Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Speaking of Manipulation by Speakers

"Listen to me! This is IMPORTANT!!!"

Sounds like something a kid might say, right? Absolutely - as kids we can end up feeling ignored and minimized, and the only way to break through is to yell, to get dramatic, and sometimes....even CRY!

Funny thing - we often carry those feelings, and those tactics, into adulthood - and if we're speakers, onto the stage.

Are you shocked? Aghast? Don't believe it?

When was the last time you heard a speaker literally tell you how important what they are saying is? When was the last time they lowered their voice, gnarled their face intensely, and shoved their words toward you for minutes at a time, vs. a well-placed 10 word line to make a point? When was the last time they talked about their dead parents, mentors, or old friends in a way to make you feel bad for them, instead of giving you something from those who passed to make you feel good for YOU? When was the last time you watched a speaker actually cry on stage, and felt that pit in your stomach as you debated whether it was real or not?

When was the last time YOU were guilty of doing this yourself?
It's an easy trap to fall into, especially if you're trying to win a competition - not just in Toastmasters, by the way - or if you're just starting out as a speaker, and experience success early on with this approach.

As speakers, we DO have important messages to share, and we are invested in getting our audience to remember them. But audiences need to be able to decide for themselves what is important, and they are more than capable of doing so.

How do you avoid being unintentionally manipulative?

1. As my friend Craig Valentine, author of World Class Speaking, says 'Don't Do Therapy On Stage.' If you like to speak, it's almost in your DNA to share your stories. But if you're not ready yet, if you're too emotionally close to the situation, you'll end up bringing your audience down with you, instead of sharing the true message from the situation that will uplift them to a place you want them to go.

2. Don't Monologue Too Much. The downfall of many a super-villain, it's an easy place for us to go onstage. This is when we get out of storytelling mode and just start preaching. If your speech hasn't made your points for you, 2-3 minutes of impassioned convincing and pleading isn't going to help. Instead, remind them of your points, and put them in a position of power to use them.

3. Don't Be a Drama Queen, or King. Public speaking isn't MacBeth. You don't need to put your body into wild gesticulations, or worse yet, start ACTING on the stage. Gestures planned to the second that look more like dance moves than natural physical movements will distract from the meat of your message, and actually weaken your connection. People go from LISTENING to WATCHING.

4. Separate Yourself from Your Presentation. Video yourself, and show it to a trusted coach. It's easy to be too close to your material. Let a more objective source provide feedback.

How do you be intentionally manipulative for the good of the audience?
1. It's okay to flag a point, tell people to write this down, suggest this is one of the nuggets they want to pay attention to, etc. But to try to emotionally drive it into them with dramatic vocal gyrations will often put your audience into one of two emotional states: Sympathy, in the case of emotional manipulations, or Defensiveness, if they feel you're ramming your message down their throat.

2. Pick your moments, and plan your exits. There are times it is OK to be dramatic, emotional, and intense. Keep them short, and always link them to a point that is ultimately positive. If you bring your audience down, end the segment with some humor to lift them up. At the very least, let the next section of your presentation lighten the mood.

3. Ask yourself 'Is this for them, or me?' There's no denying a good emotional story, or general intensity onstage, or even crying will affect your audience. The question is - is it for their edification, or your own? Are you putting them through something for their greater good, or just trying to look good and feel good about YOURSELF when you step off stage - often into the comforting arms of a sympathetic audience?

4. Know the difference between persuasion and manipulation. Dave Lakhani's book 'Persuasion - The Art of Getting What You Want' does a great job discussion these concepts. Persuasion is based in giving your audience the ability to choose the choice you've made most appealing over the long haul. Manipulation is dragging them, with or without their permission, into an emotional state that they won't be able to maintain when you're gone.

5. Realize your message is important in its own right. It shouldn't need the drama, the preaching, the intensity we're tempted to bring to it. Instead, bring humor, bring great examples, and show uplifting and productive outcomes. Then it's up to the audience to decide how important your message is to them.

Yes, it is our job as speakers to persuade, convince, cojole, and even push our audience from the state of mind they came to our presentation with to the state of mind they need to be in to improve their performance, their attitude, and their life in general. Just remember, a little intensity, a little emotion, a little dramatic flair - goes a LONG way.


