Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book 4 of 52 in 52: TED:ology by Akash Karia

Speaker, Presentations Coach, Well-Known Toastmaster, and my friend, Akash Karia, has made quite the splash over the last few years in the industry. He's published many books, often Kindle-only, at one, two, and three dollar prices, as well as some longer tomes.

He's sent me review copies, I've bought a few, but honestly, I've never read them (hence you've never seen a review from me). Why? A few reasons. I haven't been as committed to reading in past years as I am this year, with my 52 Books in 52 Weeks goal, which seems to be turning into a 60+ plan with some of the extra books that have been sent my way. Also, I never really knew how to take Akash - whether he was just putting out book after book as part of a marketing ploy, or if they'd be worth my time. You'd think I'd have read one to find out, right?

But the biggest reason? Jealousy. Yep. I hate to say it, but everytime I saw a book come out, I just seethed a little bit inside - at myself, really - for not putting out more information myself. Have you ever felt that way? Seen someone else's success, and put more energy into being angry at yourself than being happy for them? No? OK - well, I'm imperfect. But I'm working on it.

In the last few years, I've gotten to know Akash a bit over SKYPE, and he's the real deal. A nice guy who has worked hard to gain a lot of stage time, a lot of coaching experience, a lot of knowledge. Which is why I included TWO of his books in my list this year, though I'll probably read more.

TED:ology is one of six (or is it seven) books centered on TEDtalks, the worldwide speaking events that often have the best talks go viral on YouTube and have spawned hundreds of locally-organized TEDx events. I think we have at least four here in Colorado alone, annually.

It's a quick read on Kindle, though if you watch all the linked videos it reviews, it'll take a bit longer. Akash has teamed with three other communication professionals, Dana Rubin, Marion Grobb Finkelstein, and Dr. Michelle Mazur, to dissect a total of four TEDtalks. Each author tackles their own speaker, and describes the lessons we can learn throughout.

He promises "By the end of the book, you’ll be able to:"

- Harness the power of storytelling and move your audience emotionally.
- Connect with your audience by appealing to a universal experience or idea.
- Create an experience for your audience.
- Start with a startle (and avoid “shocks that block”).
- Keep your audience engaged and interested.
- Deliver a memorable presentation by repeating a hook line.
- Surprise your audience with twists and turns.
- Deliver a dynamic TED talk or any other speech or presentation.
- Build rapport using you-focused speaking.
- Instantly connect with your audience using the energy-matching principle.
- Gesture powerfully and confidently by putting your body behind your gestures.
- Deepen the connection with your audience by verbalizing their thoughts.
- Personalize your talk using callbacks.
- Keep your audience curious using knowledge gaps.
- Have fun on stage.
- Make your statistics come alive.
- Give life and meaning to your data.
- Engage seamlessly with your visuals.
- End your talk powerfully and persuasively.
- Share a message that is remembered and repeated.

That's a big promise - too big. What is really delivered is HOW the four presenters, Amanda Palmer, Jinsop Lee, Anthony Robbins, and Hans Rosling, accomplished those tasks, as explained by the authors. Knowing how it's done doesn't automatically mean you can do it, as anyone who's watched a video on how to paint has found out when they applied brush to canvas. Speaking is much more like art than a step-by-step activity like putting together a shelf.

Once you ramp down the expectations, TED:ology offers four strong, thought-provoking analyses, which, coupled with watching the speeches themselves, will help you as you Speak & Deliver your next presentation, provided you put in the practice with each tool.

Finally, while I found all the analyses to be insightful and interesting, it was Akash's own that stood out to me. Of course he had a dynamic speaker, Anthony Robbins, to critique, in what has become one of the most-watched TEDtalks ever. Beyond that, however, Akash dug deep into the speech techniques, and offered one up that I'm sure I'll be stealing - Knowlege Gaps - the why behind asking questions from the stage. He also was the only one of the four to relate his OWN speaking and coaching experiences in his review, and took extra time to talk to the reader about using the techniques he described.

Thankfully, he didn't let Robbins off the hook, despite his self-professed admiration of the speaker. He critiques his use of swearing, and his inability to stay within time, giving us some strategies to deal with both effectively.

The only aspect of the speech I didn't see him talk about - one of my favorite parts, in fact, was his interaction with Al Gore. Robbins completely had the audience in that short moment ( was a major reason he went over time in the first place).

The other authors were more succinct, perhaps more academically-in their approach. I'm not sure if I'd say they missed an opportunity to reveal more of themselves and their personality, or if Akash missed a leadership opportunity by asking them to give a little more of themselves in their chapters.

Overall, it was well-worth my time, and hopefully yours. TED:ology provided me with several good ideas and reminders of strategies easily forgotten when not used often enough. Regardless of whether you ever end up on a TED stage or not, spend the .99 cents - I did, and I'm happy to do so.

Rating - TED:ology: 4 stars out of 5.

Bonus Lesson for Speakers Wanting to write books - As Akash did here, and as I did in Go Ahead and Laugh, Win Place & Show, and The Finalists - team up with others to make it happen. You don't always have to write it all yourself. Get it done, and get it in the back of the room!

Next week's Review: Under the Dome, by Stephen King.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ignite Win Anyway

Have you heard of TEDtalks? Yeah, I thought so.

But, have you heard of Ignite? Not as many of you, I'm sure. Ignite is also a worldwide speaking platform, organized by local groups, which grew out of the first event in Seattle - apparently to give the 12th Man something to do when they aren't cheering on their Seahawks during the NFL season.

Five minutes, twenty slides is their schtick - short speeches tied to a slide show that advances every 15 seconds whether you're ready or not. When you're out of time - you're done. Sell from the stage and you're likely booed by the typically Generation Z audience. If you're boring, expect heckling.

Here's an example of a typical speech:

A real challenge, to be sure, especially for my pretty positive topic of 'Win Anyway'.

When I went to the Ignite preparation meeting to find out what I might be in for, I realized the audience wouldn't be my typical group of conservative professionals and Toastmasters - though many would be similar to actual members of my club. They encourage a contrarian approach, and even recommend swearing in an appropriate manner.

As seasoned a speaker as I am, working in this format is pretty foreign to me - which is exactly why I want to participate. So I've submitted my proposal, and all I have to do now finish in the top 15 or so vote-getters and I'll end up on stage at the Oriental Theatre in Denver in late February, and leaving with a pretty professional video of me in front of a large audience giving my core message. Not a bad deal, right?

