Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 333) – Barack Obama

“It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Barack Obama ...

Every Breath You Take

Every breath you take,Every move you make,Every bond you break,Every step you take,I’ll be watching you. The Police Breathing. We do it constantly and, usually, unconsciously. We breathe when we are awake and when we sleep, when we work and exercise and rest. The day we stop breathing is the day we stop living. Yet ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 332) – Stephanie Hughes

The importance of being 100% in the moment when delivering a speech or presentation cannot be stressed enough. As Stephanie Hughes says, “I don't want to be anywhere else, talking to anyone else, about anything else.” ...

Humour in a speech: 5 reasons you need it; 10 tips for using it

Using humour is a great way for speakers to connect with their audiences. Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” When you speak to an audience of dozens, hundreds or thousands, the effect is multiplied. THE BENEFITS OF HUMOUR When used properly, humour is a powerful tool in ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 331) – Peter Drucker

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. Words of wisdom from business great, Peter Drucker. ...

Public Speaking Training – The Essential Guide

Why invest in public speaking training? The ability to speak well in public and share a message that is clear, compelling and that moves people to take action is a critical business skill. Companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn, Fast Company and others have conducted surveys in which they asked heads of companies and organizations the question: ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 330) – David Gerrold

“The single most important lesson of effective communication is this: Focus on clarity. Concentrate on precisions. Don’t worry about constructing beautiful sentences. Beauty comes from meaning, not language. Accuracy is the most effective style of all.” – David Gerrold Photo courtesy of Kyle Nishioka ...

“Defund the Police” – A good idea but a terrible slogan

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, there has been a powerful backlash against racism and police brutality. I hope it finally leads to permanent, meaningful change. But one of the main slogans of the movement – “Defund the Police” – is terrible and counterproductive. First, let’s be clear. The murder of George ...

How to write a speech outline

A good speech outline increases the chances that your speech or presentation will be effective. How do you write a good speech outline? In this post, I walk you through the steps. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 329) – James Baldwin

“You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.” James Baldwin Photo courtesy of Allan Warren ...

How to speak with authentic charisma

How can we speak with charisma—authentic charisma—when we are on stage? That is the subject that Jim Harvey and I discussed in the fourth and final edition of our webinar series. The first webinar covered some of the secrets of storytelling. The second webinar covered rhetorical devices. The third webinar covered visual aids that support your presentations. In the ...

6 tips for better visual aids

Jim Harvey and I are two of the three founders of Presentation Guru. Given the current state of affairs in the world, we have decided to experiment with webinars. We have a series of four webinars for anyone interested in delivering better speeches and presentations. The first webinar covered some of the secrets of storytelling. We discussed what stories are, ...

Webinar on Rhetorical Devices

Jim Harvey and I are two of the three founders of Presentation Guru. Given the current state of affairs in the world, we have decided to experiment with webinars. We have a series of four webinars for anyone interested in delivering better speeches and presentations. The first webinar covered some of the secrets of storytelling. ...

Webinar on Storytelling

Jim Harvey and I are two of the three founders of Presentation Guru. Given the current state of affairs in the world, we have decided to experiment with webinars. We are creating a series of four webinars for anyone interested in delivering better speeches and presentations. The first webinar covered some of the secrets of ...

A new look for Manner of Speaking

Manner of Speaking has a new look. I began writing my blog on public speaking in May 2009. After almost 11 years and nearly 4 million visits, it was time to upgrade the website. Over the past two months, I have been working with Moonshot, a team of website developers based in Budapest, Hungary. They have been terrific ...

Price of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ reduced

These are difficult times. The coronavirus, COVID-19 has hit the world hard. And it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better. One of the impacts is that millions of people are now homebound because of the virus and it is not clear when this confinement will end. It makes for ...

Responding to COVID-19 and Coronavirus

One of Gabriel García Márquez’s novels is entitled Love in the Time of Cholera. We could easily call the current state of affairs in the world Life in the Time of Coronavirus. The COVID-19 coronavirus disease, which is now a pandemic, has shaken the world medically, financially and emotionally. Unless you have been completely cut off from ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 328) – Miguel de Cervantes

“A speech that is good, if brief, is good twice over.” Miguel de Cervantes ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 327) – Kobe Bryant

“Everything negative—pressure, challenges—is all an opportunity for me to rise.” Kobe Bryant Photo courtesy of Keith Allison ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 329) – Kurt Vonnegut

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.” Kurt Vonnegut ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 326) – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh ...

6 tips for speaking English to non-native speakers

Speaking English to an audience of non-native speakers is tricky. Because English is so widely spoken around the world, many native English speakers tend to forget just how complicated English can be for others. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 325) – Marc Benioff

“Presentation skills are key. People who work for you represent your brand. You want them to present themselves—and represent you—in a certain way.” Marc Benioff ...

5 tips to save your batteries (and your presentation)

Slide presentations are a staple of the business world. Every day, there are millions of PowerPoint, Keynote other slide presentations around the world. By some counts, the figure is 30 million each day! If you are going to use to a slide presentation, use a remote to advance your slides. I discuss the reasons why, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 324) – Richard Wagamese

“There is such a powerful eloquence in silence. True genius is knowing when to say nothing, to allow the experience, the moment itself, to carry the message, to say what needs to be said. Words are less important, less effective than feeling.” Richard Wagamese Photo courtesy of Dan Harasymchuk ...

6 posts for your public speaking in 2020

As the clock winds down on 2019 and we enter a new year and a new decade, I wanted to share six posts from the past to inspire your speaking in 2020. If you think that your speeches and presentations can’t have a major impact, think again. That’s what the ripple effect is all about. Public speaking ...

What questions do you have for me?

Questions from the audience. They are an important part of any presentation because they give members of the audience a chance to let the speaker know what is on their mind. Sometimes, however, audience members might be reluctant to ask a question — after all, it requires them to speak in public — so I ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 323) – Pelé

“Everything is practice.” Pelé Photo courtesy of John Mathew Smith & celebrity-photos.com ...

An important lesson from Bohemian Rhapsody

I finally got around to watching the film Bohemian Rhapsody. I was not disappointed. Queen is one of my favourite bands and the driving force behind Queen was the inimitable Freddie Mercury. It’s hard to believe that it has been 28 years since his far-too-early death on 24 November 1991. The movie is a fitting ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 322) – Thelonius Monk

“A genius is the one most like himself.” Thelonius Monk ...

Pauses in a speech: Why, when and how

A STORY FROM SPAIN Pauses aren’t easy. I teach public speaking and presentation skills at a few Executive MBA Programmes in Switzerland and Spain. A few years ago, I was teaching a class at IESE in Barcelona. One of my students was a fellow named Manuel. He was bright, thoughtful and fully engaged. He also ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 321) – Plato

“Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.” Plato Photo courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons ...

"Duck and Cover" won't help

In the years following World War 2, the threat of nuclear war hung over the world. As the United States and its allies faced the Soviet Union and its allies, a Third World War was a distinct possibility. Given the looming threat, in the 1950s, the American Government produced a civil defence film entitled Duck and ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 320) – Kurt Vonnegut

“You are whatever you pretend to be.” Kurt Vonnegut (For some great insights from Vonnegut that can help you become a better speaker, click here and here.) ...

A lesson from a farmer's field

Public speakers can learn a lesson from a farmer’s field. Behind our home is a large farmer’s field. Over the years, I have seen that field grow wheat, corn, barley, sunflowers – which look amazing when they are in bloom – and other crops. This season, it appears as though the field will lie fallow. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 319) – Nancy Duarte

“Research shows that people learn more effectively from multimedia messages when they’re stripped of extraneous words, graphics, animation and sounds.” Nancy Duarte ...

A lesson from Dubrovnik

My wife, Julie and I recently went for a vacation in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. Wonderful people, beautiful scenery, fascinating history. If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. One day, we took a cable car to the top of Mount Srđ which overlooks the city and offers a spectacular view ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 318) – Ronald Reagan

“I learned the fundamental rule of public speaking. Whether on the radio, on television or to a live crowd, talk to your audience, not over their heads or through them. Just use normal everyday words. I have never lost that vision of the fellows in the barbershop sitting ...

Things that public speakers don't need on stage

There are many things that public speakers don’t need on stage. When you deliver a speech or presentation, leave the following things behind because they are all distracting: – Your cell phone – Coins in your pocket – Keys in your pocket – Anything that can jingle in your pocket – Jewelry that can jingle, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 317) – Richard Powers

“The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” Richard Powers Photo courtesy of www.richardpowers.net ...

Lessons from Senegal – Part 2

Pierre Thiam Teranga. It is the word that best represents the values at the heart of society in Senegal. During my trip to Dakar, I experienced it on a daily basis.There is no direct translation of teranga in English. “Hospitality” comes close but it is an incomplete translation. The best way to understand teranga is to have it ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 316) – Seth Godin

“The idea of marketing is this: Do you have a story that’s worth telling? Are there people who need to hear it and who want to hear it? And is it true? That’s marketing.” Seth Godin ...

Lessons from Senegal – Part 1

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Dakar, Senegal. There I worked with 30 officials from the United Nations (in French) to help them improve their public speaking and presentation skills. These men and women are doing important work in often difficult conditions all over Africa. It was a privilege for me to be ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 315) – Ernest Hemingway

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway ...

Sketches from the Summer School of Rhetoric – Part 5

This is the fifth and final post in a series based on the sketches that graphic recorder Linda Saukko-Rauta made during my public speaking workshop in Hämeenlinna, Finland. I was speaking at the 2019 edition of the Summer School of Rhetoric. Today’s sketch is about making your message stick; i.e., ensuring that the audience will remember your message. It ...

Sketches from the Summer School of Rhetoric – Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series based on the sketches that graphic recorder Linda Saukko-Rauta made during my public speaking workshop in Hämeenlinna, Finland. I was speaking at the 2019 edition of the Summer School of Rhetoric. Today’s sketch is about stories and storytelling, the currency of a great speech. For the previous sketch in the series, ...

Sketches from the Summer School of Rhetoric – Part 3

This is the third post in a series based on the sketches that graphic recorder Linda Saukko-Rauta made during my public speaking workshop in Hämeenlinna, Finland. I was speaking at the 2019 edition of the Summer School of Rhetoric. Today’s sketch is about structure. Every presentation needs good structure if it is to be successful. That means a powerful ...

Sketches from the Summer School of Rhetoric – Part 2

This is the second post in a series based on the sketches that graphic recorder Linda Saukko-Rauta made during my public speaking workshop in Hämeenlinna, Finland. I was speaking at the 2019 edition of the Summer School of Rhetoric. Today’s sketch captures the three pillars of a successful persuasive speech, as set out by Aristotle over 2,300 years ...

Sketches from the Summer School of Rhetoric – Part 1

On 6 June 2019, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on public speaking and presentations skills in Hämeenlinna, Finland, at the Summer School of Rhetoric. It is an excellent event, held every summer, at a beautiful location in the idyllic Finnish countryside. It was my second time speaking there; the first was in 2014 when I ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 314) – J. K. Rowling

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” J. K. Rowling Photo courtesy of S.macken6 ...

Powerful presentations, even with PowerPoint

This is a guest post by David Lindelöf. David obtained his PhD in Physics at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. From 2010 to 2018, he was the Chief Technology Officer at Neurobat. Since 2018 he has been the Senior Data Scientist at Expedia in Geneva. He shares his thoughts on learning, computers and other interesting topics ...

Message from the Berlin Wall

I regularly travel to Berlin, Germany to work with a client there. My client’s offices are located close to the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, so I know that part of the city well. It is always a humbling experience to walk along the Wall and reflect on what life in Berlin must ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 312) – Trevor Noah

“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. “We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear ...

A lesson from the Toronto Raptors

Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors! “We the North!” They are the 2019 NBA Champions. I am delighted for Toronto — where I lived for over 15 years — and for all of Canada. In a thrilling Final, the Raptors defeated the defending Champion Golden State Warriors 4 games to 2. For the Warriors, it was ...

3 tips to deal with the room where you speak

When we give a speech or presentation, we usually don’t have any control over the room where we speak. We might be able to move chairs and tables or adjust the lighting, but in general, we have to deal with the room as we find it. Last week, I went for a walk around the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 310) – Epictetus

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” Epictetus ...

4 lessons from my 20-year-old cat

Today, 15 May 2019, is a big day in our family. Our cat Pico is now 20 years old. A significant milestone. According to generally agreed conversion rates, if Pico were human, she would be 96. Most cats don’t make it this far. In some ways, Pico is showing her age. She is about 90% deaf; ...

Transitions in a speech or presentation

Have you ever been in the audience listening to a speaker and found yourself lost? You weren’t exactly sure where the speaker was going or how the different points in a speech were connected? There are many possible reasons for such a situation, but one of them is faulty, or non-existent, transitions. What is a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 309) – Pablo Picasso

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 308) – Simon Sinek

“We are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe. Their ability to make us feel like we belong, to make us feel special, safe and not alone is part of what gives them the ability to inspire us.” Simon Sinek Photo courtesy of StartwithWhy ...

Authenticity

The temptation to be like others is strong. But if we always try to fit in, we will never stand out. We become just one more slice of bread in one more bland, homogenized loaf. And there are millions of bland loaves of bread out there. Good luck getting noticed while sitting on the same ...

Association of Speakers Clubs Conference in Edinburgh

As regular readers of this blog know, I co-created a public speaking board game with my good friend and fellow speaker, Florian Mueck: Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™. It is available as both a traditional tabletop board game and an app. You can learn more about it here, here and here. On Saturday, 27 April 2019, I will be ...

A conversation with Conor Neill

I have just returned home after my annual week teaching public speaking and communication skills at the IESE Executive MBA Programme in Barcelona, Spain. It was my 7th year working with fellow speaking professionals — and good friends — Tony Anagor, Florian Mueck, Conor Neill and Tobias Rodrigues. During the week, I sat down with ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 307) – Tyrion Lannister

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar; you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones ...

A giant leap forward in your public speaking

There is a lot to learn about public speaking. The fact that I have been writing this blog for 10 years is testament to that. And no matter how much you learn, no matter how good you become, you will never reach perfection because there is always room for improvement. But there is one thing ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 306) – Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, ...

