Posts Tagged ‘vocal impact’

PowerPoint Presentation Tips: How to Keep Your Audience Tuned IN! (Part 3)

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

When you use PowerPoint, are you actually diminishing your image as an expert – or even helping your audiences tune you out?  If your answer may be YES, you need PowerPoint Presentation Tips for real speaking power.

Today’s VideoBlog gives you the solutions:  PowerPoint Presentation Tips, Part 3.   In previous blogs, I presented Tips #1 through 6.

  • Tip #7:  At any point in your presentation where you plan to move close to your audience for dramatic effect, help focus audience attention by placing a black slide in your deck.
  • Tip #8:  When you want to focus attention on yourself for a longer period of time, allow the screen to go completely dark. Use the “B” key for this.
  • Tip #9:  Always make your final slide an image slide:  this image should illustrate the inspirational closing that you will speak. 

Finally, Tip #10:  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Don’t make PowerPoint your higher power. Allow PowerPoint to support you, and not the other way around.

When you use these strategies with PowerPoint, you’ll project your own unique power.  You’ll enhance your image as an expert and your listeners will quickly realize that they cannot afford to tune you out.    You’ll have them on the edge of their seats!

Be sure to receive all my upcoming video tips!  Follow this link to my YouTube channel and hit the “subscribe” button on the right side of the screen:  https://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=SuccessfulSpeaker

Project Authority by Reducing Your Filler Words

Monday, January 9th, 2017

During business conversations and presentations, would you like to reduce your filler words, to sound more authoritative and get buy-in faster?  You can do it with a technique that actors use when they are preparing to speak extemporaneously.

You already know that filler words (um, uh, so, well, like, you know) rarely add meaning and are usually just a distraction for your listeners.  And that they jeapardize your ability to project confidence and commitment.  Reducing your use of fillers will help you enhance your credibility and your leadership presence.  Borrow this practice technique that actors use:

Set a timer for increasing time periods of time, two or three minutes to start, and record yourself as you speak in extended sentences on a topic of your choice.  Choose a business topic that you know well, something you enjoy speaking about (but not your elevator speech or a sales pitch).

As you speak into the recorder, imagine that each word that comes from your mouth is connected to the next one, which is connected to the next one, and so on:  the way pearls are connected on a string of pearls.  When you feel the urge to use a filler

  • Stop yourself
  • Pause
  • Say the filler silently to yourself

When the timer rings, play back the recording and notice your fillers.  Then repeat the exercise, with new topics of your choice.

As you become comfortable with this exercise, increase the setting on the timer, perhaps starting at five or seven minutes.  Then, continue the practice until you can speak extemporaneously on new topics of your choice for fifteen or twenty minutes straight, without the use of fillers.

I guarantee:  when you practice this on a regular basis, you will find that, over time, you are decreasing the number of fillers that you use.  You will sound more confident and more authoritative.  And you’ll increase your ability to influence!

Speaking Mistakes: Humility Saves Face

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Have you ever made a mistake during a business meeting or conversation: a big mistake that was obvious to everyone?  You don’t have to lose face in situations like these.  Here is a tip that will help you save face.

At one point or another, in your professional life, you may at one time or another, have dropped the balls. You said the most inappropriate thing or your spoken mistake that everyone noticed was a serious one.  These situations present two choices for you.  You can

1:   Pretend that it didn’t happen:  this is never advisable when you are sure that everyone noticed your mistake!

2:   Accept that you dropped the balls and demonstrate humility.

Humility might be an instant and sincere apology. It might be self-deprecating humor.  It might be that you allow others to see you try with your heart and soul to correctly your mistake and maybe even fail to correct it!  Humility means that we accept our right relationship with nature and allow people to see our human-ness.  Because human beings make mistakes and are sometimes wrong — and most everyone we do business with can identify with that.

Humility is a very importance ingredient in successful business speaking.  It’s not a weakness.  It’s actually strategic.  It’s a quality that makes us approachable, more likeable, and more attractive to do business with.

Enhance Your Leadership Presence With Acting Improvisation

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Would you like your business listeners to trust you more?  Would your business improve if you could convince prospects that you will be a true business partner for them?  Would you like to generate more new business and keep more the business you already have? 

If you’re answer is YES, you won’t want to miss my exciting program called “Enhance Your Leadership Presence with Acting Improvisation.”  You’ll learn how to enhance your leadership presence by using acting improvisation, storytelling techniques, and the “yes and” mindset to transform your communication skills. You’ll learn how to generate business by deepening interpersonal connections, speaking with authenticity, building trust, and engaging your listeners. And you’ll learn how to address the changing needs of your existing clients by expanding your creativity and spontaneity. 

I describe this work as “serious fun”. You’ll be engaged in playful, interactive activities:  acting improvisation, theater and imagination games, and mind, body, and voice techniques that will help you project a spirit of collaboration and convince your prospects that you can (and will) help them solve their business problems. 

