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Improve your speaking skills today with this carry-along coach written by two of the top professionals in the field
Sales calls. Weddings. Business conferences. Weekly meetings. We're all called on to speak in public. Often, professional success and advancement depend on it. Yet many people find the experience draining or terrifying, or remain unsatisfied with their own ability to engage and sway an audience. In Present Like a Pro, you'll learn how to:
· Solicit useful feedback.
· Deal with hecklers.
· Gracefully handle A/V malfunctions.
· Sell your point through audience participation.
· Evoke the power of your own life in your talk.
· And much more!
Kevin E. O'Connor and Cyndi Maxey have distilled the knowledge they've acquired from more than forty-five years combined of professional speaking into a concise, easy-to-use guide that will help anyone Present Like a Pro!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||366 KB|
About the Author
CYNDI MAXEY is a communication consultant and speaker who specializes in communication that drives profitable performance. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. KEVIN E. O'CONNOR is a leadership consultant and speaker who specializes in developing technical professionals. He lives in Long Grove, Illinois. Combined they speak more than 200 times per year.
CYNDI MAXEY is a communication consultant and speaker who specializes in communication that drives profitable performance. She is co-author of Present Like a Pro. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.
KEVIN E. O'CONNOR is a leadership consultant and speaker who specializes in developing technical professionals. He is co-author of Speak Up! and Present Like a Pro. He lives in Long Grove, Illinois.
Read an Excerpt
Present Like A Pro
The Field Guide to Mastering the Art of Business, Professional, and Public Speaking
By Cyndi Maxey, Kevin E. O'Connor
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2006 Cyndi Maxey and Kevin E. O'Connor
All rights reserved.
Aristotle Knew the Basics
Power is in the character of the speaker.
Power is in the speech itself.
Power is in the mood of the audience.
Why should you look forward to your next presentation? Because it's an absolutely irreplaceable experience! You get back much more than you give — every time you present.
First, giving a successful presentation is great for your psyche; you feel good when you do well. It even feels good when you try new things and not all go well.
Second, it is a practical way to move up in your organization or circle of friends and associates. If you are good at presenting, people automatically think you are good at everything you do because they see you as a courageous person with not only high self-esteem but also high "act-ability" — someone who does things. People give a lot of credence to a speaker; often it's simply because the speaker is up front and they are not! Standing up and speaking well are keys to your promotability quotient.
Third, you have personal power when you have command of an audience. To persuade a busy group of people to take notice of your message and to do something about it as a result ranks high on the scale of winning friends and influencing people.
The presenter's power is great. In fact, your ability to use that power well was first prescribed in an ancient art form perfected by the Greeks — the art of rhetoric. Some of the most well known philosophy comes from Aristotle (384–322 BC), who believed thatpeople have a natural disposition for the truth and who called rhetoric "the ability to see the available means of persuasion" on the speaker's part.
The available means of persuasion for you are basically three elements: you, the talk, and the audience. That's it. Everything you do is a carefully concerted blend of these three. Giving a toast to the bride and groom? It's you, the toast, and the wedding guests. Addressing your new staff? It's you, your notes, and a group of people who are wondering about you. Selling a key account? It's you, your notes and visuals, and the three decision makers at the end of the boardroom table.
The balance of the three elements is key. Aristotle's view held that character of the speaker, the emotional state of the listener, and the argument itself (the talk) all combine to achieve the persuasion. He said the speaker has three powers: ethos, logos, and pathos. Ethos is the power of personal character. Logos is the power of proving a truth through logic. Pathos is the power to stir up emotions in the listener. The best presenters find a way to use all three powers in the right combination: who you are, what you say, and how you say it.
Your character is in your shared self. The best presenters communicate naturally as real people. They don't try to be someone they are not. One of our favorite professional speakers, a former penniless immigrant who is now a millionaire, is in demand today as a speaker because of the stories he tells and the many examples he gives of how he amassed his fortune. But he does it with little ego and lots of reverence for his friends, his beliefs, and his business relationships. All this is inherent in his character as he speaks. The audience believes him because of the power of his character.
Your truth is in your argument and knowledge. How does a speaker find truth? Sometimes you may need to research and document to prove your points — in a sales presentation, for example. Other times you may not need intense research to support your thoughts. As long as you present evidence of the truth in the best way you know how, you demonstrate logos, or your reasoning. If you don't present with reason, the audience will quickly dismiss you as unqualified to speak. A minister or priest speaks with the evidence of the Bible. A professor brings research and case studies. An introducer brings knowledge of the speaker being introduced. Any talk, no matter how long, is truth telling. The more clarity to the truth you tell, the more convinced your audience is of your message.
Your emotional appeal is in your audience's hearts and minds. Of the three powers, this is the least predictable. You can learn to share your character and select your arguments more readily than you can pick up on the nuances of an audience. How will they react? What will they feel? What will they think? This power is perfected only by practice and listening to feedback — over and over again. If you really listen, you'll realize that your audiences are talking to you all the time — before, during, and after your presentation.