Three ways to rethink your title slide

Your title slide occupies prime real estate in your slide deck. It is the gateway to your presentation. You can either spend time thinking how to use it to maximum advantage or miss an opportunity to grab you audience’s attention from the start. Titles slides often contain such details as the date of the presentation, the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 305) – Christopher Vogler

“As the polarized nature of magnetic fields can be used to generate electrical energy, polarity in a story seems to be an engine that generates tension and movement in the characters and a stirring of emotions in the audience.” Christopher Vogler Photo courtesy of Etan J. Tal ...

How to handle public speaking nerves

On 3 June 2017, professional rock climber Alex Honnold accomplished something that few people thought could be done. He climbed the 3,000-foot granite wall of Yosemite Park’s famous El Capitan, the vertical wall in the photo above. Alone. Without ropes or any other safety apparatus. (Yes, you read that correctly.)This achievement has been celebrated as ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 304) – Keanu Reeves

“The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.” Keanu Reeves Photo courtesy of Marybel Le Pape ...

Patrick Stewart: A lesson from Shakespeare and Star Trek

I am not a Trekkie, but I was a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was the second Star Trek series and the only one that I watched from beginning to end. The main reason was the brilliant performance by Patrick Stewart, the brilliant English actor. Stewart played Jean-Luc Picard, the Captain ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 303) – John Maynard Keynes

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.” John Maynard Keynes ...

Pico Iyer and the art of stillness

Pico Iyer is a renowned essayist and novelist who is best known for his travel writing. He has been to some of the most far-flung places on the planet and his writings have appeared in leading newspapers, magazines and literary journals. In the TED Talk below, Iyer discusses a theme that some might find counterintuitive ...

Naomi Osaka's Australian Open Speech

Naomi Osaka of Japan won the 2019 Australian Open in dramatic fashion. She beat the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitová 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4 to become the first woman since 2001 to follow her debut Grand Slam win with another one. Embed from Getty Images Even after squandering three match points to lose the second set, Osaka ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 302) – Martin Luther King Jr.

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” Martin Luther King Jr. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 301) – Jimi Hendrix

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” Jimi Hendrix Photo courtesy of Scanpix ...

Don't let this moment define you

Have you ever had one of these experiences while speaking in public? You forgot what you wanted to say and froze on stage. Your computer crashed and you fumbled your way through the presentation. An audience member made a comment that threw you off. You were asked a question that you couldn’t answer and became ...

When you speak, break the pattern

If you want your ideas to be stickier, you’ve got to break someone’s guessing machine and then fix it. You have to break their pattern of thinking in a way that creates surprise and interest. However, you must do so in a way that is relevant and thoughtful. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 300) – "A Star is Born"

Quote No. 300 for public speakers. Hard to believe. When I began this series back in 2009 with Quote No. 1, I wasn’t sure that I would find enough quotes to keep it running for long. But time and again, I have come across great quotes, aphorisms, sayings and other pieces of wisdom that have ...

10 tips for dealing wth dry mouth when you speak

If you give a lot of speeches or presentations, there is a good chance that you have experienced dry mouth (also known as cotton mouth) — that parched, sticky sensation that makes your mouth and throat feel like cracked soil in a drought. The technical term is xerostomia, a condition in which the salivary glands in ...

This year, push yourself beyond your boundaries

Push yourself beyond your boundaries this year! My wife Julie and I recently returned home after three days in Zermatt, Switzerland with our friends, Florian Mueck and Rose Chong, and some of their friends. Great people and great skiing! Besides being a friend, Florian is also a fellow public speaker, my business partner and co-creator of Rhetoric – ...

Five Public Speaking Resolutions for 2019

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is part of a series to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ––––– As 2018 draws to a close, many people reflect on the year gone by and make plans for the year to come. If you ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 299) – Adam Duritz

“People ask me if I have stage fright. I say, God, no, I’m completely comfortable there. I have rest-of-the-day fright.” Adam Duritz Photo courtesy of Taylor Spaulding / Flickr ...

You know more than you think you do

In the TED Talk below, social scientist Dolly Chugh speaks about an interesting idea: how we can become better people if we just stop trying to be good. I don’t intend to analyze her talk; rather, in this post, I’d like to focus on her speaking notes.  As you can see from the image below, Chugh ...

A fashion tip for women speakers

A fashion tip for women. When it comes to giving fashion advice, I am on thin ice. When it comes to giving fashion advice to women, I have fallen through the ice. But on one point, I stand firmly on solid ground. If a woman is going to speak and she knows that she will ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 297) – Seneca

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent. No one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.” Seneca Photo courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont / Wikimedia ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 296) – Gloria Steinem

“I think the most obvious real fear I had was of public speaking. That really paralyzed me. I’d have to cancel appearances at the last minute because if I tried to do them, I’d lose all my saliva and each tooth would acquire a little sweater. “I didn’t begin to speak in public until I ...

6 tips for handling a remote when presenting

If you use slides in your presentations, whether PowerPoint, Keynote or some other software, you must become comfortable using a remote to advance those slides. The alternatives are not great: 1.  Standing by the computer the entire presentation and advancing the slides using the keyboard. 2.  Walking back and forth between the computer and the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 295) – Byron Reese

“Stories are central to humanity, for they gave form to human imagination, which is the first requisite for progress.” Byron Reese Photo courtesy of byronreese.com ...

The Camera and Brett Kavanaugh

The fight over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh was the ugliest confirmation process for an American Supreme Court Justice that I have seen. I’m not American, but I am a lawyer, and I thought it was a sad indictment on how politicized the American legal system has become. A thoughtful, independent judiciary is a cornerstone ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 294) – Benjamin Franklin

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Benjamin Franklin ...

Don't make the same mistake as Donald Trump

You’d be forgiven if, after reading the title of this post, you asked, “Which one?” Don’t worry, we’re going to leave politics aside, so that narrows it down, at least somewhat. Instead, I want to discuss a mistake that the President made during his 2018 address to the United Nations. Many speakers make the same mistake, ...

5 Books for Public Speakers

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is about books for public speakers and is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— There are hundreds of books about public speaking and presentation skills. While the best way ...

22 tips for effective video presentations

These days, an increasing number of presentations are delivered, not from a stage, but in front of a computer screen. The audience is live but dispersed across offices and cities or even countries and time zones. Presentations via videoconference on platforms such as Skype and Zoom are now a normal part of work and will ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 293) – Hillary Clinton

“If you’re not comfortable with public speaking—and nobody starts out comfortable—you have to learn how to be comfortable. Practice. I cannot overstate the importance of practicing. Get some close friends or family members to help evaluate you, or somebody at work that you trust.” Hillary Clinton Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore ...

A lesson from the skyline of Chicago

According to the Chicago Architecture Center, “Chicago has long been a laboratory for architectural innovation and experimentation.” I was recently in Chicago for a conference and got to experience that great city firsthand. While in Chicago, my daughter Alexandra joined me and together we explored some of what the city has to offer. And yes, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 292) – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson ...

Change your perspective

Good, better, best. Bad, worse, worst. One, two, three. Past, present, future. When we speak, we often find ourselves comparing things (e.g., different investment opportunities; different options for a business) or reviewing a timeline (e.g., stages of a project). Thus, we should structure our presentations using the appropriate format. But the work doesn’t end there. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 291) – Albert Einstein

“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 290) – Hamilton

When you got skin in the game, you stay in the gameBut you don’t get a win unless you play in the game  … God help and forgive meI wanna buildSomething that’s gonnaOutlive me … I wanna be inThe room where it happensThe room where it happensI wanna be inThe room where it happensThe room ...

In the footsteps of Aristotle

In May 2018, I visited Athen, Greece to speak at a conference. While there, I had the opportunity to visit the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. With the Parthenon as an amazing backdrop, I made a short video on Aristotle’s three pillars of rhetoric, which you can see here. Lyceum After the Parthenon, I visited another ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 289) – Oprah Winfrey

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.” Oprah Winfrey Photo courtesy of oprah.com ...

Recovering from a memory lapse during a presentation

The people at Visme have designed a simple infographic with eight tips to recover from a memory lapse when delivering a presentation. They expand on these points in a blog post that you can read here. I like the tips, particularly No. 7 (don’t memorize your talk but rather know the points you want to ...

A lesson from the 2018 World Cup

A month of terrific football (soccer) came to an end yesterday in Moscow with the World Cup Final. France lived up to expectations and claimed the title of World Champion by defeating Croatia 4 – 2 in an entertaining game. Félicitations les Bleus! Throughout the tournament, France showed the depth of its talent, going undefeated in ...

Rhetorical Devices: Symploce

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Symploce (pronounced sim-plo-see or sim-plo-kee) Origin: From the Greek συμπλοκήν (simplokeen), meaning “interweaving”. In plain English: Repetition of a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 287) – Rosalynn Carter

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Rosalynn Carter ...

Sawubona: See your audience

I recently wrote a post for Presentation Guru on the importance of “seeing” your audience.  It was based on the Zulu word sawubona. Zulu, or isiZulu, is one of South Africa’s official languages and is spoken by approximately 10 million people. Sawubona means, “I see you.” Not in the sense of, “I see you here in front of me, and ...

Grammar: "Less" is more except when it's "fewer"

This post is part of a series on grammar and vocabulary. From time to time, I will post short articles highlighting some of the common mistakes that people say during their presentation or write on their slides, and how to avoid them. Comparisons often appear in presentations. We compare the company’s performance this year to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 286) – William Shakespeare

“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.” William Shakespeare ...

Be prepared to cut your presentation short

I have written in the past about managing your time when giving a speech or presentation. One of my tips in the post above says to cut your presentation short if necessary. Logistics, I wrote, will not always be within your control and your speaking time might be unexpectedly reduced. If you are told, 20 ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 285) – Brent Kerrigan

“The cold truth is that audiences remember little about any speech. We may believe they have an infinite ability to remember our funding analysis and statistics, but they will remember one or two points, at best. We must therefore present information in a way that is not only easy to understand, but also easy to ...

Find the extraordinary in the ordinary

My friend, Lance Miller is an award-winning public speaker and trainer. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Degree in Food Systems, Economics and Management. Lance has an extensive background in business and is a philanthropist who has worked in numerous humanitarian causes around the world. In 2005, Lance won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 284) – Anthony Bourdain

“Practicing your craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable and satisfying.” Anthony Bourdain Photo courtesy of Peabody Awards ...

A lesson from the Parthenon

I was recently in Athens, Greece to speak at a conference. While there, I had one free day and, as it was my first time in Greece, there was one place I had to see: the Parthenon that sits atop the Acropolis. If you every have the opportunity to visit the Parthenon, you must do ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 283) – Gary Vaynerchuck

“The single biggest reason people are concerned about public speaking is because they worry what other people think of them. The quicker you start learning how to fix that issue and be comfortable with yourself, you’ll become a much better public speaker. Heck, you’ll become a much better and happier human being.“ Gary Vaynerchuck ...

Analysis of a speech by Bishop Michael Curry

Bishop Michael Curry has certainly made a name for himself. I hadn’t planned on watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but during a break from work, I decided to skim the news. And there it was: a link to the live stream of the event. “I’ll just take a quick look,” I ...

Important News About Data Protection

If you’re wondering why you have recently received a raft of emails from different companies, organizations and sites about data protection, there is a reason: a new European law on data protection. What is the GDPR? On 25 May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) from the European Union will come into effect. ...

10 tips for setting up on the day of your presentation

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— You’ve prepared your presentation and you’ve arrived at the venue well in advance of your start time. Congratulations, but you’re not finished ...

3,000,000 visits

In May 2009, I wrote my first post on this blog. Almost nine years to the day later, I have received my 3,000,000th visit. My sincere thanks to everyone who has stopped by. I am glad that so many have found the blog useful and I am grateful for your support. THANK YOU ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 282) – Seth Godin

“If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.“ Seth Godin ...

The Short Version

Having a short version of your presentation is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of public speaking. Has this ever happened to you? You’re asked to give a presentation. You’re told what the audience would like you to speak about. You’re told where and when the presentation will be given. You’re told how much time ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 281) – Scott Berkun

“In hundreds of lectures around the world, I’ve done most of the scary, tragic, embarrassing things that terrify people. I’ve been heckled by drunken crowds in a Boston bar. I’ve lectured to empty seats, and a bored janitor, in New York City. I’ve had a laptop crash in a Moscow auditorium; a microphone die at a ...

50th Anniversary of the Death of Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, 4 April 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. He was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39 years old. On 3 April 1968, the day before his assassination, King delivered his final speech, entitled I Have Been to the Mountaintop. The entire speech is ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 280) – Tim Ferriss

“I agree with Warren Buffett that public speaking is one of the best investments you can make. … When you take the ability to communicate messages effectively to groups of people and layer it on top of almost anything else, you automatically put yourself into rarified company. So public speaking, I do think, is a ...

Gamification can help overcome public speaking nerves

Gamification is serious business. I have written before about Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™, the board game and app that Florian Mueck and I co-created. You can read recent posts here and here. Recently, I was interviewed about the game on Dukascopy Swiss Financial TV. My interview with Jack Everitt below. While discussing the RHETORIC, ...

Simplicity is the key to brilliance

Simplicity is the key to brilliance. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask anyone who has succeeded in his or her field. For example, see what the following people—who are associated with widely different fields—all said about simplicity. Aristotle  Frédéric Chopin  Chip and Dan Heath  Steve Jobs  Bruce Lee  Charles Mingus  Pablo Picasso  Dieter ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 279) – Dave Barry

“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears—of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, of speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words ‘Some Assembly Required’.” Dave Barry Photo courtesy of Amazur ...

25 Principles of Adult Behavior

The 25 Principles of Adult Behavior by John Perry Barlow. Barlow was an American poet, essayist, political activist and cattle rancher. He was also a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. On 7 February 2018, Barlow passed away. As the tributes an obituaries poured in, Barlow’s 25 Principles of Adult Behavior was frequently referenced. I hadn’t looked at ...

Something more: A lesson from Chef's Table

Chef’s Table My wife, Julie and I recently happened upon the Netflix series, Chef’s Table. Each episode features one of the world’s most successful chefs, digging into the background story and finding out what drives the person. We are late to the game. We watched the last episode of Season 2, but as of the date of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 278) – Jim Rohn

“Words do two major things. They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.” Jim Rohn Photo courtesy of Ramine5677 ...

