Monday, April 30, 2012

From the vault: Easy ways to avoid copyright problems with your slides & handouts

(Editor's note: This 2010 post has been updated and is still essential today--a trainee just asked me a similar set of questions last week!)

An event planner I know emailed me this week to ask about a speaker's upcoming event.  She wrote:

Question for you Madame Communications Guru…if an article is online from a publication such as Washington Times or National Review, do we need permission to reprint? Especially if we're giving it out as handout material?

That's a question few speakers or organizers bother to ask, perhaps because they know the answer is "yes." If you're reprinting material published elsewhere, and it's protected by copyright, you likely need permission to reprint or reproduce it in full or in part.  That goes for those cute cartoons you like to show, for many photographs or copyrighted infographics, and much more, including some video and audio files.

Although it sounds like an infernal pain to get compliant with copyright, there are lots of easy ways to do so. Here are some of my favorites:
  1. Give up the paper handouts.  As you can see on the Washington Post's permissions page, the one thing you're free to do with its content is to link to it.  So go paperless, and create a special blog or webpage for your background material, or send it in a followup email.  I decided it was "handouts no more" for me a couple of years ago, and find my audiences like the ease of going to a blog post, email or website with the information.
  2. License those one-of-a-kind options.  If you like New Yorker cartoons, the Cartoon Bank will sell you often reasonably priced licenses to use them in slide presentations, with prices varying depending on the use and format (handouts are included as one option). For that special cartoon, you may pay just $25.
  3. Seek out free and shareable content:  Creative Commons is a nonprofit that helps creators license their content, with options ranging from all rights reserved (that is, you'd have to ask permission) to free and shareable.  You can see this at work on photo-sharing sites like Flickr, where all the photos have some form of Creative Commons licensing. Just look for those marked "some rights reserved." And give credit when you use shareable works.
  4. Get the permissons when the item first appears--and you're thinking of it.  Like that article that covered your last speech, or the op-ed you wrote that's in the paper?  Ask for permission to reprint it while it's still fresh in your mind.
  5. Use stock options.  Stock content sites like Shutterstock offer graphics and photos. You pay a subscription fee and agree to terms, then download stock photos for your use.  (Shutterstock will give you two free downloads of featured photos and graphics each week if you register.)

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Famous Speech Friday: Jane Goodall's "What Separates Us From the Apes"

Most people find it difficult to name a living scientist, and even tougher to name a woman scientist, dead or alive. But if you've flipped through a magazine or watched a nature documentary in the past 50 years, you'll recognize this one: Jane Goodall.

The environmental activist and primatologist is a pioneering chimpanzee researcher who made some spectacular findings early in her career, particularly the discovery that chimps used tools like humans. But she is the first to admit that her fame grew with the countless journalists, photographers and filmmakers who couldn't get enough of her "Jane in the Jungle" story. And when she realized that her story might be the thing that could save her beloved chimps from extinction, she left the forest and hit the road.

Goodall, who turned 78 earlier this month, travels 300 days a year. Most of that time is spent speaking before a variety of audiences--from preschools to the AARP--about environmental degradation and animal and human rights. She remembers her first speech as "a nightmare where I couldn't breathe," and she was surprised to find that the audience didn't seem to notice.

Now, she says, her success in speaking stems from her Welsh storytelling ancestors and her passionate need for her stories to be heard. "The least I can do," she has said to many audiences, "is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves."

