Friday, December 11, 2009

My hat's off to these bloggers

I'm always excited when other bloggers share posts from The Eloquent Woman--but I'm remiss in thanking many recent posters. Here, as a bit of payback, is more information about these bloggers who cover similar topics--so you can enjoy exploring them:

  • Kate Peters writes Kate's Voice, a great blog on using your voice optimally. In a recent post on taking charge of your vocal image, she says, "I really enjoy reading “The Eloquent Woman,” a blog for women on public speaking. The author, Denise Graveline, often discusses gender differences in communication from a speaker’s perspective. Check it out!" Thanks, Kate--I know my readers will enjoy your blog.
  • Mike Schultz's Brinker Toastmasters blog picked up on my "fix-3" approach to analyzing and fixing 3 priorities in your public speaking, noted it's a way for Toastmasters to expand their feedback: "In her valuable post Denise Graveline suggests that “most speakers don’t take the time for this type of self-analysis,” and from experience I can say a big amen to that. Here’s a valuable way to add your own analysis to the advice you get from evaluators." He also blogged about something I agree with: Success in speaking is not for extroverts alone, citing an article we both like. I always value Mike's feedback to this blog.
  • Michael Erard, author of the book Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean was nice enough to feature our interview with him on his website for the book, saying, "Denise Graveline and writer Becky Ham asked me some really great questions." We think he gave great answers, the interview here.
  • George Page's AccuConference blog elaborated on how to regain the audience's attention if you're losing it, building on my post that answered a workshop participant's question.
  • Kathy Hansen's blog, A Storied Career, thinks all conferences should be storied, noting, "As blogger Denise Graveline points out, the well-known TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference also emphasizes storytelling ....Wouldn’t it be great if all conferences were storied and all presenters storytellers?" Look to her blog for all things storytelling.
  • Diana Schneidman's Stand Up 8 Times blog mused on the Danah Boyd experience with the Twitter backchannel--and wasn't sure she liked it. Neither did Bitchitorial. Thanks for including me in your sources, ladies. I also owe Joe Bonner, a regular source for my blogs, credit for flagging that event and Danah's own post about it.
  • Richard Garber's Joyful Public Speaking shared a thorough post on introductions that included my "take 5" tips for introducing speakers. Richard is the Vice President-Education for Capitol Club Toastmasters in Boise, Idaho. Thanks!
  • Lee Potts, author of the Breaking Murphy's Law blog for presenters on rising above what can go wrong, bookmarked my "sussing out your speaker space" item on his website. Thanks, Lee!

Resolved: Your 2009 speaking goals

What are your New Year's resolutions for your public speaking? It's the time of year when many set goals--and I'd like to capture the list of public speaking resolutions for readers of this blog. Share your goals, wishlists, hopes and plans in the comments below, or on the wall of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook. Perhaps your goal will inspire someone else--or you'll find other folks with the same goal in mind, and we can work on that through the year on the blog.

Wrapping up Step Up Your Speaking

I'm rolling out the red carpet for Stephanie Benoit, who this week completed 15 weeks of online coaching in our Step Up Your Speaking program. She entered our contest in July, and started her coaching in September--and you've seen all of it online. Here what I've noticed about Stephanie's progress:

  • She has a more confident speaker presence: One of Stephanie's major goals was overcoming a fear of public speaking. She's done that through the weekly practice called for in this coaching--and today, you can see that confidence implied in her posture, appearance, gestures and more. I think she's thinking more about how she wants to come across, always important for any speaker.

  • She's taken advantage of camera practice: Having to submit her work via online video meant that Stephanie needed to rehearse and record every week, a simple step anyone can take to improve her speaking. But more than that, she's now gesturing within the camera frame so we can see her hands, and has used the camera to learn about unintentional facial expressions--like visual "ums"--so she can correct them.

  • She's built on or discovered some great speaker strengths: Stephanie's been able to discover and build on existing strengths she possesses, but may not have been aware of previously. She has a pleasant and expressive voice, and uses it naturally and well for emphasis. Her enthusiasm and personality come across, even on camera (and it's tough to put that across without a live audience). She doesn't look as nervous as she may have felt going into this process, even from the beginning. And she's willing to try and practice, again and again--as a coach, I can tell you that's the key to success in public speaking!

  • She's starting to shape her messages. When you're just starting out as a speaker, sometimes it's hard to come up with what you want to say. There's more work here for Stephanie to do as she moves forward, but she's made a great start at coming up with messages and finding ways to make them stick with her audiences. Now she needs to work through all the things she wants to say and put them together in short and long presentations, so she's ready when an invitation arises.

Here are Stephanie's questions after 15 weeks of coaching. You'll notice that they don't sound at all ike a beginner's questions:

  1. What other resources--books, links, ideas--can we recommend for her to keep her going?
  2. What else does she need to successfully book a speaking engagement?
  3. What does she need to do to turn this into a successful business?

I could list plenty of resources for each of these questions, but none of them would work as well as these three: Patience, persistence and practice. Stephanie will need patience in waiting to land a speaking engagement, and then another, and another. She'll need to persist in seeking speaking opportunities, asking and networking in all her circles and beyond them; she may need to join some professional groups, a local Toastmasters organization or a local networking group to meet and make contacts. And she'll need to practice her delivery skills as well as her messages, until she has fully developed a core of messages that she wants to communicate, and has figured out where her audiences are.

She already has one of the best practice tools I know, the Flip MinoHD Camcorder, and if she spends just an hour a week working on her message content and then on its delivery, I know she will continue to improve. And I have links at the end of this post with books and other tools she can acquire to practice as well as get new ideas and inspiration.

Does she need slick marketing materials to get a speaking engagement? I don't think so. Stephanie may want to develop a website with basic information about her business, including her biography, videos of her speaking, and some background on the topics about which she wants to speak, and she may want business cards for face-to-face networking. She's active on social-media sites and should use those to let her networks know of her goal to get a speaking engagement.

When it comes to making a business out of public speaking, I'll caution that very few people make their entire living that way. Even when you move beyond the beginner stage, there are many speaking opportunities that don't pay directly. But you may gain other worthwhile but indirect benefits, such as promoting your business, building your audience, spreading your message and making yourself more visible as a speaker. To start making speaking pay, Stephanie will need to begin as an unpaid speaker--but use each speaking experience to get those indirect benefits.

I'll say this: After going through this program in a very public way, Stephanie now has a compelling personal story to tell about her quest to improve as a speaker. When I came up with the contest, I wondered who'd be brave enough to submit a video and commit to online coaching. Stephanie's been a delight to work with, and stayed focused throughout the 15 weeks--that's a coach's dream, as is the chance to see someone progress as she has clearly done.

Stephanie's still eager to get your ideas, tips and resources, so please leave them in the comments. And stay tuned for more resources to come from the Step Up Your Speaking program....

Related posts: What's your speaker presence?

Message development: Glue to make your message sticky

All the Eloquent Woman posts on books we like for speakers and

all our posts on products for speakers

See the entire Step Up Your Speaking program, from contest to coaching

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