So I'm asking you for your vote. I have no campaign promises, no special prizes - but I do promise to post the video here when it's ready! 'Win Anyway' is the second option in the voting list - but you have to vote for all of them - yes, no, and 'meh', essentially, for the vote to register. By the way, feel free to vote for the first one as well - it's a submission by my fellow club member, who accepted my challenge for our club to submit as many proposals to Ignite as we could.

To vote, head here:

Thank you, in advance, for helping give me yet another venue to Speak...& Deliver!

Bonus Video - an Ignite presentation from fellow TM Danielle Edmonds!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Toastmasters Friday: My Road to DTM - CHECK!

I've been a Toastmaster for almost 15 years. I've competed on the world stage. Twice. I've even been invited to keynote or speak in 13 different districts. Yet, my typical conversation when I meet Toastmasters outside of my district typically go like this:

Them: "You're a DTM, right?"

Me: "Uh, no. I'm and Advanced Communicator Gold with an 'Old' Competent Leader Award"

Them (stunned): "Oh. Why AREN'T you a DTM?"

Sigh. Lots of answers there. Too busy competing being primary among them. Tough to complete the District Leadership requirement when you're in 94 contests in a 10 year span.

Plus, the one year I took off in 2009-2010 to be a Division Governor, I took a job that took me out of town halfway through the term, and I never did most of the work. I still got credit for being a DivGov, but I didn't feel comfortable using that toward a DTM.

In truth, for a long time, I didn't really put a lot of value on a DTM. I was focused on winning the World Championship. That was my Moby Dick - and if you've seen SPEAK the movie, you know it was nearly my undoing. A DTM seemed like the ultimate accumulation of checklists. 40 manual speeches? Check. A few other bigger speeches? Check. CL manual? Check. Leadership role? Check! High Performance Leadership project? Check!

They didn't have to be GOOD speeches. You didn't have to be a GOOD Area Governor. You didn't have to have an effective HPL (High Performance Leadership) project, as long as you produced something. Let's face it - we've seen our share of DTMs in the world that caused us to wonder how hard it really was to achieve.

Yet - such a small percentage of Toastmasters become DTM's that it clearly is difficult to achieve. It takes time, effort, commitment - all qualities that don't always shine in the average human being.

Is the lack of quality control really a big deal? Or is it simply an extension of the activity-based, judgment-free atmosphere fostered by the organization? We have other awards that are judged - the WCPS, of course, and the Accredited Speaker. On the leadership-side, Board of Director spots are given only to those who HAVE been excellent leaders, and show strong credentials to the voters worldwide.

In 2011, after competing and not placing at the Semi-Finals in Las Vegas, I decided it was time to get out of competition for awhile. I announced in early 2012 my intention to be a 2012-2013 Area Governor, effectively killing my eligibility for the next two years. I changed my Moby Dick - so that I could finally answer the question "Are you a DTM?" with a "Yes - absolutely!"

My AG year was successful - we pulled off Distinguished with about 6 days to go. All I needed was my HPL - a GOOD HPL - one that would be worthy of DTM. At least worthy of what I wanted my DTM to represent. Thanks to the encouragement of several, the support of a great HPL team, and the inspiration from District 26's Lt. Governor of Education, Linda Rhea, the idea of ToastTalks was born.

ToastTalks was to be a Friday night event at the Fall Conference with Speakers either giving a 7 minute TED style talk, or a 5 minute, with 20 slides advancing every 15 seconds, IGNITE style talk. We wanted it emceed and video recorded. The event itself went off without a hitch, and the five speakers did a marvelous job of entertaining the 200 plus in the room. My team came through at every turn, and my HPL was completed two months later when I finally got back to my club, after traveling to Canada and dealing with Holiday events which kept me away, to give the wrap-up speech.

It wasn't the perfect HPL. I never got everyone together in person - schedules just wouldn't allow. Group email was my friend - and I asked them every question my manual demanded I ask, as if we were all in the same room. The timeline from start to finish was four weeks. But I learned a lot about my leadership style (or lack thereof) - and had to force myself to be more hands-off than I'm used to - to trust my team. In addition, I had to push myself in the background, as I was competing the next day in both contests, and any extra facetime by me would be unfair and potentially DQ me altogether. While it wasn't perfect, the final product was a grand success.

10 days ago, I was officially Rich Hopkins, DTM in TM's records. 7 days ago, I received the plaque in the mail. I'm proud of it - and even if it's just a series of checkmarks, they are checkmarks the average person never checks. And I didn't settle - by using the old Division Governor term, or using a project as an AG, like the Area Contest, which we have to do ANYWAY, for the HPL (not that there's anything wrong with that - though some thumb their noses at that practice), and I even made sure I earned the new Competent Leader award, even though I applied the old one to this award.

The DTM, much like Toastmasters itself, is what you want it to be, and you get out of it only what you want to get out of it. You can aim for quality or quantity. I suggest you go for both - and never let a checklist-oriented, judgment-free zone let you cheat yourself out of the best result you can get. Only you can decide what that is.


So my problem is solved. No more worries. I'll finally get my due respect. There's only one problem. I just know this is coming:

Them: "So - you got your DTM?"
Me: "Yes, absolutely!"
Them: "Great - when will your get your 2nd one?"
Me. "Ummmm...."

How 'bout right after I win the World Championship?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book 3 of 52 in 52: Drive by Daniel Pink

I know, I know - I'm WAY late to the party. Five years apparently. Sure, I'd seen the TEDtalk video - but everytime I thought about buying the book - well, other offerings just seemed to jump up instead.

I still haven't bought the book. I listened to it on Audible. And I was bored.

It's full of great information, but I think I've been spoiled by Chip & Dan Heath, Dave Lakhani, Malcolm Gladwell and even Gary Vaynerchuck - authors who tell wonderful stories to illustrate their points. Pink has stories, but I felt they lacked an emotional component.

While I felt the book took on a more clinical tone than I like, the information within it was, as expected, pretty strong. But coming in five years late, I think my brain has been spoiled by so many books that probably owe a lot to this one. So much of it, between my years in sales and my long marketing and persuasion reading list over the years, seemed old hat.

Perhaps Drive introduced us to such now-old-hat stories as 'The Candle Problem' (take a candle, matches, and a box of tacks and light the candle without letting was melt on the floor), Zappos customer service, and FedEx innovation. If only I had a time machine.

A quick look at what the book covers:

Thesis: Companies aren't keeping up with what motivates today's employees. Not particularly surprising, since most companies are run by yesterday's employees.

