Speaking Viscerally

Satisfaction = Experience – Expectations

20190726_171948Where is that speech you have been longing to give? Is it still stuck in your head, slowly trying to making its way into your heart? Moving a speech from your head to your heart can be an arduous task for many speakers. Even seasoned professionals can sometimes find themselves fumbling and mumbling, with words as they struggle to make a connection with their audience. Speakers are prone to get caughtup in that dilemma when they more “heady” than “hearty.”-When they are trying to memorizing rather than internalizing. – when that speech is still in their head. When you can deliver that speech from your heart, it is ready to be delivered – viscerally.

To deliver speeches viscerally, the speaker has to practice painting pictures with words; we all know and say what a picture is worth. With more word pictures and fewer words, a speaker will deliver their message viscerally. Here is a useful exercise to try before you give your next speech. Imagine, when you arrive at the venue to give your ten or fifteen-minute talk, you are informed there, and then, you have only two minutes to speak. What do you say – Goodbye? – No! You ask yourself – What is my core message? – That gift you planned to leave with your audience that day. Rip those precious words from your prepared speech, and from that experience, you will discover the true messenger and a message that will leave your audience satisfied.

A fellow Toastmaster; Lee told me many years ago, audiences want to be left feeling satisfied. Some audiences will only remember two things after experiencing your presentation – How they felt at the peak of your presentation – good or bad- and how they felt at the end – The peak and end. The more you speak, the more audience expectations will increase. Satisfaction = Experience – Expectations. < S= E1 – E2>. At some point, the emotions of audiences will begin wane. As your speech continues to get better, expectations will begin to increase. Eventually, it is natural to become more difficult to maintain the same level of audience interest. Speakers must know when they peaked and when satisfaction was achieved. Start with a bang. Don’t end with a whimper; let your last words linge. Lee was and still is a master at leaving his audience satisfied.

Visceral speakers trust their message. They believe that they can deliver their talk in two, ten, or fifteen-minutes if necessary. They know when that speech is in their heart and is no longer stuck in their head. When that speech is no longer in your head, it is ready for the platform. It is ready to be delivered viscerally. Get to the core message of your talk early. Be visceral. Work the formula S=E1-E2, and you will leave your audience satisfied. Speak from the heart, and the word pictures you create will leave a lasting impression on all those who were fortunate to have heard you speak, and who knows one day, they may also start speaking viscerally.

The Art of Interpretation

Bringing words to life can be a daunting task!

20190704_140329The art of Interpretation is one of the essential disciplines speakers should attempt to master. Bringing words to life can be a daunting task for speakers and coaches. Some may ask, what is the art of Interpretation? Is it acting, well, not exactly! It is a multi-faceted dynamic style of speaking which demands the mastery of communicating your concepts, thoughts, and ideas by carefully combing words, tone, and body language. Some of the many other related fundamental requirements include breath control, good diction, vocal variety, rhythm, resonance, and phrasing. Mastery of each of these disciplines can completely change your audience Interpretation of the spoken word.

All speakers cannot fully acquire these requirements in a few short months. Certain concepts are more difficult to grasp than others immediately. It takes long and serious study and the development of best practices. Good speaking begins with proper breathing. There are two points to remember regarding the use of breath in speaking. (1) The speaker should inhale each breath quickly and deeply. (2) Its emission must be gradual and perfectly controlled to sustain, expand, or diminish their tone. The basis of breath control is good posture. Perfect posture makes inhaling easy. An active diaphragm and strong rib muscles provide the necessary perfection of controlling emission.

Speakers should also be aware that it is not the quantity of breath taken in, it is the managed column of air expelled, and that makes for an excellent speaking voice. Some additional physical requirements to produce a resonant tone are the loosening of the neck, jaw, throat, lips and tongue muscles and the regular recurrence of stressed and unstressed words, which creates rhythm in your speech patterns. It is those speech patterns, which add that distinctive quality to your tone and voice.

Tone and body language play an essential role in the art of Interpretation. While there are those who will say that Interpretation and acting are indistinguishable, there are notable differences. The speakers, who excel at this art, are those whose focus is on delivering a speech and not an act. They use verbal punctuation, correct pronunciation, and expression to connect with their audience while discovering the many joys and benefits of interpretation.