In this 2002 TED talk, Goodall shows why she's been in high demand as a speaker all over the world. She's had a lot of practice, sure, but here are a few other skills that all speakers can steal for themselves:
  • Be there in person. One of the reasons Goodall tours so much, she says, is that nothing beats the persuasive power of being directly in front of her audience. In an interview with Jane Goodall Institute manager and Georgetown University communications researcher John Trybus, Goodall said she's heard a variation on this line from countless audiences: "We've seen you on TV, but when you're there and we're listening to you, it's different."
  • Expand your idea of a prop. In this talk, Goodall has her ubiquitous "Mr. H." monkey doll sitting on the lectern, and she's brought a piece of Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison wall to make a point about the importance of hope. But even more memorable are her dynamic "sound" props. There's the haunting tinkle of the bell made from a Cambodian landmine, which brings the audience to silence. And then there's her pant-hoot chimpanzee greeting, which brings the audience to laughter. She uses the chimpanzee call in nearly every speech she gives, but it's always striking to see such a loud noise burst forth from a small woman.
  • Speak like Shakespeare? When she was teaching herself how to give speeches, Goodall drew on the lessons of music and Shakespeare's plays. Good music and good theater, she suggests, have a rhythm of up and down, or alternating humor and lightness with more somber passages. It's a technique that she uses here to great effect. She warms up her audience with a few funny stories, moves to a serious core discussion of environmental threats and finishes with a hopeful and uplifting tone.
So what does separate us from the apes, anyway? When it comes to communication, Goodall says, humans have no equal.

(Freelance writer Becky Ham contributed this cracking post on Jane Goodall to our Famous Speech Friday series. Photo from NickStep's photostream on Flickr.)

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Florence Nightingale and the rise of the pie chart

The pie chart, perhaps the only presentation tool that reminds you of dessert, is older than you think. The New York Times magazine took a look at the founder of the pie chart, William Playfair, who first used it in 1801.

Pie charts didn't catch on until the middle of the 19th century, however. Then they were used in combinations with maps to convey additional data, and expanded in shapes to include rings and "doughnut" charts. (The food imagery even carries into many languages, such as French, where a pie chart is called le camembert after the wedges of cheese it resembles.) But it took a woman presenter, famous nurse and noted statistician Florence Nightingale, to advance the pie chart in the uses for which we know it today. From the New York Times article:

Nightingale's pie charts
Florence Nightingale drove home the impact of poor sanitary conditions on mortality rates during the Crimean War by reconfiguring a pie chart, varying the length, rather than the width, of the wedges, so that the graph resembled a cock’s comb. As the historian Hugh Small notes, Nightingale may not have invented statistical graphs, but “she may have been the first to use them for persuading people of the need for change.”
You'll see few pie charts in scientific papers, as they are not considered ideal for many scientific displays. In fact, Nightingale's design improves upon the original in a way that was much later confirmed by research at AT&T Bell Laboratories, showing that comparison by angle is less accurate than comparison by length, something her design incorporates into the pie chart.

I asked readers on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook to guess which famous woman helped advance the pie chart, and Emily Dust Nimsakont was first out of the box with the correct answer. She wins a set of The Eloquent Woman's magnetic poetry. Congratulations, Emily!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stage coaching checklist: 6 reasons you should get time on stage before you speak

Do you take the time to get on stage before you speak--preferably the stage on which you'll be speaking?

I ask because it's a step overlooked by many speakers, or one dismissed by some organizers, probably because it sounds too simple. Why would you need some orientation to the stage before you speak? I have 6 reasons you should get on stage before you step out there to speak:
  1. Lighting for you: Getting on stage will help orient you to where the lights are in relation to you while you speak. If the lighting isn't as it will be during your talk, ask a technician where the lights will hit. Then plan where you'll look, so the lights won't blind you. If they're mounted high, for example, you'll know not to look up into them and can plan accordingly. 
  2. Lighting for the audience: While you're on stage, ask how and whether the audience will be lit. Will you be able to see them and get visual feedback? Or will you mainly be hearing audience noise, rather than seeing faces? You may be relieved or disoriented by not seeing your audience, and asking the question now lets you anticipate what else you can do to stay confident.
  3. On your mark: If you're going to move around while you speak, is there guidance for where you should and should not go? What are your sight guidelines? Should you stay centered, between certain aisles of the audience before you, on the front third of the stage? If the speech is being recorded, where are the cameras? Do they constrain your movements? Do you need to change your gestures to suit the space? Only a look around stage will tell you.
  4. Entry and exit: Where and how are you stepping on stage--from the audience? Who'll ensure you're seated conveniently? Do you have to travel on stage up some steps? From the wings? Which ones? If you are being introduced, where will your host stand and where will she exit? If she's coming back on stage when you're done, where will she re-enter? Once you know your entrance, plan your exit, too. 
  5. Monitors: If you're using monitors, teleprompters or other speaking aids, where will they be? Can you see them with your speech loaded, so you can check the type size and whether your notes are readable?
  6. Intimidation factors: Is the hall a grand one, full of chandeliers and balconies? Is it intimate, with the audience close enough to reach out and touch? Either one can intimidate a speaker in its own way, or put another speaker at ease. Getting an eyeful of the intimidating aspects of your venue can help take some of their power away when you're ready to really deliver the speech.
What do you look for when you get the chance to preview the stage on which you'll be speaking? Leave your checklist in the comments.