Proposal: We've moved from Motivation 2.0 (rewards & punishment) to Motivation 3.0 (satisfaction & fulfillment) - and then describes the three components he believes today's worker is looking for:

Autonomy - working on their own
Mastery - working to their best potential, getting in the 'flow'
Purpose - working for something bigger than the components of their job

Nothing groundbreaking - TODAY. But something tells me it was when the book was published. But I've read and listened to so much other content covering similar material, it's impossible for me to give Drive a fair review beyond my opinion that it's a drier book than it needs to be.

What stands out for Speakers:

Pink has parlayed this and his other books into quite the speaking career - as you can see from his web page. The book isn't full of original thought - it essentially a research paper that assembles the ideas of others and comes to a conclusion. He doesn't really talk about himself at all. There's a lesson there - you don't have to know everything. You just need to find people that know SOMETHING, draw a conclusion and distill a process, and put out your book. Poof, you're credible, to one degree or another.

Three stars out of five. If you're new to marketing and persuasion, and are working mostly in a corporate environment, Drive is a great place for you to start your education. If you've been around the block a few times - recently, at least - you might be as bored as I was.

If you read the book years ago - what did YOU think? Am I missing its impact? Should I have read it instead of listening to it? What big idea did you leave the book with?

Next weeks review: TED:ology by Akash Karia

Bonus: Save yourself some time and just watch the video below, before deciding for yourself.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Speaker Launch Toward Success - A Case Study from Maureen Zappala

(Editor's Note: Over the last couple of years, I've watched my friend Maureen Zappala transform herself from a top-notch Toastmaster Speaker to a Wannabe Speaker to an actual, Bona Fide Keynoter. What does a journey like that look like? What does it feel like? I asked her to share that with us, in as transparent a way as she could, so that we could really see 'behind-the-curtain' of her efforts, perhaps finding instruction, and inspiration, for our own Launch Toward Success!)

“I’m not a marketer. I’m a speaker.” That thinking is the quickest path to being broke. The fact is, professional speakers are not paid to speak. We’re paid to market.

To reinvent myself as a speaker and get serious about making money at it, I made intentional and bold changes in my approach. In hindsight, there’s nothing magical about these changes. You can find this information anywhere. But unless you try out what you find, you won’t know what works for you. This is what worked for me. 

First, in late 2012, I attended a speaker training workshop. I shelled out a lot of cash, aligned the planets so my kids were carpooled and fed in my absence, and flew to Atlanta for the 3 day “Speak It Forward” Boot camp. It was conducted by my friend Kent Julian, a wildly successful pro speaker in the education market. Wow. I knew a lot of the material he presented, but now I had it all in one binder, presented in a linear, logical way that made my left-brained engineering mind wild with the delight of great possibilities. I could do this! I had a plan. Off I went.

To start, I joined the one year follow-up mastermind group after the boot camp. There were 10 of us, buzzing with excitement about making speaking-business things happen. The energy propelled us forward…at least for a little while. Emotions wore off and commitment, sheer will and iron-clad determination took over. Sometimes I didn't WANT to send another email or  make another phone call, or research another conference opportunity. I didn't WANT to listen to another recording of my horrible speaking where I was guilty of using the word “and” about 4,395 times to create a run on sentence that lasted a solid seventeen and a half minutes. But our group pushed each other.

For my topics, I decided to speak on the leadership lessons I learned while at NASA. Leadership speakers…ugh. They’re everywhere. What’s so special about me? My branding had to set me apart from the zillion other leadership speakers out there. Then it hit me. “Hey, I’m a female propulsion engineer.” I always thought it was ordinary, but people often would say “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” Hmmm…maybe I needed to capitalize on that. Duh. How many female propulsion engineers do you know? ‘Nuff said. Even though engineering was in my rear view mirror  (I left NASA in 1997) and even though I don’t speak on technical topics, or exclusively to technical audiences, it’s a unique branding that gets attention. I loved my work at NASA, and it’s a big part of who I am, so it was a natural choice for my branding. I became “High Altitude Strategies: Propelling Your Team to Peak Performance” 

I outlined 2 keynotes and gave them catchy names. I didn't write the 2 keynotes. I just outlined them. A mistake a lot of speakers make is to write and perfect a speech, only to find out that nobody wants it. I started with outlines and good stories. Then I shopped for audiences to see if any of them were interested in them.

I contacted local service organizations and Chambers of Commerce, because they are always looking for speakers for their events. I knew they didn't pay money, but they were people with pulses and that’s what I wanted. I needed audiences. Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions clubs and networking groups all have an online presence so I searched the Internet to find contacts. When I found a contact, I emailed a simple request, emphasizing my desire to serve them. Here’s the exact text of one email I sent:

“Hello, I was looking at the Richfield Chamber of Commerce website and I see that you host several events where you bring in speakers. Can you tell me how you chose your speakers? I think I have some topics that would be of interest to your members. 
 Please let me know if I can serve you. I can be reached via email or phone at your convenience.

Warm regards,  
Maureen Zappala

This  usually got a positive reply. Then I’d connect via phone, which is better than email because it’s more personal. (I’ll confess, though. The phone is hard for me. As social as I am, I really am an introvert. I could go days without talking to another human, and be ok with that. I had to be intentional to get out of my cave and talk to people.) I’d refer them to my website (where I had my speech titles and descriptions) and bounce around ideas around to get a feel for what direction they wanted to go. It worked beautifully. The titles were the real hook. “Is your Supersonic Team Producing Subsonic Results?” and “Leadership is NOT Rocket Science” were catching attention. I was getting booked. For free at first, but you must start somewhere. Now I needed to develop the actual speeches.

I wrote them, and I delivered them. I recorded them and reviewed them (oh wow…that was dreadful) and rewrote them and delivered them again. I worked at making them great. Your best marketing is to be great behind the microphone. 

At each event, the feedback I got was pure gold. I found out what worked and what didn't. It was win-win-win. The meeting planner got a free speaker. The audience got a great message from a decent speaker. And I got priceless feedback to fine tune the message. Oh, and I got to sell my book. (Make note to yourself: write a book.) 

Some of these free speeches were jackpots of opportunities for paid engagements as well. Through networking, I met people active in their professional network groups. For example, as a result of meeting someone when I spoke at the Richfield Chamber (email above), I am working on negotiating a keynote speech for a state chapter of a large national association. And they pay. Pretty well, too. Sweet.

