Blog

Learning from The King’s Speech

Ever wondered what it’s like to work with a speaking coach? The Oscar winning movie, The King’s Speech, is an excellent example of how a person with serious presentation skill problems can overcome difficulties with the help of a communications expert. Although the king had a stuttering problem, many of the techniques his speech coach used with him are the same as those I use with executives in one-on-one coaching.

Here is an analysis of one speech technique exercise in the movie. You can do it on your own to improve your presentation skills.

Abdominal breathing exercises for speakers …or “Sit on him, Queen Mum.”

Most people breathe shallowly, expanding only the upper regions of their lungs.

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

TV News: Is it still relevant?

Karen Friedman, a communications coach based in Philadelphia, has an article on this subject.  She says the question should be, “Does TV news matter as much as it once did?”

Here are excerpts from her article. The link for the full report is below.

“Research suggests that it does not. According to data from Nielsen, viewership of the three evening network news programs has steadily declined over the past 25 years, falling by more than 1 million viewers each year — translating into millions of dollars in lost annual revenue. The 2009 Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the News Media annual report says that local news staffs, already too small to adequately cover their communities, are being cut at unprecedented rates.

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Analyses of, Media Relations, TV news. Leave a Comment

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

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

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

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

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.  

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

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