We are always excited about helping professionals speak better. You are likely aware that we have recently concluded two offerings of our Speech Class Refresher workshop. That is not the only way that we help. Here are two more:
If you would like intensive micro-skill practice that will greatly improve your performance as a speaker, we offer a 2-day program entitled “Speak Up! Speak Out! Say It Well! This program is limited to six participants You will practice each skill, then immediately, receive coaching on video with one of us. We have taught this in major companies, including TXU Energy, L-3 Communications, Resource One Credit Union, Nokia, and Dr Pepper / Snapple Group. We will guarantee that you will see dramatic improvement. Our next public offering of this program is contingent upon the interest we receive. Please let us know if you would like to do this, and we will get back with you about potential dates, and answer any logistical questions you may have.
If you have an intact presentation that you would like us to give you intensive coaching for, we are able to do that for you. This is particularly useful if this presentation is one that you give regularly, or that you are about to give in the very near future. The coaching session is one-half day, to allow for several trials, and also some start-stop repetition to allow you to master some specific skills. We also record the speech, and review it with you during the session. In addition, if you would like us to attend an actual presentation that you will give for a live audience, record it, and provide you with feedback afterwards, we are glad to do so. Please note that we are unable to offer the attendance option if you have not completed the coaching session with one of us first. Let us know of your interest in this.
You can reach us at: . We are happy to answer your questions in an e-Mail, or call you back to talk.
Storytelling is a major part of a speaker’s toolkit, and that is what the participants in The Speech Class Refresher program learned yesterday at Resource One Credit Union. You can see the participants below, along with myself and Randy Mayeux, from Creative Communication Network.
There are several reasons that stories are so important for speakers to develop and include in every presentation:
- They are memorable. You may long forget who said it, when, what for, or anything else, but you never forget the story itself.
- They are editable. You can make a story as short or long as you wish, by including or excluding details.
- They are conversational. You don’t need notes to tell a story. In most cases, you are the only person who knows the story! Just talk. Tell it like you would to a friend.
These are the stories we used yesterday, each between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.
- “The best time I ever had….”
- “The time I was most surprised…”
- “My most embarrassing moment….”
- “Something I wish I could do over is…”
All the participants did well, and we heard some great stories!
Do you have a “signature” story? Do you use it when you speak? If not, you are omitting one of the most powerful tools available to you. The great news is that you already have it! Just call it up and use it. You will do yourself and your audience a great favor.
You might call this an old-fashioned teaser, but I actually hope it whets your appetite and curiosity for some of our public speaking training.
In addition to the intensive, private coaching we offer for specific individual presentations, we have two skill-based programs that focus on public speaking. We have the 1-day program entitled The Speech Class Refresher, and the 2-day program that focuses on micro-skills, entitled Speak Up! Speak Out! Say it Well! We also have an hour-long presentation that describes best practices in delivery, but does not contain any skill development, “Ten Tips for Terrific Talks.”
We teach these inside companies and organizations, and also, typically have a public offering for each several times a year.
These are some of the delivery skills that we include in these programs:
Stories – these are wonderful tools to increase your extemporaneous delivery – tell a “case study” with elements such as when, where, who, what, reactions, and even monologue and dialogue. Try to put a story into each speech. Nothing is more memorable to an audience.
Planting – put equal weight on both legs, shoulder width apart, with your knees slightly bent. From this balanced and comfortable position, you will not rock or sway. Move all you want to, but when you “arrive,” replant.
Eye contact – divide the room into four quadrants, and look at one person in a quadrant for a single idea. Look directly at that people in your audience – not over or under them. Look them directly in the eye. When you finish, look at someone else in another quadrant. Do not go left to right across the room, making a “sprinkler effect” or a “lighthouse sweep.” Try not to “flutter” between two people – look at one, and then across the room, to someone else.
Gestures – these should be spontaneous and natural, never planned. Put your arms at your side, not in your pockets or locked behind or in front of you. Your body will tell you when to gesture. If nothing else, you can enumerate (count – “my second point is…”). Wait until you participate in Randy Mayeux‘s Velcro exercise to improve your gestures.
Podium – avoid speaking behind a podium or stand; instead, speak behind a table, where you can put your note cards down, and move around.
Conversational Delivery – work on what you want to say, rather than how. The focus is on ideas, and not on exact, pre-planned words. In this delivery style, your speech is organized, planned, and practiced, but does not rely upon any exact prepared wording that you want to use. Instead, the words you use are spontaneous and conversational. The speaker refers to key words on note cards or slides, and simply talks with the audience. This is the most popular delivery style today, because it is very efficient to prepare and practice.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about reasoning as a prerequisite to organizing and wording arguments in a persuasive speech. We teach the important principles of parallelism and alliteration in our Speech Class Refresher program. You can read that post by clicking here.
In that post, I focused upon deductive reasoning, of which there are two types: syllogistic and enthymematic.
