Archive for the ‘Public Speaking Audience’ Category

Public Speaking – The Most Important Part

Friday, August 13th, 2010
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With the wealth of information available at our fingertips, it is interesting to note how little is said about our most valuable asset or ‘commodity’ in public speaking. We are so consumed with learning the best means of creating and delivering our material that our focus often ignores our objective in presenting.


Look at Webster’s definition of public speaking: the art or science of effective oral communication with an audience. Which word do you think is your ‘commodity?’ If your answer is audience, then you are correct. Without an audience, the most dynamic delivery and the best-crafted speech or presentation is of no value.

Of course, your audience may be a given. You may be taking a class in Public Speaking; possibly you are a member of Toastmasters; you might be giving the budget report for your Rotary Club; or, you could be toasting the groom at a wedding. In all of the above situations, the room will be filled whether you speak or not.

On the other hand, it is possible that you are the reason you will have an audience. You may be holding a webinar or you might be offering a presentation in your community; perhaps you are speaking at a book store or a library; or, maybe you are one of a select few on the roster at a 7-day home show or flower convention. In each of these scenarios, your audience has chosen to attend, which means they have gone out of their way to listen to you speak. In some of these cases, they may even have paid a fee.

►Researching your audience is part of your homework if you wish to be successful.

Whether you are speaking to inform, to persuade, or to inspire, do you think it is important to address the needs of your audience or are you more concerned with addressing your own needs?

In one of the college classes I was teaching, one of my students gave a presentation on ‘overclocking’ the processor in your computer. Not only was this topic too complex for the students; but, had the class actually understood what he was talking about and taken his advice, they could have done irreparable damage to their computers. This young man should have tailored his material around a topic that the average student would understand.

►Knowing your audience is fundamental in addressing their needs.

Some years ago, I was invited to speak at a Lion’s Club dinner meeting. Having successfully spoken to many Rotarians in the past, I wrongly assumed that the members of the Lion’s Club would be similar in temperament. At the dinner, several in the room proceeded to drink quite heavily and became rather boisterous. I realized that voice improvement was not going to be a memorable subject for them so I switched my topic to Podium Power and opened my presentation with a joke. And, it worked!

In this particular situation, the joke was crucial because I gained their attention immediately. And, because many of the members would probably be speaking in various capacities within their organization or at the state or national level, the change in topic was the right approach. Voice training would have bored them; presentation skills, however, was most appropriate.

While good presentation skills and finely-honed material are critical, knowing your audience can often be the difference between success and failure. Whether you are hoping to become the next Anthony Robbins or you just want to impress your fellow Toastmasters, treat your audience like your most valuable ‘commodity’ and your success will be guaranteed!

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice DynamicYour Least Developed Tool! and watch Nancy as she describes

Understanding The Individuals Of Public Speaking Audience

Friday, July 30th, 2010
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Ask anyone… It just makes sense that each time you prepare to deliver a presentation, you need to pay attention to who will be in your audience. But, how often have you really considered what impact the individual personalities of members or your audience will have on the outcome of your speech?

Psychologists tell us that our individual personalities are revealed in the characteristic patterns of our thinking, feeling and acting; that our personalities shape how we develop, perceive, learn, remember, think and feel. You display your own characteristics (personality) as you deliver your presentations. And, the members of your audience will display their personality (in terms of their individual wants and needs from your speech), though perhaps less notably, while you speak. Identifying and addressing the specific needs of your audience is one of the keys to success as a public speaker.

There have been a number of psychological testing methods developed to assess personality traits; our characteristic patterns of behavior and conscious motives. One popular approach to describing and classifying personalities, frequently used in business and career counseling, was developed by Isabel Briggs-Meyers and her mother Kathleen Briggs. They developed the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” which is a 126 question survey designed to identify preferences in management style and decision making. To get an accurate perspective of decision making preferences, in addition to completing your own survey, similar surveys are confidentially submitted by your superiors, peers and subordinates and are analyzed collectively and comparatively. Participants choose between characteristic responses such as: “Do you usually value sentiment more than logic, or do you value logic more than sentiment?” The process then calls for counting your preferences and labeling them as “feeling” or “thinking” types. Feeling types tend to be sensitive to values and are sympathetic, appreciative, and tactful. Thinking types tend to prefer an objective standard of truth and rely on analysis of available information before making a decision. The result of the analysis is to determine your preferences (personality) as primarily tending to be revealed as one of four personality types: Expressive, Driver, Analytical or Amiable.