Now go Speak & Deliver :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book 9 of 52 in 52: The Message of You - Judy Carter

I named 'The Message of You' as one of my top books of 2013 - and vowed to re-read it this year. Mission Accomplished - and frankly, I'll probably be reading it again before years' end. It's THAT good.

For years, I struggled to find a program that could teach me how to write a great keynote. The best advice I found was 'Have a great opening, make three points with three stories, and have a great close - and be funny'. I built my keynotes based primarily on those concepts - stringing together my best stories, trying to create a 'silver-thread' to connect them - and off I went.

While I received good feedback from my audiences, I was never quite happy with my end results - I always felt more like I was performing a 'Greatest Hits' act, vs. really giving the audience what they needed.

I believe I ended up buying 'The Message of You' after seeing it on Judy Carter's Facebook feed - we're friends, though I bet she doesn't know me from Adam - and that's OK. I picked it up on Audible, then on Kindle, and my eyes were opened to a whole new structure of writing keynotes. Judy reads it herself on the Audio edition, and brings great personality to it over the 10+ hour recording.

Part One does it's best to set the reader up for success, providing Judy's credibility, introducing her premise for writing the book, and walking us through discovering our own message, and its value.

Part Two goes into 'Judy's Seven-Step Method for Writing a Hilarious and Inspiring Speech' - covering all the aspects of writing a keynote, from the promise to the premise to the process to her own special ingredient - 'The Heart Story'. She also throws in a big dose of instruction on how to be funny, a crucial aspect of any speech, at least from the audience's point of view.

Part Three ties up a few loose ends, including instruction on how to book yourself, how to prevent disasters, and delivery ideas, as well as an inspiring close that will put you in the mindset to really get 'The Message of You' out there for the world to hear.

Chock full of exercises to help you discover your message, and links to her websites that will match you up with a buddy and go more in depth on certain subjects, 'The Message of You' has all the information you'll need to discover your message, and will take you far down the road of developing & delivering it as well, if you've got the time and discipline to do so.

I now use her format, and variations of it based on topic, audience, and discipline, to coach my clients - and they've had great results. I've used the format on my own keynotes, and my presentations in Kansas City & Toronto last Fall were improved over anything I'd done in the past.

The risk in letting you know about 'The Message of You', and recommending it so highly, is that you'll all go out and buy the book and decide you don't need a coach. But I think you'll find the book just puts you in that much better a position to HIRE a coach, and channel your energy and enthusiasm into a focused effort to share what you have to tell the world. Hire Judy. Hire me. Hire the Toastmaster in your club you admire most. Hire SOMEBODY - and use the book to take you down the path of writing your ultimate speech, and share with the world your ultimate message.

5 Stars out of 5.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Is Your Mess Stopping You From Sharing Your Message?

This is my 'Win Anyway Podcast' - but it crossed over into speaking this time around - so I thought I'd share with the rest of you!

Are you getting mixed messages about your sharing your messy message?

Tune in to today's Win Anyway Podcast and decide for yourself how much sharing your life, and your mess, with the world can help them, and YOU.

Does Thinking About Speaking Count?

I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately - in fact I've got a whole list of ideas for this blog lined up for future weeks. Yet, I haven't blogged here in over a week, and even that one was book review - albeit for a good book. Heck I've even got 5 more books read and ready to review to add to the list of potential posts.

Of course, those ideas sitting listed in my Evernote file won't exactly help YOU Speak & Deliver, will they?

Back to the post title - Does Thinking About Speaking Count?

Well - yes and no. 


- if you spend your time thinking instead of speaking, your thoughts do no one any good, most likely, other than you, and maybe not even you, if they remain unsaid. They either fester or die.

- if you spend your time thinking instead of speaking, you can lose a lot of ideas, unless you take the step to write them down and expand on them. Even then, if they're just speeches in a file, well, see above.

- if you spend your time thinking instead of speaking, you'll no doubt see other people speaking about what you're thinking, which means you'll just go back and think some more.

- if you spend your time thinking instead of speaking, you'll never get feedback on what you have to say, which, while leading you back to more thinking, will at least advance it a bit.