Looking for famous speeches by women? Check out The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, with a wide variety of women speakers, types of speeches and topics to inspire your next speech. Each one comes with lessons for speakers, plus video or audio and a transcript, where available.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Famous Speech Friday: Golfer Sophie Gustafson: Stuttering is "part of who I am"

Watch any sport on television, and you'll see the athletes segue from their course or court right over to the mic for the postgame interview. Most athletes, anyway. Sophie Gustafson is a world-class professional golfer with five LPGA wins and 21 international titles to her name, and a five-time member of Europe's Solheim Cup team. But even if you're a fan of the sport, you've probably never heard Gustafson speak. The Swedish golfer has a severe stutter that's kept her from taking any verbal victory laps or dissecting her swing with the media.

And then, nearly 20 years after she joined the professional tour, Gustafson started talking. During the 2011 Solheim Cup, she taped a three-minute interview with the Golf Channel in which she talked about the tournament and the challenges of her stutter. The interview was a tremendous success: golf fans got to hear--finally--from one of their sport's top athletes, and Gustafson was overwhelmed by a tide of personal responses to the interview praising her courage and her determination to make the interview work.

Earlier this month, Gustafson received the Golf Writers Association of America Ben Hogan Award, honoring golfers playing with a physical handicap or serious illness, and taped an acceptance speech for the event. It's an amazing speech, full of humor, candor, and yes, courage. There's a lot to learn from in this one, but here are a few things that stand out:
  • Don't hide who you are. There's plenty of places in this speech where Gustafson jokes about how slowly she speaks--enough of them that I found myself wondering if she should keep drawing attention to the fact. But Gustafson is known on the tour (and Twitter--@sophiegustafson) for her sense of humor, and she seems comfortable delivering all these one-liners. Check out her shoulder shrug and eye roll when she talks about the offer of a radio gig--it's a charming little moment that it clear she's at ease and enjoys being funny.
  • Be prepared, not perfect. This speech is six and a half minutes long. It took her eight hours to record it. Just as with her Golf Channel interview, Gustafson knows that she needs practice and lots of editing to speak in a way that she's happy with. After taping the speech, she tweeted, "I can tell u being a stutterer and a perfectionist doesn't mix AT ALL!!" But she also recognizes that even perfectionists have to give themselves a break. As she told the New York Times, "Finally, I had to give up and say, 'It's not going to be exactly the way I want it to be.'"
  • Embrace your vulnerability. People who can share their vulnerabilities often have a better chance at connecting with others. It's clear that after years of quiet, Gustafson has come to accept her voice and what it can offer. "I've always stuttered," she says early in the speech. "It's part of who I am."
  • Your voice is your power. In the same New York Times interview, Gustafson recalls that her ex-husband often talked for her, and that she now realizes how that kept her from "standing on my own two feet." No one's speaking for Gustafson now. This speech is an incredible reminder that speaking up is a way of taking control, of building confidence and opening up new opportunities.
Ready for your six and a half minutes of inspiration?

(Freelance writer Becky Ham contributed this edition of Famous Speech Friday.)

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New on Pinterest: Great quotes by eloquent women

If you're on Pinterest, you know how popular it is as a way to share inspiring or funny quotations. Now you can add quotes featured on The Eloquent Woman to the mix. I've started a new pinboard, Great Quotes by Eloquent Women, and I'm starting to upload the best quotes from women's speeches featured in The Eloquent Woman Index. While the board isn't complete, there are new gems to repin almost every day.