12 ways to piss off your audience

Why make an effort for your audience when you can just piss them off?Too difficult, you say? Not at all! There are so many things you can do to anger, frustrate and confuse an audience. If you’re struggling for ideas, the 12 tips below—individually or in combination—are sure to do the trick. 1.  Talk about ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 277) – Warren Buffett

“If you can’t communicate and talk to people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.” Warren Buffett Photo courtesy of Fortune Live Media ...

1,000 downloads!

Very pleased to share with you that Florian Mueck and I have hit 1,000 downloads of the app version of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™. RHETORIC it is the world’s first public speaking board game. Florian and I created it a few years back. The game began as a physical board game. We then went digital with launch ...

Never wear a name tag when you speak

If you are invited to speak at a conference or other event, you will likely receive a name tag when you register. It will usually be in a plastic envelope that you attach to your clothing with a pin, or that you hang around your neck on a lanyard. Name tags are useful. They tell ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 276) – Emma Bannister

“Invest the time and energy into planning a powerful presentation and your audience will invest their time and energy in you.” Emma Bannister ...

Analysis of a Speech by Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is an American writer who focuses on politics, psychology and culture. He has written for The New York Times and The New Yorker among others. His book The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression won the 2001 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. Solomon’s 2014 TED Talk is ...

Stretch your Speaking – Acting

This post is the third in a series about finding ways to stretch yourself when it comes to public speaking. The goal is to encourage people to explore different ways of developing their speaking skills and thus to become better speakers.For the previous posts in the series, please click here and here. “All the world’s a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 274) – Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“Nothing complements a fast mind better than a slow tongue. And nothing aggravates a slow mind better than a fast tongue.” Mokokoma Mokhonoana Photo courtesy of Mokokoma Mokhonoana ...

Something Just Like This

We don’t have to be Superman or Superwoman to have something important to say. I recently had the privilege of moderating the 9th WAVE (Women’s Added Value in the Economy) Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s an annual event organized and run by the dynamic women of the Career Women’s Forum. The theme for the conference ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 273) – Jim Harvey

“If you don’t understand what the audience wants, you can’t be relevant. If you can’t be relevant, you won’t be interesting. If you aren’t interesting, you won’t be heard. If you’re not heard, you’ll be forgotten. If you’re forgotten, you’re done.” Jim Harvey ...

What happens when a speaker pauses for a few seconds?

First, let’s talk about what doesn’t happen when a speaker pauses. The audience does not think that you’ve forgotten something. Nobody can hear your heart beating. Nobody will think that you are stupid. The audience does not think that you are a bad speaker. The audience does not think that your speech is over. So ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 272) – Oscar Wilde

“When both a speaker and an audience are confused, the speech is profound.” Oscar Wilde ...

Stretch your Speaking – Stand-up Comedy

This post is the second in a series about finding ways to stretch yourself when it comes to public speaking. The goal is to encourage people to explore different ways of developing their speaking skills and thus to become better speakers.For the previous post in the series, please click here. For the next post, please ...

Analysis of a speech by Oprah Winfrey

The 2018 Golden Globe Awards were handed out last night (7 January 2018). There were several highlights and many winners, but the overwhelming consensus is that Oprah Winfrey stole the show. Winfrey, a talk show host, actress and philanthropist was honoured as the first black woman to win the Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement award. She used her ...

Stretch your Speaking – Introduction

This post is the first in a series about finding ways to stretch yourself when it comes to public speaking. The goal is to encourage people to explore different ways of developing their speaking skills and thus to become better speakers.For the next posts in the series, please click here and here. Happy New Year! We ...

The benefits of humour and 10 tips for using it in a speech

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals.This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. benefits of humour ——— French author Victor Hugo said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” When speaking to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 271) – Timothy Leary

“If you want to change the way people respond to you, change the way you respond to people.” Timothy Leary ...

Break the Internet

Net neutrality is important. Yet, in just days, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote to end it. breaking the fundamental principle of the open Internet. If you do not want your ability to surf the Internet to be held hostage by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), now is the time to speak up. If you live ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 270) – Shiv Kera

“There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide. Hence, leadership is about persuasion, presentation and people skills.” Shiv Kera Photo courtesy of Rajeev Verma ...

Don't blow it with your audience

You have to handle the microphone carefully. Last week I attended the graduation ceremony for the class of a business school where I teach. The graduates had taken their seats, the audience was settled in, the three-piece orchestra had just finished the last of its pieces. Everything was set. The Master of Ceremonies approached the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 269) – Robert Kennedy

“‘Give me a place to stand,’ said Archimedes, ‘and I will move the world.’ These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will ...

Product Review: Logitech Spotlight Remote

Slides are a staple of most presentations. And if you use slides, you should use a good remote to go through them. I recommend the Logitech Spotlight. I have been using the Spotlight for the past couple of months and am now able to share my opinion with you. There’s a lot to like and ...

Manner of Speaking recognized by Credit Donkey

Manner of Speaking has been chosen as one of the winning blogs by Credit Donkey for the Best Public Speaking Blogs in 2017. Credit Donkey is a credit card comparison site that publishes credit card research, deals, and tips to help consumers make informed credit decisions. It aims to make personal finance fun and easy to understand. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 268) – John Maxwell

“The first time you say something, it’s heard; the second time, it’s recognized; the third time, it’s learned.” John Maxwell Photo courtesy of Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes Guatemala ...

Seth Godin: Speakerphone voice

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites. speakerphone In this blog post from 11 November 2017, Seth offers some simple, practical advice when it comes to speakerphones and microphones: Learn how to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 267) – Arthur Ashe

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” Arthur Ashe Photo courtesy of Rob Bogaerts / Anefo ...

A lesson from Nokia

On 12 November 2007—ten years ago to the day as I write this post—Forbes published its magazine featuring a story about Nokia on the cover. It would turn out to be an iconic cover for the magazine, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Forbes asked the question, “Can anyone catch the cell ...

Never do this on the day of a presentation!

Yesterday afternoon I had a four-hour speaking engagement. Most of the session was interactive, but it began with a 45-minute presentation for which I used some slides. Everything had been prepared well in advance, the slides were simple, I knew the material and was ready to go. Mid-morning, I decided to have one last look ...

New Business Theme Added to Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™

The new Business theme has been added to the app version of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™. Players can now choose to play one of three different themes (Classic, Family and Business) in one of six different languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, German and Catalan). If you are not familiar with Rhetoric – The ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 266) – Spring Washam

“When one thought ends, right before the next thought begins, there is a tiny gap called ‘now’. Over time we learn to expand that gap.” Spring Washam Photo courtesy of springwasham.com ...

The Public Speaking Fear Grid

Public speaking fear is well known. As Jerry Seinfeld has said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! This means, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Even those who are not ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 265) – Neale Donald Walsch

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch Photo courtesy of Sarah Rozenthuler and Gil Dekel ...

Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ featured in Toastmaster Magazine

My fellow public speaker, business partner and good friend Florian Mueck and I are proud to announce that Toastmasters International has published an article about Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ in the October 2017 edition of its Toastmasters Magazine. Readers of this blog will have seen posts about RHETORIC in the past: the physical board ...

It was one of those days

Theresa May had a bad day on stage. “Calamatous!” — “A nightmare!” — “Wretched freakish luck, and agony to behold.” These were just some of the reviews in the press of the British Prime Minister’s 4 October 2017 speech in Manchester. This speech was an important one. With May’s popularity dipping, with the recent setback of the ...

12 easy hacks to be more charismatic

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— Charisma. It’s not a special talent bestowed on a chosen few. We are all born with charisma. I challenge you to show ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 263) – Winston Churchill

“Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king. He is an independent force in the world.” Sir Winston Churchill ...

Don't be like Twitter

I am a long-time user of Twitter. The microblogging platform has allowed me to connect with people around the world, learn new things and share my ideas. Although Twitter has struggled in recent years to grow, especially when compared to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, it nevertheless maintains a solid base of users. Twitter’s ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 262) – Seth Godin

“Remember, the presentation is to make an emotional sale. The document is the proof that helps the intellectuals in your audience accept the idea that you’ve sold them on emotionally.” Seth Godin ...

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

When I was a kid, one of my favourite movies was The Wizard of Oz. Back in the day, there was no streaming on demand, so you had to wait until it was shown on television. With few channels available, that usually meant the the movie came to TV about once a year. One of the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 261) – Steven Pressfield

“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.” Steven Pressfield ...

What if we put the audience first?

What if we stopped … … thinking of people as just number filling seats? … focusing on how we look, where we’re putting our hands, whether people will like us? … wondering whether this speaking engagement will lead to a new engagement, a new client, a new opportunity? What if we started … … seeing ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 260) – Madeleine Albright

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” Madeleine Albright ...

A lesson from Apple's launch of the iPhone X

The iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10”) was touted as the next leap forward in smartphones. It is the first smartphone from Apple to feature a full-screen display, it has “Super Retina” resolution, wireless charging and more. Apple revealed it to the world on 12 September 2017 at a special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre. One of these new ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 259) – Jonathan Evison

“You have to smile, if you expect anybody to smile back.” Jonathan Evison Photo courtesy of Keith Brofsky ...

10 Lessons from Jim Carrey for Public Speakers

I recently came across the six-minute film, Jim Carrey: I Needed Color. It is a beautifully shot and wonderfully told story about Jim Carrey’s fascination with art, particularly painting. The movie shows a side of Carrey with which many people may not be familiar, a side that contrasts starkly with his stand-up personality and with ...

Make your next presentation your best yet

The infographic in this post comes courtesy of the design agency Ghergich & Co. They developed it for Salesforce Canada and invited me to share it with you. The infographic captures some important principles from three experts in the field of public speaking and presentations: Chris Anderson, Nancy Duarte and Guy Kawasaki. Many speakers forget that ...

Rethinking Title Slides

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— Have you ever sat in the audience, waiting for a presentation to begin? To prepare for the next speaker, the organizers display ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 258) – Sophocles

“Much speech is one thing, well-timed speech is another.” Sophocles Photo courtesy of shakko ...

David Blaine and the magic of a preposition

David Blaine is my favourite magician. I first saw him on television years ago doing tricks for people on the street. Since then, Blaine’s career has morphed into performing such death-defying feats as shooting himself in the mouth or holding his breath for 17 minutes. But I like his street magic the best; it’s up ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 257) – Dorothy Parker

“Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.” Dorothy Parker ...

The life-changing magic of tidying up your presentations

As I write this post, my wife and I are approximately three weeks into a massive effort to tidy up our home. This is no ordinary, annual clean-up; this is a methodical full-on assault to go through all of our possessions and really decide what we need or want, and to get rid of the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 256) – Jim Rohn

“Time alone is really essential, to get away and contemplate, think, and wonder.” Jim Rohn Photo courtesy of Ramine5677 ...

Four Lessons from the Mountain for Public Speakers

I am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionals. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— A few weeks ago, my friend Timo Sorri came to Geneva for a visit. Timo is an expert in presentation design. You can learn ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 255) – Mark Brown

“Our stories are the key to connecting. They don’t have to be sensational; they just have to be sincere.” Mark Brown ...

Own your speech

Recently, I was working with a group of people over a couple of days to help them improve their public speaking skills. For one exercise, I asked them to give a short (5-minute) speech on something that they cared about. The first participant spoke about an issue that is very important to her. The topic was interesting and the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 254) – Warren Bennis

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.” Warren Bennis ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 253) – Dale Carnegie

“Practise, practise, PRACTISE in speaking before an audience will tend to remove all fear of audiences, just as practise in swimming will lead to confidence and facility in the water. You must learn to speak by speaking.” Dale Carnegie ...

Like Riding a Bike

I love cycling. And living just outside of Geneva, Switzerland, I am spoiled by the options that I have. I can ride along the shores of Lake Geneva, or along hilly roads that take me through spectacular vineyards. I can climb the Jura Mountains and, if I am feeling ambitious, I can throw the bike ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 252) – Jack Kerouac

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” Jack Kerouac Photo courtesy of Tom Palumbo ...

Four Public Speaking Lessons – and a Drone!

I recently had the pleasure of spending 10 days in Barcelona for work and pleasure. The first week was spent at IESE Business School where, once or twice a year, I join four others to teach public speaking and communication skills to the class of IESE’s Executive MBA Programme. The week is always intense and ...

Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ – The new Family theme is here!

Last summer, Florian Mueck and I released the app version of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™, the world’s first public speaking board game. One of the great things about an app is that you can update it with new features. The first of those new features is now here: the Family theme. Over the last several months, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 251) – Marie Curie

“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” Marie Curie ...

When is your next public speaking engagement?

It doesn’t have to be a TED Talk or a formal presentation at a conference. It could be a five-minute status report on your project at the next team meeting; it could be saying a few words about a colleague at a farewell lunch; it could be Skype call to your sales reps. It all ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 250) – Seth Godin

“You are not being judged, the value of what you are bringing to the audience is being judged. The topic of the talk isn’t you, the topic of the talk is the audience, and specifically, how they can use your experience and knowledge to achieve their objectives.” Seth Godin ...

Huge mistake at the Oscars and the lessons to learn

I didn’t think that I would be writing another post of this nature so soon after the huge mistake that was made at the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant, but here we are. Again. This time, it was the Oscars.In case you missed it, chaos reigned at the end of the 2017 Academy Awards. The presentation ...

Squeezing the last minute out of a session

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites. squeezing In this blog post from 21 February 2017, Seth reminds us that less is more and that conclusions are important. Plan appropriately so that ...

R.I.P. Hans Rosling (1948 – 2017)

I was saddened to learn of the death of Hans Rosling early this morning. He was a Swedish doctor, statistician, public speaker and Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He was also one of the best known presenters at TED. Rosling had a passion and a gift for making complicated data interesting and understandable for ...

Lessons in Simplicity from Apple's Former Ad Agency Creative Director

I recently read an article in a British Airways inflight magazine about the lessons in simplicity that we can learn from Apple. It was written by Ken Segall and is entitled “Keep it simple”. Segall served as Apple’s ad agency creative director for more than 12 years. The article contains a number of insights about the power of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 249) – Teddy Roosevelt

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” Theodore Roosevelt ...