- because blurting out thoughts that aren't thought out enough can be dangerous, after all.

- because well-thought out speaking results in a prepared, and more powerful, speaker.

- because well-thought out speaking will likely cover more of the important subject matter than some rant you came up with an hour ago. (just listen to my podcasts for proof of that - though I'm starting to think a bit more before hitting that record button)

- because well-thought out speaking will hopefully include thoughts about your audience, focusing what you have to say to their needs as opposed to your own.
Looks like a pretty even battle - but I believe, ultimately, speaking outweighs thinking, if only by a pound or two.

Thought can paralyze, while speaking can galvanize. Spend too much time in your own mind, and the words may never come out, never be given the exposure they need to improve over time. They will never effect others, unless they specifically come out through action, but that's a whole different topic. They won't spread your ideas and your vision.

I will admit, thinking about speaking counts - as long as it leads to speaking. Find your balance, but ultimately, always push yourself to speak your thoughts, share your experiences, voice your opinions, and be heard in the world - or the world may never know you're there.

As Red, from The Shawshank Redemption might have said: "Get busy speaking, or get busy dying."

Need help finding your message? Email me, and let's find the keynote speech you've been thinking about all these years -

Now go - Speak....& Deliver!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book 8 of 52 in 52: The Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson

Carrie Wilkerson is a star on Social Media, making her name in a myriad of ways, from network marketing to information marketing to coaching to weight-loss to parenting to speaking to - well, the list is long. I first ran across her on Twitter in 2008, when it seemed my 'New Foot Smell' would match well with 'The Barefoot Executive'.

We have never spoken, nor have we done business together, though we have been friends on Twitter and Facebook for some time, and she put me in touch with her friend Paul B. Evans last year.

That said, I first read her book 'The Barefoot Executive' in 2012 on Kindle, and was greatly inspired by it - enough to listen to it this year on Audible, straight from the Southern Belle's mouth. Again, I am greatly inspired.

'The Barefoot Executive' is built as a 'how-to' book - specifically how to succeed in business in today's online world. It's not too technical, not too specific, but neither too broad. She includes her own experiences as they pertain to various topics in the book, and also includes a case study at the end of each chapter of a third party who has had success in the specific area the chapter covers.

She starts by explaining why it's a must that many of us, if not all of us, have a side business, or home business to augment or replace our mythologically secure and regular income.

She covers the most common mistakes we make, including following someone else's dream, chasing too many rabbits, and chasing dollars. She owns up to her own missteps of pursuing real estate - something she had no experience in - because it seemed like the easiest thing to do.

She discusses various methods involved in choosing a business, from mind-set to masterminding to mentors, and more, and then talks about the various models available, including service-based, expertise-based, knowledge-based, goods-based, and referral-based, wrapping it all up with a healthy look at the old saw of 'multiple streams of income'. 

Finally, she breaks down the marketplace, helping you identify and reach them effectively regardless of your business model.

Yes, you can find a lot of this in a myriad of other books. What makes this book so inspiring to me is Carrie herself - the struggles she shares, the challenges she's faced, and her down-home honesty about it all. Stories about her father adding on to their house one 'how-to' book at a time, about her husband's longtime friendship with a man who taught him to fish, and about her own challenges in weight-loss and network marketing turn this book from a simple checklist book to a fully fleshed-out seminar-in-a-book.

Additionally, she offers links to many YouTube videos to accompany the book, going even further into various subjects. While this is clearly a marketing tactic - it is one that both offers further material and an object lesson into what we should be doing ourselves - creating an interactive experience that brings our audience to other aspects of our business, so they can find the solutions they need in the format they need them.

'The Barefoot Executive' is conversational, matter-of-fact, and to the point. If you're looking to start your business, or add a business to what you already do, whether it's a J.O.B. or another entrepreneurial venture, you'd be doing yourself a favor giving it a read.

5 Stars out of 5 - for both the kindle and Audible editions.

Y'all remember to Speak & Deliver, y'hear?

For a full reading list of my 52 in 52, click here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Show Must Go On...

