Is it clear how your home impacts your life? Frankly I haven’t often reflected on it. I’m embarrassed to admit that. And learning about refugees through The Blue Key Campaign has crystalized for me how much the experience of a home is worth. It has motivated personal action too; and I’m honored to be a champion for the cause of refugees and the Blue Key campaign.
It’s an incredible anchor, isn’t it?
Or how else would you describe home? How would you like to describe the experience of home and its impact on your life? I’m more fully valuing what a gift it is to have the opportunity to dwell in a home day in and day out.
Impacting family, community and business.
On a personal level, home has been the place to grow our marriage of 11 years. It’s a hub for reflection, contentment, togetherness, and relief. It’s been a safe place of fun for family and friends and our kittens. On a business level too, it’s been an anchor for my work – providing a place for clients and I to find solutions as a team.
Yet beyond the borders of my little safe home, there are over 43 million people forcibly displaced from their homes and countries worldwide.
A 10 minute video tutorial on persuasive speaking, laughter, & yoga too…
After sifting through LiveYourTalk’s video archives, I edited one of my workshops into a shorter version. It’s based on a 4-prong approach to preparing persuasive presentations, plus tips for using more vocal flexibility and understanding the impact of silence.
On that note: your breakfast invitation
And this is your invitation to join a flash-mob-breakfast-for-fun-fundraising event hosted by my business LiveYourTalk along with the ever good Shana Glickfield, partner of Beekeeper Group.
What inspired this flash-mob-breakfast idea?
In the spirit of Digital Capital Week and the GiveToTheMax fundraising drive — we wanted to plan a coffee and breakfast to enjoy our community, gobble up some good food from a DC institution, and donate whatever we all can to help Miriam’s Kitchen — an area nonprofit which assists thousands of DC’s homeless and less fortunate
Are you attending Blogworld this year? If so, by golly join us!
It will be a highly fun, highly interactive session and inspire results for any woman wanting to take the stage.
And wait – there’s more!
Think fun, prizes, and learning to:
Identify your strengths as a public speaker and how to articulate your expertise;
Learn how to craft a strong speaker proposal;
Strengthen your public speaking skills in a fun, supportive, and feedback-rich environment.
Then the second half combines the chance for attendees to practice their pitch in a fun American Idol-esque environment. For this part of the workshop, we’ll invite participants to pitch to the audience for a few minutes — then receive motivating feedback and ideas to take your proposal to its next level of success.
Going to BlogworldLA?
Then I (Aliza too) welcome you big time to this workshop.
And whether or not you’re going to Blogworld…
Have a great week….and in the spirit of our workshop, ‘speak up’ and exercise your voice for the greater good wherever you may be.
What a great experience!
A long time goal has been to speak at Ignite, specifically the unique community for IgniteDC. This short-form style is a blast; the DC crowd is supportive and energetic. And I’ve enjoyed coaching clients on this format with my business sponsoring local events.
Ignite is flat out fun.
Have you ever participated in an Ignite event?
Ignite’s mantra is: “Enlighten us but make it quick.”
It’s a vibrant public speaking event with many venues across the globe. Sixteen speakers get to present at each — all giving a talk within the same format: 5 minutes about any topic using 20 slides. And the kicker: each slide automatically advances after 15 seconds.
Do you have favorite tips for preparing short-form presentation like Ignite?
Here’s an approach I often rely on:
TIP #1: focus on your spoken content first and the slides last.
Why? to avoid ‘conjunction-caption speak.’
Focusing on the spoken content first helps to establish a cohesive structure and arc for the talk.
What is your core message or messages?
How does one idea transition and support the next?
Where does the audience end up?
It addresses all those questions.
And it avoids an unintended problem many Ignite speakers have described when they focused on making their slides first: they ended up giving an Ignite talk that is a set of conjunction-caption-like phrases that come across as run-on sentences (vs a cohesive storytelling experience for their audience).
Fuzzy bunnies: an example of the unintended conjunction-caption-sounding result when speakers focus on preparing slides first (vs focusing on a story-centric whole):
“Fuzzy bunnies are happy and cute, see aren’t they cute? and fluffy and they bounce and then they eat a lot and I wish they could fly and drive space ships and they make great cartoons too.”
Have you heard a presentation that sounded this way?
Fuzzy bunnies with context:
Or here’s an example of focusing on the spoken content first and giving the audience a specific point of view (and then crafting slides after the fact to support your spoken content):
“Fuzzy bunnies are a great greeting card icon for 3 main reasons: they evoke sweetness; they’re fun; and they are innocently playful too which makes them ideal images to help celebrate children’s events.”
I’m having some goofy fun here with the bunnies, but the point:
Focusing on your spoken-word content first creates a clearer way for your audience to relate to your ideas.
TIP #2: Knowing the word count for a 5 minute talk.
I focused on a draft that was app. 640 words in length for a five minute talk.
After timing it, I divided app. 31 words to each slide and crafted the slide deck based on that.
Factoring in a reasonable speaking rate and pauses to give the audience a few seconds to absorb along the way — a 640 word draft worked.
Certainly speaking rates vary for all of us!
You may comfortably articulate at a swifter rate and speak closer to a 150 word per minute rate. But after testing and timing some of my past speeches, this is a comfortable rate on my end – with time for pauses factored in.
It served as a really useful framework for the spoken-word draft.
Speech history really fascinates me so I chose (3) speeches to share about and then wrote, edited!, and re-wrote.
Ignite invites a wide range of passions — philosophy, tech, education and how-to, and personal experience.
What’s topic drives you the most?