Analysis of Donald Trump's Inaugural Address

On 20 January 2017, Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. He takes office at the end of the most acrimonious campaigns in recent history, and with Americans deeply divided, as witnessed by the protests that erupted across the country (and the world) the next day. Embed from Getty Images ...

Some "very" good advice

“Very” is a dangerous word. Mark Twain once gave the following advice to writers: Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. American novelist and columnist Florence King was of the same opinion: ‘Very’ is the most useless word in ...

Barack Obama's Farewell Speech

Yesterday, 10 January 2017, President Barack Obama gave his farewell speech in Chicago. It is the end of an era. Obama brought intelligence, dignity and character to the White House. Embed from Getty Images As the first black President, Obama broke a barrier that seemed impenetrable not so long ago. In so doing, he not only faced a ...

Happy New Year 2017 (and a new book!)

I want to wish all readers Happy New Year. I hope that 2017 is a happy, healthy and successful one for you and for those whom you hold dear.If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you might have noticed that my stream of posts has recently dried to a trickle. In fact, my ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 247) – Mark Twain

“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” Mark Twain ...

RHETORIC Game App: Thanksgiving / Black Friday Sale!

In a previous post, I announced that Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™ is now available as an app. You can read that post here. For now, you can play RHETORIC in English, Spanish, French, German and Catalan. We will add more languages in the future. And, we will soon be releasing our first major upgrade to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 246) – Garr Reynolds

“Humans are completely incapable of reading and comprehending text on a screen and listening to a speaker at the same time. Therefore, lots of text (almost any text!), and long, complete sentences are bad, Bad, BAD.” Garr Reynolds ...

The Holy Grail of Good Design

When it comes to slide presentations, I am a believer in good design, even though I am not a design specialist. Oh, I know a few things that you can do with software like PowerPoint and Keynote, but most of it is pretty basic. Good design is more than just flashy technology up on the screen; ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 245) – Aristotle

“An emotional speaker always makes his audience feel with him, even when there is nothing in his arguments; which is why many speakers try to overwhelm their audience by mere noise.” Aristotle ...

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: An analysis of their speeches

The 2016 Presidential election in the United States is over and Donald Trump has emerged as the winner. As I write this post, the votes are still being counted in some states, but the results will not affect the outcome; Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. The campaign between Donald Trump and ...

Don't join Toastmasters? Seriously?

While skimming through my Twitter feed the other day, a Tweet caught my eye. It contained the link to a post on Entrepreneur by Jonathan Li entitled 10 Mistakes Successful Speakers Never Make Again. I was intrigued. I thought, I make mistakes; I should read it. So I did. Most of what I read in the post—which was ...

Manner of Speaking recognized by Feedspot

Manner of Speaking has been chosen by Feedspot, a popular RSS Reader, as one of the Top 50 Public Speaking Blogs on the Internet. And, among the Top 50, Manner of Speaking was rated 7th. Here’s what Feedspot had to say: Trying to improve your public speaking and presentation skills to be a better public speaker? ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 244) – Nikola Tesla

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” Nikola Tesla ...

Zen and the Art of Public Speaking

Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was published in 1974. The book has sold more than 5 million copies and is widely considered a modern philosophical classic. In Zen, Pirsig discusses the metaphysics of quality. He explores the subject over the course of a 17-day motorcycle journey acros the western United States with his son. Before writing the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 243) – Ibn Battuta

“Traveling—it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta أبو عبد الله محمد بن عبد الله اللواتي الطنجي بن بطوطة ...

9 Public Speaking Tips from a Slam Poet

Adobe Spark is a suite of applications designed by Adobe System to help people create and share stories with graphics and videos. The team at Adobe Spark reached out to me to share a blog post that they had written about Pages Matam. Matam is a Cameroonian artist who now lives near Washington D.C. Among ...

Rhetoric for Persuasive Speaking

Dukascopy Bank is a Swiss online bank that provides trading services, particularly in the foreign exchange marketplace. One of its subsidiaries, Dukascopy TV, broadcasts shows about business matters on the Internet. I have been interviewed there a few times, for example here and here. persuasive speaking Recently, the team at Dukascopy invited me for an interview ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 242) – Bruno Giussani

“When people sit in a room to listen to a speaker, they are offering her something extremely precious, something that isn’t recoverable once given: a few minutes of their time and of their attention. Her task is to use that time as well as possible.” Bruno Giussani Photo courtesy of Bruno Giussani ...

8 insights from Malcolm Gladwell that made him a better speaker

Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist author and speaker. He has written five books: The Tipping Point; Blink; Outliers; What the Dog Saw; and David and Goliath. All five made it to the New York Times Bestseller List. I have read the first three and look forward to getting to the other two at some ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 241) – John Lasseter

“Very, very, very important: Do not work in a vacuum. “You have to surround yourself with trusted people. You get so immersed in your work, you will not be able to see the forest from the trees. Frankly, you’ll be studying the pine needles and worrying about them. “You need someone to help you back ...

6 Steps to a Great Introduction

On 1 June 2016, I announced the launch of a new digital magazine for public speaking professionals: Presentation Guru. I am proud to be one of the co-founders of the site. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— When they have a speaking engagement, speakers naturally focus ...

Rhetorical Devices: Anastrophe

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Anastrophe Origin: From the Greek ἀναστροφή (anastrophē), meaning “a turning back or about”. In plain English: Changing the syntax ...

Celebrating Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"

On 28 August 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most famous speeches in history, I Have a Dream. I write this post on the 53rd anniversary of that momentous occasion. Recently, I was in Washington to deliver a talk at a convention. While there, ...

"This Moved Me" Podcast: My Interview with Sally Koering Zimney

Sally Koering Zimney is a presentation coach, speaker, writer and host of the podcast, This Moved Me. She works with speakers and develops event programs. She also speaks to groups of people, helping them share their stories and move their audiences. Sally and I “met” on social media and have stayed in touch for a long time, sharing ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 240) – Howard Thurman

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman ...

2,000,000 visits!

I have just returned to Geneva from a speaking engagement at the Toastmasters International Convention in Washington, D.C. (More about that in a future post.) At some point during the eight-hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean, this blog hit another milestone: 2,000,000 visits. I am in awe of this number and so grateful for all ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 239) – Maya Angelou

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” Maya Angelou ...

Rhetorical Devices: Syllepsis

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Syllepsis Origin: From the Greek σύλληψις (sillipsis) meaning to take together. In plain English: When one word—often a verb—is used in ...

The Science of Storytelling

I am proud to be one of the co-founders of the website Presentation Guru. This post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community. ——— I have written extensively in this blog about the power of storytelling. See, for example, this post and this post. Stories are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 238) – Alfred E. Neuman

“Political speeches are like steer horns: a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.” Alfred  E. Neuman ...

Analysis of a Speech by Khizr Khan

Of the 204 speeches that were delivered at the 2016 Republican and Democratic Conventions in the United States—71 by Republicans and 133 by Democrats—one has stood out. I refer to the speech by Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq. Mr. Khan spoke on the final day of the Democratic Convention. With his wife standing ...

RHETORIC. The app is here!

My friend and business partner, Florian Mueck and I are thrilled to announce the launch of the app for Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™. It has been an incredible journey. A few years ago, we looked for board games specifically designed for public speaking but could not find any. Because public speaking is such an important ...

Ending a Speech the David Cameron Way

The impact of Brexit has been swift and brutal. British politics has been turned on its head. One of the first victims was David Cameron. Cameron took a big gamble when he pledged to hold a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union and he lost. He had no choice but to resign. When it ...

Fearless Fridays: My Interview with Anna Lundberg

Anna Lundberg is a coach, trainer and mentor. A few years ago, she left the apparent security of a full-time job to work independently, pursue her passions, and make sure that she doesn’t have any big regrets when she’s sitting in that rocking chair in the retirement home. I can relate. Anna works with people on matters such as setting goals, ...

From the Bronx to Yale: The Power of High School Speech

Below is an inspiring 13-minute documentary entitled From the Bronx to Yale. It’s about a group of high school students and their teachers from Democracy Prep school in the South Bronx, New York. They compete in a variety of speech contests at the local, district, state and national levels. The students are not rich and many come ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 237) – Adele

“I’m scared of audiences. I get shitty scared. One show in Amsterdam, I was so nervous I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times. Once in Brussels, I projectile-vomited on someone. I just gotta bear it. … “My nerves don’t really settle until I’m offstage. I mean, the thought of ...

Toastmasters International Convention – 2016

The 85th Annual Toastmasters International Convention will be held in Washington, D.C. this August. The International Convention is the highlight of the Toastmasters year and I am delighted to have been chosen as one of ten speakers who will present there.I will be speaking about improv, a special form of theatre in which players create entire ...

5 Presentation Design Hacks

Presentation design hacks; they’re not that difficult and they make a big difference when it comes to effective PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Why settle for bland and boring slides that are filled with bullet points when you can do so much more? And the good news is that you don’t have to be a tech ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 236) – Luis von Ahn

“I was being unclear about what I was saying and I did not fully understand what I was trying to explain to . He would drill deeper and deeper and deeper until I realized that there was something that I didn’t have clear in my mind. He really taught me how to think deeply about ...

The Rhetorical Genius of Muhammad Ali

The world has lost a legend. A boxing legend, a sporting legend, a human legend. Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. Ali gained worldwide attention in 1960 when, at the age of 18, he won the Gold Medal in light-heavyweight boxing at the Rome Olympics. Four ...

Launch of Presentation Guru!

In his blog post today, 1 June 2016, Seth Godin wrote: eading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain. Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 235) – Garry Trudeau

“Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated.” Garry Trudeau Photo courtesy of Linda A. Cicero / Stanford University News Service ...

Powerful Sentence Structure for Your Speech

Powerful sentence structure is fundamental to captivating writing or speaking. Here is a little gem of advice from writer Gary Provost. (The highlighting is mine.) Vary Sentence Length This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. ...

The TED Secret to Great Public Speaking

My previous two posts centred around TED Curator Chris Anderson. The first was about his reflections on the day that TED might have died; the second was a quote about compelling presentations. I have decided to create a “tricolon” of posts about Chris Anderson, so here is the third one. It distills the key points from his recent TED ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 234) – Chris Anderson

“When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.” Chris Anderson Photo courtesy of TED Conference / Flickr ...

The Day TED Might Have Died

I recently wrote a post in which I shared an article written by Seth Godin. That article mentioned the (then) upcoming book on TED Talks by TED Curator, Chris Anderson. The book, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, is now available. I recently discovered a post on LinkedIn—thanks for the tip, J.P. Theunissen—adapted ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 233) – Aristotle

“It is this simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences—makes them, as the poets tell us, ‘charm the crowd’s ears more finely’. Educated men lay down broad general principles; uneducated men argue from common knowledge and draw obvious conclusions.” Aristotle ...

8 Lessons from a Dutch Fashion Designer

I believe in the power of consistent, focused practice in one’s chosen discipline. As a professional speaker, I spend a lot of time working to improve my skills. I speak, train, read and write. I watch videos of other speakers and I seek feedback on my own speeches. Jan Taminiau However, there is much we can ...

Master the Art of Presenting 2016

I am excited to announce that the third annual Master the Art of Presenting. It will take place on 20-21 October 2016 in Helsinki, Finland. A few years ago, my friend and presentation design expert, Timo Sorri, was staying over at our home in Switzerland. We got to discussing different ways in which we could collaborate. This event was the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 232) – Abraham Lincoln

“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear, and one third thinking about what I want to say.” Abraham Lincoln ...

14 Public Speaking Lessons from the United States Supreme Court

I am a lawyer (both a barrister and solicitor), and a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. I began my legal career with Fasken Martineau, one of Canada’s oldest and largest law firms. There, I specialized in corporate commercial litigation and environmental law. In 1998, I left the private sector in order to ...

John Oliver on Quotations

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of quotes. I have a running series of them which, as of the writing of this post, is more than 230. From Mark Twain (the first quote in the series) to Marcus Aurelius, from Bruce Lee to Eleanor Roosevelt, from Nelson Mandela to Anaïs Nin, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 231) – Susan Cain

“Some introverts are perfectly comfortable with public speaking; I’m not one of them.” Susan Cain Photo courtesy of Susan Cain ...

Your Talk is a Gift

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. This post is part of a series based on original posts by Seth. Your talk is a gift In this blog post ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 230) – George Bernard Shaw

“I am the most spontaneous speaker in the world because every word, every gesture and every retort has been carefully rehearsed.” George Bernard Shaw ...

What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach Us About Business Stories

Kurt Vonnegut was a master storyteller and storytelling is powerful. Stories resonate with people on a deep, psychological level. Stories are memorable and help support our messages. Hence the speaker’s maxim: Tell a story, make a point. The best stories contain many elements related to plot, character, dialogue, etc. For some insights into what those elements are, check ...

8 Tips from Kurt Vonnegut to Make You a Better Speaker

Kurt Vonnegut was one of the United States’ most intelligent, witty and beloved authors. His novels such as Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions and The Sirens of Titan are still widely read and just as insightful as they were when they were first published. In the 1980s, Vonnegut wrote a short essay entitled “How to Write ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 229) – Lou Holtz

“All you need is something to say and a burning desire to say it. It doesn’t matter where your hands are.” Lou Holtz ...

Noisli: A Simple, Effective Productivity Hack

Preparing a good speech or presentation takes time and focus, both of which are often in short supply these days. In this post, I’d like to offer you a suggestion that might help you with the latter. For the past year or two, I have used Noisli to help me concentrate when working on speeches or ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 228) – Plato

“A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool speaks because he has to say something.” Plato Photo courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen ...

Be an Original, not a Fake: Lessons from the World of Art

There are important insights into authenticity from an expert in the art world. Philip Mould's are also relevant for many aspects of our daily lives, including public speaking. Here are some questions that speakers should ask themselves that parallel Mould's observations. ...

Five Characteristics You Need to Succeed as a Public Speaker

This is a guest post by Arman Sadeghi. Arman is an entrepreneur, professional speaker and founder of Titanium Success. He has a degree in molecular and cell biology from the University of California at Berkeley. Arman has a passion for healthy mind, body, and spirit. He speaks about, and coaches people on, personal development and success. ——— Great public speakers are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 227) – Boris Johnson

“My speaking style was criticised by no less an authority than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a low moment, my friends, to have my rhetorical skills denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.” Boris Johnson ...

