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

Jonathan Evison – American Writer

“You have to smile, if you expect anybody to smile back.”

— Jonathan Evison

Photo courtesy of Keith Brofsky
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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 the characters that he has portrayed on screen.

Jim Carrey

As the years have passed, Carrey has spent more and more time on his art. He paints and sculpts to express his feelings, to connect with others and also to help heal the broken pieces inside of him. The film offers a very poignant view into the mind and heart of the man.

I was so impressed by the film, that after watching it the first time, I immediately hit “Replay” and watched it again, this time taking notes. As I jotted down the different points, it occurred to me that the things that Carrey says about art apply equally to public speaking.

After all, when you think about it, public speaking is a lot like art:

  • It begins with an idea.
  • The speaker / artist needs to spend time alone working on it.
  • It evolves.
  • It is an expression of what the speaker / artist is thinking and feeling.
  • Eventually, it is seen / heard by others.
  • There will always be critics.

The film is immediately below. It is followed by 10 lessons that I have taken from it that I believe are valuable for public speakers.

1. “You can tell what I love by the colour of the paintings. You can tell my inner life by the darkness in some of them. You can tell what I want from the brightness in some of them.”

Lesson: Speakers should share a bit of themselves in every speech: a point of view; a call to action; a concern; a hope; a weakness; a vision. What they share will depend on a number of factors including the purpose of the speech, the subject, the audience and the speaking situation. Some speeches will be brighter and some will be darker, but the audience should get some sense of who you are every time you speak.

2. “The painting was telling me what I needed to know about myself.”

Lesson: I begin writing my speeches with two things in mind: the audience and my message. But as I work on my speeches, many times I also learn something about myself. As you work on your speeches, think about your audience, but be open to possibility that you might be telling yourself something as well.

3. “What makes someone an artist is that they make models of their inner life. They make something physically come into being that is inspired by their emotions or their needs or what they feel the audience needs.”

Lesson: Similar to the first lesson above, a speech comes from within. You take your knowledge, your experience, your emotion, your point of view and you create something for your audience. Something from you that benefits your audience in some way.

4. “I like the independence of it. I love the freedom of it. No one else tells you what you can or can’t do … most of the time.”

Lesson: Public speaking offers an incredible opportunity to speakers. When it comes to preparing and delivering a speech, the possibilities for what you speak about, and how you speak about it, are endless … most of the time. Unfortunately, many people face restrictions at work when it comes to presentations; for example, in the form of mandatory slide templates. But even in such cases, with a bit of effort, speakers can still find ways to deliver something that is captivating and unique.

5. “There’s an immediacy to it.”

Lesson: When you speak to an audience, you have to be 100% present. You have to be 100% in the moment.

6. “Art has to be service. You’re servicing your subconscious and at the same time you’re doing something that someone’s going to relate to, hopefully.”

Lesson: First and foremost, your speech should serve your audience. But it can also help you. My good friends and fellow speakers, Florian Mueck and Olivia Schofield, like to say that public speaking is therapy if you do it right, and if it’s not therapy yet, you can do better!

7. “I was not the type of kid [to whom] you could say as a punishment: ‘Go to your room.’ Because my room was heaven to me. My isolation was welcome.”

Lesson: It is, perhaps, a paradox of “public” speaking that much of your time will be spent alone with your thoughts as you work on your speeches. Get used to being alone. Get to know yourself. Enjoy your own company.

8. “People that are different have a shot at being original.”

Lesson: As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

9. “Something inside you is always telling a story. I believe every single thing that you see and hear is talking to you.”

Lesson: Storytelling is an incredibly important part of public speaking, in any situation. Stories add meaning; stories are memorable; if people remember the story, they are more likely to remember the message. Look for the stories in your life, big and small, that you can use in your speeches. Spend time learning some of the secrets to great storytelling.

10. “The bottom line with all of this—whether it’s performance or it’s art or it’s sculpture—is love. We want to show ourselves and have that be accepted. I love being alive and the art is the evidence of that.”

Lesson: As Luciano Pavarotti said, “Some singers want the audience to love them. I love the audience.” Love your audiences and be willing to share with them the best that you have to offer. And even when people don’t agree with what you are saying—which will eventually happen if you speak often enough—if you have prepared properly and made your best effort to help the audience in some way, you have done your job.

Photo courtesy of Ian Smith
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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 people in the audience are not there just to see what’s new. If that were the case, they could get the information from a PDF, your website or the Internet. Audiences want more. They want to be engaged, they want to be inspired. For that to happen, it takes more than a deck of slides; it takes a speaker who knows how to connect.

The ideas contained in the infographic will help you do just that. And, the infographic is linked to a post that goes into greater detail about the ways in which you can improve your presentations. They are as follows:

  1. Make your talk about one idea that the audience should care about.
  2. Create contrast to attract the audience’s attention.
  3. Make your talk about the audience and not about you.
  4. Resonate confidence.
  5. Have one idea per slide.
  6. When it comes to slides, consider Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule.
  7. If you are showing slides, choose a software with which you are comfortable.

7 Ways to Make Your Next Presentation Your Best Yet

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Rethinking Title Slides

PG LogoI am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionalsThis 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 the title slide to the speaker’s PowerPoint presentation. Usually, such slides display some or all of the following information:

  • Title of the presentation
  • Subtitle, if any
  • Name and title of the speaker
  • Date of the presentation
  • Name and location of the event
  • Company logo

And then what happens? Often, the speaker comes out, introduces himself, says how pleased he is to be at the event, and tells you the title of his presentation. In other words, he repeats the same information that you have been reading for the past few minutes.

This is a wasted opportunity. The opening is an important part of your presentation. You can do better than simply regurgitating the information on your title slide.

I am not against title slides per se, but in this post on Presentation Guru, I offer three ideas to help you rethink how you use them.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 258) – Sophocles

Sophocles (497 BC – 406 BC) Ancient Greek Playwright

“Much speech is one thing, well-timed speech is another.”

— Sophocles

Photo courtesy of shakko
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