Tuesday, October 28, 2008

hat tip: New Zealand gets our intro tips

A hat tip to Olivia Mitchell at the Speaking About Presenting blog from New Zealand: She included my post on taking charge of your introduction in her riff on how to establish your credibility without bragging--a related issue, and one women often tell me poses issues for them when they present in public. Olivia offers good guidance about paying attention to your "braggart alarm bell" and what you, your introducer and your audience need to make the introduction effective for you. Thanks, Olivia!

vitamin C for anxious speakers?

A hat tip and a vitamin C supplement to reader Mary Fletcher Jones, who sent us this interesting item about foods that curb anxiety, which included this advice for speakers:
People who take a 1,000 mg of C before giving a speech have lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure than those who don't.
I'm still hunting down the actual research to bring you, but thought readers can tell me: Have you tried this? On the strength of this, I'm starting a new thread on "the healthy speaker," with tips for how you can relieve stress and improve the physical aspects of speaking. Stay tuned for more.

signaling "let's get down to business"

Our contest to win a free set of the new Eloquent Woman magnetic poetry asks you to leave a question about women and public speaking after this post -- I'll answer the questions, and send the best questioner a free set of the poetry. Alice in Infoland asked: Male speakers often signal "let's get down to business" by taking off their jackets and/or rolling up their shirtsleeves. What can women presenters use as that same kind of signal to their audiences?

Great question, Alice--it underscores the subtle signals, many silent, that speakers can send to their audiences, whether it's colleagues around a table or listeners in a lecture hall. And in truth, there's nothing to stop a woman from rolling up her sleeves or taking off her jacket, right? But if you're uncomfortable doing either, try these options:
  • Take command of the space: If everyone's seated, stand. If you're behind a lectern, walk out to the front of the audience. If there's a U-shaped table format, walk into the space inside the "U." Move in a relaxed way; a good look if you're standing is to hold your arms with elbows bent, hands lightly clasped, as here. If you're seated at a table, put both arms stretched out in front of you and lean forward.
  • Take charge with your words: "Let's get started," or "let's get to work" couldn't be clearer. But make it an invitation to join you--"I know everyone here has good ideas, so let's get started," or "I'm excited to be with you at such a critical time. Let's not waste a moment getting started."
  • Do either before you sit down. If it's your meeting--or you want it to be--try either of the above strategies as you enter the room or shortly after, but before you're seated.
What are your questions about women and public speaking? Put them in the comments (and be sure to give us a way to reach you if you want that magnetic poetry)!

why women are good speakers: Montagu

Writing in the Jerusalem Post last week, columnist Judy Montagu offered these musings about public speaking. The column's chock-full of good advice and trivia--I didn't know that the longest speech ever recorded, according to the Guiness Book of World Records, clocked in at 102 hours. Montagu offers these thoughts on eloquent women:
SOME OF the best talks I've heard have been by women. I think, firstly, that's because despite huge strides in equality, women still need to prove they are as good as, or better than men in "traditional" roles - which means they put in the necessary preparation.

Secondly, women are excellent communicators, empathetic and looking for a response. They tend to be practical and are more likely to stick to the point. So provided they can exercise discipline and have something to say, they are natural speakers.
Montagu also questions a source about why she's not heard any good women speakers in the Knesset. Check out the column for another favorite of mine, her reference to what may be the shortest speech ever, by the late Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek: "I am known for my long speeches," he once said. "Welcome!" he concluded. Do pay attention to her good advice about how you can hold an audience's attention!