The Preparation Payoff

Preparation pays off. One of my clients is the EPFL Innovation Park (EIP). Located on the campus of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, EIP has provided start-up coaching and acceleration for more than 20 years. EIP has teamed up with several key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Western Switzerland to offer entrepreneurial training programs mandated by the ...

My interview with Nacho Téllez

Nacho Téllez is a professional public speaking colleague who is based in Barcelona, Spain. Working principally in Spanish, Nacho helps clients shape their messages and deliver them with impact. He prepares presentations and speeches with them and also delivers trainings to corporate teams. Nacho recently interviewed me for his blog. We covered a number of issues about public ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 226) – Susan B. Anthony

“Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place. Think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval. … “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are ...

The Potent Simplicity of Donald Trump

As election year 2016 rolls along in the United States, we can no longer ignore the very real possibility that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for President. I did not think that American politics could get much more bizarre, but this election cycle has proven me wrong. As Trump’s support grows and as the Republican ...

Breathing Easy

Today (1 March 2016) is a special day for me. It marks the one-year anniversary since I left the World Health Organization—where I worked as an in-house lawyer—to become a full-time professional speaker, trainer and coach. Here is the post that I wrote just as I was preparing to leave the WHO. The past year has been exciting ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 225) – T. S. Eliot

“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot ...

Every time you have to give a speech or make a presentation, do this calculation

Here’s a practice to develop with regard to your public speaking. It’s something that I started doing many years ago. It’s a simple calculation that should take 30 seconds (or less if you use a calculator) but the result is always powerful and sobering. Here’s what you do: Take the number of people whom you anticipate ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 224) – Anaïs Nin

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin ...

Alain de Botton on Dieter Rams and Good Design

A while back, I wrote a post about Dieter Rams, the German industrial designer who is recognized as one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century. Rams worked for 40 years at the German consumer products company, Braun. Today, he works at Vitsœ, a British furniture company. In the early 1980’s, as he became ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 223) – Irish Proverb

Beagán a rá agus é a rá go maith. / Say little but say it well. Irish Proverb ...

The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and author. He is also one of the most compelling speakers when it comes to talking about science. In the short video below, Tyson is asked the following question: “What is the most astounding fact that you can share with us about the universe?” Now that’s a pretty profound question. Tyson’s answer ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 222) – Milton Glaser

“There are three responses to a piece of design—Yes, No and Wow! Wow is the one to aim for.” Milton Glaser ...

How not to screw up an introduction like the ABC moderators at the Republican Presidential Debate

Moderators must do better. The Republican Presidential Debate on 6 February 2016 began in appalling fashion. And I am not talking about the candidates. Take a look. I would have expected better. Seriously, it looked like amateur hour. Many people have been poking fun at Ben Carson and Donald Trump for missing their cues. But ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 221) – Norman Vincent Peale

“I give the same mashed potatoes for each speech. I just change the gravy.” Norman Vincent Peale ...

Rhetorical Devices: Antithesis

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Antithesis Origin: From the Greek ἀντί (anti) meaning “against” and θέσις (thesis) meaning “position”. In plain English: Contrasting two ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 220) – William Zinsser

“Who can understand the clotted language of everyday American commerce: the memo, the corporate report, the business letter, the notice from the bank explaining its latest “simplified” statement? “What member of an insurance plan can decipher the brochure explaining the costs and benefits? What father or mother can put together a child’s toy from the ...

Stan Grant's Speech on Racism in Australia

Stan Grant, an indigenous Australian journalist, gave a speech in October 2015 at a debate on racism in Australia. The video of that speech has gone viral. Several people are touting it as the Australian equivalent of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. While I would not elevate this speech to that status—and Grant himself has said that, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 219) – Tony Robbins

“Give more to your audience than they have any right to expect.” Tony Robbins Photo courtesy of Brian Solis / Flickr ...

Toastmasters' Most Buzzworthy Speeches of 2015

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 332,000 in more than 15,400 clubs in 135 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 218) – Alan Rickman

“It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller.” Alan Rickman Photo courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen ...

A Lesson from David Bowie's Final Album

Participation is a fundamental aspect of my workshops with corporations and organizations. If you are going to attend my workshops, you are going to speak.  Often. I also get people to participate in the lectures that I give; however, given the size of the classes and the limited time, it not possible to give everyone ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 217) – Walt Disney

“Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it better.” Walt Disney ...

Powerful "Stories of Unlimited"

This morning, I was rereading the chapter on storytelling in one of my favourite books, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Health. (To see the seven-part series that I wrote on the book, you can find all the posts here.) Our brains are wired for stories. Stories add meaning, contain wisdom, are effective teaching tools and ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 216) – Eleanor Roosevelt

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt ...

My Podcast Interview on "Time to Shine"

Time to Shine is a podcast hosted by Oscar Santolalla, who speaks to the world from Helsinki, Finland. As of the writing of this post, Oscar has interviewed over 50 successful public speakers who share their experiences and insights into the world of public speaking. Guests recount personal stories, share best practices and recommend books and other resources. I ...

Barack Obama's Speech on Gun Control

President Barack Obama began the final year of his presidency with a speech on gun control. In it, he discussed a number of measures that he proposes to take by Executive Order to reduce gun violence in the United States. It was a solid speech on many levels. Obama usually speaks with a teleprompter but as far ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 215) – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. ...

Where the streets have no name

For years, the phrase “where the streets have no name” has always brought to mind one of my favourite songs by the rock band U2. After today, however, it will remind me of something else as well. While listening to a discussion on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, guest Derek Sivers mentioned something  about the streets in Japan that ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 214) – Epictetus

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus ...

Five Lessons from the 2015 Miss Universe Mix-up

If you were looking for an awkward television moment to close out 2015, Steve Harvey has handed it to you on a silver plate at the Miss Universe Pageant. At the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant, it came down to the final three contestants: Miss Colombia, Miss Philippines and Miss USA. Harvey, who was hosting the show, announced ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 213) – Lady Bird Johnson

“The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” Lady Bird Johnson ...

Acronyms can seriously suck

Never discount the importance of simplicity in a presentation. One way to simplify is to eliminate jargon. One way to eliminate jargon is making sure that the audience understands any acronyms in the presentation. These days, acronyms are everywhere. Here is one list of business and finance acronyms. Some of them (CEO – Chief Executive Officer; B2B – Business-to-Business; YTD ...

When to reveal a prop in a presentation

A few months ago, I began meditating on a daily basis. I had long heard about the different benefits that can come from practising mindfulness for just 20 minutes a day and decided to try it out. Because this was going to be new for me, I wanted a guided meditation. After checking out a few apps, ...

8 secrets for a presentation that makes an impact

Creating impactful presentations does not have to be difficult. In fact, with a little thought and effort, it is easier than you might think. My friend and presentation design expert, Timo Sorri, has created a slide deck that is featured on SlideShare. Timo asked me and seven other speaking professionals from around the world for one ...

Toronto in solidarity with Paris

My daughter did this painting to show solidarity between Toronto and Paris in the wake of the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 212) – William Butler Yeats

“Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.” William Butler Yeats ...

Lose the jargon

One of the podcasts that I listen to regularly is The Good Life Project hosted by Jonathan Fields. The Good Life Project is “a global movement that inspires, educates, connects and supports mission-driven individuals in the quest to live better, more engaged, connected and aligned lives.” Fields has interviewed a variety of fascinating people from all walks of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 211) – Demosthenes

“All speech is vain and empty unless it be accompanied by action.” Demosthenes Photo courtesy of Sting / Wikimedia Commons ...

An important lesson from an unbelievable baseball game

When it comes to professional sports, Toronto is my city. When it comes to baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays are my team. I returned to Geneva from Toronto two days ago after spending Thanksgiving with my family. While there, I got caught up in baseball fever as the Toronto Blue Jays are back in the playoffs ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 210) – Bruce Lee

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee ...

Analysis of a speech by Dan Gilbert

Dan Gilbert is a Harvard psychologist who has spent a lot of time thinking about and studying happiness. He is the author of Stumbling on Happiness. The New York Times Book Review wrote, “Gilbert’s elbow-in-the-ribs social-science humor is actually funny. But underneath the goofball brilliance, has a serious argument to make about why human beings are forever ...

Public speaking for success: An Interview

Dukascopy Bank, a Swiss online bank that provides trading services, particularly in the foreign exchange marketplace, runs Dukascopy TV, a show on business matters. They recently invited me to speak on public speaking for success in business. In the short video below, I talk about: Whether anyone can become a good public speaker Why storytelling is ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 209) – G. K. Chesterton

“A man does not know what he is saying until he knows what he is not saying.” G. K. Chesterton ...

How I became an international public speaker

Recently, I was interviewed by Monique Blokzyl on her monthly community call, mySpeakerBusiness. I very much enjoyed our discussion. Monique is passionate about helping people who want to become professional speakers get a start. She has interviewed dozens of people over the years so that we can hear their experiences firsthand and learn some of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 208) – Albert Einstein

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein ...

Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

No, the title of the post is not a typo. Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch is the name of a village in northwest Wales. At 58 letters, it is the longest officially recognized place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world. I have seen slightly different translations of the Welsh name into English, but ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 207) – Marcus Aurelius

“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” Marcus Aurelius Photo courtesy of Pierre Selim ...

Fascinating Video: Bill Clinton Preparing for a 1993 Address to the Nation

A rare behind-the-scenes video just minutes before a presidential address to the nation. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 206) – Elliot Aronson

“Most people are more deeply influenced by one clear, vivid, personal example than by an abundance of statistical data.” Elliot Aronson Photo courtesy of Vera Aronson ...

A phrase to avoid on stage

Actually, it’s several phrases, but they all amount to the same thing.Over the years, I have led presentation skills workshops in MBA and Executive MBA programmes across Europe. In one of my classes a couple of years ago, a bright young fellow was giving his formal presentation about his business idea. The presentation (and the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 205) – John Steinbeck

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” John Steinbeck in East of Eden ...

How to deal with mobile devices when you are on stage

Let’s be honest. There have been times when you checked your smartphone while sitting in the audience during a presentation. Maybe you were waiting for a message; maybe you were checking up on an important matter; maybe you just wanted to check the time. But you’ve done it. I know I have. It happens all the time. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 204) – Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou ...

Three Life Practices from a Four-Star General

Three life practices from the military, courtesy of Stanley McChrystal, a retired United States Army General. Former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has described him as "perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I (have) ever met". ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 203) – Daniel Gilbert

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Daniel Gilbert Photo courtesy of Daniel Gilbert ...

Two lessons from a missed flight

In 2015, my wife and I went to Singapore and Thailand. Our oldest daughter was working at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for the summer and we flew out to visit her. It was a wonderful experience. But this post is not about Singapore or Thailand, per se. Rather, it is about the eventful ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 202) – Michael H. Mescon

“The best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you are talking about.” Michael H. Mescon Photo courtesy of Georgia State University ...

Arnold Schwarzenegger and little victories

I am currently in the middle of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, Total Recall. It is a fascinating read that offers great insights into the focus, drive and work ethic of the man. Schwarzenegger is not perfect, and he has made his share of mistakes, but his achievements in bodybuilding, real estate, business, acting, politics and philanthropy are admirable and inspiring. (Plus ...

A brain hack for your next presentation

The brain is a fascinating organ, and Brain Rules is a fascinating book. As much as we have learned about the brain in recent decades, there are still so many things that we do not yet understand. I have been spending some time, lately, filling my brain with more information about the brain, both through podcasts and ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 201) – Martha Graham

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of ...

Seize every opportunity

Two days ago, my wife and I went to the theatre here in Geneva. We saw Blue Butterfly, a play written and performed by a talented group of scientists. The play is clever, complex and insightful. It grew out of a group of artists and scientists “sitting in a room swapping stories, sharing passions and ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 200) – Florian Mueck

“Public speaking is a mountain without a peak. We’ll never reach perfection. But we can all climb higher and ever higher, and higher still.” Florian Mueck ...

A lesson from "American Psycho" on comparisons

American Psycho is unquestionably a dark movie. But there are funny parts such as this scene about business cards which contains a lesson about comparisons. ...

Kevin Spacey's Three Key Elements to a Compelling Story

“The story is everything, which means that it’s our job to tell better stories.” – Kevin Spacey In 2014, actor Kevin Spacey delivered the final keynote address to over 2,500 participants at the Content Marketing World Conference in Cleveland. The theme of Spacey’s talk was storytelling. Drawing heavily on his experience in the performing arts, but also on ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 199) – Jackie Robinson

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Jackie Robinson ...

Analysis of a Speech by Monica Lewinsky

In 1998, news of a sexual scandal involving President Bill Clinton broke and spread around the world like wildfire. Clinton was accused of having lied about an affair that he had with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. The affair and Clinton’s denial of it was the focus of federal inquiry in the US. It resulted in the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 198) – Robert McKee

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” Robert McKee Photo courtesy of John Hyams ...

Nine photo composition tips for your slides

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photographs of Steve McCurry speak volumes. With a career that has spanned more than 30 years, McCurry is widely considered a legend in contemporary photography. His photo of the Afhan Girl is iconic and the galleries on his website are well worth a visit. The Cooperative ...

Rhetorical Devices: Tricolon

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Tricolon Origin: From the Greek τρία (tria), meaning “three” and κῶλον (kôlon), meaning “member” or “clause”. In plain English: A series ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 197) – One Thousand and One Nights

“People need stories more than bread itself. They tell us how to live and why.” One Thousand and One Nights – أَلْفُ لَيْلَةٍ وَ لَيْلَةٌ‎  ...

A presentation lesson from two airport departure boards

I fly a lot for work and have become an expert at analyzing airport departure boards. I have noticed a major between the departure boards in European airports and the departure boards at airports in Canada. In Europe, departures are arranged chronologically. The flights about to part are at the top of the screen whereas later flights are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 196) – Ira Glass

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” Ira Glass Photo courtesy of Brighterorange  ...

Ten Lessons from Steve Martin

I am a big fan of stand-up comedy. I have enormous respect for the men and women—whether professionals or amateurs—who get up on stage and do their best to make us laugh. And though I like many comedians, my all-time favourite is, and will always be, Steve Martin. I discovered Steve Martin in the ’70s when ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 195) – Georges Wolinski

“L’humour est le plus court chemin d’un homme à un autre.” (“Humour is the shortest road from one person to another.”) Georges Wolinski ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 194) – Mary Catherine Bateson

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” Mary Catherine Bateson‎ Photo courtesy of Festival della Scienza  ...