In parallel to this free speaking, I did a metric ton of research into other opportunities. I spent hours at the library scouring the Encyclopedia of Associations, the National Trade and Professional Association directory and the Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory to find conference and contact information. I searched the internet using keywords like “2014 conference” and “leadership conference” and “women engineering conference”. 

I learned a LOT, primarily what groups would be hiring people with messages like mine. You bet I’ll stay in touch with those event coordinators. While cold calling is part of the booking process, the richer fare is gotten through building relationships. Relationships have to start somehow, and stalking conference chairs via the internet is a viable option. OK, stalking is a strong word. But contacting a conference chair whose contact information is listed on a conference website isn't a bad idea. It gets my name on their radar, and I can follow up later for more opportunities. It’s worked. I've booked with groups I can identify with: women engineers. I’m working on other aeronautic and aviation organizations. It’s a slow process, but it will pay off. When meeting planners need a speaker, I want them to think of and choose me because of the relationship we've built.

It’s not all been sunshine and glitter. If you could see the mountain of emails I've sent to associations asking about contacts, you’d shudder. There are hundreds. And the outflow exceeds the inflow. In other words, unlike with service organizations, I wasn't getting a lot of response. But I must keep pushing forward. 

It’s a numbers game, and you can’t game the numbers. You must do your due diligence. The work I do today may not see results for months. But I’m certain I will see results. That makes the journey fun.

A New York City native, Maureen Zappala relocated to Cleveland in 1983, employed by NASA’s Lewis Research Center after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She left in 1997 to pursue other interests including direct sales, fitness instruction and motherhood. Now as a professional speaker, she challenges organizations to “push the envelope” of their own expectations, so they can propel their teams to peak performance. You can find her at

Monday, January 20, 2014

Speaking of MLK

Every year, Martin Luther King Day rolls around, and I feel a responsibility to post SOMETHING. A responsibility I don't fulfill - I don't even do the minimum, say, posting a meme, a picture, or a YouTube video.

Even a search of my blog for MLK shows only a couple of posts mentioning him - two about misquotes, and one regarding the analysis of his speech in Nancy Duarte's Resonate.

Lets face it - what am I supposed to say? He was a great man, though, like all of us, he had his foibles, depending on which interviews and biographies you read. His impact on the world is undeniable, his vision for freedom and his method for achieving it above reproach. But you don't need me to affirm that for you.

His death was tragic, though hardly unexpected, especially by King himself. I hesitate to say he accomplished even more through his death than he could have in life - it's an easy cop-out. When one considers what Nelson Mandela was able to accomplish with all of his extra years, one can only imagine what King's results would have been.

As a speaker - after all, this is a speaking blog - again, what am I to say? He wasn't a speaker as most of us consider them today. He was an orator. A grand mix of preacher, politician and poet. A charismatic presenter with an audience who desperately needed him, both his following, and his enemies. His ability to move his listeners both emotionally and rationally, to change the thoughts of so many from what they'd been brought up to believe, to rally people of all types to a greater cause, may not only be unequaled since, but impossible to equal in the future.

He was the right man, at the right time, with the right message, and the right delivery - and he embraced it.

So many aspiring and emerging speakers stop themselves with fear of not being good enough, not being well-received. But how many of us fear DEATH or IMPRISONMENT when we speak?

But again, do you really need ME to say any of this?

How am I to truly understand who Martin Luther King was or what he did? I was a baby when he was assassinated. I'm was a white, middle class kid who at 6 and 7 years old played with other white middle class kids chasing each other around with a 'nigger stick' - though we (or at least I) didn't have a clue what that meant, at least until a parent heard us and thankfully stepped in. They didn't exactly explain it, though, just made us stop.

I grew up having one friend in my Iowa high school who was black (sadly, even as I type this, I don't know if I should actually type 'brown' or 'African-American' instead, or perhaps something else altogether), and we got along great. Of course we did - we both loved drawing and comic books and movies.

In my small Christian College in Oklahoma, diversity wasn't extraordinarily apparent, beyond the athletic department. Still, there was a young lady I asked out once after we'd been flirtatious friends awhile. She turned me down, saying I had no idea the obstacles we'd face if we started dating. I persisted, saying, of course, that I could handle whatever came our way, but she'd have none of it.

I thought for a minute as I wrote this post: "Do I have any black friends today?" My immediate answer was NO - but then, they started to pop into my brain. I have many, just as I have many friends of all races, creeds, and cultural origin. I just don't think of them in those terms, unless I force myself to. That, I would hope, would be one of the many desired results MLK had in mind 45 years ago.

There is no way for me to fully comprehend the legacy of Martin Luther King. I can never truly walk a mile in his shoes, or the shoes of those he worked to bring greater freedom and equality to - any more than I can understand what it's like to be a woman, an Asian, a Hispanic, a tall person, a bald person, a musical prodigy or a mathematical genius.

I can only wonder who I might be, who America might be (much less the world) - what prejudices and injustices we would support - if Martin Luther King had not chosen to Speak & Deliver. To stand up for what he believed in, to stand up for what was right and is right and should have always been right. There are more battles, new battles, and even some of the same battles, being fought today. He was called to speak for his values and his people - and by 'his people', I mean the people of the world - because that's what he wanted to create. A world not separated by color or class or politics or religion. But again - did you need me to tell you that?

What can I really say? What can I really do? 

I can only hope that I and my actions and the family I'm raising up will fall on the right side side of the Dream. That I continue to stand up and speak for what I believe, knowing I live in a much safer world, and have a much safer agenda, than he did. And that I can, perhaps, inspire and instruct YOU to do the same.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book 2 of 52 in 52: The Attitude Check by Heath Suddleson

On my list of 52 Books in 52 Weeks, I half-jokingly suggested to the author of 'The Attitude Check', Heath Suddleson, that I'd review his book faster if he signed a copy and sent me one for free. Seemed only fair since he covertly recommended his own book for the list in the first place. So he contacted me again, got my address, and presto, over the last week I read his Lessons on Leadership - which I'd wanted to do for awhile now.

First Impressions...

The book was so much smaller than I expected. All the pictures I've seen of it make it look like a Chicken Soup for the Soul-sized tome, and I figured it would take me a few weeks to digest. But at 5 x 7, as it is accurately advertised on Amazon, if I'd just looked closer, and only 120 or so pages, it is less a biblical text on leadership than a satisfying, anecdote-filled, read-on-the-airplane and walk off with some good ideas type of publication.