The new board joins two other Pinterest boards from the blog:

I hope you'll enjoy adding these posts to your own boards and sharing them with your followers. Inspire yourself or another woman speaker!

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Instead of wincing, 10 things to look for on that video of your speech

(Editor's note: This post is an update of one from 2010, and I promised to post it this week for the many speakers I worked with at TEDMED--they'll be seeing video of their talks in about a month, and wanted to know what to look for. This is the advice I share with trainees in all my public speaking workshops when we do video practice, and it's a great tool to help you spot problems and make improvements, based on your own video.)

A longtime friend and colleague just completed a major and special speaking event, giving a sermon at his church. But when I was telling him how well he'd done on the video, he admitted he hadn't looked at it and didn't want to--so much so, he hadn't even listened to the audio.

He has that in common with the best in the business: Any professional newscaster, actor or performer will tell you that they hate how they look and sound when recorded, so it's no surprise we ordinary mortals do, too.  But if you're lucky enough to be recorded when you speak--whether you do the recording or someone else does--you've got a golden opportunity to learn things you might never otherwise know about how you speak You don't have to record your speech, but if it's made available, take the opportunity. Or rig your own ultralight camcorder or a pal with a smartphone, and take charge of your own recording.

Rather than torture yourself with how bad you think you look, focus instead on these cues and clues that would be hard to discern without help from a camera.  This list is what I coach my clients to look for when viewing video of their speaking, whether it's in practice or the real deal:
  1. Visual "ums:"  Instead of saying "um" when you're pausing to think, you may look to one side or up or down; make a repetitive gesture over and over; or move in a pattern, if you're on your feet and away from the lectern. It might be putting a hand to your face, a wink, a grimace. Watch for those patterns--freeze-frame if you need to catch them--and work on buying yourself time to think with new phrases, or work more on your message in advance and practice.  Hint:  It helps to watch the video sooner rather than later after your talk to catch this slip-up, since you'll be better able to remember what you were thinking at the time your visual "um" occurred--and that may help you avoid repeating it next time. Often, the visual "um" happens when you haven't quite got your message down, or forgot something you wanted to include, just like a verbal "um."
  2. Invisible gestures:  You may be gesturing like a windmill, but if it's below the height of the lectern or out of camera range, all the audience will see is your body moving slightly. That's great if you're gesturing to keep your speech fluid, since gestures help you avoid "ums" and stumbles. But if you wanted your gestures to help get your point across and hold the audience's interest, make sure we can see them.  Typically, that will mean gesturing at shoulder or chest height. Practice will make that more comfortable for you.
  3. A body with a mind of its own:  Some speakers planted in one place will sway from side to side, and some who like to move around wind up drilling a path into the floor as they pace back and forth, back and forth, in an unrelieved line. Either one calls for a change:  You may need to focus on keeping your core body stable, or move in different directions if you like to roam the audience.  If you are going to move your body, it's just like gesturing: Make it purposeful. Try planning places where you pause verbally and stop physically, to break up repetitive moves.
  4. How you react to interruptions:  Listen for those unexpected noises--door slams, crying babies, sneezes--during your talk. How do you react?  It's a great chance to catch your immediate reaction, and to think through how you might handle that next time.  While you're at it, pay attention to how you react when you're asked a question; your face may give a different answer than your mouth does, showing apprehension, for example, when you don't need to do so.
  5. Expressions that match your words:  Your face is part of your connection with the audience, but it gets confusing, at best, if you look like you're grimacing when giving praise or sad when talking about something exciting.  Since it's not at all unusual for speakers to feel disconnected from their facial expressions, video helps you focus and fix that.  Hint:  Most people's mouths, when at rest, are either flat-lined or slightly downturned, making you look bored or sad.  Smiling, even a little, corrects that natural downward turn.  You get to decide how much to smile, but smile at least somewhat.
  6. Gestures that match your words:  If you gesture for every word, you're missing the chance to emphasize some of them to good effect.  Try counting your gestures and putting them in two groups: purposeful and repetitive filler--since one gesture done over and over and over again can feel like another kind of visual um. Then work on cutting out the filler gestures. Overall, however, it's better to gesture than to keep your hands immobilized.
  7. Your posture and body language:  Are your shoulders up around your ears, or slumped?  Are you leaning in one direction? Are your arms crossed in a defensive posture? Is your head down when you should be looking up at the audience? Turn off the sound for this review, and see what your body language says.
  8. Do you really look nervous? Do you look at ease? You may be surprised:  Most speakers find they feel nervous, but don't look as if they are. If you're not sure, ask a friend to watch and tell you what she thinks, but 99.9 percent of the time, the audience can't tell that you're nervous.
  9. Can you hear your message clearly throughout?  To find out, you may need to just listen to the audio once, then watch the video.  Do you find it hard to follow your progression? Did you forget to include a key point? Did your gestures, movement, facial expressions and props help get that across? What can you notice that will help you next time in terms of clarity and focus?
  10. What did you do that was wonderful? You may need some outside perspective on this, but try looking for your successes in the video. Did you nail a great laugh line, pause with effect, gesture with aplomb? What did the audience like and react to positively? Did you stay on time? Take the time to note what went well, so you can make a point of doing it again.
(Photo of American Red Cross President Gail McGovern speaking at TEMDED 2012, courtesy of TEDMED.)

