Monday, 30 July 2007

Tips for an Effective Presentation

Tips for an Effective Presentation - This article originally appeared in American Chronicle on July 30 2007. The original extract can be reached here

Ellen Dunnigan
Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized and proven coach with specialized training in voice, speech, and English improvement. She holds a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and has been certified as clinically competent by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
In addition, she has spent several years in corporate settings as an operations leader and strategist. Ms. Dunnigan has devoted 17 years to helping people improve their personal and professional voice and speaking skills.
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Ellen Dunnigan
July 5, 2007

Uh oh, it’s happened again. You’ve been able to avoid it for the last 3 years. Now here it is again…the dreaded presentation. Ever been in one of these situations?
• You've been invited to make a key presentation at a Board of Directors meeting.
• Your dream job just opened up and you will need to interview for it.
• You have one single opportunity to have lunch with a prospective major account client.
• You have three months to prepare your 25th high school class reunion’s keynote address.
• You've been asked to fill in for a colleague in teaching a training session to senior management.
• Your company is in the peak of a crisis or incident and you need to speak about it live on television or on radio.
• You volunteered on a mission trip sponsored by a large company in your area and are now required to tell the mission story to large audiences as part of the sponsorship.
The list could go on indefinitely and you can probably cite many of your own examples. The common theme here is that YOU will be in the limelight and will need to communicate effectively, putting forth your best skills in the art of speaking. For a small percentage of the human race, this will be taken in stride and will be just another task in the course of your day.
However, for the majority of us out there, these examples can create a host of reactions such as breaking out in a cold sweat, heart palpitations, nausea, lack of a voice, and an overwhelming desire to run and hide. All kidding aside, fears related to speaking in public, whether it be in a small or large group, have been said to be a fear greater than death for many. If indeed you are among those who shy away from any of these activities or view them as dreaded events, you're in luck because there are many techniques that can ease your discomfort. So, try some of these on for size…maybe you’ll even volunteer next time!
Tips To Increase Your Confidence when speaking:
1. Obtain as much information as possible about your audience and ensure that you know who they are and what their expectations are. Know what problems of theirs you can solve. Get to know what “pains” they have that you might address. Know what’s on their minds. Not only will you address what’s important to them, you’ll feel more confident and prepared.
2. Prepare an outline or notes to organize the information you need to convey, so you stay on topic and within the allotted time-frame. Jot your notes on index cards and try to use them to prompt or cue you with main points. It’s important not to read them; speak from your heart and from your head.
3. There’s just no substitute for practice. Practice not only helps you sound more convincing; it gives you greater confidence. Practice out loud, or even into a tape recorder, while standing in front of a mirror. Play the tape back and note what changes you want to make as well as what you did well. Then make another recording implementing the changes.
4. Sound more credible and give a little “oomph” to your voice by planting your feet firmly into the ground whenever speaking (and especially during your practice).
5. Scan your audience as you speak. Look for people who are nodding their heads and/or smiling. Return to them when you feel vulnerable. They already have let you know they like you and your message. Maintain eye contact with them and they’ll keep you feeling confident.
6. Have easy access to a glass of water, and take small sips to keep your throat and mouth lubricated when speaking for an extended period. Avoid caffeine. Stay away from dairy products and items with mayonnaise during the meal before your presentation as these may cause you to want to clear your throat while speaking.
7. If you are speaking to more than 20 people, use a microphone. This will help you avoid vocal strain and shouting. It also helps the 20% of the population over the age of 55 with hearing impairments who might be in your audience.
8. Always face your audience. Don’t turn away to read from your projected slides. Whenever you turn you distract your audience and risk them not hearing or understanding you.
9. Walk purposefully. Don’t pace the width of the audience. Use movements sparingly to support your message.
10. Make your message memorable by varying the pitch of your voice, the rate of your speech, and your vocal volume. These adjustments will emphasize a key point you're trying to convey. Holding the listener's attention is essential and often this is a function of how you say something vs. what you are saying.
So, whether you're interacting with someone one on one, providing training, participating in a small meeting or making a public speaking presentation, speaking confidently is one of the most powerful tools. Remember that effective communication is at the heart of professional, organizational and personal success. You can get yourself on the road to speaking to others with Vocal Charisma®

This is a great article about public speaking. It has some great tips on how to present effectively and how to keep your nerves under control. Most importantly, it has great points about how to use notes. Most coaches will tell you to try and memorise your speech. This article offers great advice on speaking from the heart and the head. This will see you win hands down every time.

