The Seven Learning Styles

A visual learner may also be very social and verbal.

FB_IMG_1550169405777As a speaker, you are a teacher. Each speaker has his or her particular style of delivery, but then so does most of us on the receiving end of their wisdom and messages.  Problems often arise when there is a disconnect between the teaching styles of the speaker and the learning style of the audience.  As speakers, we must learn to tap into the seven learning styles of an audience to achieve a better connection. When you can read your audience as you speak, and switch between the seven learning styles we all possess, you will make a better connection with your audience. The following are the seven common ways we all learn:

Visual (spatial): Those who prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Aural (auditory-musical): Those who prefer using sound and music.
Verbal (linguistic): Those who prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
Physical (kinesthetic): Those who prefer using your body, hands, and sense of touch.
Logical (mathematical): Those who prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
Social (interpersonal): Those who prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
Solitary (intrapersonal): Those who prefer to work alone and use self-study.

It is essential to understand that we most likely do not possess one style exclusively in our learning experiences. A visual learner may also be very social and verbal. While speakers may often use their preferred learning style as their primary mode of preparation and delivery, it is crucial to understand the difference in learning styles to maximize their ability to reach and hold the attention of every audience member.

We all listen intently to subjects we are interested in and, often struggle with information in which we hold little or no interest. However, we all process the ability to assimilate information differently based on our personality, and how we interact socially. Our general like or dislike for subject matters that interest us grabs and holds our attention. As speakers, when we can capitalize on the learning style that works best for our audience, we will more often than not, make a better connection with our audience by reading them while we are speaking.

Yes, reading your audience as you speak is important. Your audience also remembers what you were doing when you said what you are saying. That is why your gestures, your vocal variety, and your silence is so important when you are on the platform. You will know when you are making a connection with individuals in your audience. That smile, that nods, that frown speaks volumes. Reinforce your message using multiple learning styles and remember to add reputation to your content. Reputation is the key to making your message stick.

When you prepare your next presentation, give some thought to the learning styles of your audience. In your copy, weave sentences and phrases with rhythmic or musical sounds. Add lines featuring the beauty of words and language. Use your body language to connect with those who are sensitive to touch. Add something for those who are inclined to be logical.  And do not forget the groupies or the loners. Tap into all seven learning styles and over time, you will notice a significant improvement in your ability to make a better connect with your audiences.

Clarity is Key to Good Communication

Great speaking comes from having a clear focus on your message

20181207_093125It is often said that clarity is the key to good communication and public speaking. Public speaking is a skill everyone has to embrace at some time or another; however, over time as speakers, we come to realize that “all speaking is public speaking”. Every day, we communicate requests, opinions, and ideas with family, friends, and associates. The more we exchange communication, the more it becomes evident that communication is not only what you said, but also what the listener thinks you said or is saying.

The following are a few concepts anyone can start practicing today, to become a more effective communicator. These principles can be career-enhancing when practiced daily. They can unleash a whole new perspective in the way you communicate. Speakers can also start applying them to presentations, conversations and your communications with family, friends, and colleagues. They will also significantly improve how you respond in your daily interactions with others. They will help you develop who you are as a communicator.

One of the first requirements of good communication is, getting people to listen to you. How to get audiences to stop, look at you and listen is a question all speakers must try to resolve. Before a speaker utters their first words, they should make sure they have the complete attention of their audience. The challenge then becomes how to hold that attention. Begin with a voice inflection that commands your listener’s attention. Also, use appropriate body language to let your listener know you are ready to establish a line of communication.

If one of the parties tune out or disconnects, it is like having a bad phone connection. Communication is over. While still connected, you should envisage how you are going to hold your audience’s attention. A good strategy is to strive to be entertaining while you are informing or being informed. Listen before you interject. Go with the flow.  If you can entertain and inform at the same time, the flow of information between the speaker and listener will be greatly enhanced.

