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Answering Questions–Don’t Announce Limits

Here’s a great tip from communications guru Dianna Booher about
answering questions after a speech or presentation.

Never Announce a Certain Amount of Time or a Specific Number of Questions
To do so limits your flexibility and creates dangers along the way. If you announce that you will take questions for half an hour and you get only two questions, the audience walks away with the impression that you gave a disappointing presentation that did not generate the expected interest. If you say that you will take another three questions and the third question is a hostile one, you may be forced to end on a negative note from which it will be difficult to recover.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in General articles. Leave a Comment

More visual aid and PowerPoint lessons

This great information comes from Stacey Hanke, owner of 1st Impressions.  …. Thanks, Stacey, from the folks who want to speak better and connect their visual information to their audiences.  Jean

 
Several weeks ago I observed a presentation delivered by an individual whom I perceived as confident and credible. This perception quickly reverted backwards when he began to interact with PowerPoint and notes. As he turned to have a conversation/relationship with his slides and notes, his energy deflated, he disconnected with his listeners, his vocal projection was inaudible, and his rate of speech took off with record speed.

You’ve been there before, watching a speaker talk to their visual aids as if you weren’t there.

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When Communication turns into Crisis Communication

When you’re a leader, you must think about what you say.  Not only is your reputation at stake, but your words can take on an impact bigger than you thought.  

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should know that by now.  But she has egg on her face. And her communications have turned into a crisis communications case study.   Media relations experts are thrilled that she has given a fine example of what NOT to say or do.  

Want to learn from her communication no-no’s?  Here’s an article written by a media relations guru whose work I admire.

Nancy Pelosi’s Three Classic Mistakes

By Jerry Brown, APR

www.pr-impact.com

Nancy Pelosi has made three classic mistakes in telling what she knew about waterboarding and when she knew it as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, General articles, Media Relations. Leave a Comment

Leadership interview

What does speaking well in public have to do with leadership?  Everything!  This weekend I was interviewed by leadership coach Judy Nelson about good and bad speeches and things that leaders can learn to make their communications better.   Here’s the link.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/CoachJudyNelson/2009/05/16/Jean-Palmer-Heck-

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Free Tips, General articles, Good and Great Speeches. Leave a Comment

Great Sound-Bite Example

What makes a good sound-bite? A short concise phrase or sentence that is repeatable. John Lechleiter, CEO of Eli Lilly and Company  (NYSE: LLY), used this very good sound-bite in a speech today to the U S Chamber of Commerce :

“Encouraging innovation needs to be the purpose of U.S. health care reform – not its victim.”

In one sentence, he summed up what his concern is about President Obama’s health care reform principles. The words “innovation,” “purpose,” and “victim” are particularly powerful. 

He explained the result of innovation in simple to understand statistics: that  innovation has helped boost the average American’s life expectancy from 47 to 78 years, a rise of 66 percent over the past century.  

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, General articles, Sound-bites. Leave a Comment

Great speaker still needs these 2 tips

I heard a very good speaker at a luncheon a few weeks ago, who gave us insights into the economy.  CNBC pundit, Joe Battipaglia, was the speaker.  A large man with a large personality, his energetic approach, even with the grim news, kept the audience interested.  Despite that positive assessment of his speaking style, I still have some comments that could improve his presentation … tips that you can put into use in your speeches, also.

He started his presentation with a  joke.  I really don’t like speeches that begin with jokes.  They can put an audience ill at ease.  You never know whether it will be funny, edgy, offensive, or delivered poorly.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Free Tips, Good and Great Speeches. Leave a Comment

TelePrompTer Tips

There’s been a lot of talk regarding Barack Obama’s use of TelePrompTers.  Many are surprised that he actually uses them in places where it seems like he should be speaking off the cuff.  I’m not here to debate that.

The purpose of this blog is to give you tips for how you can improve your presentations.  And there are times when you might use a TelePrompter. So how can you do it with style?  Here are some hints:

1.  Reading a teleprompter is like reading a book in many ways, but completely different in others. When you read a book, you occasionally laugh or smile at what you’re reading silently, but most often your face has no expression.  

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Free Tips, General articles. Leave a Comment

Speech Openings CNBC

I heard a speaker at a United Way Tocqueville Society luncheon yesterday, who gave us insights into the economy.  CNBC pundit, Joe Battipaglia, was the speaker.  A large man with a large personality, his energetic approach, even with the grim news, kept the audience interested.  Despite that positive assessment of his speaking style, I still have some comments that could improve his presentation … tips that you can put into use in your speeches, also.

He started his presentation with a  joke.  I really don’t like speeches that begin with jokes.  They can put an audience ill at ease.  You never know whether it will be funny, edgy, offensive, or delivered poorly.  

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Good and Great Speeches, Heck of a Blog. Leave a Comment

Fear of Speaking

Fear of speaking is monumental.  You’ve probably read the statistics about how public speaking is dreaded more than death and snakes.  A professional colleague of mine has written many blogs on the topic. Some of the experiences I’ve had as a speech coach with clients who were afraid of public speaking are discussed in this blog of SpeakAssured, called Fear of Public Speaking.

And if you have a problem with getting up before a group and delivering a presentation, maybe a professional speech coach would have some help for you.  I’d love to help.  Send me an email at jean@real-impact.com.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in General articles. Leave a Comment

How to Deliver a Tough Speech

It looks  like we’re in for 4 years of lessons on public speaking from the White House.  President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress last night and once again gave us a lesson on how to give a speech. This one was a tough speech for tough times.  What did he do that made it exceptionally good?