The only way that this article could have been improved was to mention Toastmasters. But then again, I suppose she has her own courses! :)


Australian Public Speaking courses
Australia's public speaking coach

3 Myths about Public Speaking

This article appeared in the Charlotte Observer on Sunday July 22 2007. the original copy can be found here

Keys to overcoming fear easier than you think
If you are one of the estimated 15 million Americans suffering from a phobia of public speaking, take heart. The trick to overcoming your fear may be as simple as re-examining your basic assumptions about public speaking, say Harrison Monarth and Larina Kase, communications coaches and authors of the new book "The Confident Speaker."

Here are three public speaking myths:

• Myth No. 1: Everyone can tell I'm panicking!

Your feelings are harder to read than you think. No one but you knows your heart is racing, so take a breath and try to calm down.

The lesson: You're probably doing much better than you think.

• Myth No. 2: People are judging me.

Many of us mistakenly believe that nervousness automatically counts against us. But most audiences respond better to speakers who exhibit discomfort. "Most people have some level of worry about speaking in public, so when they see your nervousness, they may empathize with what you're going through," Monarth and Kase write.

The lesson: The audience is probably on your side.

• Myth No. 3: Postmortems will help me improve.

Those of us who suffer from a fear of public speaking are our own worst critics, write Kase and Monarth, and we tend to use the postmortem as an opportunity to ruminate over our missteps, which only exacerbates the problem.

The lesson: Skip the post-game analysis.

While I generally agree with this article, I must take point with the Myth Number 3.

Even if you hate Public speaking, it is vital that you at least debrief with yourself about how you went. This will help you improve endlessly. Even if you have no intention of doing any more public speaking because you stuffed it up, it is better to work out why you stuffed it up so you can avoid the mistakes in future situations, or similar events.


Darren Fleming
Australia's Public Speaking Coach
Australian Public Speaking courses


Great Public Speaking: Public Speaking : On Stage Tips

Here are some great tips about public speaking from one of Americas self proclaimed experts on Public Spekaing. Check out his website and you will see copies of cheques that he has been paid!

Great Public Speaking: Public Speaking : On Stage Tips


Darren Fleming
Australian Public Speaking courses
Australias public speaking coach

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Great Public Speaking: Public Speaking: Top 10 Ways to Make Money

I have often been asked by clients, what is the best way to make some money from public speaking? There are a lot of people out there making lots of money with public speaking, and it would be great to be part of that action.

While this blog generally isn't about showing people how to make money from public speaking, I'm not averse to making money from public speaking or showing us how to do it.

The first thing you need to have, if knowledge. Not just any sort of knowledge, but knowledge, others are willing to pay full. What sort of knowlede are people willing to pay for? Anything that can show others how to improve their situation. Once you have this knowledge that other people are after, there are a number of ways to go about marketing yourself and making money.

I came across a great blog that shows you how to do this and the link is below. Have a look at it and it will give you heaps of ideas on how to make money with public speaking. Great Public Speaking: Public Speaking: Top 10 Ways to Make Money

til next time,


Darren Fleming.
Australia's public speaking coach.
Australian public speaking courses.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Breaking the rules of public speaking

There are many rules of public speaking, which were told we should never break. These include greeting your audience when you come out to speak, never turning your back on the audience, and ensuring that you move across the stage, so everyone can see.

But where do these rules come from? And why should we have to obey them?

I recently had the opportunity to speak at TOASTMASTERS convention in Fremantle Australia. This was for the toastmasters district 73 championship. I was speaking on the table topics competition, which is an impromptu speaking competition. I was given my topic when I came to the door, and I had to speak on when I got to the stage.

The topic that I was given was about breaking rules, and if we obey all the rules, do we miss out on half the fun?

When I went to speak, I thought I would break all the rules that I could. I walked to the centre of the stage, turned my back on the audience, and began to speak. I then parodied the notion that we have to move around the stage to ensure we maintain eye contact. I then poked fun at how we pause, how we introduced ourselves to the audience and judges, and whether or not we follow rules just because they are there.

What was the upshot of all this? Well, the audience loved it, I had a ball, and the judges seem to like it to. I'm proud to say, that I walked away as the champion.

However, before you go breaking the rules, you first have to know the. If you break the rules of public speaking incorrectly, or for too long, you will lose your audience. And that is the secret: know the rules, so you can break them properly.

You can view my performance on the stage new tube at

Notice how, when I'm walking across the stage, I begin to lose the audience, as I have not made a connection with them. It is at this point that I realised I had to turn around and be conventional. However, I was able to use the pause to great effect to milk another joke. In the end, I did come back to the traditional rules of public speaking. I needed to have the opening, the body, and the conclusion. If I didn't, my presentation would not have made as much sense, and I wouldn't have won the competition.