Let me tell you how acting improvisation will enhance your leadership presence: 

#1:  Whenever you speak for business, your listeners have one over-riding concern: they want to know what’s in it for them.  Acting improvisation addresses this concern.  Early in their training, actors learn that the audience is always asking the question, “Why are you telling me this?”  Acting improvisation teaches that you must answer this question, and answer it in a way that is compelling for your listeners.  This is a skill that every business leader needs!  If you’re not answering this question in a way that is compelling for your listeners, you’re losing business. 

#2:  To generate new business and keep the business you already have, you need to engage your listeners.  Acting improvisation teaches what a message is made of, what needs to happen; it teaches you how to discern when the beginning should be over, when your listeners have had enough of the middle, when it’s time to move on to the ending, and how long that should last, etc. Leaders who use this knowledge and the timing that it develops become truly engaging:  become masters of engagement.  And they have a measurable competitive edge! 

You, too, can become a master of engagement. Acting improvisation will teach you how!  Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this innovative program: you’ll take away powerful techniques to transform your leadership presence.  

Discover how play will enhance the way you work. And get ready for some serious fun!  I look forward to working with you.

 

 

 

Engage Listeners With the Power of the Pause (“Let Your Ideas Land”, Part 3)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

 

Would you like your business listeners to be drawn IN when you speak?  Would you like them to feel eager to hear what you’re going to say next?

If your answer is YES, you need the power of the pause.  Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they are going to speak.  The tempo of your spoken word has a strong impact on your listeners and directly influences their level of engagement and influences the way you are perceived.  Your pauses are key.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to process a spoken idea.  When you listeners can see you, they need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  your visual delivery, as well as vocal delivery.  Your pauses can give them the time they need.

A University of Michigan study revealed that when speakers never paused, they had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  And the great British actor, Sir John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!  He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time.  Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”.  Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea.  Another benefit of the pause is that it gives you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level.  During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain eye contact.

During the pause, your listeners will usually be wondering why you’ve paused and wondering what you’re going to say next.  So, your pauses increase listener curiosity and engagement level, and they make you more compelling.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input.  They may lose some of your meaning; they may even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs, communicating that your message has value, and drawing them IN.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!

 

Engage Listeners: Pace Your Thoughts to “Land”

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

One way that successful speakers engage their listeners is by pacing effectively and allowing each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.  This helps listeners understand fully and gives variety to the delivery.  I recommend a rehearsal exercise based on one that I learned from the Academy-Award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis.

Today, I’ll present the first step in this process:  Think in thought groups, rather than thinking in words.  This will help your pacing become organic, authentic, and compelling.

Research tell us that people don’t think in words; we think and listen in complete thoughts.  Match the way you speak with the way your listeners listen!  Apply my adaptation of Olympia’s technique, which was originally created to help actors internalize the sections and emotions of a scene.  I have adapted Olympia’s technique for business speakers, so that you will develop greater sensitivity to your listeners and more consistently pause, tune in, and allow each idea to “land” before you go on to the next idea.

Begin rehearsal for any business talk with a simple exercise:

  • Set out a few chairs, as you would for the game musical chairs.  Begin by sitting in one of them.
  • As you rehearse aloud, move to a different chair each time you complete a thought.  Speak each complete idea from a difference chair.
  • Repeat this exercise until your mind and your body have internalized the moments when each complete thought has ended and the next one is about to begin.

This simple exercise will increase your awareness of your thought groups.  It will help you become more sensitive to your listeners and be better able to pause, tune in to the listeners, and allow each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.

You listeners will understand more fully and be more fully engaged!

Command Attention with the Surprising Pause

Monday, July 30th, 2012

http://youtu.be/Y6J2tqiXENc

In my last blog, I wrote about your use of pauses, to allow your ideas to land when you speak & engage your listeners.

Today, I’m going to talk about the power of the surprising pause. Successful business speakers, like good actors, use the surprising pause strategically to command attention and add depth to their message. The element of surprise is a key factor in capturing and keeping your listeners’ attention when you speak for business. Pausing at meaningful and surprising moments can be helpful to you in three ways:

1.   It creates variety in your delivery:  A moment of unexpected silence provides the greatest contrast to a stream of words.

2.   It creates suspense:  It teases your listeners for a moment, making them want to hear more.

3.   It gives your listeners a window into your inner world:  Listeners want to know what is “going on” with the speaker underneath the words.  A surprising pause filled with meaning allows your listeners to observe a different quality in your expressiveness and gain additional perspectives.

In the video version of this blog, I demonstrate now just how effective a surprising pause can be. You may wish to view that now; simply click the thumbnail for the video.

If you prefer to continue reading:
I use the following sentence as an example of the use of the surprising pause. It’s a sentence about concept of supply and demand: an excerpt from a play called Other People’s Money, by Jerry Sterner; which was first produced Off Broadway and later made into a film with Richard Dreyfus.  Here is the sentence:
“One day, when the dollar is weaker or the yen stronger, or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, demand will skyrocket.”