  1. He practiced.  His delivery was better than usual, with lots of vocal variety in the tone of his voice, the volume and the pacing. Even the commentators said they could tell he had practiced his speech.
  2. The speech was written to be spoken.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Good and Great Speeches, Heck of a Blog. Leave a Comment

Know Your Speaking Strengths

Are you better with a scripted speech in front of a large group or in a question and answer session with a small group?  Some people think that the communication skills required are the same.  They are not.  All you have to do is watch two political leaders today to see the difference.

As I write this, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has just finished a live video chat with the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star.  It was a question and answer session that also included questions sent in from participants via the Internet. 

Mayor Ballard’s communication strength is speaking one-on-one or in small group settings.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, General articles, Heck of a Blog. Leave a Comment

Academy Award Speakers Need Help

If you’re so good at what you do that your peers, bosses, employees or benefactors honor you with a prestigious award, you may want to think about what you’ll say.  The Academy Award winners have been center stage with their Oscars for years…but most still don’t know how to handle the acceptance speech.   Here’s some advice that was in the Washington Post.  Speech 101: Make It a Class Act.  I agree. It applies to all business people as well, whether you’re in the entertainment field or not.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in General articles. Leave a Comment

On television? Here are some hints on how to look good

Television is everywhere.  If you are a leader, chances are you will be on TV or the video-pervasive Internet soon.  Here are some hints I’ve put together.  They’re the 5 Golden Rules for Being on Television.  I’ve recorded them so you can download it and listen to them on your iPod.  A video version, naturally, will be coming soon.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Free Tips, Heck of a Blog. Leave a Comment

What Speakers Say vs. What Listeners Hear

As a professional speech coach, my number one piece of advice for all speakers is: It’s about the audience.  Sometimes, no matter how eloquently you put something in spoken or written words, the mindset of an audience member is going down a different path.  There are several techniques speakers can use to ensure their audiences are with them.

This isn’t quite so with written pieces that are published in newspapers or posted on websites.  I wrote an Op Ed piece that was run in the Indianapolis Star on last Friday.  It was about the communication strategies that business people can learn from Obama’s inaugural speech.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Heck of a Blog. Leave a Comment

Bosses who need speech coaches

Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully has an article in today’s newspaper focusing on the oratorical skills of the Indianapolis mayor.  Politicians are often the subject of critiques—on everything from policy to polish. For city bosses, and all elected officials, it’s part of the territory.  Constituents are vocal.  And their comments can be damaging.

But there is another group whose communication skills are also critiqued—bosses in the business world.  Their constituents (employees) are also vocal. Maybe not voiced in a newspaper with a circulation of 250,000, but critiqued just the same.  And these corporate constituent comments can be just as damaging.

People judge their bosses on just about everything. 

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in General articles. Leave a Comment

Obama Delivers Somber, Yet Uplifting Address

Barack Obama once again used his words and poetic style to inspire, motivate and bring together the nation and world as he gave his inaugural address just minutes ago.  While it lacked repeatable sound-bites, like Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” there was no mistake that it was time all Americans take a role and imitate the dedicated members of the military in a spirit of service.

Positive Things to Glean About Speaking from Obama’s Inaugural Address

1.  It was about the audience.  (My number one rule of writing speeches.)

  • He used the word “I” only 3 times, while using “we” more than 50.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in General articles. Leave a Comment

Bush Needs Visual Aids to Sell Bailout Plan

There have been many important speeches from presidents of the United States throughout my career as an executive speech coach.   But I’ve never watched one like tonight’s speech by President Bush.

It was one of the only presidential speeches that I would categorize as a speech which needed to educate us. Only by educating us, could the president PERSUADE us that his plan was the right one for these dire economic circumstances.

Our individual and collective financial futures are at stake and most of us couldn’t tell what a mortgage backed security was if it was Fed Ex-ed to our front door.  

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Another VP Candidate Hits a Home Run with Speech

Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, took the stage Wednesday night and wowed everyone in her audience, including many watching her on TV—like me.   Her speech ranked up there with those of Joe Biden, Fred Thompson and Michele (yes, Michele, not Barack) Obama.

Just as Joe Biden set the stakes high for his “boss,” Barack Obama, to overwhelm the audience with substance and style, Palin has set the stakes high for John McCain to take the crowd on a trip into the future of our country.  I don’t think Obama’s speech lived up to that.  Will McCain’s?

Palin showed strength, warmth, and humor in a wonderfully worded speech. 

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GOP Thompson Demonstrates 9 Speaking Tips

Disclaimer:  This is a NON-partisan blog.  Its purpose is to point out the good, the bad and the ugly of giving speeches.

Day 1 of GOP convention

Best speaker:  Fred Thompson.   Worst speaker:  Bill Gross

If you have any uncommitted time, google “Fred Thompson’s GOP Convention Speech” and watch it.  He is a master, as you might expect from this senator-turned-actor-turned-presidential-candidate-turned-supporting-politician.  He gets an A ++.

Here are the positives you need to think about in your speeches before large crowds.  And some of these pointers might surprise you.

1.    He used “but,” “uh,” and “and” throughout his speech.  While there are speech coaches worldwide who will tell you to eliminate those words from your speech persona (and I do, too, if they’re an annoying habit) … his speech sounded so conversational with these 3 tiny words included.  

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Good and Great Speeches. Leave a Comment

Obama’s Historic Speech Doesn’t Match MLK’s

He was his usual confident, well-spoken, forceful self, but Barack Obama’s speech on tonight did not compare with others he has given before (2004 Democratic Convention), nor was it as memorable as this historic day required.

Barack Obama had the 84,000 people at Invesco Field and millions more watching TV or surfing the web in the palm of his hand.  And although he is a great speaker, he didn’t do anything memorable or repeatable.

The first 15 minutes of Obama’s speech was delivered in the usual political style, a little too strident for my taste.  He went on the attack right off the bat.

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