You and yours: celebrate TEDWomen with TEDxPrincetonLibrary

Posted: November 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, TEDx and TED | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »


TEDx communities across the globe will convene independent programs in honor of TED’s first TEDWomen Conference (which will be held next week in Washington, DC); the speaker slate is dynamo to say the least.

Do you plan to attend DC’s event or a live streamed program of motivating discussions and ideas worth spreading?

A TEDx story and how the social web inspired introductions:
During this year’s WomenWhoTech Telesummit, I had the pleasure of meeting Janie Hermann on Twitter; Janie founded the TEDxPrincetonLibrary series and expressed interest in celebrating TEDWomen through a locally hosted program. She and her team then put ideas in motion!

I can’t wait to participate in a day of robust conversation at TEDxPrincetonLibrary’s event and present about the night’s timely theme: women and technology in the age of conversation.

The beautiful Princeton Library will host (where TEDWomen will be live streamed and discussed throughout December 7th and 8th).

This particular TEDx event (or @TEDxPrincetonPL on Twitter) will also include a lightning speaker round on 12/7th, showcasing tremendous business leaders Holly Landau, Katie DeVito, Hilary Morris, and Melissa Klepacki. Each will share how they cultivate socially aware brands.



…there’s more that night: the smooth, lyrical voice of Sara Donner will perform too.

Want to join us? Please do!

RSVP right here for a super meeting of the minds and enjoy the TEDWomen Conference via live stream. Participate in (and energize) discussions addressing how women and girls are reshaping the future. All this is complimentary to the public at TEDxPrincetonLibrary so please RSVP while seats last (there’s a small fee for dinner, should your appetite get inspired too).

Participating in the superhero-like TEDxPotomac this year with curator Michelle Hoffman created the most incredible memories.  I look forward to more ideas worth spreading at this TEDx next week.

If you had 18 minutes, what would be your one big idea to share?

Image Talk by HippyDream, Creative Commons

Running to the theatre for the film “The King’s Speech”

Posted: November 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Practice | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

London museum

Good gracious, I’m salivating to see this.

Based on a true story, this just released film shows King George VI working with a controversial speech therapist to overcome a vicious stutter. The pressure from global WWII events and his unwelcome leadership role create context for this confrontation between a man and his speaking disorder.

I’m barely imagining the strain on this historical figure (…he was Prince Albert before taking the throne as King George VI). I didn’t know about him really until reading more of the film and related history. He wasn’t raised to believe he would be king, as he was the younger royal brother (…who later abdicated the throne, giving way to Prince Albert’s unforeseen opportunity to lead the nation as king).

Wow the gentle grit and resolve in this film look incredible. And I can’t wait to gallop over and see it.

…talk about preparing for the speech of a lifetime.

What do you think?!

Image London Museum Theatre by Maria Teresa Adalid, Creative Commons

Our 10th anniversary (and Happy Thanksgiving!)

Posted: November 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This year has been one incredible experience in learning about great stories, the people that share them, and the impact those stories can make.

We are in a pivotal point in time
…one that has unique distinction for stories and conversation in general especially in light of social tech — it appears a true “age of speech” has emerged.

And on this Thanksgiving Day, the story at the forefront of my mind and heart is marriage to my husband of 10 years.


Wedding sean jill

Years ago with a sense of delight, adventure, and a wee bit of youthfulness, we married in Washington, DC on Thanksgiving. Since then, new stories of our own have formed – some gleeful, some difficult, yet all brought irreplaceable clarity to the value of time.

My husband’s “what if” curiosity helped to fortify vision for a new business – LiveYourTalk (…and helped to maintain resolve when next steps in business weren’t as clear). Experiencing life with him is a fantastic story in motion and a powerful, fun way to spend time. I love him.

On this holiday, may your favorite stories and storytellers be all around whether at turkey dinner or through vibrant memories.

Very Happy Thanksgiving.

How women can be more persuasive speakers (plus presentation tips galore)

Posted: November 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises for speakers, Leadership and public voice, Practice | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Conversations in black pic

It was fast, furious, fun, and a great conversation.

Image Conversation in Black by Pensiero, Creative Commons

It was the first time the #wgBiz hashtag trended in the DC region!