I did not mean for anyone to interpret that post to think that I do not also believe in inductive reasoning in a persuasive speech.
There are four types of inductive reasoning:
by example – give an incident that illustrates the argument; note that an extended example is a case or story – “President Ford introduced WIN – whip inflation now – as a major initiative to turn around economic conditions.”
by cause – show that there is a factor that is a force that produces some effect; always start with the effect – if it is good, put more resources behind the causal factor; if it is bad, minimize or eliminate the factor – “Illegal immigrants have helped businesses maintain steady employment wages.”
by analogy – show that what is true in one case is also true in another; the underlying assumption is that the two items being compared are highly similar – “Truman ended the conflict with Japan by dropping two nuclear bombs. If Trump does the same with North Korea, we will end any conflict we have with them.”
by sign – make an observation that infers some effect or outcome – since it depends upon an inference, it is the weakest type of inductive reasoning – “The current construction that we now see of new homes and apartment complexes in our city indicate that our local economy is getting stronger.”
As I taught our Speech Class Refresher course last week, I was helping some of our participants with the main points or arguments they wanted to make for their sample persuasive presentation.
The principle that we taught them was parallelism. That is, that the points or arguments should begin with the same part of speech, such as an action verb. A bonus to that is alliteration, which means that the points begin with the same sound. The example I gave was:
- With a smart phone, you can text.
- With a smart phone, you can talk.
- With a smart phone, you can travel.
It hit me this week that organizing and wording points or arguments is the visible cousin to the invisible reasoning that goes behind them. A speaker must reason his or her arguments before organizing and wording them. There are two types of reasoning: inductive and deductive.
Deductive reasoning typically takes two forms. One Is syllogistic:
- Republicans control the House of Representatives, which votes on proposed legislation.
- The President of the United States, who submits legislation for consideration, is a Republican.
- Therefore, the President should be able to pass legislation he proposes in the House since the majority of voters are from his own party.
The other type is enthymematic. An enthymeme is deductive, but omits one of the major premises. It is either an truncated syllogism, or one that simply allows the listener to reach a conclusion through implied, rather than stated reasoning.
In his work, Rhetoric, published in 350 B.C.E., Aristotle said, “the enthymeme must consist of few propositions, fewer often than those which make up the normal syllogism. For if any of these propositions is a familiar fact, there is no need even to mention it; the hearer adds it himself.” He believed that they enthymeme was the strongest form of proof available to a speaker.
So, converting the example above from a syllogism to an enthymeme, we would say:
- The President of the United States should be able to pass legislation he proposes because the House that votes on it is Republican.
Notice that we omit the premise that the President is a Republican. It is only implied.
Important as it is, we rarely teach enthymematic reasoning. I do not cover it at all in public speaking courses. I have not seen it in a speaking textbook for many years.
Frankly, since reasoning is not visible to audiences, we have simply stopped talking much about it. Yet, it is one thing to word and arrange arguments. It is completely another to properly reason a case with them. Reasoning is first – wording and arranging is second.
In our Speech Class Refresher program class week, I taught a section on Vocal Skills. Due to time constraints, I omitted two sections on enunciation and pronunciation, that I have taught in previous offerings.
I first taught these topics to students and professional clients when I was at the University of Houston in 1976, working on my M.A. degree. So, they have a special place in instruction for me.
One of the most successful and impactful women in professional business is Jill Schiefelbein . She wrote the best-seller, Dynamic Communication (Entrepreneur, 2016). She is pictured with me below when we attended a meeting at Success North Dallas, where she presented the monthly program, as selected by its leader, Bill Wallace.
I thought you might be interested in what she says about these two topics. This is an excerpt from an article she wrote entitled “7 Delivery Skills for Public Speaking,” published in Entrepreneur.com on April 26, 2017. You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.
“How you articulate and pronounce words is important because people need to be able to understand you. But if you get a little nervous, you probably tend to speak faster and faster, until you’re not enunciating well and your clarity is going to suffer. Your audience won’t catch everything you’re saying and you’ll lack maximum effectiveness. Following are some ways to help with your enunciation and pronunciation.
“First, show your teeth! To get the sound out, the mouth needs to be open and the air pipes clear. So if you find yourself starting to speak too quickly, think about showing some of your teeth (in other words, open your mouth a little wider). If you’re not sure whether you do this, watch yourself speak in a mirror. Better yet, set up a camera and record yourself in conversation or during a video chat.
“The second tip has to do with pronunciation. In music class, I learned that the singers who have lyrics you can actually understand have something in common — they pronounce the consonants clearly, especially the final consonant of each word. Try it. Say “world” out loud without focusing on the final “d” in your pronunciation. Now say it while pronouncing the last “d” clearly. Practice this in your head (or even better, out loud) with other words. You’ll notice it makes a difference.”
Just like everything else that we taught in our recent program, you get better at a skill by practicing the skill. That is as true for enunciation and pronunciation, as it is for anything else about public speaking.