A couple of weeks ago, I was booked to speak at my Advanced Toastmasters Club, Professional Presenters. Out of the three speakers, all but myself had dropped out, so I was looking forward to an extended practice of my speech about how to structure a keynote speech.

About halfway through the day, my right foot (had to be the right foot, since, after all, the left foot is carbon-fiber...) started hurting a bit - the sole/arch would protest with each step. It was bearable for walking, though I had to have my client hold my arm as I went down the stairs leaving our appointment, since their were no railings to rely on.

I headed to the gas station, and the pain was already worse. I picked up some Alleve, despite the outrageous 'convenience store' price, and a Monster drink, and took my typical 1000 mg, to attempt to stop the pain in the ensuing three hours before showtime.

An hour later, of course, the Monster took it's toll, so I stop at a grocery store to use the facilities (both my client and my club were a good 45 minutes away from home, so going home was not an efficient use of time or gas) but I couldn't make it more than a couple steps away from my car.

Decision time.

Cancel, and go home? Or tough it out?

I drove to the location, and still had 90 minutes til showtime, maybe 60 til someone showed up to help me walk inside, and, hopefully, to make it to the restroom in time! Meanwhile, I'm sitting in my car alternating between practicing my speech and playing Candy Crush on my phone.

I've had to deal with pain, particularly 'spontaneous' pain much of the last 5 years. Sometimes on the road, when I worked for Ambassador Programs and had to lug equipment around with me, and could barely stand in front of the parents I was trying to convince to send their kids overseas. Sometimes local, such as my own club last month when, by the end of the meeting, my back cinched up suddenly, and I needed two other Toastmasters to make it out of the building, and a third to drive my car up the hill to me.

In Toronto last year, when speaking for District 60 and 86, my Sciatica was acting up so bad I could barely walk each morning. I missed several Conference events just because I couldn't leave my room. I was able to medicate and stretch just enough to make it to my own keynotes, and a contest or two, but much of the time I was stuck. By the last day, I was almost unable to make it to the car to be driven to the airport - I walked against the wall, hunched-over, taking baby steps down the corridors.

I've given speeches on crutches and in wheelchairs. I've given speeches on drugs - heck, I was barely conscious during one morning District Conference Table Topics Competition in 2011 - I was in so much pain the night before I had taken nine Vicodin through the night to be upright the next day. I thought I might have to drop out of that evenings International Competition once the drugs wore off, if the pain returned. It didn't, and I won that evening. (Took 2nd in the morning - perhaps my drugged stupor made my topic that much more interesting - I don't remember much about it to this day).

My first real challenge with 'The Show Must Go On'? December 1986, the day before the premiere of Towards Zero - the first play I was ever in in college. I had a big part, and after dress rehearsal, I had NO VOICE. And we had NO UNDERSTUDY. I was sick, and I had no idea whether I'd be better the next day. That's the first time I was given the advice not to whisper, as it would hurt my voice. Just talk, or better yet, DON'T talk. I was quiet the next day and POOF, my voice was ready for the big night.

Back to me in the car squirming, waiting for someone else to show up...eventually someone did, and I was able to last long enough to get inside, take care of things, and then give the speech, propped up against a chair put in reverse, so I could half-sit on the headrest. I had hoped for a bar stool, but no such luck. The speech was well-received, and, had I wimped out and gone home, they would have no speakers that night (though one hardy soul volunteered at the last minute with a pocket speech). With six guests, that would have been a disappointment for them and the club, and for Toastmasters in general.

Now, I have occasionally missed a club meeting because of pain - no question. However, when you're paid to speak, or brought in from out of town, or the only show that night - I'm a strong believer that the show must go on. If speakers who are paralyzed can go make 20,000 bucks for a keynote, I'm not going to wimp out over a bad back or foot. Or a cold, flu, or much else that isn't going to kill me within a short period.

Take precautions. In pain often? Have your meds ready. Keep crutches handy. Be willing to ask for help. If you half to crawl on stage - tell the introducer to say something about car accident you had on the way in, or use it in your opening comments. If you have something others can catch - bring the hand sanitizer, and stay in the wings until showtime.

Remember, you can't Speak & Deliver if you're wimping out at home on your couch watching re-runs of Big Bang Theory.


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