The Premise

Heath gives us a good look at the need for leadership, and chunks it into two overall styles: Command & Control vs. Responsibility & Reward. His 'Attitude Check' works for either, asking us to decide what kind of leader we are, to identify our customers, and to realize the importance of our team to our value as a leader.

The Process
The book covers everything from building your team to motivating them to dealing with conflict, nonperformers, and dealing with lost production. He examines decision-making, owning mistakes, and even looks at the end game as the book closes, discussing how to groom your successor.

Some nuggets of wisdom I enjoyed included his explanation of 'organ rejection' within an organization, avoiding getting his toes stepped on by not putting them in the way of his team in the first place, and his use of visual reminders (in his case, a piece of clothing with USMC on it) to give him a 'subliminal Attitude Check' (my words, not his). Sometimes, it is important to remind ourselves who we are and what we expect from ourselves - to lead ourselves before we lead others.

The Heart
Heath shows three primary sides of his life to us, using them all as examples of his leadership prowess and the stumbles he had along the way to developing those skills. A Marine, a construction manager, and a Toastmaster who led the organization from the club level up to the International Board of Directors level. He notes the differences of those groups, from expectations to relationships to methods of results achievement. Suffice to say you can't expect a volunteer hoping to overcome their fear of public speaking to respond in the same manner as a disciplined fighting machine.

Most interesting to ME were his Toastmaster examples, of course, as I just kept trying to envision what he went through against my own experiences at much lower levels of the organization. I'm not sure if it encouraged me to actually move up into District Leadership or solidified my decision to wait another 20 years or so...

The Result

A concise and entertaining glimpse into Heath's life as a leader - essentially a weekend-long leadership seminar in a book. As a speaker, this book is perfect for him to sell in the back of the room, or sell ahead of time to organizations hiring him - as resources for their attendees. It isn't overwhelming to read, but it IS authentic, fairly comprehensive despite being brief, and almost always original enough to stand out amongst the thousands of other leadership books sitting on the shelves and the Amazon Wish Lists of the world.

I give The Attitude Check four stars out of five - I wish it had been longer - and that's more a compliment than anything else, I suppose. If you're looking for another perspective on leadership, or know some folks around you that could use one, or just want to send a copy to your local member of Congress, I fully endorse it.

Next weeks book: Drive, by Daniel Pink

(Speak & Deliver disclaimer: I am friends with Heath, though we've never met, and only talked on the phone once, about 3 1/2 years ago, while I ate a really big steak in downtown Omaha all by my sad self. We were talking Toastmasters, of course, and he was offering me his own well reasoned point of view on an issue being hotly debated at the time. As is the nature of such things, I have almost no idea what it was at this point. Suffice to say that he impressed me then, and impresses me now. My book review, however, is in no way influenced by this prior relationship. Probably.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

3 Ways I Would Have Helped Michael Bay Prevent Speaking Armageddon

Last night, at a meeting for Ignite Denver, I heard a brief mention of Michael Bay's Samsung meltdown yesterday at a Samsung unveiling event. Today, World Champion of Public Speaking Lance Miller, who will be here in Denver in a couple weeks for our Leadership Training, sent out an email with a video link, suggesting we ALL need to be ready for 'our big moment' - how right he is.

I'm sure Michael Bay is simply too busy making blockbuster movies to join Toastmasters - so lucky for him, there are a whole host of speaking coaches available, if only he'd of been willing to find one before this monumental meltdown.

If I were Bay's coach, I would have, at minimum, done the following:
A. Prep Him for the Worst - never assume it's all going to go as planned, and be ready for the fact you can't just yell 'CUT!' and start over again.

B. Role-Play - running through a Q&A ahead of time, helping Bay own some answers ahead of time, so he wouldn't have to formulate them on the spot, and throw some wrenches in along the way, so they wouldn't be so jarring if they, or something similar actually happened.

C. Talk Mindset - remind him that the audience is just thrilled to have him there, and will lap up almost anything he has to say - and that even if he has a 'script', no one in the audience knows that. Samsung, ultimately, would have been happier if he'd gone off script and kept talking, vs. just going off stage.

He'll recover from this - it's a tiny hiccup, and it's certainly not going to hurt his career, and hopefully, he won't let it affect his ego. For the average person, though, this can be a very destructive scenario - and it's almost completely preventable. For just an hour of his time, an hour with a coach, this likely wouldn't have happened.

Join Toastmasters. Or hire a coach. Better yet, do BOTH.

If you're looking to improve your skills, compete in the upcoming Toastmasters International Speech Contest, promote your business to the community through speaking, or finally want to buckle down and write the message you've been wanting to give your entire life - email me at We'll create a plan just for you.

Don't wait too long though. You never know when a giant meteor is waiting to crush you before you're able to Speak...& Deliver.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Most Important Storytelling Formula

 "I’m too old to have morning sickness for a year.  Help me, please!”

Below is a guest post from Michael Davis, one of the speakers featured in 'Go Ahead & Laugh', a Certified World Class Speaking Coach, and, more importantly, a genuinely nice and insightful guy.

In business, what makes a good story?
Scour the internet and you’ll find a plethora of opinions.  

Of all the ideas I've seen, none is better than the Then, Now, and How formula taught by World Champion speaker Craig Valentine.  In a nutshell, Then, Now and How creates curiosity by telling the story of a successful client experience.  There are two keys to this formula:

1) The depth of the client’s problem before meeting you, and,

2) The order in which the story is told.

Then tells of a client who was in distress before meeting you.  For example, when my client Patti approached me for speech coaching, she was literally getting sick every morning thinking about giving that talk.  She carried this anxiety through each day.

The worst part of her story is that when we met, she wasn't scheduled to speak for 11 months!   As she said, “Michael, I’m 65.  I’m too old to have morning sickness for a year.  Help me, please!”

Patti was clearly in distress.

Once you've established the Then part, introduce the Now aspect.  In Patti’s case, she confidently stood before 350 people eleven months later and gave a speech that was funny, poignant, and compelling.  When she concluded, she received a standing ovation, and audience members donated both time and money to her foundation.

At this point, even though you may have no interest in speech coaching, you may be thinking… How did she do that?  How did she go from a state of near DE-pression to making a huge IM-pression on others?

The curiosity you’re experiencing is the result of the change from Then to Now.  People often approach me after hearing this story, wanting to know more about my speech coaching services.  Imagine generating that same amount of curiosity for your product or service. Once you've established the contrast of Then and Now, it’s time to tell How your client succeeded.  In Patti’s case, she learned World Class speaking processes that helped her create a central theme, develop relevant supporting points, open with a story that immediately grabbed the audiences’ attention, and closed with a compelling call to action.