The true pro becomes adept at continuously gathering this information ... day after day, speech after speech. It's best to avoid attempting to speak to any audience without first meeting them. Perfect opportunities include: at the dinner the night before, at breakfast the day of your presentation, moments before you go on. Your best opportunity is to approach audience members with a smile and a handshake and even ask the audience for their "burning questions," questions that bring out what the audience really wants to learn from your talk. All of these are vital methods used by the most successful of presenters who never forget this essential third element.
A presentation is an exercise in the acknowledgment of power.CHAPTER 2
Master the Vocabulary of the Customer
Words convey understanding.
Audiences want most to be understood.
Your meeting planner is your secret guide to your audience.
Whoever asked you to speak is your customer. Although the audience is the one you are speaking to and with, it is the meeting planner, the one who gets you to the audience, who is your primary customer. A meeting planner may be a sales manager, a supervisor, the communications director, your school principal, your alderman, a training director, a marketing leader, a project team leader, or the bride or groom.
This person is also your greatest ally in learning about the audience. Meeting planners know those you are speaking to, they know their needs, and they know one thing you may not know — the special vocabulary of the audience.
Nothing will hurt you more with an audience than not conveying to them that you understand their work or their situation. Words, special words, convey that better and faster than anything else. For example, in the military, the term "TDY" refers to "temporary duty elsewhere." If someone is TDY, then they are on a temporary assignment.
Kevin and Cyndi both speak frequently to physicians, although they are not doctors. Kevin often teaches for the military, although he has never been in the military. The first time Kevin spoke to a group of Air Force physicians, he remembered that someone had mentioned a late-night party the night before, and how the physicians might not be very "awake" when Kevin spoke to them the following morning. Kevin was beginning what would be a full day of presentations when an officer came into the room making a real commotion by tripping and spilling his coffee. The audience, of course, looked up and laughed. Kevin said, "It's OK, he was just TDY for a bit last night." He laughed, and so did they. At the end of the day, one of the doctors approached Kevin and said, "I wasn't sure you'd be any good, but when you said what you said about TDY this morning, I knew you knew us."
Every audience wants to be known. Use your meeting planner to find out what the code words are. Does this audience have customers or clients? Do they have staff, employees, associates, crew, or cast members? Find out what happened in the presentation just prior to yours (attend that presentation!) the day before, the week before. Be curious about their work, their jargon, and their major challenges.
Are they an organization, an agency, a corporation, or an association? When Cyndi first addressed government audiences, she learned to speak about the reporting structure differently; government leadership positions are chiefs and directors, not vice presidents and managers. Government employees talk about service and productivity, not profit and loss.
Then, interlace this knowledge in your presentation. Resist the temptation to be patronizing: "I think firefighters are the finest people in the world." Likewise, resist the temptation to act like you are one of them: "Whenever one of us sells a kidney dialysis machine, we know how important it is for the patient." Don't try to deliver all of your research too obviously to them: "I asked your meeting planner about you and I learned that you ..."
Interlacing your knowledge means you may or may not use the tidbits you have learned. Kevin didn't know he would use TDY, but he kept it handy. As far as he knows, it only made a difference to one doctor. But it was an important difference.
Utilize your meeting planner for insight on the words that will reach your audience.CHAPTER 3
Turn Your Expertise into a Speech
Your life and work experiences make you unique.
Be more aware every day of everything you do.
Write down ideas ASAP.
A Texas community leader called a longtime friend, one of the only female ranch owners locally, to invite her to talk about her ranch experiences to a few people the community leader was having for lunch. The rancher accepted and wrote a short, casual speech. To her surprise, the "few people" turned out to be eighteen hundred people at a large hotel! She gave the speech to much laughter, and happily, the feedback taught her that people liked her stories. She decided she loved speaking, pursued the field, and is now a sought-after professional speaker.
You may not lead an exciting, celebrity-filled life on a ranch with cowboys, rodeos, and Argentine millionaire bull buyers. However, you certainly have lots of memorable life and work experiences. You can use them to increase your visibility and expertise. Here are some ways to get started.
List topics that are easy for you to talk about. What topics are easiest for you to discuss? Think of areas you enjoy discussing or those topics your business associates and friends frequently ask you about for advice. Think of the things you do every day and the lessons you've learned over time. For example, if you're in construction, you could talk about working with general contractors, teaming up with major architects, or growing your business. If you're a homemaker, you can discuss your quick recipe successes or what you've learned about raising teenagers. Remember, the key is to start with what's easy. Contrary to popular belief, it should be easy, not laborious, to write.
Collect stories. Collect stories and examples and write them down as soon as possible. You tell stories to your friends and associates every day and to your family at the end of the day. Record them. You can make notes in your personal data assistant, on a tape recorder, or in a notepad. They don't have to be major events — just authentic experiences from your life. For example, the next time you have a unique meeting, are inspired by a family member's comment, or have a memorable customer service experience, write it down.
