Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The top 10 speaker tips and ideas from June

It's commencement season (which prompts a lot of outdoor speaking). Graduate into July with these tips and ideas, representing the most popular posts as selected by readers:

  1. Gentle self-promotion: Is it OK to toot your own horn? looked at one area where women sometimes hesitate to speak up: when it's about themselves.  Tips and ideas are included to help.
  2. Can you boost your memory by practicing out loud?  The latest post in our "speaking science" series shares research about how the brain is prompted by speech to recall things--but only under certain circumstances. Check out the post for details.
  3. So, do you start sentences with so? kicked up lots of reaction. This post takes the time to discern between and among different uses of "so" at the start of a sentence, and what some of the ramifications are for speakers.
  4. Want to engage an audience?  Making the audience a part of your keynote can enrich your content, engage the audience and hold its attention.  Two solid examples demonstrate how.
  5. Face-to-face tools to help speakers shares three new tools, for web conferencing, for video chat (perhaps to rehearse with a pal) and for prepping yourself for negotiations.  Check out these options to strengthen your preparations and speaking.
  6. New challenges for speakers at conferences are tantalizing options to try.  "Battledecks" is a new one that pits a speaker against random slides, against which you have to give an extemporaneous presentation.  This post describes it, and solicits you for information: Have you tried this?
  7. The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.  These "thoughts for the thorough" may be able to help you sift, sort and plan your way to a clearer and more engaging presentation.
  8. Need to speak at an anniversary?  Putting words in your mouth: Anniversary speeches and toasts gives you online tools and references you can use to spark ideas, share engaging content and themes, and avoid overlapping with other speakers.
  9. How do you take notes for speeches?  I've got three new technology options that can help you mark source documents, find and share quotes, and make and save notes.
  10. Meeting skills:  Listen better by losing the fidgets shares some options for when you're not talking, so you can keep tabs on others in the room.
Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or isse each month;  join The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, a vibrant community that gets to discuss these topics before they appear on the blog; or contact me about your public speaking training and coaching needs.  Thanks for reading and participating!

How women's voices (on GPS) are viewed

You could look at it this way:  Thanks to global positioning systems (GPS), women's voices are being heard by more people than ever.  But a recent New York Times article on GPS--specifically, the woman's voice in the author's GPS--made me think back to the client who called me about public speaking and presentation coaching because her male supervisors and board told her her presentations weren't "sexy enough," one of the reasons I started this blog.  Let's just say I was disappointed, but not surprised.

The article describes women's voices with a collection of well-worn and established attitudes, slurs and suggestions. Here, in quotes from the article's narrative or the sources it cites, are the adjectives and stereotypes it includes:

  • like a graceful hostess — unflappable, efficient and with just enough sex appeal to give some sizzle to my protracted absence from my wife.
  • my charming companion had somehow been switched to a stern English schoolmarm.
  • so turned off by the preinstalled female navigatrix that they switched her for a man’s voice, because “we find the women too judgmental.”
  • Female voices are still used for warnings in many airplane cockpits and have earned the slang term Bitching Betty among pilots.
  • “When the key dimension is competence, the male voice is better,” said Clifford I. Nass, a communication professor at Stanford University and a consultant to many car companies. “When the key dimension is likability, the female voice is better.”
  • “The main reason you have female voices in cars is not the technical qualifications like hearability,” said Dr. Nass. “It’s that finding a female voice that is pleasing to almost everyone is infinitely easier than finding a male voice.”
  • Unlike my wife, my GPS voice is completely subservient. She gives me something I want and doesn’t ask anything in return. All I have to do is plug her in every now and then and she’s happy.
I welcome your reactions, insights and experiences about women's voices and the reactions to them. Please share them in the comments.

Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or isse each month;  join The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, a vibrant community that gets to discuss these topics before they appear on the blog; or contact me about your public speaking training and coaching needs.  Thanks for reading and participating!