Great speaking comes from having a clear focus on your message. Quips; witty communication will often keep the conversation alive and memorable.  Well placed quips will often have the effect of an echo long after you and your listeners have disconnected. When used in speeches, quips can bring clarify your message.  Give your messages a voice. Make your audience stop, look at you and listen to you while you entertain and inform. And the day will come when you be respected not only as a good speaker but also as a great communicator.

Sound Bites – Do you use them?

Sound bites can make your speeches memorable.

20190215_200128_001Would you like to become a speaker who connects with listeners, build credibility, and stand out from the crowd? Then start developing and using your own sound bites in your speeches. Sound bites can make your speeches memorable. I like to think of sound bites as merely saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.

Here are three memorable sound bites, used by famous politicians, athletes, and great leaders in recent years. I am sure you too can add the name to each of the following examples.

  • “Senator you’re no Jack Kennedy”
  • “I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”
  • “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit”

A politician in the first example used a sound bite to summarize his position.  In the second an athlete, to intimidate opponents. And in the third, a lawyer making his famous case.  They all knew the power of sound bites. The power of a sound bite is in the brevity of the statement. With sound bites, you can sell without selling. You can weave them into your conversation for effect. Sound bites can be your missing link to becoming a more powerful speaker.

When your sound bites are unique, natural and authentic, they are most effective. They command immediate attention, interest, and action. Well-structured sound bites promote the benefits of the message. Start creating and begin practicing to use the sound bites you have developed. Make them a part of your everyday conversations. The more you use them, the more you will become comfortable using them. Over time, they will become one of your most important skills to develop into becoming a speaker who stands out from the crowd.

Continue reading “Sound Bites – Do you use them?”

Your Power Pause

Let your audience embrace your silence.

20181207_093125Whether you’re presenting a speech at your club meeting, introducing a speaker at a social event or delivering a sales pitch, you will always connect with your audience if you stage some silence before you speak.  In the immortal words of William Shakespeare – “I stand in pause where I shall first begin.”

The power pause method has been the key to magnifying the messages of many great orators, however, stage silence before you begin your presentation should not be overdone. Your expressed purpose should be to make sure you have the undivided attention of your audience. Before you start, try locking your eyes on each of your listeners with a stare, as you silently review in your mind each word of your opening sentence. Make your Power Pause your final preparation before you begin to speak.

When you’re sure, you have your audience attention, it is wise to acknowledge that you now have their attention with a smile or perhaps a gentle nod. The Power Pause is the great equalizer. Whether you’re male or female, tall or short, dapper or grungy, an audience will lend you their ear if you take the time to make your audience stare back at you in hopeful anticipation, before you begin. Stand and steer with confidence as if to say I am ready for you. Are you ready to listen to me.

The Power Pause is one of the keys to charisma – that special power some speakers have naturally or develop. A power that makes them able to influence others and attract their attention and admiration. Audiences usually listen attentively to people they like and those who they admire. The Power Pause can also be your safety net also as you stare out into that audience for the first time from the platform. Let your audience embrace your silence. Take time to gather yourself, your thoughts, tame those butterflies as you begin to deliver what everyone present waited with bated breath to hear; your opening with a roar or a whisper.

 

Conflict – Wit – Wisdom & Humor

“Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

GandhiOne of the best skills all speakers must develop is the art of being quick, witty and polite. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to defuse conflict is with wisdom, wit, and humor. Wisdom comes with time. However, humor and wit take practice. Mahatma Gandhi was a leader who also used wisdom, humor, and wit effectively to defuse conflicts. He was a lawyer, activist, and politician who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India. Here is an example of his wit, his wisdom, and his humor.

When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, a professor by the name of Peters disliked him intensely simply because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him as he expected. There were always “arguments” and confrontations. 

One day Mr. Peters was having lunch at the University dining room when Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to him.  The professor said, “Mr. Gandhi, do you understand that a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.  “Gandhi looked at him as a parent would, to a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not have to worry, professor, I’ll fly away,” and Gandhi went and sat at another table.

Peters, red with rage, decided to take revenge on Gandhi’s next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions. Unhappy and frustrated, Mr. Peters asked him the following question:  “Mr. Gandhi ! if you were walking down the street and found a package. And within that package was a bag of wisdom, and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?

Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “Why of course, the one with the money.”  Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically, said:  “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”  Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied.  So great was his anger, he wrote on Gandhi’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and handed it back to him.  Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk, trying hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.  A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone “Mr. Peters, you autographed my sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

It is my hope that the next time you find yourself dealing with a Mr. Peters, you too will remember Mahatma Gandhi who was the master of wit and wisdom.

 

 

 
 

My Pathways DTM Journey

Change is good when you go first

20181215I joined Toastmasters in March of 1997 and received my first DTM in July 2007 under the original education program. In 2017 we had the rollout of Pathways in our District 4.  I achieved my second DTM award in November 2018 after meeting all the Pathways requirements for a second DTM   Why did I undertake a second DTM? Because it was time for change.

In 2009 to 2010 when I served as the District Governor for District 4, I learned about the new educational program under development to modernize the Toastmasters learning experience. I was excited. The Toastmasters organization started in October of 1924 and was incorporated in 1932.  Since then, the world of Communication and Leadership has changed tremendously. I too believed it was time for change, and it was time to change with the changes.

One of the reasons I decided to get on the fast track to complete the requirements in Pathways, was to help me better understand the changes in the new program. I knew what old offered but was curious about the new. I signed up to be a Pathways Guide for District 4. After introducing the required ten clubs to the program, I decided to do the program myself, to see where Pathways will take me. I wanted to validate the full range of benefits the Pathways program promised. Some of those promises were:

• Customized learning tailored to personal and professional goals
• Early and frequent recognition of accomplishments
• Mobile access to educational materials
• Expanded video and digital content
• A self-paced, self-development journey

At one of my sessions to introduce Pathways, a fellow Toastmasters said to me, if the change is so good why don’t you go first. So I did. The two Paths I selected Presentation Mastery and Visionary Communication delivered on the promises. Once I did my icebreaker, I realized how important it was to develop a strategy to complete each project with full benefits.  While it was great to have the flexibility of working online, anytime, anywhere, I found it useful to have the downloaded copy of each project. I also opened a notepad window and made notes after launching each project. The notepad made it easy to cut and paste key points as I worked through a project. Finally, I would combine the guidelines from the worksheets with my notes to develop the required project for my presentations at club meetings.

The Pathways program is an evolution in the Toastmasters experience. It allows you to select and customize speeches on topics best suited for your personal and professional growth.  New projects like writing a compelling blog, creating a podcast and building a social media presence are dynamic projects, which were not available before the change to Pathways. Having done both programs, the old and the new, I believe the Toastmasters education program will help you build the core competencies required to be an effective communicator and effective leader.

To get started, you will find a wealth of valuable information on the Toastmasters Website. Another useful resource made available by a fellow Toastmasters Guide – Ken Braly from District 101 is available at http://kenb.com/pathways – Pathways will take you where ever you want to go if you embrace the change. This milestone in my Toastmasters journey made me realize that change is good when you go first.

Competitive Speaking

A great speech is spoken art.

20181206_145952Competitive speaking can put a speaker’s development on the fast track. To prepare for competitions, speakers must pay attention to those details often ignored. Here are a few of those details to consider as you prepare for your next speech to compete at the Club, Area, Division, District or International level of competition:

The true winners are not the ones who walk away with the trophy but those who win the hearts of their audiences.

Topic Selection: The topic you choose can decide your place in competitions. While you should select a topic you are passionate about, connecting with your audience should be your primary focus. Your presentation should not be all about you. It is should also have some universal appeal. The challenge is to establish a connection with your audience through personal stories, and real-life events spun into a unique, persuasive work of art. It should not be an act.  Simply put, a great speech is spoken art.

Avoid The Following: Recent events & stories overused by the Internet & News Media. Events with varied audience interest and opinions as well as topics too big to be delivered in 5 to 7 minutes. If after you have finished speaking your audience is left with many unanswered questions, you may want to ask yourself if this is a story I can deliver completely in the allotted time.

