Monday, December 28, 2009

Readers' 2009 tips and questions

When readers share what they know or ask about what they want to know, The Eloquent Woman becomes a stronger blog--and that was especially true in 2009. Check out these ideas and questions that were top-of-mind for our readers this year:
  1. When the speaker needs to catch her breath was one of this year's most popular posts, prompted by this message from a reader: "Would you consider posting tips on catching your breath during a talk? An adrenaline rush can leave me out of breath w/no way to recover...it makes a speaker sound nervous."

  2. Who are today's top women speakers? This question came from a reader and speaker coach who was looking for ideas on current women who are good examples for other speakers---especially those with video examples of them speaking. I turned to readers for their ideas, a wound up with a list that included politicians, scientists, a bishop, inspirational speakers and more.

  3. What did readers want to improve in their speaking? As part of our Step Up Your Speaking contest, entrants were asked to name their top priorities for improving their speaking--so I asked readers of the blog and The Eloquent Woman on Facebook to do the same. Among their answers: Being more interactive, deciding when and whether to "dumb down" a technical topic, enunciation, being "dynamic and memorable," what happens when a joke doesn't work and more. You'll find my answers in all these posts, and can check out what the contest entrants wanted to improve here.

  4. Graceful ways with Q&A, another of our most popular posts, stemmed from two readers' questions about handling an audience gone awry. And in a year when hecklers made the news several times, another reader asked for help in handling hecklers.

  5. How do you deliver your mother's eulogy? asked a new fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook. Readers and I joined in to respond with ideas and encouragement on a speaker situation nearly all of us will face someday.

  6. What should you know about the room in which you're speaking? asked a reader, and I responded with tips for sussing out your speaking space.

  7. What do speakers assume--rightly or wrongly? I wondered after I spent a month mostly in the audience, watching other speakers. Readers had a host of things they observed, from overuse of acronyms to too-crowded slides, making a great list of don'ts you can use.

  8. What about eye contact? wondered some readers after watching a presentation on body language from another speaker. I pulled together tips and advice on eye contact in this, another of our most popular posts.

In the last week of 2009, I'm looking back at the year by sharing collections of The Eloquent Woman's strongest topics and themes. What were your favorites? Let me know in the comments--and thanks for reading this year! -- Denise Graveline

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