaker preparations. Here are ways to consider your presence as a speaker before you start speaking:
  1. What's appropriate to the occasion? Considering the place, time of day, what's in the news, the reason for the gathering and other contextual information helps you avoid the inappropriate. For example, I've had to train groups of inner-city teens and parents in presentation skills--and while I dressed professionally, I didn't wear a suit, aiming for a more casual outfit that wouldn't intimidate or distance me from the audience.
  2. How will the audience see me, going into this? What will their assumptions be about me, based on the little bit of information they'll get before I speak? Will anything about me play into those assumptions--or refute them? Does that make a difference in what I'm going to say? Should it? Will it anyway?
  3. How do I want the audience to see me--when I begin and when I end? This gets to your goal for connecting with the audience. If you want to persuade them, surprise them, get them to hire you or make them laugh, you may need to consider factors ranging from your appearance and how you dress to how you move and gesture, in addition to your words.
  4. How do I want to be seen if I'm challenged? Even though there's nearly always an audience member who likes to question the speaker's premise or facts, many speakers avoid considering this. Yet the way you respond to a challenge will tell your audience a lot about you--and sometimes it's not what you want to put across. Do you want to come across as calm and in control? Ready to mix it up? Failing to prepare for this eventuality may mean your presence seems defensive and dismissive.
  5. How do I want to be seen if I'm complimented? Praise can undermine you just as easily as poison. If your first impulse is to dismiss a compliment, consider how that will make you look as the speaker. If you agree too much, you'll have a different image. Answering this question can help you plan a response that fits your goals.

learn storytelling online: 3 ways

Can you tell a great personal story? It's one of the most effective ways to get--and hold--your audience's attention. Even more important, the organizers of many speaking opportunities and conferences are looking for great storytellers when they book speakers. The good news: Some of the best venues for public speaking are not only creating opportunities to speak, but sharing the results so you can learn and practice online. Here are three of my favorites you can add to your practice arsenal:

  1. TED.com, the website of the famous TED conference (TED stands for technology, entertainment, design), which started 25 years ago with a focus on "ideas worth spreading." Speakers are asked to give the talk of their lives, in 18 minutes. (Last year, Bill Gates talked about malaria with a big jar of mosquitoes in his lap...and opened it, releasing them in the room.) The conference is tough to get into, whether as a speaker or an audience member (2010's session is already sold out), but TED is intent on the "spreading" part of its mission, offering all the speeches in free, online videos that come with interactive transcripts of the talks as well as translations into many languages. You also can participate in many spinoff conferences, called TEDx, that take place all over, organized by people in your region or community. TED talks are designed to inspire, poke, ask big questions--and they offer loads of role models for your storytelling practice.Numbered List
  2. The Moth, a live storytelling event, started out in New York City and now has touring events, a live StorySLAM in Los Angeles and New York, and MothUp, a program that lets you host a Moth session in your own living room and upload the video online. Moth has a "radio hour" and a downloadable podcast to let you listen to performed stories, and even lets you send them an audio pitch for why you should get to tell your story.
  3. Ignite takes yet another tack: "Five minutes. 20 slides. What would you say?" says its Baltimore site, and in Seattle, where Ignite began, the motto is "Enlighten us, but make it quick." (Other participating cities include Portland, Paris and Washington, DC.) These self-assembling speaker conferences usually feature a few more than a dozen speakers with pre-set limits (talks usually must be submitted for consideration). You can find video of past performances on each Ignite website, and I'd recommend this as a real practice tool: Setting limits (like 5 minutes and 20 slides) forces you to focus your talk. Can you do it? Watch some of the online videos and give it a try!

Related posts: Tell a story on yourself (featuring audio of a Moth talk by Sir Paul Nurse)

A speechwriter shares secrets on how to tell a story

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor tells a story with impact