Study The Points Distribution As You Prepare Your Speech:  The points distribution is usually: Speech Development-Effectiveness-Speech Value – (Content – 50 Points) Physical-Voice-Manner-Manner (Delivery – 30 Points) Appropriateness-Correctness (Language – 20 Points).

Speech Purpose: The purpose of your speech should be clearly defined very early in your presentation. Are you speaking to Inform: Entertain: Persuade: Motivate.
Study the objectives of all ten speeches from the CC Manual. Focus on what do you want your audience to Think-Feel – Or Do after hearing your presentation.

Delivery: Don’t Tell Them–Show Them-Take Them
Be descriptive – Use word pictures to convey your message. A picture paints a … words.
Be concise but also be clear – Every unanswered question becomes a distraction.
Practice your personal stories and anecdotes so that they don’t sound rehearsed-Keep it real.

Timing: Write a 6-minute Speech and Deliver it in 7 – Find Your Speaking Rate.
Calculate your average speaking rate – Men average 125 Women 150. The average number of words in your speech should be between 700 to 750 words. Use single syllable words.

What is your Magic Moment: The moment in your speech that would make your presentation memorable. Every speech must have a magic moment, strategically placed for maximum impact.

A Call to Action:  Recall what you told your audience in the introduction and body of your presentation. Leave your audience with a call to action. Close the deal to leave your audience with a lasting impression. If at the end of your speech you left your audience has a burning desire to take some action, whether you take home a trophy or not, you will be a winner in the hearts of your audience.

Writing for the eye and ear:

Before the great ones spoke, they wrote.

What should I write for- the eye or the ear? That is the second question many speakers ask after answering the first – do I even write at all? Next comes what I call the whopper should I write a full script – word for word or an outline and just wing it? ” My answer is always No- No- No! To quote one of the best speaking coaches, I had the pleasure of knowing: David Brooks the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking, “great speeches are not written – they are rewritten – Before the great ones spoke, they wrote.” Over time, I too have come to realize the value of writing out your speeches not only for the eye but also for the ear. I highly recommend this approach to your development as a speaker which will improve your self and audience awareness as well as the delivery of your message.

Now that you have a copy that is accurate, clear and brief, the next phase is getting your speech ready for stage time. There is always the temptation for some speakers to begin memorizing their script. That is a bad idea. Don’t do it. Your next step should be to get that speech out of your head and into your heart. It is by far better to internalize than to try to memorize what you have written. David also cautions that “trying to memorize your speech is trying to remember every word in the correct order. Internalizing is focusing on every idea of your copy in the best order.” Internalizing your material will help you develop into a speaker who is comfortable, confident and concerned; comfortable with yourself, confident with your message and concerned with your audience. I can think of no better way develop as a speaker than write for both the eyes and ears. Write for the eye to preserve your speeches, and write for the ear to connect with your audience.

Are You Speaking or Performing

Your acting may become a distraction.

FB_IMG_1546708124190There is a fine line between public speaking and performing when you are on the platform. However, if you are performing more than you are speaking when your purpose for being on stage is public speaking, you are on the wrong side of the line.  In some cases, when speakers are not comfortable or too familiar with their message, they may begin to perform. What most audiences want from a speaker is their message, not an act. If you can make a connection with your audience through your message, there is no need to go into acting mode. Even if that act makes your audience laugh or cry, you run the risk of detracting from your message and your acting may become a distraction.

While the focus of speakers and performers is on making a connection with their audience using gestures, eye contact, vocal variety and use of the stage, your message will resonate with audiences when you are perceived to be authentic. When your audience can relate to your and your message you will be accepted as a credible messenger. Whether you are an experienced speaker or not, your focus should be on your message and not on how you are looking on stage. With more and more stage time, as a speaker you come to realize that it is not about you the messenger; it’s all about the message.