Another method of factor analysis, developed by Hans Eysenck and Sybil Eysenck involves comparative rating of your preferences of extraversion-introversion and emotional stability-instability. In this method participants are rated (personally and by others) according to where they rank on a horizontal scale between being introverted on the left and extraverted on the right. The participant is then also rated on a vertical scale between unstable at the top and stable at the bottom. The results are shown in a two dimensional chart that provides insights into the participant’s behavioral characteristics: • Introverted/Unstable – moody, reserved, anxious, sober, quiet, pessimistic • Extroverted/Unstable – touchy, restless, aggressive, excitable, changeable, impulsive, active • Introverted/Stable – passive, careful, thoughtful, peaceful, controlled, reliable, calm • Extroverted/Stable – sociable, outgoing, talkative, responsive, easygoing, lively, carefree

In 1986, McCrae & Costa, in American Psychologist, 41, p.1002, offered what they believe tells a more rounded story about someone’s personality. They identified a set of factors called the “Big Five”. Their premise was that by asking five questions about someone you can reveal a lot about that person. These questions focus on emotional stability, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The results plot a person’s preferences such as: calm vs. anxious; secure vs. insecure; self-satisfied vs. self pittying; sociable vs. retiring; fun-loving vs. sober; affectionate vs. reserved; imaginative vs. practical; preference for variety vs. for routine; independent vs. conforming; soft-hearted vs. ruthless; trusting vs. suspicious; helpful vs. cooperative; organized vs. disorganized; careful vs. careless; and disciplined vs. impulsive.

All of these assessment techniques and the focus on traits are simply intended to profile a person’s behavior patterns, not to reveal extensive personality dynamics. These techniques can provide quick assessments of a single trait such as (referring back to Myers-Briggs) the tendencies of • “Expressive” to be bold, visionary, confident, energetic, enthusiastic, and just plain fun! Many marketing and sales people exhibit these behaviors. • The analysis, even at a cursory level, shows how “Drivers” tend to be direct, bold, goal oriented, decisive, strong-willed, and confident. • An “Analytical” will display traits of being steady, dependable, high integrity, detail oriented, orderly and potentially a bit of a perfectionist. • And, of course, the “Amiable” will also tend towards being steady, dependable, consistent, empathetic, high integrity, and trusting, Expressive people help gain cooperation – they are the cheerleaders in an organization. Drivers” focus on achieving the bottom line and provide leadership. Analytical people are very effective at resolving ambiguity and conflicts. Amiable people are great at building trust.

As we point out in our public speaking classes, we have found that a person’s dominant personality type (we use the Myers-Briggs categories) usually determines what strengths and weaknesses a speaker has during presentations and which of the four sets of leadership principles we share with them will be most helpful and more natural for that person. When you determine which temperament you feel is your most dominant, and you couple that with an assessment of the probable temperaments of members of your intended audience, you are much better prepared to deliver your speech in a manner that they will find to be relevant and interesting. You will be answering a very important question that every person in your audience is ALWAYS asking themselves: “What’s in this for me and why should I pay attention?”

Some closing thoughts: For a characteristic to be a genuine personality trait it must persist over time and across situations. People don’t always act with predictable consistency. Your average creativity in helping others to think “outside the box”, your usual focus on building trust and rapport, or your typical focus on the “bottom-line”, over many situations is predictable. It’s the same for your audience. At any given moment, the immediate situation (internal and external factors) can be powerful influences of a person’s behavior, especially when the situation makes clear demands. It’s easier to predict what a person driving a car will do at a traffic light based on the color of traffic lights than from knowing their personality. But, individual differences in some traits, e.g., amiable vs. analytical, can usually be fairly quickly perceived. I repeatedly state to my “Fearless Presentations” students that “It is not about me and what I think I need to say; it’s about the members of my audience and what they need to hear!” Al Pillarelli, LLC, is an instructor and personal coach for The Leader’s Institute®, Management and Supervisor Training. His classes focus on overcoming the fear of public speaking, building confident and autonomous leaders, and improving employee morale. He can be reached toll-free at 1-800-872-7830.

Public Speaking – Techniques To Influence Your Audience

Sunday, June 20th, 2010
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Public speaking or speech-making is one of the many things that is most commonly feared tasks as it requires to stand up in front of strange people trying to convince them to make a purchase if you are in the marketing arena, or simply adding something to their knowledge in a given area.Actually, there are many factors involved in determining the amount of success you receive out of performing such task. Looking comfortable, confident and relaxed are among these factors, though it’s a bit hard to achieve theses characteristics at the podium, but it’s always possible with an on-going rehearsal. The following are down-to-earth and easy-to-implement techniques that can maximize your potential to an incredibly public speaking performance:

1)Devote some time to understand the nature of your audience. what make them want to attend and listen to whatever you have to say, what are their expectations, hopes and the result that they reap out of their attendance. It should not escape your notice the importance of learning about their background about the subject matter so as to eliminate all what they know for time’s sake.

2)When you first stand be sure that you are projecting high self-confidence and relaxation. Connect with the audience with strong eye contact and a genuine smile, now start talk in a strong manner.

3)I cannot stress enough the importance of eye contact and its magical influence upon the audience and the way they respond and listen to you as well as their feeling of being a part of the performance and the success you are building.

4)Make certain that the listeners are attentive that the speech is coming to an end, this could be achieved through changing your voice to a minimal level, this will enable the audience to notice that you are making your last statement. this is of course very important unless you wish to be faced by a period of silence once you finish your speech.

