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.

Reflections (with audio): Secretary Clinton’s speech at Fortune’s #MPW Summit

Posted: October 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Speaker reviews | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »


It’s been an incredible week of speakers, thinkers, and ideas. So grateful am I to have seen President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton speak in these last few days.

Fortune Magazine certainly convened an incredible group of forthcoming, strong storytellers at their Most Powerful Women Summit. What keeps coming to mind though are particular remarks from Secretary Clinton.

Nelson Mandela and a story that either ethically challenged or inspired or both.

The Secretary engaged with the audience in two different ways: she gave a closing address for the overall summit and then gave a relaxed, in-depth interview with TIME Chairman Ann Moore. There was a question from Moore that was something like: “What person most influenced you?” At this point, Secretary Clinton’s reply just blew me away.

She shared a specific memory about President Nelson Mandela during her White House years. In South Africa at a ceremony honoring Mandela’s leadership, Secretary Clinton remembered Mandela taking the podium and before launching into remarks, he first expressed gratitude for three jailers that worked in the Robben Island Prison where Mandela was incarcerated for many years. It was his focus on the positive qualities of those jailers and the inherent forgiveness within his gratitude that struck the Secretary and now, my outlook on both storytelling and ability to practice a forgiving mindset no matter one’s circumstances.

One minute audio clip: Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton on women in tech mentoring initiatives (and more)

“Talent is universal but opportunity is not.” -Secretary Clinton on the value of mentoring young women nationally and abroad at the #MPW summit.

It was fantastic to hear her resolute focus on the value of mentoring women in technology and overall development. Here’s a quick one minute clip of the Secretary describing the State Department’s initiative to mentor Muslim women abroad on technology and also other partnerships in the works about increasing safety protections for women as well.

Technology, especially social media, is a boon for women expressing their leadership and fortifying their sense of community. It was invigorating to learn more directly from the Secretary about these programs.

What a great day.