Knowing how to make them break the rules of public speaking requires you to first know what they are. You can get heaps of information about public speaking from toastmasters, private public speaking courses, public speaking coaching, reading articles about public speaking on the Internet, viewing public speaking videos on you tube, or trawling the net to people such as Darren laCroix, the public speaking blog, David Brooks, and world champion speakers.

Till next time,


Darren Fleming
Australian public speaking courses,

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The 7% 38% and 55% myth in public speaking courses

There is a myth in public speaking, that only 7% of your message is conveyed by the words you use. The rest of your message is made up of 55% body language and 38% tonality. These figures are bandied about as gospel and rarely questioned.

But when you think about it, this cannot be true. If it were true, why is radio so popular? If it were true, we would be able to understand 93% of any foreign language. Further, if these figures are right, we would be able to understand 93% of what a baby is telling us!

These figures came out of a psychology of communication study conducted in 1972. In this study, the psychologists looked at the success rate of pushing into a queue in the post office. They found that they had a 7% success rate when they asked if they could push in, a 38% success rate when they asked in a forceful tone if they could push, and a massive 55% success rate when they simply pushed in without asking. From this, they concluded that you had a 7% success rate of achieving your objective on the words used alone and a 55% chance of achieving their objectives by using body language alone. The changing tonality improved your success rate by about 30% compared to asking alone.

Nowhere in the study did it say that these figures related to the psychology of communication and public speaking. In fact, many years after the study, the psychologists were asked to comment on how the figures had been interpreted towards public speaking. They categorically denied that the figures applied to public speaking, and said that it was wrong to use them in such a way. Unfortunately though, many public speaking courses believe that they do apply and teach as such.

So next time you hear these figures quoted as gospel, think about them and realised that the figures are being misquoted and misrepresented.

Till next time,


Darren Fleming
Australian public speaking courses

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Can You Present Statistics in an Interesting Way?

You Bet!!!

I recently had the opportunity to offer some presentation coaching with a client - Trina - who spent her day delivering statistical training. Her area of speciality was 'imputation', which looks at how you estimate certain numbers. As you could imagine, you could make the topic very dry and boring without even trying!

As I watched Trina deliver her training, I noticed that the people in the room were actually becoming involved and excited (well OK - Just involved) in what was being presented. Granted the participants were interested in the information, but lets face it, this was the fourth day of a full week of advanced statistical training! People were bound to be tired and over it. Why were these people so interested?

At the end of the training, Trina came up to me and apologised for all the things that she did wrong, and wished that she could do better. She said this was whyshe needed public speaking coaching. She apologised for holding her notes while she spoke, apologised for being nervous and apologised for being genuinely excited about the topic when no-one else was. What she did not realise was that her excitement for the topic was what made her so successful at her job.

Her enthusiasm for her topic was evident from the start. She told the participants that she was genuinely excited about the statistical Normal Curve, and what could be achieved by understanding it. She told stories of how her last employer ignored the normal curve, and how it cost them dearly. She showed the participants how they could follow the rules and avoid the same dire consequences. This is what involve the audience.

It was her enthusiasm for the subject that really entertained the audience. She was excited, and happy to be training and the carried her through and the audience through what was at times very tough and tedious learning

The fact that she held her notes, was no real distraction. The audience knew it was a technical presentation, and knew there was a lot of information to be presented, and understood that it would have been difficult to present off the top of your head. I gave her a few pointers on how to reduce the number of notes. She had several pages of the notes she was using. These were primarily be PowerPoint slides she was talking to. She could have made these notes are more useful to her by reducing the amount that she wrote on them. Simple bullet points instead of full sentences would have helped her.

She also would have been better do not read the slides verbatim. Many public speaking articles have been written about how to use PowerPoint properly. They all suggest that you should not read what is on the slides as it simply distracts the audience. In fact, there is some research coming out of the University of New South Wales suggesting that reading the slides at the same time as people listening to you and reading them reduces the amount that they take in. This is due to cognitive overload. Our brain can only do so much at once and if we have to listen and read the same stuff, we will not taken as much information.

So yes it is possible to make statistics interesting! If Trina could make statistics interesting, can't you make you all topic interesting? How do you do this? Follow Trina's example: be excited about your topic; have stories relate to your topic; & show how the stories relate to your audience.

You can get more information about stories in public speaking by following this link to Australia's public speaking coach.

Till later,


Australian Public Speaking courses