It’s important to note that you shouldn't make yourself the ‘hero’ of the story at this point.   It’s tempting to tell how great your service is, or how your product is better than others.  Notice that you were told what Patti did, and not what I taught her.  By keeping the focus on your client, you don’t come across as special or superior.  You are ‘guilty’ by association with the client’s success.  People are smart enough to determine that I was the coach. Why else would I share the story?

Told in this order, Then, Now, and How can help you stand out from the crowd.  Test it for yourself and create the curiosity that compels prospective clients to seek you out to do business with you.

Michael R Davis is a Certified World Class Speech Coach and the founder of Speaking CPR, a company designed to help you Breathe Life into Your Business Presentations and Speeches.  For more information, visit  If you’d like to become three times the story teller you are today, register for FREE storytelling tips at  

Do YOU want to write a guest post for Speak & Deliver? Send me an idea at, and I'll be happy to take another day off in 2014, and share YOUR expertise with S&D's loyal audience. Now go out and Speak...& Deliver!

Friday, January 3, 2014

How to Speak & Offend Part IV of IV: 9 More Ways to Offend the Audience

The Best Defense is a Good Offense.

After Part I, I had several comments regarding other ways we as speakers can offend our audiences. Rather than let those ideas flounder in the Twitter, Facebook, and blog comment world, I've compiled them below.
(You can click here for Part II, or here for Part III)

1. Making Assumptions

From Darren McDonald"I get offended by assumptions of a speaker - assuming I'm of a particular faith, political stance, income level or educational level, or that my goals align exactly with the speaker's topic. When I speak I assume nothing. If I'm going to speak about a certain "level" or aspect, I do the quick survey during the speech: "How many of you...?"" 

I can understand this - if we as speakers don't go into an audience recognizing their inherent diversity, we can set ourselves up to alienate many of them. Darren's strategy of polling the audience is sound, particularly when speaking to a general audience with a speech that may be more specific in nature.

At the same time, their is some responsibility on the audience member to recognize that if they go into a religious presentation, a 'how-to-get-rich' seminar, or 'how-to-lose-weight' presentation, the speaker will often focus their presentation on their potential customers. They aren't trying to offend those of you who don't fit their demographic, generally speaking, they're just trying to hit a home run with their specific demographic. Ultimately - know your audience and claim your outcome.

2. Selly Sell Sell.

From Rob BiesenbackI get offended when speakers start off by selling. Earn the right first with valuable content.

No doubt. Even when I KNOW I'm going to be sold, I expect content first. Their are so many good ways to sell from stage, and, even more effective, ways to make the audience want to buy from you without you actually selling at all. Sounds like fodder for future posts.

Two from Twitter's @BrandePlotnick:

I think he's more prepared than he looks.
3. Be Unprepared.

It's one thing to be stumbling around in your Toastmaster's speech at the club as you make your way through the first manual, it's another to show up in the real world without a clear readiness to deliver your message. Your audience deserves your full attention before you speak, not just during. Practice your presentation, set up and test your equipment early, and be present. Even if you aren't as prepared as you'd like to be, don't call attention to it. As legendary coach Dan Reeves once said - "Never Let 'em See You Sweat".

4. Reading Your Slides.

Brande relates both being unprepared and reading your slides as ways of wasting the time of your audience. Indeed, reading your slides can also be symptomatic of not being prepared. Have a written a 'down with power point' post lately? If not, I should. Of course, to point number one, should we assume our audience can read? Ponder that for a moment...

Of course, my friends on the Official Toastmasters Facebook Page came out and added a few more...

5. Run-On Sentences

Edward A. Keeney, using President Obama as his example, brought up the overuse of 'AND' - resulting in the longest sentences ever. He also brings up...

6. I'd Like To....

I'd like to introduce, I'd like to take a moment, I'd like to - ACK! Just do it already, as Mark Willey, long-time member of Titan Toastmasters, my first ever TM club, often ranted.

7. Lack of Credibity

Bob Logan mentioned that speakers talking on subjects they really don't have any right to talk about is offensive, a waste of time. (There's a recurring theme here - waste your audience's time, and you're offending them.) That means we have to find a way for our credibility to be known, both before we speak and through the content we present. If you just feel like giving a talk on something you know nothing about, at the very least acknowledge to your audience (which, hopefully, isn't a real-world group) that you aren't fully versed in the subject. Transparency is appreciated by most listeners.

8. Plagiarism and/or Regurgitation

Paula Howley brings up a big one - using material that isn't your own. Clearly, if you're lifting someone's stories without giving them credit, it's not only offensive, it could be illegal, and is certainly simply the wrong thing to do as a speaker. Along the same lines, filling your speech with nothing but stories of others, even when crediting them, is pretty offensive to ME. I don't need a speaker who isn't Oprah telling me about how Oprah got her start, unless it somehow relates to how THEY got THEIR start, and how it helps me. Book reports on Lincoln, Edison, Kennedy, Einstein, et al deserve a spot in the Speaker's graveyard, perhaps with the speakers who can't find anything in their own life valuable enough to share.

Uneasy sits the speaker on the highest pedestal.
9. Being the Condescending Hero

Finally, this is one that should have made Part I - it's a big deal. Speakers that make themselves the hero, that place themselves above their audience, and basically say 'If I can do it, so can you', just drive me nuts. Yes, there will be people you reach, and if they are the only ones you want to reach, that's fine. Those people are often the hero-worshippers, the silver-bullet seekers, and the low-self-esteem crowd, and maybe taking their money is your main goal. Do I sound judgmental? I suppose so. There's room for speakers of all types, and what offends me won't offend all. Let's just say I'm not in your audience.

If you've accomplished something amazing - you don't have to crown yourself in front of us. We probably are there because we already recognize you in your royalty. Instead, tell us who helped you, what techniques you discovered, and what failures you faced. The more of ourselves we can see in YOU, the more we can see ourselves reaching the heights you've reached.

This has been a fun series to write - and it's brought up a lot of opinions. Some people are just annoyed by some of these I pronounce as 'Offensive', others are even touchier than I am.

As I've said in the other posts, the keys to successfully not offending, or successfully offending, is being AWARE of what you're doing, and speaking to your audience with INTENTION. As long as you have those concepts down, go out and speak to who you want to reach in the way that will best reach them.

A final suggestion: when people complain you've offended them, well, take a moment and decide whether it's a valid complaint or not. Sometimes it is, sometimes not. At some point, once you've mastered your message and your audience, you simply have to cut your losses.