Burning the ships and sailing away

The legendary Alexander the Great built an empire that, at its height, stretched from Ancient Greece to India. One of his strongest and most formidable enemies was the Persian Empire of Darius III. In 334 BC, Alexander led a fleet of Greek and Macedonian ships across the Dardanelles Straits and into Asia Minor. When he reached the shore, Alexander ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 193) – Albert Einstein

“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Albert Einstein ...

Fifteen reasons to give a speech in 2015

Here are 15 reasons why you should give a speech in the New Year. We are looking forward to hearing what you have to say. ...

Toastmasters' Most Buzzworthy Speeches of 2014

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 192) – Mark Twain

“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said, ‘I don’t know.’” Mark Twain ...

Get excited before your next speech

Giving a speech or presentation can be stressful. Public speaking anxiety is a problem for many people. Even seasoned public speakers get butterflies in their stomachs prior to stepping on stage. Most people deal with the pressure by trying to calm down. They sit quietly and tell themselves, silently or aloud, to calm down, that there is nothing to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 191) – Fawzia Koofi

“If something comes from your heart, it will reach the heart of your audience.” فوزیه کوفی (Fawzia Koofi)‎ Photo courtesy of TEDx Place des Nations  ...

Five Speaking Lessons from TEDx Place des Nations

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking at TEDx Lausanne. It was a wonderful experience. Two days ago, I had the privilege of attending TEDx Place des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It was held in the impressive Assembly Hall of the United Nations Palais des Nations. Speaking at a TEDx event is a thrill, but it ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 190) – Edward Tufte

“What about confusing clutter? Information overload? Doesn’t data have to be ‘boiled down’ and ‘simplified’? “These common questions miss the point, for the quantity of detail is an issue completely separate from the difficulty of reading. Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.” Edward Tufte Photo courtesy of Aaron Fulkerson  ...

Rhetorical Devices: Metaphor

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Metaphor Origin: From the Greek μεταφορά (metaphora), meaning “transfer”. In plain English: Comparing two things (that are often ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 189) – Dale Carnegie

“A talk is a voyage with purpose and it must be charted. The man who starts out going nowhere, generally gets there.” Dale Carnegie ...

The airport approach to public speaking

I am sitting in the Geneva airport as I write this post. I am on my way to Barcelona for a great week of teaching and learning with my good friends and fellow public speakers, Conor Neill, Florian Mueck, Tobias Rodrigues and Tony Anagor. Today, as always when I travel by plane, I arrived at the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 188) – Aristotle

“t is not enough to know what we ought to say; we must also say it as we ought … It is, essentially, a matter of the right management of the voice to express the various emotions—of speaking loudly, softly, or between the two; of high, low, or intermediate pitch; of the various rhythms that suit various ...

A Speech for the Boys of Summer

The Little League Baseball World Series is currently underway in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I have not been following the competition closely, but yesterday I came across this story about Little League Coach Dave Belisle. The team of Cumberland (from Rhode Island) lost 8-7 against Chicago and was eliminated from the tournament. The kids from Cumberland were, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 187) – Robin Williams

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” Robin Williams Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 186) – Francis de Sales

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” Francis de Sales ...

"The Power of Public Speaking": An Interview

Dukascopy Bank is a Swiss online bank that provides trading services, particularly in the foreign exchange marketplace. One of its subsidiaries, Dukascopy TV, broadcasts taped and live shows about business matters on the Internet. power of public speaking The people at Dukascopy are interested in public speaking and presentation skills as business people have to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 185) – Phil Mickelson

“It has been a lot of work. I still feel as though there is a lot of value in the proper preparation.” Phil Mickelson Photo courtesy of Peetlesnumber1 ...

Design your presentation like Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was not just a master of art; he was a master of human nature. Of all the things that we can learn from him, one of the most important is the power of simplicity. “Art,” said Picasso, “is the elimination of the unnecessary.” And he actively practiced what he preached. Perhaps the finest example ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 184) – Samuel Beckett

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 183) – Winston Churchill

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Sir Winston Churchill ...

The Prezi Top 100

The past couple of weeks have been pretty exciting for this blog. Only days after reaching 1,000,000 visitors, I received an email from at Prezi. They notified me that they had chosen Manner of Speaking as one of their “Top 100 Online Resources Every Presenter Should See”. And, from among the Top 100, Prezi staff chose Manner of Speaking ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 182) – William Butler Yeats

“I always think a great speaker convinces us not by force of reasoning, but because he is visibly enjoying the beliefs he wants us to accept.” William Butler Yeats ...

Thanks a Million!

In the past couple of weeks, this blog reached two milestones: five years since the first post was written; and one million visits. Even as I write this post, the numbers do not seem real. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged me throughout this journey, and to everyone who has visited the Manner of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 181) – The Upanishads

“It is not the language but the speaker that we want to understand.” The Upanishads Photo courtesy of Wellcome Images ...

"So" what?

The word "so" can undermine your credibility when you speak. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 180) – Novak Djokovic

“I stopped thinking too much about what could happen and relied on my physical and mental strength to play the right shots at the right time.” Novak Djokovic Photo courtesy of Charles Ng ...

Seven Powerful Public Speaking Lessons from "Mad Men"

My recent post in which I had some fun with the hit TV series, Breaking Bad, reminded me of a clip from another popular series, Mad Men. If you who don’t know the show, Mad Men is set in the 1960s and is focused on the people who work for a fictitious advertising agency known as Sterling Cooper. In the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 179) – Bill Bernbach

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, ...

12 Tips for Receiving Feedback

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. This post is part of a series based on original posts by Seth. In his blog post from 11 January 2014, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 178) – Ancient Egypt

“Make thyself a craftsman in speech, for thereby thou shalt gain the upper hand.” Inscription in a 3,000-year-old tomb in Egypt Photo courtesy of Ian Robertson ...

"Speaking Bad": Eight Tips from "Breaking Bad"

My daughter Alex had been raving about Breaking Bad for months. “Dad, you have to watch this show; it’s the best series I’ve ever seen,” she kept telling me. These days, I don’t watch much television—one evening a week at most—and I’m not keen on getting invested in a series. But when Alex came home for Christmas, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 177) – Frédéric Chopin

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” Frédéric Chopin ...

Is PowerPoint good or a bad?

Is PowerPoint good or bad? The question invokes strong feelings on both sides. But the correct answer is: It depends. I am proud to be part of a team that gets to spend one week a year with the dynamic, clever students in the IESE Executive MBA Programme. We help them hone their public speaking ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 176) – Dale Carnegie

“Live an active life among people who are doing worthwhile things, keep eyes and ears and mind and heart open to absorb truth, and then tell of the things you know, as if you know them. The world will listen, for the world loves nothing so much as real life.” Dale Carnegie ...

My TEDx Talk

It was an honour to be invited to speak at the 2014 TEDxLausanne. I had always wanted to speak at a TED event. The members of the organizing committee were professional, hard-working and enthusiastic. The other speakers were passionate and supportive. And the audience was terrific! Here’s my talk: ...

A Lesson from Andre Agassi

I recently finished Open, the autobiography of Andre Agassi. It is a terrific book and is one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read. I highly recommend it. The title of the book could not be more appropriate. Agassi truly does open up his life—the good, the bad and the ugly—to the world. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 175) – Robin Sharma

“Mastery comes via a monomaniacal focus on simplicity versus an addiction to complexity.”  Robin Sharma ...

From Russia with Love

I recently returned from a trip to Russia. I was in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Svetlana Komolikova, Director of the School of Rhetoric in Novosibirsk, had invited me to give a three-day workshop on public speaking and presentation skills. It was a fascinating experience. Sitting on the banks of the Ob River, one of the longest in ...

Managing Public Speaking Anxiety

I am proud to be part of a great team that gets to spend one week a year with the dynamic, motivated and clever students in the IESE Executive MBA Programme. We help them hone their public speaking skills so that they are able to communicate more effectively the great things on which they are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 174) – Joseph Conrad

“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.” Joseph Conrad ...

A Groundhog Day Public Speaking Lesson

For those of you unfamiliar with Groundhog Day, it is a quirky little celebration observed in Canada and the United States on the 2nd of February. According to legend, if the groundhog, such as the one in the picture above, wakes up and does not see his shadow, spring will come early that year. However, ...

A Musical Way to Beat Stage Fright

Stage fright! You have to speak in front of an audience. Perhaps you know the people, perhaps you don’t. Perhaps it’s a big audience, maybe it’s not. It doesn’t matter, because all of a sudden, the heart beats faster, the palms get sweaty, the butterflies start bouncing around in your stomach, the throat dries up. ...

Analysis of a Speech by Ed Gavagan

Ed Gavagan is an architect who lives in New York City. He is the owner of a design firm specializing in boutique residences. In this talk at The Moth, Gavagan tells a very personal story about an incident that almost cost his life and definitely changed his life. It is poignant, emotional and inspirational. Gripping stuff. Here are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 172) – Mahatma Gandhi

“Proneness to exaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of man, and silence is necessary in order to surmount it. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word. “We find so many people impatient to talk. There is no ...

Five Lessons from Michael Bay's "Meltdown"

Michael Bay is an American film producer and director. He is best known for big budget action-packed, blow-’em-up movies like Armageddon, The Rock, Pearl Harbor and Transformers. In 2014, Bay spoke—briefly—at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. While nothing blew up, many are calling Bay’s performance a meltdown. He was invited on stage ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 171) – Khalil Gibran

“The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.” Kahlil Gibran – جبران خليل جبران‎ ...

Five Lessons in a Jar of Jam

Last week I was in Oxford, England. What a fantastic little city! Wonderful architecture and jam-packed with history. Speaking of jam … I spent one day strolling around the University of Oxford campus with my daughter. At one point, we came across this lovely little store selling all kinds delicious chutneys and jams. I thought ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 170) – Nelson Mandela

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 169) – Lee Iacocca

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” Lee Iacocca ...

The Ten Commandments of Good Design

Good design not necessarily easy, but it is possible. Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who has been recognized as one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century. He worked for 40 years at the German consumer products company, Braun. Today, he works at Vitsœ, a British furniture company that manufactures ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 168) – Peter Drucker

"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes." — Peter Drucker ...

The Twist in the Tale

I recently came across this commercial from Guinness. If you have not seen it, watch the clip before reading further. As the commercial unfolded, I was thinking that the message would have something to do with perseverance and commitment in the face of adversity. And, indeed, the first word from the voiceover at 0:34 (when ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 167) – Annette Simmons

“People don’t want more information. They are up to their eyeballs in information. They want faith—faith in you, your goals, your success, in the story you tell. It is faith that moves mountains, not facts. “Story is your path to creating faith. Telling a meaningful story means inspiring your listeners—coworkers, leaders, subordinates, family, or ...

Reflections on Cincinnati

It has been a little more than two months since my last post. During that period my free time was focused almost exclusively on preparing for the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking that was held in Cincinnati, Ohio from 21-24 August 2013. I wrote about qualifying for the World Championship in this post. The ...

10 Ways to Ruin a Presentation

How do you ruin a presentation? It’s not that difficult. I just finished reading a great article in the June 2013 edition of the Harvard Business review by Chris Anderson, the curator of TED. The article, entitled How to Give a Killer Presentation, contains a wealth of insights into how TED helps its speakers prepare for ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 165) – Dale Carnegie

“Your purpose is to make your audience see what you saw, hear what you heard, feel what you felt. Relevant detail, couched in concrete, colorful language, is the best way to recreate the incident as it happened and to picture it for the audience.” Dale Carnegie ...

Filler Words

My fellow professional speaker, Gavin McMahon, is a founding partner at fassforward consulting group. He also writes a great blog on public speaking and presentations: Make a Powerful Point. Gavin recently turned his attention on filler words. He assembled a virtual panel of experts and asked the following question: “How do you get rid of the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 164) – John Kennedy

“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” Often attributed to John F. Kennedy ...

Behind Every Champion

One week ago, I achieved a goal that had been several years in the making. In Antwerp, Belgium, I won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest for District 59, which comprises 18 countries in Continental Europe. I now move on to the World Championship Semi-Finals, which will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in August. If I ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 163) – Richard Branson

“To be an impressive public speaker, you have to believe in what you are saying. And if you speak with conviction and you’re passionate about your subject, your audience will be far more forgiving of your mistakes because they’ll have faith that you are telling the truth. “My answers aren’t always smooth and immediate, and ...

Six Public Speaking Lessons from Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury was the heart, the soul, the essence of showmanship. The lead vocalist and lyricist of Queen had one of the most incredible unique singing voices ever. And his singing talent was matched, step for step, by his onstage charisma. Over the years and across different musical styles, some singers have managed to achieve ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 162) – Carly Fiorina

“For me the process would begin with writing twenty pages. Then I’d edit to ten, then five and finally two. I finally would get to a two-page, single-spaced paper that I hoped didn’t merely summarize, but rendered all the fat out of a body of ideas, boiling it down ...

An Evening with Kofi Annan

One of the great things about living in Geneva is the variety of interesting people who visit the city. A little over a month ago, I was able to take in a great lecture by Hans Rosling. (You can read my posts about the event here and here and here.) Last week, I went to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 161) – Tina Fey

“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30. “This is something Lorne has said often about Saturday Night Live, but I think it’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game ...

Rhetorical Devices: Aporia

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Aporia Origin: From the Greek ἄπορος (aporos), meaning “impassable”. In plain English: An expression of uncertainty or ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 160) – Allan Rock

“The art of advocacy is the art of persuasion. And persuading the tribunal should motivate everything counsel does. In order to be persuasive, counsel must be credible, so conceding the obvious is always important. “To be persuasive, counsel must know the case thoroughly so careful preparation is fundamental. An argument is persuasive if it is ...

Ten Public Speaking Lessons from Steve Jobs

Much has been written about Steve Jobs. He was, without question, one of the greatest and most inspirational businessmen of his generation. He made Apple into one of the most recognizable and iconic brands in the world. His death at the age of 56 came far too early and he is missed. Much has also been ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 159) – Unknown

“A good speech is like a beautiful dress: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.” Unknown; often attributed to Winston Churchill Photo courtesy of Tamara Bellis on Unsplash ...