Speakers, challenge yourself to explore the use of neutral and weak vowels to heighten the effect of your tone.  Use body language to reinforce your punch lines by adding a punch look. Use silence to send your message. Be aware that sometimes your words may convey one meaning to your audiences while your tone and body language may be screaming something completely different.  And remember speakers,  what your audience decide to think, feel, or do after they have heard your speech, may depend on how well you have mastered the art of Interpretation.

Mentors Coaches And Protégés

Coaching can be part of mentoring, but mentors are not coaches.

20181207_093125Mentors and coaches have a long history of supporting and nurturing protégés through close working relationships with protégés. They offer encouragement and guidance while their protégés work on accomplishing their goals. Both mentors and coaches have the unique opportunity to share their expertise, wisdom, and knowledge while their protégé gains a foundation for building the necessary skills for achieving success in their endeavor. Mentoring or coaching can be a rewarding experience for a mentor, coach or protégé; however, although the roles of mentors and coaches may overlap, their roles and responsibilities are quite different.

Coaching can be part of mentoring, but mentors are not coaches. Coaches are responsible for their protégés meeting specific short-term goals. Common goals a coach can effectively facilitate are skills-based and are specific. Coaches focus on the short-term accomplishment of a goal or, the development of a single skill.  For example, a coach can have a powerful impact when a member wants to enhance or develop their use of pauses, vocal variety or gestures when preparing to deliver a presentation. A coach will assume the responsibility for providing the steps for the protégé to meet their presentation goals by giving specific feedback and direction to a protégés as they prepare for that single event. The coach determines the tasks and steps for the protégé to achieve a successful outcome.

The Mentor’s role is different. The mentor’s role is to provide support as the protégé takes personal responsibility for working toward the accomplishment of broader goals over an extended period. An experienced and knowledgeable mentor knows the value of their wisdom.  They also know how to balance sharing their expertise while allowing their protégés to learn on their own. For example, the protégé may choose to discuss their experiences while working on a challenging project and to share the knowledge they gained by trial and error. A mentor can support a protégé by listening to their thoughts, concerns, and challenges faced, and offer advice for handling similar situations in the future. The mentor offers advice, however, it is the protégé who determines the necessary tasks and steps for their success.

When the primary functions of mentors and coaches are clearly understood by the protégé, the chances of a successful outcome are much higher. Mentors and coaches should identify the needs of the protégé by asking probing questions and listening to the specific needs and goals.  An initial interview is one of the best ways for a mentor or coach can determine the role best suited for a particular protégé.  By listening and noting differences, but focusing on commonalities, a coach or mentor can enhance their relationship and partnership with a protégé. A tailored approach to suggestions and feedback, designed to coordinate with the protégé’s goals and personality, will often form a strong bond and a foundation for the success of mentor coach and protégé.

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Controlling Your Fear on the Platform

Don’t fight the fear. Embrace it!

20190425_185242Most speakers are conscious of the fact that the fear of public speaking-bug can strike at any time when they are on the platform. But with time and experience, when they begin to accept that all speaking in public is, in fact, public speaking the platform becomes less intimidating. Whether you are on or off the platform, it doesn’t matter. To be successful, speakers must learn to utilize the normal tension and nervousness associated with speaking in public. Don’t fight the fear. Embrace it. Tension can give speakers energy. It can make speakers more alert and make the difference between a compelling presentation and one that is dull and lifeless.

The act of speaking and proper breathing play a vital role in the process of reducing tension.  As you talk and discover that your audience accepts and understand what you are saying, your nervousness will dissipate. Physiologically, your body is using up the excess adrenaline it generated. Speaking aloud and moving with purpose reduces fear. Use body language to help you channel your energy as you show and tell your story. Be alive when you are on the platform, and your audience will respond positively to you and the topic you are presenting,

Topic selection and subject mastery are critical for your success. Select topics with which you are familiar and passionate about. Choose topics that will easily let you take your mind off yourself. Speech anxiety sometimes arises because of self-centeredness. Avoid being more concerned with your appearance and performance. Instead, focus on your audience and subject matter. Think more about introducing the subject and purpose of your talk rather than just starting your speech. Open with a statement that is simple, easy to say and engages your audience.  Choose statements that allow you to get to the point of your speech quickly and clearly.