TIP #3: Rehearsing each section with a recorded audio device.
This really helped to understand and maintain timing along the way (and ensure the right messages and images were on the screen as desired). For rehearsals, I timed without slides first — via audio a few times to ensure the 5 minutes (or 4:55 for a buffer window). Then after making the slides, I timed a few sections via audio again to see if a particular section was overly delayed and needed editing.
What do you think? Is it time to dive into your next Ignite talk?! What other tips do you have for prep?
Our human voices are riveting sources of sound.
What is it about the human voice that can capture attention and create allure like no other sound out there? It can express and evoke any type of mood or energy, a demand for attention, certitude, warmth — and at times, all that in a single conversation. Our voice, its tonal flexibility, and good ole inflection powers are addictive.
The voice and influencing conversations
The inherent enchantment of our voice can often be one of those traits that go unnoticed by ourselves. So the ability to assert conversational impact has a decent chance to being underused.
What could elevate awareness of how the voice can influence what we communicate?
3 scenarios to ensure the voice resonates intended impact
1. For when your voice sounds like a question when a sense of command is intended:
Often I observe people (many are women) who have striking funds of knowledge and career achievement, yet in conversation (one-on-one or sometimes in public speech dynamics) – the ending tone of their voice communicates uncertainty. It sounds like a question is being asked – where that ending vocal note increases half an octave. Yet they are actually making an emphatic statement – not a query. This vocal practice or ‘uptalk’ can be perceived as neediness vs confidence in one’s own credibility.
How to fix it:
Is this something your voice exercises? If unsure, ask trusted listeners or audience members if this trait is apart of your conversational style. If so, practice making your voice a consistent tone by recording your voice via a smart phone audio device. Consciously focus attention on being present-minded when presenting; exert continuity of tone -or- decrease vocal tone to convey a more authoritative tenor.
2. For when your voice is critiqued as too soft or less authoritative.
Have bosses or colleagues suggested after meetings (or live audiences after public speeches) that you could sound more authoritative? Years ago, I received such feedback and it’s an odd, vulnerable thing to hear.
How to fix it:
Learning how to exert your voice’s inherent flexibility is a great source of conversational leadership.
Image The Scream by NickeStamp, Creative Commons
But gaining confidence in what your own booming voice sounds like can be a big game changer. Can you practice speaking from the diaphragm in an informal setting (or alone)? Can you role play with a trusted peer and practice this vocal assertion when stating professional opinions or presenting data or expressing a minority viewpoint? Record the different range and strength you can achieve with your voice.
3. For when your vocal pace during a speech hurries enunciation (and thus distracts from audience comprehension):
A colleague and client recently admitted they often rush through enunciation when delivering public speeches, to the point key message and tone are often glossed over. She’s concerned about recent audience feedback and her perceived confidence.
How to fix it:
Rehearse your opening remarks yet in between each sentence – stop, inhale a deep, deep breath, exhale – then continue rehearsal of opening remarks. There’s another favorite exercise that may be morsels for another post. Yet what this initial practice puts into motion is a conscious cycle of exertion between enunciation, pause points, and breathing. It’s a method to remind the brain of its ability to manage conversational energy and thus, pace.
What’s your opinion?
What public speakers, presenters, radio hosts, or stage actors grip you when they speak?
How do they change or project their voice to make an impact (and what type of impact do they produce – more persuasive, emotive, alluring, assertive, or what else?)?
Quick context: sound bites vs cohesive thought
When hunkering down to prepare a speech, especially years ago, I would heavily utilize sound bite language first and foremost. I could’t wait to fill the narratives with multiple snap-shot phrases like: “The team makes the journey” and “Your attitude creates an avalanche of options” (-pardon the cheesiness please!).
Sometimes and more than what I’d like to admit
…this sound bite fetish would produce a collection of sort-of-snappy-phrases that lacked cohesive, purposeful thought. And ultimately, the sound bite heaviness diminished clarity and impact from the audience’s point of view. Speechwriter Peggy Noonan gets into this precept significantly; and I found it one of the most penetrating insights in her book.
Is concisely written content valuable to audiences?
Can use of brevity better enable listeners to absorb meaning?
Noonan however, with precision of mind and grit, expresses concern for speech making in light of our media saturated culture which with addictive-like cravings — seeks the sound bite. Frankly at the end of this chapter, my brain was swirling with “YES YES YES” in agreement. She talks about the arc and depth of thought often being left out of the sound bite approach to speechwriting. That content style of many sound bites assembled together comes across like a garbled mess to the audience, more often than not.
The big take away
There were a heap of take aways in Noonan’s book. I’m eager to study it more, and her thinking.
Quick process to increase a speech’s depth of thought (& avoid sound bite overload)
After reflecting on and organizing a clear viewpoint…draft your speech. Then after a few drafts, audit your language. Ensure it’s expressed well and able to impart your intended meaning.
Then when articulating the draft out loud as practice, does it sound conversational and clear?
Or does the language progress in a rigid vs natural way?
Does the use of language sound like your own vernacular, fluid, with a cohesive point of view (vs a suite of catch phrases that seem to compete with each other for the audience’s attention)?
I read and re-read her thoughts on this.
Dedicating time to think about one’s work – and one’s ultimate purpose for the speech – presented a strong yet simple mindset for writing a speech (vs shaping it into a suite of mini blips of disconnected sound bite phrasing).
Just to mentally gnaw on it again:
Lose yourself in the work and the words will come. ~speechwriter Peggy Noonan from her book “On Speaking Well”
Does this resonate?
Or does it seem random in light of our Twitter-ready world?