Now go out and Speak...and Deliver!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 2014 Reading List: 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Earlier, I shared what I read in 2013, and promised I'd share what I'd be reading in 2014, under my '52 in 52' Goal. These are not all speaking books, not all marketing books, not even all non-fiction books. Many of you suggested some of these titles, others are books I have always wanted to read, others are books I want to re-read. Many I'll end up listening to instead of reading, others I wouldn't dream of not perusing page by page.

As I finish each one, I'll talk about it, either here (for speaking books) or on my new blog which will be part of the revamped

So here we go - the titles, in no particular order, and a few comments. I considered linking them to where you can buy them, but I'm not looking for affiliate sales, and changes are you know how to find a book online, right?

1. Under The Dome - Stephen King - I've gotten about halfway through this, but put it down last year. Now that it's a hit TV show, I suppose I should finish it...

2. Moby Dick - Herman Melville - A classic I've never read, perhaps appropriate for contest season.
3. Book yourself Solid - Michael Port - I've never made it through this, because I want to actually do the exercises in it, not just browse it. Now's the time.
4. Think and Grow Rich, 61 & 62. The Law of Success, The Lost Prosperity Secrets, The Magic Ladder to Success - Napoleon Hill - delving into his other works, versus re-reading TAGR.
5. Black Book of Networking - Jeffrey Gitomer - it's been a few years - may choose the audible just to hear Jeffrey's encouraging voice.
6. From History's Shadow. A Star Trek book - Dayton Ward. A guilty pleasure I haven't allowed in years. TBD.
7. Presentation Zen - Garr Reynolds - hard to believe I haven't read this, actually.
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - a SF/Fantasy Classic I have inexplicably never read.
9. The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Sir Conan Doyle - A book I've had for 30 years, just waiting for me to actually read it all. I've read a few stories, but not in the last 15 years.
10. The Message of You - Judy Carter - My top speaking book of 2013, a must re-read resource.
11. Million Dollar Speaking - Alan Weiss - I'm about halfway through this on Kindle, need to finish it.
12. World Class Speaking - Craig Valentine - As with the above, halfway through.
13. The Element - Ken Robinson - highly recommended from this TEDTalk icon.
14. The Bully Pulpit - Doris Kearns Goodwin - saw this in Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago, and have since had several friends recommend it. At 928 pages, I may have to listen to it instead...
15. The Slight Edge - Jeff Olsen - another motivational classic that has slipped under my radar.
16. 80/20 - Perry Marshall - need to order it - the recommendation was through the roof.
17. Flowers For Algernon - Daniel Keyes - a literary classic I have avoided, but will give a try.
18. The Giver - Lois Lowry - never heard of it, but it has potential.

19. The Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela - perhaps the must-read auto-biography of the year for me.
20. Salt - Mark Kurlansky - I'm a bit leery of this, but perhaps it will add some flavor to my reading habits.
21. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - no, I won't cheat and just rent the movie. Just.
22. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn - Have no idea what to expect here.
23. Improv for Storytellers - Keith Johnstone - Always good to brush up.
24. Go Giver - Bob Burg - a short business metaphor book, I assume.
25. Instant Influence - Michael Pantalon - easily persuaded to read this.
26. The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg - expect it to take 7 weeks to read
27. Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek - I need more leadership reading, I believe.
28. Comedy Writing Secrets - Mel Helitzer - ...and always need humor brush-ups as well.
29. Dave's Way - Dave Thomas - why not? Can I read it while eating a Baconator?
30. The Alchemist - Paulo Cuelho - shocked I haven't read this yet, actually.
31. The Attitude Check - Heath Suddleson - I bet if he sent me a signed copy I'd read it faster and review it here on Speak & Deliver :)
32. Dirty Little Secrets - Sharon Drew Morgen - this one too...(she didn't send me a copy, but I read it anyway.
33. How Successful People Think Differently - Akash Karia
34. Ted:ology - Akash Karia, Michelle Mazur - Akash is a prolific author, and it's time I spend some effort reading his work, and seeing what his ideas are, and how they can help my audience.
35. The Boy Behind the Gate - Larry Jacobson - another book I'd love to see come in the mail, wink wink.
36. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - enjoyed the movie, but everyone says the book is better.
37. Unstoppable - Nick Vujucic - been on my list a long time, actually.
38. The Barefoot Executive - Carrie Wilkerson - I've read the kindle, but want to listen to it and her dulcet, southern tones.

39. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - Gary Vaynerchuck - loved Crush It - and Gary is a great reader, and often adds more to his audio books than what's in the printed edition.
40. Living an Exceptional Life - Jim Rohn - always worth a listen.
41. Talent is Never Enough Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn - John Maxwell - back before I got involved with speaking, I bought a Maxwell book in preparation to become a manager. Since then, I've read nothing else from him. That changes this year.
42. Little Green Book of Getting Your Way - Jeffrey Gitomer - on Audible, most likely.
43. Decisive - Chip & Dan Heath - listening to this now, actually, at least earlier today, at the gym.
44. The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz - long on my list.
45. Drive - Daniel Pink - next one cued up on Audible

Audio Programs to Listen or Re-Listen to in 2014

46. Speaker MachineRick Butts/Felicia Slattery - with lifetime access, why not?
47. Wisdom Thesis - Rick Butts - see above.
48. Own the Stage - Darren LaCroix/Craig Valentine - worth a second look, always pumps me up.
49. How to Build a Keynote by Next Week - Darren LaCroix/Patricia Fripp - sharpen the saw. How to 
50. Outline, Design, and Deliver a Dynamic Sales Presentation - Patricia Fripp - newly acquired, and looking forward to it.
51. Mastering Your Speech - Lance Miller - probably need to watch this before seeing him at the training later this month.
52. Create Your Killer Keynote - Craig Valentine - more keynote info to just keep getting better.
53. Lady and the Champs 2013 - Various - about halfway through this.
54. Get More Laughs - Darren LaCroix - you can never laugh enough.

Extra Books & Programs Added on the Fly

55. The Media Training Bible - Brad Phillips - getting interviewed more in 2014 is a goal
56. Speaker Leader Champion - Ryan Avery & Jeremey Donovan - just cause I'm curious
57. Epic Content Marketing - Joe Pulizzi - because I'm a marketing Junkie
58. Speak Up For Your Business - Michelle Mazur - cause, well, we're friends :)
59. Own Your Industry - Douglas Kruger - see above :)
60. amazon's Dirty Little Secrets - Greg Jameson - local author and friend
61. 11 Deadly Presentation Sins - Rob Biesenbach

The Breakdown:

10 fiction books
15 Speaking books
18 Marketing/Sales books
...and a few leadership, parable, and sundry uncategorical type tomes.