Audience and situation analysis is also critical. The more you know about your audience and their expectations, the less you should have to fear. As you speak, feed off the positive non-verbal responses, you are receiving. The more you speak in public, the more you will become confident and be able to relax when you are on the platform. Speaking several times in front of the same group can help you reduce your fear; however, speakers should try to step out of their familiar surroundings to explore speaking in front of unfamiliar groups whenever possible. Over time and with repetition of the public speaking experience, you will realize and develop your own strategies for controlling your fear when you are on the platform

Make a U-Turn​

Public Speaking is an Art not a Science.

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 Make a U-Turn

Public speaking is an art and not a science, however, over the years, I have heard many coaches caution – Watch your “I To You Ration” – the number of times you use I vs you, especially when telling your personal stories.

While it is OK to deliver your personal stores in the first person, there comes a time when you should make a U-Turn, simply because if you don’t, history has shown you risk losing your audience. Even a personal speech should not be all about you, it should also be about you and you, your audience.

Much of what we share in our speeches is personal. Things we did, things we saw, things we felt. As a result, we all have a tendency to overuse the pronoun I, even when a better connection can be made with your audience if you were to Make a U-Turn. Turn some of those “I” moments into “you” moments to include your audience in the picture or scene you are developing. If you do,  you will make a better connection with your audience.

An effective technique when considering a U-Turn is the use of dialogue or questions to engage your audience. Here is one example from one of my speeches:

LOST

  • “Have you ever lost your glasses, when they were right here (in your hands) or perhaps it was your wallet! And as if that was not bad enough, you lost your mind and ask one of your kids – the smart one – did you see my wallet? Only to receive the answer that would make any saint a sinner – Where was the last place you left it. Daddy!!”……

Try turning some of your scenes into a silent conversation between you the speaker and you the audience. Make a U-Turn after I moments. That too can also be very effective. Don’t focus on ratios, focus on your art in the context of your speech. Observe the difference in the connection you are making with your audience as you continue to develop your art and the art of making better U-Turns.

 

 

 

 

Your Foundational Statements

Great speeches are not written – they are Rewritten!

3866033Your Foundational Statement will often determine success or failure when writing your speech. That statement can be a short sentence or catchy phrase.  It can be a humorous or provocative statement, shocking facts or rhetorical questions. Whatever you choose, it should make your audience think, “Wow! – That’s interesting, tell me more.

Most speeches generally have an introduction, a salutation, discussion, and conclusion.  Your introduction should grab your audience’s immediate attention. It should clearly identify where you are taking your audience. You should also try to make your opening relevant to your audience. Audiences are always more willing to pay attention if they can relate to your subject matter. While a salutation is always optional, if done well with sincerity, it can help you make a better connection with your audience.  

Next, you should go into what I call the Discussion phase of your speech. Here is where you give your audience reasons to buy into your point of view with facts and figures. Be the expert by presenting your material with natural excitement, and strategically placed humor. Establish your Foundational Statement. Tell a story to make your point or make your point by telling your story. Personalize your speech. Use vivid language and remember the rule of threes when qualifying your references. Once you are sure that you have made your point, don’t repeat yourself, move forward. Get to the Conclusion, keep moving forward,  You can recall later.

Telegraph your conclusion to let your audience know you are closing. This can be done with a simple phrase – “My fellow Toastmasters” – “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Summarize the main points. Repeat your Foundational Statement.  Recall what you told your audience in your introduction and discussion phases Finally, you should leave your audience with a call to action. If you are sure that your closing will leave your audience with a burning desire to take some action in the minute of silence after you have concluded, STOP! you are done, however, remember great speeches are not written – they are rewritten. Now you must edit your speech until you have a tight final copy that is ready for delivery.

The Entertaining Speaker

Your Isims & Schisms

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Keep Your Humor Handy

Are you an entertaining speaker? We all love to be entertained. We seek out entertaining books, movies, music as well as all kinds of different ways to satisfy our natural urge for entertainment.  Keynote speakers who are both informative and entertaining are in high demand. They are often called to speak at weddings, conventions and social events. This is why it is important as a speaker to be entertaining.