Be aware of current events and trends. If you're not aware of what's going on around you, including what people read, watch on TV, listen to on the radio, or search for on the Web, you won't have a topic that grabs immediate attention. Publicists and journalists are masters at discovering developing trends. Professional speakers will tell you that one of their biggest responsibilities to audiences is to stay on the leading edge.
You can be a trend watcher, too. Watch what aging Baby Boomers are doing with their homes or businesses, how retailers are adapting to the growing Hispanic workforce, how the downturn in the economy is affecting your consumers, and the continual renewal of the Internet.
Read respected publications that focus on national issues. Watch cable channels and TV programs geared to the age you want to address: high school teens, young professionals, or semi-retired older citizens, for example. Look in the "meetings and conventions" section of your newspaper to see how other speakers are positioning their topics for groups and associations. You can then align your topic to the trend. For example, you could discuss "how the economy affects today's long-term decisions," "how to network online with the real-estate community," or perhaps "how to manage a business in semi-retirement."
Develop three to eight key points about your selected topic. Listeners will forget most of what you will say, so don't make lists with dozens of ideas. Keep your points to a minimum. For example: "Four Keys to Success in Selling Services," "Eight Tune-up Tips for the New Hire," or "Six Scheduling Mistakes I'd Never Make Again." Then, you can insert your stories to illustrate the key points.
Consider a unique way to package the topic. If you're wondering about what makes you unique, go to a bookstore and see how authors repackage the same topic over and over. They just give it a new slant. Here are some possible examples of creative packaging for rather mundane topics:
What Firefighters Know About Your Building's Safety That You Don't
Starting a Pool Cleaning Business: How to Take the Plunge
DDollars and Sense: An Accountant's View on Low-Cost Maintenance
RSVP: How to Respond to Your Customer
Once you've prepared a talk, you'll be ready to accept the next time a community leader, career fair coordinator, or meeting planner calls. Most talks range from thirty minutes to one hour and include time for questions, which you'll enjoy answering because you'll know you've sparked an interest in your topic. Few things are more rewarding than an appreciative audience that has come to hear your unique perspective and expertise.
Each person is an expert at something and loves to talk about it.CHAPTER 4
Be Creative with Word Color
Words are powerful: They can help or they can hurt your presentation and your audience.
Your audience will respond to you differently depending upon the words you choose.
The color of your words is sometimes more important than the words themselves.
How do you want to say it? How do you want to greet this audience? How do you want them to think of you after they leave and describe you and your talk to someone else?
Your word choice is critical when it comes to both impacting your audience in the moment and remaining in their memory after the presentation concludes. Do you want to say something is "bad" or that it was "unfortunate"? Is it really "depressing" or could it be "discouraging" or even better, "a bump in the road"? How will the audience feel if you speak of "firing" an employee rather than "letting him or her go," "helping the employee find a real vocation in life," or perhaps "structuring a dignified way to leave this job and find something else to contribute to more effectively"?
The "color" of your words is the punch they give the audience. In much the same way real color helps us distinguish what is important and critical, so too does the color of a word. Consider these word pairs. In each case, which stands out for you as more colorful?
Challenge/face up to
Growing/on the rise
Overuse can take away the true color of a word and leave it stale, bland, and ordinary. Consider these corporate buzzwords, resounding too frequently at meetings everywhere. What do they really mean?
Outside the box
With the game plan
Movers and shakers
In the loop
Out of the loop
Too much on my plate
Words are much more than "spin." Great presenters consciously choose their words to convey the right meaning at the right time to the right person. The presenter's first duty is always to think of the listener. What do I want the listener to understand? How can I say this so it will impact the listener's mind and clearly express my intentions?
None of us read minds. We don't ever know what is actually going on inside another's brain. However, although we cannot be mind readers, we can be mindful communicators. Mindful communicators are careful of one thing above all else: How is my message being received? They are less concerned with what they are saying compared to what is being heard. Certainly, they need to attend to their message, making it clear and "listen-able." But when it comes to communication, the best communicators care more about the receiver of their message.
Excerpted from Present Like A Pro by Cyndi Maxey, Kevin E. O'Connor. Copyright © 2006 Cyndi Maxey and Kevin E. O'Connor. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I Love the Language,
Part II Prepare Like Crazy,
Part III Respect the Client,
Part IV Break the Rules,
Part V Create a Connection,
Part VI Adapt to the Moment,
Part VII Propel the Image,
Part VIII Master Interaction,
Part IX Follow Up for More,
Part X Never Give Up,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great book!!!! The way this book is designed let's you look up exactly what you need in a clear and concise way. Bullet points, coach's comments and ideas from the Pros are sectioned off to re-enforce the key elements in every chapter. A great read if you have little time but need a lot of imformation quickly. It doesn't get any better than this!!!!!
This book is a great manual for beginners searching for helpful tips on how to give presentations or speeches as well as more experienced professionals who are looking for creative ways to make their presentations stand out. The authors have included valuable speaking tips straight from the trenches: business executives and people in the ranks who succeed or fail by how they express themselves. Great field guide for all levels of speakers.