A Violin, a Subway Station and a Lesson from Aristotle

At approximately 7:45 on a chilly Friday morning in January 2007, a young man with a violin case entered one of the subway stations in Washington, D.C. His name was Joshua Bell. He took up a position near a wall and a garbage can, took out his violin and positioned the open case so that ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 158) – Matthew Arnold

“People think I can teach them style. What stuff it all is! Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.” Matthew Arnold ...

An Afternoon with Hans Rosling – Part 3

This is the third and final post about Hans Rosling’s presentation in Geneva, Switzerland which I had the pleasure of attending. The previous two posts can be found here and here. In this post, I share some additional reflections on Rosling’s 90-minute talk on global health trends.  Rosling made the data meaningful Rosling’s Gapminder technology ...

An Afternoon with Hans Rosling – Part 2

In my last post, I wrote about Hans Rosling’s visit to the World Health Organization and my conversation with him. In this post, I share some reflections from Rosling’s 90-minute talk on global health trends. Arrive early For those members of the WHO and UNAIDS who were not able to see Rosling’s talk in person, ...

An Afternoon with Hans Rosling – Part 1

Today, I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Dr. Hans Rosling, the international rock star of statistics. I then had the pleasure of watching him give a fascinating 90-minute presentation on some key global health trends. A physician and Professor of Public Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Rosling is also ...

A Truly Heroic Speech

Six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler was one of the victims of the 14 December 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Benjamin’s father, David Wheeler, testified at a public hearing before the Connecticut State Legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety. It was a truly heroic speech. As a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 157) – Robert McKee

“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” Robert McKee Photo courtesy of John Hyams ...

Reflections on Lance Armstrong's Confession

Writers spilled a lot of ink over the past few days about Lance Armstrong in the wake of his confession to Oprah Winfrey. And more ink will doubtless continue to flow in the weeks, months and years to come. This past weekend, I watched Lance Armstrong’s confession with interest for two reasons. First, as a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 156) – Phillip Pullman

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Philip Pullman Photo courtesy of Adrian Hon ...

Rhetorical Devices: Commoratio

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Commoratio Origin: From the Latin meaning to delay or dwell on a point. In plain English: Repetition of ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 155) – Richard Branson

“Don’t be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.” Richard Branson Photo courtesy of David Shankbone ...

How to Design a Presentation like Apple

Emily Stewart recently brought my attention to a short animated video that she and her team produced for OnlineMBA that illustrates some of the key values that Steve Jobs and his team espoused when designing products for Apple. The video is clever and is similar in style to the popular animated videos by RSA Animate. It is ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 154) – Dale Carnegie

“Students of public speaking continually ask, ‘How can I overcome self-consciousness and the fear that paralyzes me before an audience?’ “Did you ever notice in looking from a train window that some horses feed near the track and never even pause to look up at the thundering cars, while just ahead at the next railroad crossing a farmer’s wife will ...

Analysis of a Speech by Janine Shepherd

Janine Shepherd is one of those people whose picture should appear beneath the definition of “remarkable” in the dictionary. I chose one of Janine’s quotes as the 100th quote for public speakers, and you can read a short summary of her incredible life there. Recently, Janine Shepherd told her story at a TEDx event in ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 153) – Adlai Stevenson

“The relationship of the toastmaster to the speaker should be the same as that of the fan to the fan dancer. It should call attention to the subject without making any particular effort to cover it.” Adlai Stevenson ...

The Rules for Being Amazing

Some time ago, I wrote a post about leadership lessons from my friend and former colleague, Robin Sharma. Robin is one of the foremost authorities on leadership and the author of several international bestsellers. Robin has put out a video with 28 short, but dynamic, ideas on how to lead an amazing life. As I ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 152) – C. S. Lewis

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn; my God, do you learn.” C. S. Lewis ...

The Fermata

Seth Godinis the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blogis one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. This post is part of a series based on original posts by Seth. Fermata In this blog post from 20 November 2012, ...

Clear Communication: A Must-Have Job Skill

Ruth Mantell has written an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Must-Have Job Skills in 2013. The four skills are personal branding, flexibility, productivity improvement and … clear communication (which is listed first). According to Mantell, employees will need more than basic competency if they want to advance. And when it comes to communicating clearly, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 151) – Olivia Schofield

“An actor is an expert at being someone else. A speaker is an expert at being themselves.” Olivia Schofield ...

12 Public Speaking Lessons from "Comedian"

I just finished watching, for the second time, Comedian, a terrific documentary about the efforts of Jerry Seinfeld to get back into stand-up comedy after a decade of starring in one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld. The documentary follows Jerry over a period of several months as he works to develop ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 150) – Benjamin Disraeli

“Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.” Benjamin Disraeli ...

2012 U.S. "Prezi"dential Election Recap

I came across this presentation on Prezi that provides a recap of the 2012 Presidential election in the United States. If you are not familiar with Prezi, have a look. Click the image below and you will find the presentation on the Prezi home page. You can navigate the presentation back and forth via the two ...

The Right Number of Slides

People often ask me, “What is the right number of slides for a 20-minute (or 30-minute, or 40-minute, etc.) presentation.” I always respond the same way: “I don’t know. Three, 20, 50, 17, none?” There is no right answer. It depends on a number of variables, including the audience, the subject and the context. However, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 149) – Thomas Jefferson

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Thomas Jefferson ...

12 Lessons from Pablo Picasso for Public Speakers

Pablo Picasso was one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. His paintings are among the most recognizable of any artist that has lived. However, Picasso was not just known for his art; he was also know for his wit and wisdom. While reading through a collection of quotes by Picasso, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 148) – Emeli Sandé

“You’ve got the words to change a nation,But you’re biting your tongue.You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silenceAfraid that you’ll say something wrong.If no one ever hears it, how we gonna learn your song?So come, on come on,Come on, come on. “You’ve got a heart as loud as lions,So why let your voice be tamed?Baby ...

Half a Million Visits!

Something happened last night that I could not have anticipated when I began this blog just over three years ago. Someone, somewhere—I don’t know who or where—registered visit No. 500,000 to Manner of Speaking. (And, as a nice bonus, it happened on the birthday of my youngest daughter, Kristen.) Half a million Half a million ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 147) – Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne ...

Go to Black

When you are in the middle of a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, you can make the screen go black at any time by pressing the letter “B” (as in “Black”).  You can also make the screen go black with most remote controls. There are a few instances when I recommend using this feature. When to go to black ...

When Things Go Wrong: Ten Presentation Lessons from Apollo 13

Every public speaker can learn a lesson from Apollo 13. The day of the big presentation has arrived. You’ve prepared, you know your material and you’ve arrived at the venue early to get set up. You check the room and everything looks fine. The stage is ready, the sound system works and the lighting is ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 145) – Scott Berkun

“When I’m the speaker, I know that special moment is the only time I will have the entire audience’s full attention. Unless an alien spaceship crash-lands on stage midway through the talk, the silence before I begin is the most powerful moment I have. What defines how well I’ll do starts with ...

What Bill Clinton Wrote and What Bill Clinton Said

Bill Clinton’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention was a master class in public speaking. I did not appreciate just how impressive his speech was until I read about the excellent investigate work that freelance writer Dashiell Bennett did in The Atlantic Wire. For me, the rhetorical highlight of the convention was Bill Clinton’s ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 144) – Bruce Lee

“One does not accumulate, but eliminate. It is not daily increase, but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” Bruce Lee ...

Rhetorical Devices: Sententia

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Sententia Origin: From the Latin, meaning “feeling” or “thought” or “opinion”. In plain English: The use of a ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 143) – William Safire

“It behooves us to avoid archaisms. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.” William Safire ...

Clint Eastwood and the Empty Chair

“Who is sitting in that empty chair?” – Eugene Ormandy By now you have probably heard about all the fuss over Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention. You may have even heard some of the jokes about “Eastwooding” and “The Old Man and the Seat”. Yes, many Eastwood fans are wondering whether Clint will ...

Speeches from the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions

The hoopla is over, the streamers and confetti have been swept up and the delegates have returned home. Yes, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in the United States have concluded, but not before treating us to a Smörgåsbord of speeches. The speeches were full of stories of personal triumph over adversity, rhetorical barbs directed ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 142) – Albert Einstein

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein ...

Sales Pitches that Snap, Crackle n' Pop

Jack Vincent says that when you make a sales pitch, you are not there to close a deal; you are there to open a relationship. That one sentence captures the essence of Jack’s book on sales: Sales Pitches that Snap, Crackle ‘n Pop. Written in a punchy, wry, engaging style, the book contains a wealth ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 141) – Guy de Maupassant

“The public is composed of numerous groups whose cry to us writers is: ‘Comfort me.’ ‘Amuse me.’ ‘Touch my sympathies.’ ‘Make me sad.’ ‘Make me dream.’ ‘Make me laugh.’ ‘Make me shiver.’ ‘Make me weep.’ ‘Make me think.'” Guy de Maupassant ...

Ten Common Mistakes When Hiring a Keynote Speaker

Paul Rulkens is a personal and organizational development consultant and professional speaker. He helps improve business results by making people, teams and organizations more successful. Currently, he is responsible for building a high performance culture in DSM, a global material and life science company. Paul recently shared an article with me that he wrote with ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 140) – Cicero

"When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind." ...

Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™

I am pleased and excited to announce Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™, which I have co-created with Florian Mueck. Florian and I have a passion for good public speaking. Yet we know that for many people, the mere thought of it can get their hearts pounding. So we set out to create a game that ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 139) – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Put the argument into a concrete shape, into an image, some hard phrase, round and solid as a ball, which they can see and handle and carry home with them, and the cause is half won.” Ralph Waldo Emerson ...

Presentations: When to Take Questions

Questions from the audience are an integral part of most presentations and speakers should look forward to them. Questions mean that the audience is interested and wants to know more. And even if someone wants to challenge you on a point, at least it means that they were paying attention! Many inexperienced speakers take questions at ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 138) – George Eliot

“The finest language is mostly made up of simple, unimposing words.” George Eliot ...

The Mathematical Impossibility of Universal Delight

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites. In this blog post from 13 March 2012, Seth addresses one of the sobering realities of public speaking: You are not going to please ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 137) – La Rochefoucauld

“Les passions sont les seuls orateurs qui persuadent toujours. Elles sont comme un art de la nature dont les règles sont infaillible; et l’homme le plus simple qui a de la passion persuade mieux que le plus éloquent qui n’en a point.” ——— “The passions are the only advocates which always persuade. They like are ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 136) – Dianna Booher

“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.” Dianna Booher Photo courtesy of Booher Communications ...

Analysis of a (Very Short) Speech by Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling is a Swedish doctor, statistician, public speaker and Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He is also one of the best known presenters at TED. Rosling has a passion and a gift for making complicated data interesting and understandable for his audiences. As Rosling modestly says, “Having the data ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 135) – Zhuangzi

“A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker; a man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”  Zhuangzi (庄子) ...

Ten Tips on Using Body Language When Delivering a Speech

Today’s post features some valuable advice about your body language when delivering a speech or presentation. It comes from my friend, Douglas Kruger. Douglas, who hails from South Africa, is a speaker, author and trainer. In his three-minute video below, Douglas demonstrates several simple but powerful techniques that you can use to enhance your message the next ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 134) – Nick Morgan

“Speakers find joy in public speaking when they realize that a speech is all about the audience, not the speaker. … Most speakers are so caught up in their own concerns and so driven to cover certain points or get a certain message across that they can’t be bothered to think in more than a ...

Rhetorical Devices: Diacope

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Diacope Origin: From the Greek διακοπή (thiakhopi), meaning “cut in two”. In plain English: Repetition of a word or ...

Great Souvenir (and Excuse) from a Presidential Speech

Here’s a great story. Eleven-year-old Tyler Sullivan from Minnesota skipped school last week to go with his father to see President Obama deliver a speech at a local plant. After the speech, Tyler met Obama. The President realized that Tyler was missing school in order to come listen to his speech. And so, Obama did a ...

Lessons from the Podium

Last year, Stephen D. Cohen, author of Lessons from the Podium, kindly sent me a copy of his book. A hectic schedule and already-bulging reading list kept me from getting to it until recently. Lessons from the Podium is a quick read. It is only 110 pages long (excluding endnotes) but with several blank pages and ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 132) – Sissel Kyrkjebø

“I remember the first time I saw Plácido Domingo. I was sitting in a stadium and we were about 8,000 or 9,000 people. I was sitting in the middle, with people all around, but I felt that he was singing only for me." ...

The Mark of a Champion

The past several weeks found me very busy preparing for the Toastmasters District 59 International Speech Contest. The final was held in Poznań, Poland and I was one of the eleven finalists. It was a terrific event with great educational sessions, exciting contests and terrific people. It is wonderful to come together with 300+ individuals ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 131) – John Cleese

“If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it, you acknowledge its truth.” John Cleese Photo courtesy of Bruce Baker ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 130) – Alexander Gregg

“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject; then to get your subject into yourself; and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.” Alexander Gregg ...

Accept Applause but Don’t Expect It

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites. In this blog post from 25 April 2012, Seth lays down a simple rule that every public speaker should take to heart: Don’t expect ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 129) – Dale Carnegie

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners.” Dale Carnegie ...

Using Humour When Speaking to a Foreign Audience

My last post about delivering a speech or presentation via an interpreter has generated a lot of discussion. One of the tips that I mentioned in that post was the importance of using humour carefully when addressing an audience of non-native speakers. A few people have asked whether I had an example of a situation when ...

Lost in Translation – Ten Tips for Working with Interpreters

Lost in Translation is a terrific film that received critical acclaim when it was released in 2003. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanson, it’s the story of an aging actor and a young college graduate who meet in Tokyo and develop a touching friendship. Both poignant and funny, the film explores the issues of loneliness ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 128) – Author Unknown

His speeches to an hourglass,Do some resemblance show,Because the longer time they run,The shallower they grow. – Author Unknown Photo courtesy of Aron Visuals ...

You have a great voice, now what?