“It” is last week’s #wgBiz twitter chat where for one hour many from the Women Grow Business community talked shop on public speaking tips — all at warp twitter chat speed (full transcript here). Thanks to #wgBiz editor Shonali Burke for the fantastic chance to be a guest and guide the chat.

Energy from all the chatters could fuel Chicago for a week!
And below is a handful of questions and ideas that helped drive the discussion (with the full transcript per above link providing a strong road map to the entire conversation too).

Question 1:
What are the top 3 challenges presenters face when preparing for presentations/speaking engagements?

Answer 1: A few things come to mind — misunderstanding the audience; avoiding that nervous speech energy; pursuing perfectionism; and over emphasizing slides (vs really crafting a story for the speech narrative).

Question 2:
What are some favorite ways to help prepare for presentations?

Answer 2: Really hone in on knowing your audience and then construct a clear, brief, purposeful key message that addresses the audience’s need. There’s a favorite way that mobilizes this process: imagine you had just 60 seconds to impart value to an audience. What would that 60 seconds look like? Would you relate immediately with energized, precise content — or spend 45 seconds thanking the audience and expressing how glad you were to be there? Hint: Convey gratitude through valuable content and authentic, natural delivery. A list of thank yous inspires an audience’s brain to disengage.

Quick footnote:
Storyboard on a whiteboard answers to this question: what’s one story that exemplfies your key message and leads into key points?

Question 3:
What really influences a persuasive delivery, especially for women?

Answer 3: Speaking with vocal strength/versatility and good posture increases persuasiveness a lot, especially for female speakers.

Question 4 – from a chat participant: Where do I put my hands while speaking? What are ways to control gestures overall while on stage?

Answer 4: The most authentic suggestion to this I find is to step back briefly and consider your one-on-one conversation style. As example: when explaining a point of emphasis when the audience is just one or a few, how would you naturally underscore the point? Would you naturally clasp hands together? or would you actually use silent pauses to frame the specific point and draw more attention to the statement? Or would your voice slow and deepen, excluding hand gestures completely?

Even though the energy exchange is much more aggressive and accelerated when speaking to a group, re-connecting with natural conversational gestures can be more natural than ‘forcing’ a particular gesture or approach to emphasize key points. Let gesturing unfold along with the story’s build in the speech.

One huge factor brought up in the chat was relating to audiences authentically and with sincerity. Many folks shared great wisdom about audiences and how they can quickly detect an insincere speaker.

Bottom line: If presenters don’t convey authenticity or sense of care, then why should an audience care or be convinced?

Question for you:
What experiences or favorite tips do you have that have shaped your public speaking strength?

Thanks for a fantastic time and brainstorm at last week’s!

More resources:

And reminder to save the date:
The next @wgbiz chat: Dec. 13, 12-1 pm ET with featured guest and Chief Troublemaker Joanna Pineda with Matrix Group International.

This post was submitted as a guest write-up to Women Grow Business.

Students of persuasive speech meet memories of an angry client

Posted: November 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises for speakers, TEDx and TED | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

terp turtle

Last Friday, I had the wonderful pleasure meeting University of Maryland students in two communications classes Comm107-1701 and Comm107-0801. Founder of DC’s Social Media Club-Breakfast chapter, PR guru, and U of Maryland professor Andi Narvaez launched a speaker series for her communications students. And a few days ago, I had the chance to share ideas about persuasive public speaking and public conversations in general with her students. Thanks to Andi and both classes for a great morning!

We talked about different speech devices used in persuasive presentation – and which ones they found most convincing. Some leaned toward logical reasoning while others responded strongly to perspectives delivered with strong conviction.

What an angry client taught years ago
I shared an experience with a client from a zillion years ago when first starting in sales (corporate sales at Borders Books). At the time, I messed up a client’s order (she happened to speak Italian too) and visited her office to deliver some but not all of the order. She then expressed a special type of rage for the order being incomplete — that included unrecognizable Italian words! As she expressed her huge discontent, her staff and the company president casually gathered around, becoming an unintended audience of this discussion. After an extended exchange that day, which largely involved me listening to her and confronting my guilt, the outstanding book order arrived the day after (& before the competition was able to produce…); the client then permitted my delivery of her product, with discussions of ongoing business to follow. Whew.