Logical but predictable moments to pause would be after the words, “day, stronger, and country”.   A more interesting choice would be to add meaningful pauses after the words, “dollar, yen, and demand”.   The surprise and suspense created in those moments leads to a more compelling delivery.

As you rehearse your business talk, consider why and when you will pause. Take logical, meaningful pauses at moments when those pauses might be most surprising.

Make your delivery truly compelling —  and captivate your listeners!

How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Ideas to ‘Land’ (Part 3): The Brief Pause

Monday, June 25th, 2012

http://youtu.be/RC9A14CsNmM

In today’s videoblog, I’ll share the third and final step in my three-part series called “How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas to Land.”

In my last two videoblogs, I talked about the first two steps in this process: (1) Speak in complete thoughts and (2) pursue your point with energy and focus.

Today, I’ll share step three: Pause briefly after speaking a complete thought, to allow the idea to “land”.

Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they prepare to speak. The tempo of the spoken word has a strong impact on the listener and directly influences the way speakers are perceived. This raises the issue of pausing.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to digest a complete thought. When you are speaking face-to face or on camera, your listeners need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  a palette that includes your visual as well as vocal delivery.  So, pauses are important.

A University of Michigan study revealed that speakers who never paused had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  The great British actor, John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!    He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time. Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”. Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea. The pause will also give you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level. During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain good eye contact.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input. They may lose some of your meaning; they might even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs while you communicate your own conviction that your message is important.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!

Step Two, for How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas To Land When You Speak

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

 

http://youtu.be/i1N1BQxryVU

In today’s blog, I’ll write more about how to keep your listeners engaged by allowing your ideas to land when you speak.

Last time, I wrote about Step One in this process:   Speak in thought groups.  Today, I’ll write about Step Two: Pursue your point with energy and focus.  I’ll share some early advice given to me by one of my teachers:   the late Mira Rostova, (who for many years was coach to the great film actor, Montgomery Clift).

One of the most common mistakes speakers make is to put focus on (to stress) each word – or too many words — within a complete thought.   Speakers who do this are usually attempting to be clear, but the result is often a delivery that sounds unfocused, pedantic, or even condescending.   While every word that you speak “counts” and should be understood by the listener, take time to consider which of your words should receive focus and which should not.

Prepare with these three strategies:

1.  Review your notes and identify the focus word of each complete thought. Remember that the more words you stress, the more you lose focus and clarity — so be very discriminating as you choose your focus words.  Make word-stress choices in creative ways that add depth and an interesting perspective to your ideas.  This can add an element of surprise to your delivery, which is very engaging.

2. Underline the focus words of each complete thought.

3. Rehearse aloud, stressing only the focus words of each complete thought. Put your attention on your focus words.   Keep them at the forefront of your mind, and pursue them energetically as you speak.   My late teacher, Mira Rostova, used to  say, “Go for the point! Go for the point!”   Mira was talking about pursuing your point with focus and energy.  Rehearsing this way will help you drive your ideas and will prepare you for the third and final step in this process.

So, be sure to read my next blog:  Step Three for How To Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas to Land When You Speak.

How to Engage Your Listeners: Allow Your Ideas to “Land”; Step 1

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

http://youtu.be/bRvNPjBGK0s

Successful speakers engage their listeners by pacing the message in a way that allows listeners to understand fully. The key is to allow your ideas to “land” when you speak. I recommend a technique based on one that I learned from my mentor, the Academy-Award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis.

In today’s blog, I’ll present Step One:
Think in thought groups, instead of thinking in words. This will help your pacing to become organic, authentic, and compelling.

Research tells us that people don’t think in words. We think (and listen) in complete thoughts. Match the way you speak with the way your listeners listen! As you prepare to speak for business, focus on your thought groups by using these three strategies:

1. Review your notes and analyze your whole message. As you rehearse aloud, be conscious of the number of complete thoughts that you present in each sentence – probably one, two, or three complete thoughts in any given sentence.

2. Be mindful of the moments in your message when one complete thought ends and the next one is about to begin. These are your transition moments.

3. Here is a useful and fun technique adapted from the theater. My mentor, Olympia Dukakis, taught me a rehearsal technique that helps actors internalize the actions and emotions of each section of a play script. I have adapted Olympia’s technique for business speakers, so that you will become sensitized to your thought groups. Here is a good way to begin your rehearsal process:

1. Set out a few chairs, as you do in musical chairs, and begin by sitting in one of them.

2. As you rehearse aloud, move to a different chair each time you complete a thought. Speak each complete thought from a different chair.

3. Rehearse this way until your mind and body have internalized the moments when each complete thought has ended and the next one is about to begin.

This early rehearsal exercise will increase your awareness of your thought groups and will prepare you for Step 2 in this process (which I’ll be writing about soon).

Be sure to read my next blog and/or watch the videoblog: Step 2 for “Engaging Your Listeners: Allow Your Ideas to Land”.

May you be a successful speaker!