By no means am I saying it is inappropriate to inject acting into your presentation, however, as a speaker you should always remember that your primary goal is to communicate your message. While it is okay to get involved in your stories, you should revert to reality and your purpose as quickly as possible without taking your audience off on a tangent. Over time, you too will develop a style which makes your speaking and performing delivery appears seamless. Your ability to straddle that imaginary line that separates speakers from performers will develop as your stage time increases.

Presenting to audiences takes courage, however, if you strive to be who you truly are as a person when you are on the platform, half the battle is won. Stage presence is far more powerful than resorting to acting. Strive to be conversational with your audience. It takes practice and stage time to become an accomplished speaker. Speaking and performing both have lots in common, however, it is the intent that makes them separate. Leave the performing to actors and stay more on the speaking side of that fine line when you are on the platform.

 

Breathing Exercises to Improve Volume

10 exercises that will help you develop proper breathing

 

20181208_090917Correct, natural breathing is the foundation of a good voice.  Unless you have had voice lessons, athletic training or play an instrument, most likely your breathing is shallow, misdirected or may be lacking control. Failure to breathe properly is a leading cause of poor speaking volume. Watch an infant lying asleep. The entire body is relaxed and the abdominal muscles work with every breath. The muscular movement is almost entirely below the ribs. How do you breathe? You can judge the correctness of your own breathing by watching your shoulders. If they are raised when you inhale, you are missing the deep, abdominal breathing effect that is natural and correct.

Here are 10 exercises that will help you develop proper breathing and improve your vocal volume.

  1. Exhale all air from your lungs. Continue pushing it out even after you feel all your air is expelled. When no more air can be forced out of your lungs you will automatically inhale. Inhale deeply. Observe how the air rushes in. Only a deep, full inhalation will satisfy your hunger for air. Repeat this process frequently, but not more than three or four times at each repetition.

  2. Exhale comfortably. Then take a moderately filling breath, not crowding your capacity. Hold it for 15 seconds, then exhale quietly. Repeat this process frequently for several days. Then gradually increase your holding time to 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and 45 seconds. Eventually, you will be able to hold your breath for a full minute. This exercise will help you to develop breath control by strengthening your diaphragm and related muscles.

  3. Standing erect, inhale taking five quick short gasps with your mouth open. You will notice that you cannot gasp like this without using your diaphragm. Five gasps should fill your lungs to capacity, then exhale in five quick gasps or puffs. Next, practice gasping and puffing through your nose with your mouth closed.

  4. Laugh heartily with a big “Ha Ha Ha” Carry this through to complete exhalation, then inhale deeply and quickly.

  5. Close your lips and laugh soundless through your nose. You will exercise your diaphragm whether you breathe through your mouth or your nose, but laughing silently through your nose will promote better control.

  6. Lie on your back. Place a book on your diaphragm. Try to relax each part of your body, then concentrate on the movement of your diaphragm. As you inhale, the book rises. As you exhale, flatten your abdomen as much as you can. Repeat this exercise until you automatically expand and contract your waist as you breathe.

  7. Stand, then bend over as if to touch your toes, but just hang limply. Remain in this position for a full minute, then straighten and repeat the exercise. Your breath is expelled naturally when you bend at the waist.

  8. Standing, place your hands on your hips, lean your head back, look at the ceiling, and yawn. Your waist will expand as your diaphragm flattens and draws in air. Then, as you exhale, produce the sound, ah, holding it as long as you can without discomfort.

  9. Standing, take a deep breath. As you exhale, count aloud from one to five on a single breath. Repeat the exercise, counting from one to 10. Do not strain. Allow the air to flow easily.

  10. Read a paragraph aloud that contains a mixture of short and long sentences. Read each sentence on a single breath, if possible, inhaling before the sentence, then controlling your exhalation as you read. Do not think that you must fill your lungs before speaking. Your brain controls the amount of air needed with each breath. Keep your breathing easy and comfortable.

The preceding exercises will help you increase breathing strength and technique, however, when you speak, keep your breathing quiet and natural so that the audience won’t notice it. Breathe easily at natural pauses and if you’re using a microphone, be especially careful that the microphone does not pick up your breathing. Those distracting sounds will be transmitted to your audience.

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