Entertaining speakers offer diversions from the stresses of everyday life. Dr. Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters famously said: “We learn best in moments of enjoyment”. When we laugh, cry or engage in whatever happens to be our chosen form of enjoyment, we are entertained, however, there is this misconception by many speakers that you have to be funny to be entertaining.

Speakers all know, it ain’t necessarily so. Sure, some entertaining speakers rely heavily on being funny. Conversely, some speakers rely more on life experiences. They keep notes about stories and events from their life and the lives of others.   The good entertaining speaker doesn’t rely on telling jokes, they add humor to their speeches. They are the first to advise that you leave the joke telling to the comedians until you decide to become one.

It is for this reason, I always recommend keeping a story-file or log of interesting stories that cross our path daily. They may be your personal stories or stories that touched you in some manner. You will find that your best humor is those “off the cuff” remarks you say or hear daily. Write them down.  Try them out every opportunity you get. Make them your “isims”, My friends call mine “Henry-isims”. Over time, you will find that some will work better than others. I call those that fall flat, your “schisms”, however, as you begin to score more “isims” than schisms, you will realize that you are well on the way to becoming an entertaining speaker.

Impromptu Speaking

Good speakers know how to Listen

Giving a speech without preparation is challenging. Mark Twain, one of the most celebrated American novelist and essayist, on more than one occasion has admitted, off-the-cuff speaking wasn’t as easy as he made it appear to be. Continue reading “Impromptu Speaking”

Evaluate to Motivate

What you Saw – Heard – Felt

 

IMG_3179Public Speaking is a skill. Like any other skill, it can be improved and developed. One of the best ways of improving as a speaker is by studying the evaluations you receive from your fellow Toastmasters.  Evaluations are the heart of the Toastmasters educational program. We observe the speeches of our fellow Club members. We offer evaluations of their efforts. They, in turn, do the same for us. If you truly want to improve as a speaker, you must learn how to give and receive helpful evaluations. In Toastmasters, we evaluate to motivate.

Every speech in Toastmasters is a project with a different purpose and objectives.  As an evaluator, you will have difficulty evaluating a speech if you are not familiar with the project’s objectives. Before the Club meeting, you should obtain the manual from which the speaker is speaking and carefully read the project description and objectives. If it is a Pathways project, it is a good idea to get a copy of the project worksheet or checklist in addition to the Evaluation form.

Most evaluations can be broken down to simply what you saw, what you heard and what you felt. It is quite easy to spot a well-prepared speaker. In the words of Dr. Ralph Smedley, a prepared speaker should never be nervous. Recognize their poise, confidence and the speaker’s ability to connect with the audience. Nervous energy often produces negative results. In your room for improvement, a reference to what could be improved should be cited with specific reference to what the speaker did while at the lectern is or podium as well as what can be done for improvement in the future.

What you heard should be your opinion on if the speaker was able to achieve the goals and objectives of the project. Address the speaker directly, as you go “from one – the speaker- too many, the audience” Your evaluation is not a speech, it should do nothing that calls more attention to yourself than to your efforts to help the speaker improve.  Recognize the speaker’s vocal variety and his use of language.  Recognize the use of proper diction, contrast, rhyme, echo, and metaphors where possible as well as foundational statements.  Remind the audience of what you heard or did not hear.

Most evaluators tend to shy away from what they felt when the speaker made a reference that resonated them. Here, the evaluator can focus on the six emotions to which all humans relate.  The evaluator can recall with statements like -When you recalled the experiences, you shared about your parents, I felt happy, I felt your fear, I was sad or surprised, angry or even disgusted. Use the emotions you felt to draw your audience back in time and into the picture or scene the speaker created.

Make every effort to develop your evaluation skills. As you develop your evaluation skills, you will also become a better speaker.  Observe other evaluators. Ask questions about your evaluations. Pathways have a module, which gives us the opportunity practice evaluations online.  With more exposure to a variety of evaluations, you will be able to improve. You will also be able to use your evaluation skills outside of Toastmasters to become more confident in your interactions at work, at home and even at play. Whenever you evaluate, remember we evaluate to motivate.