Andrew Dlugan's great Six Minutes blog included the original version of this post in his roundup of the best public speaking articles in the blogosphere for the week of June 5, 2010.  Thanks, Andrew!

Are you a member of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook? Join our thriving community to get extra content, early input into my blog posts, and to share your questions, photos and video.

Monday, April 16, 2012

#eventprofs, Get a musical recap for your conference sessions with @songadaymann

I just wrapped up several days of coaching speakers at TEDMED 2012 here in Washington, and one of the highlights for me was getting to know Jonathan Mann better. Jonathan--known as the "Song a Day Guy"--has been writing and posting online a song a day since 2009. That's led him to some interesting places, and honed a skill that you can put to use at your next conference or meeting: Getting a song a day that recaps the speakers' insights for your meeting attendees.

It's a creative approach to summing up the proceedings, an alternative to using a graphic artist to "scribe" the sessions or asking the moderator or host to do a verbal summary. A song might be the way to introduce an awards ceremony, summarizing all the great accomplishments you're about to honor...or to recap the results of a competition and disclose the winners...or sum up a group of seemingly disparate speakers.

I first watched this process in action at TEDMED 2011. Having Jonathan start the morning off with a recap of the previous day's sessions became a must-attend 8:30 in the morning. People were on time so they wouldn't miss these songs. Jonathan got TEDMED's movers and shakers moving and shaking in different ways: One of his recaps includes a 60-second dance break as suggested the previous day by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin--and you'll see that the Surgeon General joined right in, as did the rest of the audience of leaders in healthcare, medicine and science:

I'm also especially fond of Jonathan's day 2 recap from TEDMED 2011, which includes a mini-opera about Diana Nyad's talk about swimming from Cuba to Florida and getting stopped by not one but two attacks by box jellyfish. Follow the link to see what a complete wrap-up song looks like, or click on the thumbnails at the end of Mann's video, above. Nyad's talk is part of The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches on our blog so you can see her video for context.

You can reach Jonathan at and follow him on Twitter at @songadaymann...he'd be a smart hire for your next conference. How will you put this musical resource to good use at your next meeting?

(Photo from TEDMED 2012)

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Famous Speech Friday: Journalist Marie Colvin's eulogy for fallen war correspondents

Journalist Marie Colvin, who died this February in a targeted attack in Syria on the day she was due to leave the country, was a longtime war zone reporter. She'd seen every kind of dangerous assignment, even losing an eye in the process. War correspondents don't often take time to give speeches, but Colvin did at this 2010 memorial service for fallen war zone journalists and their support teams, held at St. Bride's, a church in London's Fleet Street, the longtime home of the press corps. This speech and the service took place a little over a year before she died.