Hmm. Looks like I need a couple of extra weeks! I don't guarantee I won't replace a few of these with other books that come in for review, or just on a whim. But I will still work to get '52 in 52' - or more.

What will you be reading? Feel free to share below!

What Were the Best Speaking Programs/Books of the Year?

I've always loved reading. I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown and The Great Brain and then the Robert Heinlein books for youth (and later his more mature material), C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Bradbury, and every Star Trek book I could get my hands on.

In my twenties, I read a lot less, and in my thirties, my attention turned to business/self-help books, as I discovered Tony Robbins, Tom Hopkins, and Zig Ziglar through the variety of sales jobs I worked. The more I got into Toastmasters, the more I started studying the art of presentations, both in the mainstream (Alan Weiss, Patricia Fripp, Nick Morgan) and through niche trainers like Tom Antion, James Malinchak, Darren LaCroix, and Craig Valentine.

As my time shrank (having six kids will do that to you), I read less and less, and started to listen to audio programs more and more. In 2012, I bit the bullet and joined Audible - with the goal of being able to keep up with the mainstream books the same way I was devouring my niche speaking trainers.

I still read - but the last few years I've kept the real reading to fiction - some classic and 'intellectual', such as Atlas Shrugged, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Grapes of Wrath, others a bit easier and mainstream, such as the Percy Jackson series.

I do believe books and audios can be an important part of our mental growth, our continued education, and even our vital relaxation. 2013 was a great year for me, in part because I was constantly feeding myself with positive, encouraging, and enlightening material - which made me a better speaker, a better coach, even a better parent.

Below is my list from 2013, including, at the bottom, my TOP TWO picks for books/programs specifically for those of us who want to Speak & Deliver. In Pt. II, I'll post my reading list for 2014, a combination of books I have on reserve, books I've always wanted to read, and books suggested to me on Facebook by many of YOU.

Rich's 2013 Reading List

Real Books
Percy Jackson Series - 5 books - Rick Riordan
Really had fun with this series, reading it mostly while Riker was on the karate mat.
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
A classic I'd never read, took me from June to end of the year. Like Percy, read most at karate. Still pertinent in many ways today, with some interesting observations on the human condition and economic theory. That ending though...creepy.

Audio Books
Never Eat Alone - Keith Ferrazzi
Not as good as I'd hoped, but still offered an idea or two.
Do It! MarketingDavid Newman
The second half is better than the first, but it's chock full of ideas for entrepreneurs at all stages.
David & GoliathMalcolm Gladwell
Love Gladwell - he just makes me feel more intelligent after I'm done listening.
Start With WhySimon Sinek
Watching Ryan Avery present earlier this year inspired me to pick this book up - excellent concepts, though you can catch much of the gist in Sinek's TEDTalk.
Attention – This Book Will Make You MoneyJim Kukral
Some great personal stories and unique ideas. Not as replicable as I'd hoped, but much to inspire similar success, if you choose to follow his thought processes.
Twitter 2.0Joel Comm
If you're looking to make the most of Twitter, Joel has the experience you need, and lays it out simply.
PlatformMichael Hyatt
Loved this book - the content and the tone make this one I turn on (re-read?) often. A must for speakers.
The Icarus DeceptionSeth Godin
I'd never read Godin beyond his blog. Good ideas, but I can't say much has stayed with me. May be more a matter of listening to it after so many other books with similar concepts. Probably worth a re-listen in 2014.
The Impact EquationChris Brogan, Julien Smith
My first Chris Brogan book as well. Good stuff, though a bit long. Chris and Julien offer a strong combination of expertise, and I enjoy the direct nature of their writing.
Thinking BigDavid Schwartz
A good old-fashioned pump yourself up book. Mostly emotional fluff, but good to charge yourself up occasionally.

Audio Programs
Neither books or Audibles, these are programs developed by the niche trainers/speakers I mentioned above.

How to Build a Keynote by Next Week - Darren LaCroix and Patricia Fripp
Another strong program about building a keynote. It's heavy on encouraging you that you have something of value to say and how to find and package said message. Would have loved more on the back-end in terms of application to the final product.  Still, a strong entry into the keynote writing instructional genre

Solid Gold Marketing Design - Sheryl Roush
A DVD-set of a seminar focusing on one-sheet creation and similar marketing. Some great information, and a good reminder that my design degree is actually still applicable to the speaking industry as well as the advertising world.

Own the Stage - Darren LaCroix & Craig Valentine
A wonderful DVD/CD collection of a coaching weekend, where Darren and Craig took on individual coaching for a variety of speakers of different expertise levels. We see their coaching after the initial speech, the improved speech on day two, and continued coaching after the changes made. They also include a fair amount of valuable extra content with just them talking about different aspects of the industry

My BEST of the YEAR

I have two top books/programs for the year, both on the keynote-building side, which was a heavy focus for me this year. 

The Wisdom Thesis - Rick Butts
An Audio Program/Training/Membership Site 
This program is down-to-earth, practical, energetic, and specifically addresses everything from keynote structure to introductions to preparation to booking dates to dealing with problems at a venue. He offers a tremendous amount of recorded content as well as ongoing mastermind training. 

The Message of You – Judy Carter
First listened to on Audible.
This book was transformative for me - from how I design my own speeches to how I coach my clients. Judy's ideas, her humor, her enthusiasm and authenticity made this book my winner for the year - I bought the Kindle edition too, and am tempted to buy the real edition soon. A must-have for any speaker, and I'll be reading it again in 2014. Often.

In 2014, my goal is to read real books a bit more - and finally hit that golden '52 books in 52 weeks' goal we hear people talk about so often. I'll count both audio and Kindle books along with regular, hold-in-your-hand editions, and I'll mix genres, book sizes, and not hold myself to a book a week, since occasionally I'll be reading 100 page books, and other weeks 400 page books.

Want YOUR book reviewed, all by itself, like I've done for Nancy Duarte, Jerry Weissman, & Rory Vaden, among others here in Speak & Deliver? Send it to me, and I'll move it to the top of the list. Meanwhile, share what you've read in 2013 that has turned you into a better speaker, a better person, or just tickled your fancy for awhile!


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