Thursday, 28 June 2007

Using stories to connect in Public Speaking

As a speaker, it is your duty to connect with your audience. It does not matter what the topic is, or who is in your audience, if you are not connecting with your audience your message is not getting through.

One of the easiest ways to connect with your audience is with the use of simple stories. Simple stories are anecdotes that illustrate the point that you want to make.

We use stories in our daily conversations. Have you ever told a work colleague what happened on the way to work; your partner what you did at work, or the kids about what you did when you were young? These are all simple stories that people share.

People are drawn to these stories because of the emotion that is contained in them. Your story of the trip to work may generate the emotion of laughter; you may share the emotion of frustration or success when describing to your partner what happened at work. And your kids love the emotion of excitement from when you were younger.

But where are the stories for your presentation? Simply look at the facts and figures and ask yourself, “What do they mean?”, “What is the storey behind them?” It is story behind the facts and figures that people want. If you “facts and figures” tell you that your clients can save 10% by switching their services to you, tell them a story of someone who has achieved that. That’s a story!

Very few people will feel warm and fuzzy about facts; however, they will remember your stories long after the facts have been forgotten.

As the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking David Brooks says, public speaking is simply, tell a storey and make a point. Then tell another storey and make another point.


Darren Fleming
Australian Public Speaking Courses

Persuading tough Audiences

We all have to communicate with tough audiences, and recently I had to persuade the toughest: my 2 year old daughter Alice.

As anyone who has had children in childcare will know, children seem to pick up every kind of cold and sniffle that is going around, then they bring them home to share with mum and dad! On Monday, Alice had bought home a head cold and by Tuesday night she had developed a nasty cough along with a very sore throat. She had become very worked up and was not wanting to cooperate with anyone. She was just sitting on Mums knee and crying uncontrollably.

To help ease her symptoms, we wanted to give her some medicine. However, in the state that she was in, she wanted nothing to do with it.

After many requests for her to take it (and the occasional attempt to force it down her throat!) we decided to give some medicine to Teddy. Teddy had no problems taking the medicine and felt much better after it. Once Alice saw this, she too wanted to take the medicine. She was asleep with in half an hour!

How does this relate to Public Speaking courses? To communicate to anyone, whether it is public speaking, sending e-mails, or convincing your 2 year old daughter to take her medicine, you need to be able to appeal to their interests and needs. In the state that Alice was in, she was not convinced that the medicine would work, and was weary of trusting mum and dad. However, she knew that Teddy would not lie to her, and when she saw him take it, she knew it would be OK.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been trying to persuade someone to adopt your ideas? It could happen when you are giving a speech, addressing a meeting or just wanting the family to do what you want to do on the weekend. Instead of trying to brow-beat them into submission, try appealing to what is important to them and showing them how what you propose fits in with what you are saying.

By appealing to their self interest, you will have a greater chance of them wanting to listen and eventually adopt your ideas.


Darren Fleming
Australian Public Speaking Courses

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

What to look for in a Public Speaking Course

People often ask me why they should join my public speaking courses as opposed to joining others. There are many public speaking courses in the market, some good, others not. Below is a number of points to consider when looking for a public speaking course.
  1. Consider the skills of the person who will be delivering the course. Are they someone who has been there and done it before, or are they a "wanna-be". There are some great people who have won major competitions with their speaking, and these include David Brooks, Craig Valentine as well as my favourite, Darren laCroix.
  2. Not everyone can be a world champion speaker. However, you can find some speakers who have the skills that you need all the same. These include Darren Fleming, Jeff Justice and Eric Feng.
  3. Make sure that the course that you are interested in has what you are after. Many courses out there want to turn you into a keynote speaker and promise that you will make lots of money in your new found career. However, if you just want to be able to communicate more clearly with clients and colleagues, then you need to look at what your public speaking course will achieve and see if the results are what you are after.
  4. A good public speaking course will have a clear outline that is based in the 'real world'. That is, if you are a very nervous speaker, don't look for the magic trick that will turn you into the next Bill Clinton. Look for something that is achievable and can get you the results you need.
  5. See if you can get Public speaking course testimonials. yes, it is easy to fudge these, so look for one that have company names listed.
  6. Choose a reputable organisation that has a history behind it. Toastmasters International offers a number of programs that can improve your skills. Toastmasters Australia has a number of public speaking courses that can show you how to progress.
  7. Finally, try to get a public speaking course that has the ability to video your presentations so you can take it away and review it later. You will learn an amazing amount just from watching your own performance.

If you need some more information about public speaking courses, or even one-on-one public speaking coaching drop me a line and I will help you out.


Darren Fleming

Australian Public speaking courses

Ways to improve public speaking skills

  1. One-on-one public speaking coaching will allow you to really improve your skills. Often CEO's and the like use one-on-one coaching to refine their skills to allow them to be the leader they need to be.
  2. Toastmasters: Toastmasters is the worlds leading organisation for teaching public speaking. Based in the USA, it has clubs all over the world. This link will take you to Toastmasters in Australia. I have been a member of Toastmasters in South Australia for years and have benefited greatly from it. Another organisation that can help with this is Australia's Rostrum. Rostrum has their own program designed to improve your public speaking skills
  3. Another way to improve your public speaking skills is to attend a "private" public speaking course. This link will take you to a one-day course. You can get extended public speaking courses that offer more information.
  4. You can visit various public speaking websites to get information for free on them. Some great ones are Executive Speaking, David Brooks, the public speaking blog, Tom Antion, and of course this blog as it grows!
  5. Read articles on public speaking. You can get great articles on public speaking by trawling the net.
  6. Join the National Speakers Association. While this association does not teach public speaking in the same way that Toastmasters does, it will give you the skills that build on Toastmasters training. There are National Speakers associations all over the world. I am a member of the National Speakers Association of Australia
  7. Finally, you can just get out there and practice. As the the 2001 Word Champion of Public Speaking Darren LaCroix says, "Stage time, Stage time, Stage time" is the best way to improve. Just get up and have a go. You wont be as bad as you think you are - no one ever is.

'til next time.

Darren Fleming
Australia's Public Speaking Coach