What Is A Tall Tale

A short story, true or fictitious!

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WHAT IS A TOASTMASTERS TALL TALE

A contest in which contestants present a three to five-minute speech on a topic that is highly-exaggerated and improbable in theme or plot. Once you are a member in good standing, you can compete. There are no other pre-requirements. however, contestants who speak for less than two minutes 30 seconds or more than five minutes 30 seconds will be disqualified

Webster describes a tall tale as a “Narrative of events that have happened or are imagined to have happened.” It is usually a short story, true or fictitious. It could be a piece of information, gossip, rumor, falsehood or a lie. Today we call that “fake news”.

My first competitive tall tale speech contest was in 1999. I entered my first contest after completing four CTM – Competent Toastmaster Manual Speeches – with my speech entitle Hell’s Paradise. That speech took me all the way to District. One of the lessons I learned very early was since your speech must impress your audience as well as the judges, a good place to start is the judging criteria. I also studied the score sheets as I prepared my speech.  I would highly recommend that you pay close attention to the following:

SPEECH DEVELOPMENT: The way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. A good Tall Tale speech immediately engages the audience’s attention and builds to a conclusion. 30 Points

SPEECH TECHNIQUES:  Refers to the use of various tall tales skills, such as exaggeration, irony, pun, humor and surprise twists.  These techniques are the essence of making a tall tale successful. If you skillfully incorporate those techniques into your tall tale, you will be successful.   25 Points

APPROPRIATENESS OF LANGUAGE:  Refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audience hearing the speech. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts.  Language should fit the occasion and be in good taste. 10 points

PHYSICAL:   Presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. Body language should support points through gestures, expressions and body positions. 15 points

VOICE:  The sound that carries the message – Your voice should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good speaking voice can be heard and the words easily understood. 15 Points

LANGUAGE: Refers to the choice of words that relate to the story. Language should promote a clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words used. 5 points

IN DAYS OF OLD WHEN MEN WERE BOLD:  Tall tale narratives depicted the wild adventures of extravagantly exaggerated folk heroes. Those tall tales were essentially an oral form of entertainment that took audiences on an imaginative invention rather than the literal meaning of the tales.  Associated with the lore of the American frontier, tall tales often explain the origins of lakes, mountains, and canyons. They were spun around such legendary heroes as Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the Pacific Northwest; Mike Fink, the rowdy Mississippi River keel boatman; and Davy Crockett, the backwoods Tennessee sharpshooter. Other tall tales recount the superhuman exploits of western cowboy heroes such as William F. Cody and Annie Oakley.

MODERN DAY TALL TALES: Even if you never went fishing, we all have a fish story to tell. The one that got away or even the minion swimming in kid’s aquarium that was HUGE! Tall tales can be an event that took place on any given day in your life.  One of mine entitled “No U-Turn” tells the story of making an illegal U-turn one day on my way to work.   A cop stopped me and asked! I replied-BECAUSE THE SIGN SAID SO – officer  — (cop) Oh – Really – (me) Yes – I wanted to go straight and the sign said “ No .. U … Turn”.  When the cop decided to call for backup with a straight jacket, I had to confess that I was just a Toastmaster practicing my pauses and got a bit carried away – – which she was getting ready to do to me literally. Would you believe, she did not give me a ticket?  What a nice cop.  (Exaggerate!  Exaggerate!  Exaggerate! …That is the key)

Hell’s Paradise was another about companies that were dominating the software market in the eighties and nineties.  Now I do not want to name names but I am sure you too will get my drift even if you were not around back then. One of those companies was rotten to the core,  while the other’s view of the world was, in my opinion, a bit micro and soft.  On that premise, I built “Hells Paradise”.  Was I ever so wrong?  We all got googled by a company of ten, raised to the one-hundredth power. Go figure…  A play on words is also a good tall tale technique.

Look at your life and I am sure you will find many stories you can spin into a tall tale.  If you can get your audience to express that look that says – REALLY, NO. PERHAPS THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE; you are hitting your mark. Take your audience to the edge of the precipices and dare them to believe we are both going to jump but you must go first.  That is when you must give the moral of your story or leave them to figure out the “rest of the story” which is the life lesson we should take away from every Tall Tale.