Thursday, July 29, 2010

What are your speaker dreams and aspirations?

It's great to shape your progress as a speaker by imagining where you'd like to go, or to have an outsized goal in mind, something to inspire you to keep working on your skills (just as long as it doesn't tie you up in knots of nervousness).  And for some, it's the audience or event that motivates.  To get at some of those speaker dreams and aspirations, on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, I asked readers to "fill in the blank: "I've always dreamed of giving a speech before the [insert audience or event here]_______________."  Aspirations were running high, and these were some of the dreams speakers and would-be speakers shared:

Rachel Miller said she dreamed of giving a speech before the "Parker Seminar in Las Vegas." It's for chiropractic practitioners.

Nina Nehemiah Blessed wishes to speak at the "Grammy for songwriters, thanking them for my award!"

Christine Clark Geerts has her eye on the halls of power, wanting to address the "Congress or State House."

Christine Cowdrey Mulvin would like to speak before "NASA after returning from space."

Toni Rosati envisions laughter with a presentation for "a comedy club audience."

Marianne Glass Miller hopes to speak before the "parade passes by."

Erin Gearhart wants to commence with a talk before "a graduating class!"

Deborah Barber Adams aims for the diplomatic, with a speech at the "United Nations! :)"

Meg Mobley, a scientist, dreams of speaking before "my family."

Maura At Citi aspires to a message for "Presidents of every country to ask them to make peace with each other!"

Tilly Evan Jones imagines speaking before the "kids I went to High school with."

I suspect there's a longer story behind each of those wishes, and invite all of you to share more of what you aspire to as a speaker, here in the comments or on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook.  If you haven't already done so, hit the "like" button or look to the left on the page for an easy way to suggest it to your friends.

The top 10 public speaking tips and issues for July

July was a jam-packed month for me, and I'm not talking about berries. How about you? Let's take a break and look back on an active month on The Eloquent Woman.  Here's what caught your fancy, and that of other readers, in this month's most popular posts:
  1. What's the difference when scientists present to other scientists, and to the public? was this month's most-viewed post, which tells me both scientists and the rest of us are looking for ways to explain our differences. It's a reader question from another speaker coach who's also training scientists, and I was happy to share a useful diagram that shows just how different these two approaches are.
  2. Establishing credibility when your age and looks work against you -- in this case, for a reader who looks younger than she is -- struck a chord with many other speakers this month.  This goes beyond putting on a suit for an expert in her field who's often mistaken for the intern.  By the way, I'd welcome hearing from readers on the opposite end of the age scale who see similar problems from a different lens.
  3. Self-deprecating humor: Lots of speakers use it, figuring it's better than making fun of the audience (true). But does making fun of yourself really work for you? This guest post was so popular one reader said she wanted to put a bow around it.  A real gem.
  4. Can a man be a womanly speaker?  This conservative columnist wonders if President Obama is (rhetorically) our first woman president, and sociologists agree he is, in many ways.  Using what rhetoriticians refer to as an "effeminate" speaking style actually works extremely well on television (think Ronald Reagan), and connotes an ability to connect emotionally with an audience.
  5. If your speeches and presentations run over, they may need, well, the speech equivalent of Spanx. Here are five ways to rein your words in and stay on time, based on approaches that are admittedly forced, but are becoming popular with audiences worldwide.  Even on-time speakers should try these tactics.
  6. Reviving your speaking skills?  We started the month with a blog carnival full of advice from other public speaking experts on how to start up again in public speaking.  No need to feel rusty--it's a great time to reconsider your skills. We'll get you back into the swing of things with this post.
  7. Too casual with your approach?  A reader who no longer gets nervous when speaking now worries she may have become too complacent as a speaker.  Here's my advice for polishing her approach.
  8. Stutterers can overcome their disfluent speech by accepting it and even talking more about it--two things that help reduce the tendency to stutter. This post tells you more about this approach, a real relief to speakers who stutter.
  9. Women's voices on GPS systems are more pleasing...but why?  This post considers an article exploring the phenomenon. Worth knowing about, even if it's not for the reasons you expect.  I welcome your reactions to this one.
  10. I asked: Who are you? What are you looking for here? and I've been answering the questions posed by responding readers ever since. They include some of this month's most popular posts (see numbers 1, 2 and 7 in this roundup).  Feel free to add yourself and what you're looking for in the comments, and check out what others had to say.  This is my favorite post of the month, maybe even the year--I'm grateful for my thoughtful readers who are so willing to share their thoughts.
Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or isse each month; the next issue comes out next week, so it's an ideal time to sign up. Then 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!