In a setting far different from her usual surroundings, Colvin used her remarks to do what she did best, describing the conditions that real people face in war-torn locations:
Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.
She also shared this personal recollection that feels so chilling in retrospect. The "embed" she refers to is when journalists are "embedded" with an armed forces unit to cover the war:
Just last week, I had a coffee in Afghanistan with a photographer friend, Joao Silva. We talked about the terror one feels and must contain when patrolling on an embed with the armed forces through fields and villages in Afghanistan...putting one foot in front of the other, steeling yourself each step for the blast. The expectation of that blast is the stuff of nightmares. Two days after our meeting Joao stepped on a mine and lost both legs at the knee.
Such a blast killed Colvin in February, and in her obituaries, the photos were primarily of her speaking at this event. What can you learn from this famous speech?
  • Describe horror simply: Horrific circumstances don't need over-the-top adjectives to be powerful. Instead, stick to concrete nouns and verbs to convey what's happening. Let the horror stand on its own without too much embellishment.
  • Know your history: In this speech, Colvin harkens back to the first British war correspondent and quickly sketches his circumstances, then describes those she faced in the modern day...but noting the long-standing similarities. The quick history lesson makes clear that the fallen journalists being honored are part of a long tradition.
  • Explain what normal means: Describing a war zone is not unlike describing the surface of another planet--it's foreign to most of your listeners. Sharing simple, everyday descriptions will help your audience relate to and feel a connection with the strange landscape you're describing.
You can read the transcript of this speech, and in the video below, watch a tribute after her death by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, in which you can see and hear Colvin working and speaking. What do you think of this famous speech?


My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another strong woman speaker movie coming: Viola Davis as Barbara Jordan

Following in the wake of The King's Speech and The Iron Ladycomes word that public speaking--and a strong woman speaker--will be on the big screen again. Viola Davis, recent Oscar nominee for The Help, will be playing Congresswoman Barbara Jordan in a movie, based on the book Barbara Jordan: American Hero.

Davis was recently featured in The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches for her acceptance speech "What keeps me in the business is hope," at the ELLE Magazine Women in Hollywood awards ceremony. There's video at the link so you can get a taste of her speaking style--I think she is more than up to the challenge of tackling Barbara Jordan.

Jordan, considered one of the finest orators of the 20th century, also was the first African-American and first woman to keynote the Democratic National Convention, widely considered among the most powerful political speeches ever delivered. You can read more about Barbara Jordan's origins as a public speaker here, including her early influences and other key speeches, and our analysis of her convention speech here, which is included in The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches. But here it is again, so you can imagine Viola Davis in the role. What do you think about this forthcoming movie?

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sharpen your Skype, conference call & Hangout speaking skills: 8 tools

There are new worlds to conquer when it comes to the conference, in addition to speaking on a speakerphone or using videoconferencing, you might be using Skype or Google+ hangouts to communicate with far-flung colleagues. And let's face it: Most of us do our "public speaking" in these kinds of meetings. To keep your skills sharp, I've collected these tools and resources:
  1. Start with the most important call tool: You, the speaker. This roundup of 6 ways to work the phone will boost your effectiveness on phone calls of all kinds. I recommend you focus on the tips on pausing, and tonality--people will notice the results.
  2. What guides your videoconferences? Don't just enter the room and hope for the best.This 7-step guide to a videoconferencing policy will help you think through and establish everything from how you look to how you and the group will handle transitions and pauses to let participants reply.
  3. A new tool for live video chats is OnTheAir, described as "a combination of Google+ Hangouts, Skype and YouTube," but without the plugin requirements that come with hangouts. You can schedule live conversations and moderate who gets to speak, and share the time of the chat to Twitter and Facebook. This might make for a better alternative if you want to speak long-distance to a class or small group.
  4. Hear and be heard is the mantra for conference calls. You'll do better at both with an excellent headset with a microphone attached, and Lifehacker polled readers to come up with these recommendations. Along with a good remote, this -- in my view -- is a tool worth investing in for those of us who spend so much time on conference calls.
  5. Saving that Skype? If you want to focus on the conversation without worrying about notes, use Callnote to save the audio portion of your Skype call. It'll put the audio file right into Evernote, one of my favorite applications. For starters, this could be an excellent practice tool that will let you hear how you sound on these calls. Don't wince--that's a great tool for improvement.
  6. After the call, the action items rule. If you're using an Android device for your conference call, try these tips for using "call actions and reminders," a handy tool to guide your follow-up actions. You can download this app at the link.
  7. Go big or go home: Companies will be looking at Skype alternatives like these three new communication options from Cisco--out of price range for individual consumers--that include new videoconferencing tools, including Jabber, which will let employees "communicate via video, voice, presence, instant messaging, or web conferencing." Learn more about these options so you can suggest them when upgrade time rolls around at the office.
  8. Presenters, hang out: Google+ has opened its video-chat Hangout to developers, and there are two apps available as presentation tools: A SlideShare app that lets you take presentations on that site and pull them into your hangout, and Cacoo, a free tool for making diagrams and flowcharts. Be sure to practice with a friendly gang of colleagues until you get comfortable integrating these tools into any presentations you're doing on Hangout.

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Famous Speech Friday: Dame Enid Lyon's "Strike a Human Heart" speech

(Editor's note: Sydney-based speech and communications coach Claire Duffy, who has a special interest in women and young speakers, took me up on my request to help us find more international speakers for this series, and gives us a fine and moving example from her home country of Australia. Thanks, Claire!)

"Everything that takes place in this chamber goes out somewhere to strike a human heart."

Enid Lyons was the first woman elected to Parliament in Australia. At  41, she was already a popular presence, the mother of twelve children and the widow of  Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, who had died in 1939. The importance of this 1943 speech was felt by all, opponents and supporters alike, which may be why it was recorded. Her biographer says she admitted later to not having eaten before her delivery and being extremely nervous: "My lips were stiff when I started but all the men were wishing me well."

Dame Enid was not a grand person. She came from a small community in Tasmania and had been a school teacher. She met Joe at 15 and married him at 17 when he was 35.  

She  was always "a tremendous speaker."  In 2003 her son said  "There was a joke in the family that she could move her audience, even if she was talking about the price of broccoli or lettuce."   Her voice is melodious, her diction superb, and in her modest way, her language sings.  But  perhaps her greatest gift  was to put her domestic experience to great public effect. 

In the first two minutes of this speech she acknowledges the occasion and its importance for the nation.  She goes immediately to  the gender  issue: "Any woman entering the public arena must justify herself not as a woman but as a citizen..."  but she will not deny her sex. She  warns that her colleagues "will have to become used to the homely metaphors of the kitchen"  as  "every one of us speaks broadly in terms of our own experience."  She says she is a new broom, "a very useful adjunct to the work of the housewife but undoubtedly very unpopular in the broom cupboard." 

Her genius is to link the personal to the  political. In 1943 Australia's empty land mass and declining birthrate were a concern.  She says she had pondered  '"the subject of population...not with my feet upon the mantlepiece but knee deep in shawls and feeding bottles"  and she knew she had " least tried out some of the theories which would make for a better population."

Dame Enid believed  "Every subject, from high finance to international relations, from social security to the winning of the war, touches very closely the home and the family." Although a conservative, her speech asks for social security "so the weak shall not go to the wall." She wants maternity and nursing services, better houses, and for women to be prepared for the war's end  when the men will come home '"torn, worn and wrecked."

She was emotional yet practical. "Because of what has happened to me in this war I have become disillusioned. For years I went about the world preaching the gospel of peace and friendship and co-operation. I believed with all my heart in disarmament, but I can never again advocate such a policy. I believe that we must arm ourselves to meet whatever danger may threaten us, but I also believe that we must co-operate with all those forces of good that are working for peace, and with all those people who have a will to peace, so that we may do whatever lies in our power to preserve peace in our time."