I mentioned to the U of MD classes that I then returned to the office, relieved(!), and invited a colleague to celebrate.
She preferred however a more thorough analysis on what happened with that client, suggesting: “We need to assess your conversation for persuasive elements.”

The (4) questions my colleague asked have since stuck – really helping my line of thinking toward persuasive conversations in and beyond a stage dynamic:

  • 1. What point of view did you represent?
  • There were many but the main one was to be the client’s trusted bookseller, even after my error. It helped to focus on this primary point of view and maintain empathy/respect for the client.

  • 2. What was the audience’s (customer’s) point of view – and did it have merit?
  • It absolutely had merit and it warranted respect (and humility) on my part.

  • 3. What was at stake in the conversation, both from a best case/worst case vantage point?
  • Worst case – a relationship would be lost with this client’s negative perception influencing her colleagues who also were potential clients. Best case – There was an opportunity to re-build trust, serve the client in future needs, and ideally those of her staff who also had budgets.

  • 4. How did your emotional resolve create a persuasive advantage or disadvantage?
  • I really appreciated my colleague asking all of these questions but most of all this one. She helped to crystalize how emotions impacted the possibility of renewed trust and recovered common ground. Extending honest empathy vs being defensive with the client proved critical.

    These questions set the stage for the value of persuasive speech and persuasive conversation in general with the students. I loved it and we talked more on engaging in public conversations via social media too — with more recaps from Quinn Kelley in 1701 and Brandon Isaac from 0801.

I had a motivating, super time.
And here are some favorite TED videos with incredibly effective persuasion (as requested from Professor Andi):

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: for sharing a powerful, honest personal story

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: for her use of data in parallel to her enriching personal experience

Benjamin Zander: for his diverse ways of engaging the audience and relating through his passion

Image Maryland’s Terp Basketball Legend, by The Eggplant, Creative Commons

What an audience confirmed about the power of comparison

Posted: November 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Practice | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

compare contrast pic

A friend gently poked fun at how much I was rehearsing for a recent speech (…for the wonderful Grow Smart Business Conference) held last Friday.

Honestly there were 3 reasons for the aggressive preparation:

  • It was a new story for me to tell (about using Twitter and social media to improve public speaking skill). So there was plenty of brainstorming on how to storyboard and organize from this audience’s point of view.
  • The speech was apart of a lightning talk round where multiple speakers would present in 10 or 20 minutes each. It was a mental wrestling match at times when writing and deciding what should be whittled out.
  • Many of the lightning round speakers were also immersed on the regional and national speaking circuit. So the good ole law of comparison was in play.

Holy Compelling Feedback Batman
Presenting the speech was a blast. After speaking, I headed for the far side of the conference room to reflect about the audience dynamic (and read the conference’s robust Twitter backchannel aka hashtag #GrowSmartBiz). Then a conference attendee walked up and shared a fascinating and timely perspective.

He said:

“You know, it was a hard situation to be the speaker who followed Shonali Burke. She was awesome and to top it all off she has a beautiful British accent. But your speech did well and was effective even in comparison to her.”

I suppressed the desire to hug the man.

Another audience member in a different conversation shared similar insight. I appreciated the candor and how they underscored that…:

When presenting with a suite of speakers, no matter how conducive one’s content is to the audience, the human mind – will and often starkly – respond to speakers’ unique delivery and personal traits (like in this case, Shonali’s lyrical accent and voice).  This isn’t at all to discount the vital influence of content.  Yet when presenting in the midst of a boat load of great speakers, it presents an apt time to assess readiness from a specific vantage point.

These 3 questions help to foster a more honest evaluation of my own readiness:

How assured am I when engaging through this content? Is it enough to conversationally relate to the audience with clarity of mind and authenticity?  Or would more practice help dissolve any angst about being compared to another speaker’s style?

It was a great, educational, revealing day.

For more video about the GrowSmartBiz Conference, please enjoy here.

Image Compare and Contrast by Guanatos Gwyn, Creative Commons

A public speaking poll and you: what instructional video topic most appeals?

Posted: November 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Practice | Tags: , | No Comments »

It’s brain pickin’ time!

Questions on topic and price
Some folks have asked for instructional videos so they can strengthen their speech development on their own time (vs allocate time for Toastmasters or private coaching…). So on that note – what topic draws your interest below for a $19 product?

Thanks for your perspective!