When we think about public speaking, images of standing on stage in front of an audience usually come to mind. But there are many forms of public speaking. With the right voice, you could be a voice actor and even make a living at it. Today’s post is from Sarah Stockton. Sarah is an Outreach ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 127) – Carl Buechner

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Carl Buechner ...

A Day in the Internet

In the past, I have written articles stressing the importance of making data meaningful for our audiences. Drawing inspiration from such sources as Carl Sagan and the Long Island Initiative, I have tried to show examples of why it is important to put statistics into context. As Chip and Dan Heath emphasize in Made to ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 126) – Liz Smith

“Begin somewhere; you can’t build a reputation on what you intend to do.” Liz Smith Photo courtesy of Angela George ...

Rhetorical Devices: Erotema

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Erotema Origin: From the Greek ερωτημα (erotema), meaning “question”. In plain English: A question that is asked without ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 125) – Steve Jobs

“People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs Photo courtesy of Ben Stanfield ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 124) – Gonzalo Álvarez

“Si tu presentación no produce un cambio en la audencia, es una pérdida de tiempo para todos.” “If your presentation does not bring about a change in the audience, it’s a waste of time for everyone.” Gonzalo Álvarez ...

Lessons from a Stunning Three-Minute Stop Motion Film

I recently rediscovered this brilliant—and it is brilliant—three-minute stop motion film commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Olympus PEN camera. I first came across it in 2009, the year in which it was released. According to the people who made this creative work, they took 60,000 photographs, developed 9,600 prints and reshot 1,800 photos. And ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 123) – George Bernard Shaw

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw ...

Analysis of a Speech by Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has given her first public speech since becoming a Royal. She did it at the opening of the Treehouse Children’s Hospice for sick children in Ipswich, England. The Duchess, who admitted that she finds giving speeches “nerve-wracking” was under a lot of scrutiny for this first performance. So how ...

Rhetorical Devices: Epanalepsis

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Epanalepsis Origin: From the Greek ἐπανάληψις (epanalipsis), meaning “repetition” or “resumption”. In plain English: Repeating the initial ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 122) – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Condense some daily experience into a glowing symbol and an audience is electrified.” Ralph Waldo Emerson ...

Speak with Conviction

I recently had the good fortune of working with a number of teenagers to help them with their public speaking and presentation skills for leadership roles that they have in their youth group. It’s always great to see young people who are interested in public speaking and willing to take the plunge to share their ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 121) – Seth Godin

“The purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale. The goal isn’t even to give a short, accurate, Wikipedia-standard description of you or your project. And the idea of using vacuous, vague words to craft a bland mission statement is dumb. “No, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution ...

Podium vs. Lectern

The podium and the lectern. We hear these two terms all the time when it comes to public speaking. What is the difference between these two mainstays of public speaking? And when speakers refer to them, are they referring to them correctly? A podium (pl. podiums or podia) is the raised platform on which the speaker ...

Nuggets of Storytelling Wisdom

In this post, I return to one of my favourite themes that run through this blog: the importance of storytelling. Past posts on the subject include this one and this one. Today we look at a TED Talk by Andrew Stanton. Andrew Stanton is a director and screenwriter at Pixar whose filmography includes the Toy ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 119) – Pablo Neruda

“All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song—but in this dance or in this song there are ...

Rhetorical Devices: Anadiplosis

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Anadiplosis Origin: From the Greek ἀναδίπλωσις (anathiplosis), meaning “doubling” or “folding”. In plain English: Beginning a sentence ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 118) – Steve Martin

“Some people have a way with words and other people … uh … not have way.” Steve Martin Photo courtesy of Davidwbaker ...

Good Penmanship for Public Speakers

The pen is mightier than the sword; but when it comes to public speaking, an empty hand is mightier than the pen. Sometimes, a speaker will take the stage holding a pen and deliver the entire speech or presentation without ever writing a single word. Yet all the while, the pen is omnipresent, moving up ...

A Lesson from Lang Lang

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter, Kristen and I had the good fortune to attend a concert by piano virtuoso Lang Lang at Geneva’s Victoria Hall. His performance was terrific. From the light melodies of Bach, to Schubert’s sombre Piano Sonata No. 21, to the moving and energetic Etudes op. 25 by Chopin, he held ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 117) – Conor Neill

“Start strong with a ‘grabber’. A personal story, a quote from an expert or a shocking statistic—something that takes a hold of your audience and gets them hooked and opens their mind to your message. Give the audience a chance to see your personal connection to the topic.” Conor Neill ...

Reading a Speech

If you can deliver a speech without reading it, that is the best scenario. However, if you must read your speech or use notes, here are some tips to help you out. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 116) – William Safire

“Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care.” William Safire ...

"Halftime in America" – An Analysis

One commercial that caught my attention during this year’s Superbowl was Chrysler’s motivational offering entitled “It’s Halftime America”. It featured actor and director Clint Eastwood. The ad has generated some controversy. However, I want to leave aside all commentary about politics and economics, and analyze the speech on its own merits. I found it excellent for many reasons ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 115) – Michelangelo

“If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo ...

What We Can Learn From Josh and Grace

Every once in a while, you come across a simple story that brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye; a story that makes you realize what is important and gives you hope for the future. Today I discovered once such story about Down Syndrome from two fellow Canadians, Josh and ...

Rhetorical Devices: Hypophora

This post is part of a series on rhetoric and rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Hypophora Origin: From the Greek ὑπόϕορά (hypofora), meaning “carrying under” or “putting under”. In plain English: Asking ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 114) – Gardiner and Kittredge

“The effectiveness of rhetorical questions in argument comes from their dramatic quality. They suggest dialogue, especially when the speaker both asks and answers them himself, as if he were playing two parts on the stage. “They are not always impassioned; they may be mildly ironical or merely argumentative: but they are always to some extent ...

Speakers: It's About Time (and How to Manage It)

Time management is an essential skill for any public speaker. It should be part of any communications skills training course. I previously wrote a post about why speakers should stay on time when giving a speech or presentation, and how failing to do so is a sign of disrespect. I encouraged speakers to finish on ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 113)

“We make progress by eliminating things, by removing the superfluous.” Steve Jobs Photo courtesy of Ben Stanfield ...

Every Presentation Ever?

Here's a clever video that rings true on many levels when it comes to boring presentations. And, as is so often the case with humour, there are lessons to be learned. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 112) – Winston Churchill

“He is one of those orators of whom it is well said, ‘Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said.'” Sir Winston Churchill ...

Analysis of a Speech by Alberto Cairo

Alberto Cairo is the head of the orthopedic program run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (the “ICRC”) in Afghanistan. A physiotherapist from Italy, he has been in Afghanistan for more than 20 years. During that time, he has helped thousands of Afghan landmine and accident victims. Not only has given them prosthetic limbs, ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 111) – David Lloyd George

“The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.” David Lloyd George ...

50 New Year's Resolutions for Public Speakers

Here are 50 New Year’s Resolutions to help you take your public speaking to a new level in the New Year. In no particular order: 1.  I will prepare. 2.  I will practice. 3.  I will have a clear message. 4.  I will be able to distill every speech and every presentation into a single sentence. 5. ...

10 Ways Public Speakers Should Be Like Santa Claus

Anyone looking for public speaking training should start by taking a good look at Santa Claus. Here’s what Kris Kringle does that all speakers should do. 1.   Prepare thoroughly Santa Claus spends most of the year getting ready for his one big night. When he takes off in his sleigh, there’s no turning back. ...

Slide Transitions: Everybody's Changing

I remember the first time I saw the features on PowerPoint that allowed you to animate text and slide transitions. I played around with it for awhile and soon had things zooming in and bouncing around and what not. My initial thought was, “This is neat.” After playing around a little more, I had another ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 109) – Mark Twain

“A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.” Mark Twain ...

Talk Radio on Public Speaking

Jack Vincent is an expert in sales. I had the chance to speak with Jack about public speaking and presentation skills on The Connectors, a weekly talk show on World Radio Switzerland (WRS). Featuring a teams of expats and Swiss, the show takes light-hearted look at life in Switzerland. We have discussed hundreds of topics ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 108) – George Carlin

“You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth. I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language.” George Carlin ...

"You've Got to Get Naked on Stage"

Dan Mangan is a Canadian indie folk-rock singer and songwriter. There is a raw honesty in his voice that is beguiling. His latest album, Oh Fortune, was released to wide acclaim. Dan recently wrote an article for The Guardian entitled, Magic gig moments. It’s a very personal, very moving article that offers tremendous insight into ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 107) – John Ford

“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” John Ford ...

Rick Perry's "Oops" Moment and Five Lessons We Can Learn

Drawing a blank. It’s one of people’s biggest fears when it comes to speaking in public. It is painful for the audience and excruciating for the speaker. And during the Republican Presidential Debate on 9 November 2011, Rick Perry experienced it firsthand. In case you missed the debate, this was the moment: I’ve not been ...

A Public Speaking Lesson in a Pot of Clay

I recently heard a story from my friend, Conor Neill about a pot of clay. Conor came across the story via Malcolm Gladwell. I am not sure where Gladwell got it, but on with the story … On the first day of a pottery course, the teacher did something rather peculiar. She divided the students ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 105) – Oscar Wilde

"Just as the orator marks his good things by a dramatic pause, or by raising or lowering his voice, or by gesture, so the writer marks his epigrams with italics, setting the little gem, so to speak, like a jeweller." ...

The Atomic Method of Creating a PowerPoint Presentation

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it. This post is part of a series based on original posts by Seth. In this blog post from 13 October 2011, Seth ...

PowerPoint: It's Child's Play

Who knew that PowerPoint could make you feel all warm and fuzzy? But kudos to Microsoft for this commercial. Very clever. I have to give the young man credit. Heck, even I’d buy him a dog after that! But as humorous as this commercial is, there are some important lessons that we can learn from ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 104) – George Washington

“Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.” George Washington ...

Analysis of a Speech by William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba is a remarkable young man from Malawi. His poor village did not have electricity, so William built a windmill. An amazing story from which we can lean a lot. ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 103) – Homer Simpson

“If I could just say a few words … I’d be a better public speaker.” Homer Simpson ...

Public Speaking is a Risk

Failure is inevitable at some point when it comes to public speaking. For example, did you ever: Forget what you wanted to say? Get lost, or stuck in traffic and arrive too late? Have trouble speaking because you were so nervous? Have the equipment stop working and leave you in the lurch? Get questions from ...

How to be an Outstanding Communicator

Today’s post on how to be an outstanding communicator is from Martin Shovel. Martin is a writer, speechwriter, cartoonist and communications expert with a special interest in new media and social networking. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian’s Mind Your Language blog and has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth. Martin’s article is somewhat ...

Rhetorical Devices: Paraprosdokian

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Paraprosdokian Origin: From the Greek παρά (para), meaning “beyond” and προσδοκία (prosthokhia), meaning “expectation”; thus, “beyond expectation”. In plain ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 102) – Garrison Keillor

“English is the perfect language for preachers because it allows you to talk until you think of what to say.” Garrison Keillor Photo courtesy of Prairie Home Productions ...

A Tough Act to Follow

Today’s post comes from Jesse Langley. Jesse lives near Chicago and divides his time among work, writing and family life. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University and has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for The Professional Intern.  ——— Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 101) – Norman Vincent Peale

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Norman Vincent Peale ...

Ten Tips for Using Props in a Presentation

In my previous post, I looked at some of the ways in which a prop can add some real value to a presentation. In this post, I provide 10 tips when it comes to using props. For most of the tips, I have added a video clip of a speech or presentation that shows the idea ...

How Do Props Help a Presentation?

The word “prop” comes from the term “theatrical property”, which refers to objects used by actors in a play to add realism to the story and to help advance the narrative. Anything can be used as a prop: a chair, a walking cane, a book, a painting. The list goes on and on. Props can ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 100) – Janine Shepherd

Ten days ago, I asked for your help in choosing the speaker of the 100th quote for public speakers on this blog. The results are in: over 300 votes on four questions to help narrow down the search. Thank you to all who voted. In the end, a significant majority asked for a motivational quote ...

You Don't Know Dick

I am referring to Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxip Identity and a big proponent of Identity 2.0. (Unless, of course, you actually do know Dick!) The presentation below (which, as you’ll see, was the inspiration for the title of this post) is an old one. It is the 4 August 2005 Keynote Address that Hardt ...

Help Me Pick the 100th Quote for Public Speakers

Last year, I started a series on quotes for public speakers. As I said in the first post, there are often nuggets of gold to be mined in the briefest of words. My idea was to provide one quote at a time, and let readers ponder it without additional comment from me. Many of the quotes ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 99) – Freddie Mercury

“We’re fussy and finicky and have very high standards. If a song can’t be done properly, we’d rather it isn’t done at all. We’re the fussiest band in the world, and we put so much loving into every album.” Freddie Mercury Photo courtesy of weheartit.com ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 98) – Aldous Huxley

“Words and the meaning of words are not matters merely for the academic amusement of linguists and logisticians, or for the aesthetic delight of poets; they are matters of the profoundest ethical significance to every human being.” Aldous Huxley ...

Public Speaking: Taking That First Step

This summer, my family and I returned to Canada for a vacation. While we were in Toronto, I followed the debate that was raging (and which continues to rage as of the date of this post) about closing public libraries to reduce municipal government costs. Toronto City Hall Public hearings were held to discuss the ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 97) – Steve Jobs

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. “You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t ...

World Championship of Public Speaking, 2011

The 2011 World Championship of Public Speaking, hosted by Toastmasters International in Las Vegas, Nevada, is now history. Congratulations to all contestants, especially Jock Elliott (1st Place), Kwong Yue Yang (2nd Place) and Scott Pritchard (3rd Place). I must, however, say a special word about my friend, Olivia Schofield, who also participated in finals. She ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 96) – Cicero

“I can think of nothing more agreeable to the brain and the ear than a speech adorned and embellished with wise thoughts and fine language.” Cicero Photo courtesy of Glauco92 ...

Rhetorical Devices: Paralipsis

This post is part of a series on rhetorical devices. For other posts in the series, please click this link. For a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to write a speech outline, please see this post. Device: Paralipsis Origin: From the Greek παράλειψις (paraleipsis), meaning “omission”. In plain English: To call attention to something by specifically ...

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 95) – Bill Clinton

“Sometimes when people are under stress, they hate to think, and it’s the time when they most n