She closes  with a moving tribute to her husband. For him, "the problems of government were not problems of blue books, not problems of statistics, but problems of human values and human hearts and human feelings. That, it seems to me, is a concept of government that we might well cherish. It is certainly one that I hold very dear. I hope that I shall never forget that everything that takes place in this chamber goes out somewhere to strike a human heart, to influence the life of some fellow being".

Tips for today's speakers: 

  1. Dame Enid  is unaffected, and real.  She knew exactly what she was talking about, and  as result so did everybody else. Authenticity works.  Stick to what you know. Be yourself with no apologies  and  no pretensions. 
  2. Build rapport no matter what the occasion. Parliament is a highly formal situation, but Dame Enid manages to undercut it and create a personal connection. Although a public forum, her choice of domestic language and her frequent references to personal experience create a sense of intimacy which change the dynamic. It's almost as if we were at the table talking together, sharing the wisdom of an aunt or a mother - not in the legislature, which is really rather intimidating.  Note how she speaks directly to the audience, transitioning from one section to another cordially saying 'now let us ....' 'now let me...' inviting her audience in and acknowledging that they are part of  the event. 
  3. Be pleasing to the ear. Dame Enid had a  lovely  voice, and a gift for rhetoric. Her words are well chosen and sonorous; her phrases are balanced, her  cadences flow. Nothing she says is fancy or convoluted or concocted, and 70 years on, it still impresses.  The issues have dated and some of the  views seem quaint, but she's interesting, easy to understand, and we like her still. Use simple language and be direct with your listeners. Your  voice  is like  a paintbrush to give light and shade and depth to what you say. 
You can listen to audio of this speech, either by downloading the entire speech, or downloading it in four parts. Or, read the transcript. 

Earlier this year, Noreen Le Mottee read an excerpt from this speech that you can watch on video:

(Transcript source:  Hansard, Parliament of Australia. Photo by Antoine Kershaw.)

My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Do you talk yourself out of public speaking--or say yes to opportunity?

So many readers have observed that they see too few women as speakers on conference programs that I've begun asking meeting organizers: Do you have trouble finding women speakers, and why?

The answer that surprised me most when I first heard it from a female meeting manager was "We make a point of identifying women speakers. And when we call them about being speakers, most of the time they refer us to someone else--usually a man." Then I heard it again, and again.

I'm wondering whether some women are talking themselves out of public speaking opportunities--or having trouble saying yes to speaking opportunities. There are plenty of valid reasons to turn down a speaking gig, but if those conditions aren't present, what's behind your decision to pass on an opportunity to speak? What are the reasons you hesitate or refer offers on to others?

Please leave your answers below in the comments. I'd love to hear from those of you who've experienced this as speakers, and as program or conference organizers.

Looking for famous speeches by women? Check out The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, with a wide variety of women speakers, types of speeches and topics to inspire your next speech. Each one comes with lessons for speakers, plus video or audio and a transcript, where available.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Presentation smarts: Shorter slide decks get read

If you're cramming lots of detail and data into your slide deck, expecting that your audience will take the time to absorb it later when you circulate the deck, beware. A new infographic, Don't suck at meetings, from online meeting platform Sales Crunch, zeroes in on just how many of your slides get read after the presentation. The take-home lesson? Shorter slide decks get read more, and read for longer periods of time.  I've excerpted that part of the infographic for you, below, and here are the numbers to know:
  • Short is sweet: A short deck of slides from 1-20 pages in length will be read fully 40 percent of the time. Recipients will spend 52 seconds reading each page of a slide deck if it is 1-10 pages in length.
  • Medium is more rare: A medium-sized deck, from 20-40 pages, will be read 25 percent of the time. Your readers will spend 35 seconds per page if the deck is 41-50 pages long.
  • Long isn't strong: A long deck--more than 40 pages--is read fully just 14 percent of the time, and each page gets just 10 seconds of attention if the deck is more than 100 pages.
My post on "How Rush Limbaugh is helping me celebrate Women's History Month" is nominated as one of BlogHer's "Voices of the Year 2012." Follow this link to vote--and thanks for supporting this post.