5)And don’t forget to add the miraculous word at the end of the speech “Thank you” SIMON GARMAH is an executive Communications Consultant and Coach. He is president of Lifestyles Communications, Inc. which helps individuals communicate in the new global and virtual world. His fear public speaking blog.So take the first step toward conquering your fear of public speaking

Public Speaking – Keeping The Audience’s Attention

Sunday, June 6th, 2010
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This past week marked the 145th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, almost an afterthought following a 2-hour speech by Edward Everett, a nationally-renowned 19th century orator. Can you imagine not only keeping your audience’ attention during two hours of speech, but keeping them enrapt as well? And, they didn’t have Power Point or an overhead projector to aid them in the process!

As a people we are not as good at listening as we used to be. After 20 minutes of sermon, the coughing, sniffling and sleeping become much more apparent during church services today, while in days past, congregants were treated to preaching lasting more than an hour with services often running for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Our ancestors certainly had occasion to attend plays, musical theater, speeches and parties; but, for the most part, they had to amuse themselves. Unable to turn on the TV or sit at a computer for hours on end, they managed to entertain themselves and they enjoyed listening.

Those of us who teach public speaking emphasize the importance of a strong opening in order to grab your listeners’ attention right from the start. But what happens during the development of your speech or presentation? How do you keep their focus throughout the rest of your delivery whether you are talking for 10 minutes or 45?

●Limit your main points. Books and courses on public speaking stress the importance of creating your speech or presentation with only 2-5 main points. You will be stretching your listeners’ attention span when you start listing your main points, having reached number 14 and you still have 8 more to go!

●Use anecdotes to further clarify or explain your talking points. Listeners value stories that are relevant to your topic because they lend credibility to you as a speaker

●Add humor (when possible). Audiences can always use a laugh. While your function as a presenter is to either inform or persuade, doing so in an entertaining manner can be much more effective than droning on and on.

●In using visual aids, treat them just as that – an aid. They can have a strong impact on your presentation; however, putting your entire speech on Power Point defeats your purpose in presenting.

●Be engaging. Talk to your audience as if you were having a conversation in your living room. Scan the room when you speak, making eye contact with your listeners and acknowledging their presence.

In the ever fast world of today, we want an answer and we want it quickly. We don’t even have to go libraries or open encyclopedias anymore because the information is at our fingertips; therefore, presenting material to an audience requires your ability to keep them focused on you, not on their watches or their smartphones. Captivate your audience and I guarantee they will forget to check the time or their messages.

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic. Offering corporate and 2-day workshops throughout the US and Canada, Daniels launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the only video training course on voice improvement. For more information go to:

Public Speaking – Look For The Smilers In Your Audience

Friday, May 28th, 2010
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Recently I gave a presentation at a Summit Conference in New York City and was confronted with a very tame audience. I was blessed, however, to have two women in the large ballroom who smiled throughout, nodding their heads in agreement with everything I said. The second blessing was that these two women were sitting on opposite sides of the room; thus, in acknowledging my two ‘smilers’,I had to scan the room from one side to the other.

In teaching presentation skills, I advocate zeroing in your smilers because they bolster your confidence. Some people smile because they agree with you and some people smile just because they smile. Some people listen with their eyes closed; some people indeed are sleepers.

In a room filled with over 100 attendees, however, I was surprised that I had only two smilers. Without a doubt, this particular group was one of the hardest audiences I have ever faced. In fact, throughout my 40-minute presentation, I questioned their lack of enthusiasm.

Admittedly, the microphone I was handed left much to be desired because it unfortunately was not of the same quality as the stationary mic on the lectern. [And that definitely was my fault for not getting a sound check before speaking. I assumed that because the gentleman speaking prior to me was getting great sound with the stationary mic, so too would I with a hand-held version. Very bad assumption; however, great fodder for the book and audio series I am presently working on for public speaking!]

One attendee, sitting smack dab in the middle of the room and not 10 feet from me, kept nodding off. Of course every audience has a sleeper; and, because the rest of the room was awake, I was not concerned. Interestingly though, while watching the ‘before’ and ‘after’ video clips of my clients, the gentleman whose eyes were half closed, reacted with such sudden force upon seeing Craig, that it took everything in my power not to laugh out loud. (Craig is undoubtedly the best change in a male voice that I have ever encountered.) With his eyes bulging, this sleeper reminded me of a cartoon character who suddenly becomes bug-eyed upon viewing a beautiful woman.

While the time I spent talking about voice and telephone techniques certainly had its challenges, the applause from the audience upon closing was thunderous. Indeed that was unexpected. Aside from the two smiling women, here was a crowd who showed little expression in what I was saying by their most reserved and noncommittal reaction to me. What usually gets a laugh did not. What always gets verbal response did not. And yet they enjoyed my presentation.

What did I learn from this particular audience? That once again, you can never prejudge how you will be received. During your speech or presentation, the reaction of your audience may not be what you expected. It may be better or it could be worse.

My advice is to ignore your sleepers; zero in your smilers; and talk to your audience just as if you were having a conversation in your living room.

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic. Offering corporate and 2-day workshops throughout the US and Canada, Daniels launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the only video training course on voice improvement. For more information go to: