Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stories Spice Your Author Appearances

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Speaker Tips — Larry James @ 7:30 am
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Jeff Davidson, Guest Author

Seven minutes. That’s how long studies say an audience’s attention span is for one given topic. If a speaker retains the same posture, voice, or focus, he has little hope of reaching his audience. To keep a high level of interest, many of today’s best speakers add short narratives to their presentations that reinforce a certain point or theme. Some of these stories are personal, some are funny. They all, however, serve to keep a speech dynamic and interesting.

Universal Appeal

Stories are an effective tool because they are something to which we can all relate. One of the most effective ways to grab the attention of an audience is to calmly say, “let me tell you a story.” Immediately, you’ve got them. The association they have with a story being an interesting and entertaining form of communication resonates so deeply that they might not even be aware why they are ready to listen, but the fact is, they will be.

A&SNetStoriesStory topics can range from heavily emotional tales to the frivolities of everyday life, but in all cases they can further a speaker’s point while keeping the audience entertained and engaged. There are several different ways speakers insert stories into their presentations.

Emory Austin, from Charlotte, tells stories of a personal nature that lend insight into the life lessons she has learned. Austin shows portrays to her audience a life filled with experiences to which they can relate. With her comforting, compelling voice she immerses herself completely into the narrative to keep her audience riveted.

Dan Clark, from San Francisco, uses a similar approach by taking his audience through his battle with cancer. He relies upon evoking certain emotions in the audience members to open them up to an understanding of his particular point. Like Austin, Clark uses his personal tales to grab and hold his audience’s attention.

‘Lite’ Could Be Right

Many speakers take a light approach to story telling: some speakers talk about teenagers. This is effective because it is a topic to which everyone can relate. Whether audience members are now parents or simply recall their own teenage years, everyone feels a natural affinity between these stories and their personal experiences.

Tony Alessandra, from La Jolla, often uses quick ‟slice of life” stories that last only a minute or two. These stories succeed at grabbing the audience. Alessandra uses stories that are both entertaining and illuminating, a great way of getting the audience to remember his point. Audience members can take with them a short joke or a story that will serve as a catalyst for remembering the main point of the presentation.

All of these speakers present stories in different manners. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are personal, while others might only be little quirks of life. What they have in common, though, is that they all help make an entertaining and effective speech.

A Quick Example

Here is an example of a story I’ve used about not heeding the advice of others. It takes roughly four minutes to deliver this story to a live audience:

When I was 21 years old, I took a trip to Europe, and using the Eurail Pass, visited numerous countries over the course of 66 days. When I got to Switzerland, a bit tired of planning my own itineraries day after day, I signed up to be part of a small touring van. One of our stops was the quaint town of Zermatt, which was located at the foot of the Matterhorn, one of the tallest, most striking, and majestic mountains in Europe.

One afternoon, walking down from the hotel where we were staying, I didn’t realize that the trek back, after dark, would be a bit more difficult to navigate. The hotel concierge told me it would best to return before dark, and that the trail back could be difficult to navigate. I ignored the advice and stayed in town for quite a while; there was much to see and do.

As I made my way back a little after dusk, the trail looked easy enough to follow, but I had another 30 minutes or so to go. As darkness began to fall, somehow, somewhere along the path, I strayed.

Suddenly, I realized that I had ventured onto some minor path, which could not be correct because it was falling in elevation. Since I had walked down to the village, I needed to walk back up to the hotel. I scrambled around in the semi-darkness for a few minutes, and then heard the sound of rushing water. It had to be one of the many brooks that trickled down from higher elevations.

I came upon a sign that I could barely make out via the moonlight, which was impeded by so many trees and branches. I moved up close to the sign and looked at it from the most favorable angle in terms of illumination. As with most signs in Switzerland, it contained the same message in four languages. The first would be in French, the second German, the third Romanish, and the fourth English. I settled on the English message, which said, “Warning: This area subject to flash flooding. Move to higher elevation immediately.” That was all I needed to know.

I scrambled through the brush and the bushes as fast as I could, getting scratched and cut, here and there, but who cared? In a matter of about 90 seconds, I had made my way to higher ground, where the sound of the rushing water was growing more and more faint.

Gosh, that seemed like a close one. Eventually, I found the larger path, made my way back to the hotel, and related the story to my van-mates. So much for venturing off without a flashlight, map, compass, or any idea of what I was doing.

story1Did You Come on the Trip with Me?

It would be easier and more effective to tell you this story in person, than to type it up and have you read it. Still, while you were reading, did you “come on the trip with me?” If so, then the story worked, for both of us!

To begin finding your stories, look no further than your own past. You can start by walking yourself through the memories of your earliest days. Review pictures, yearbooks, and school notebooks; there are stories in them all. Don’t worry about how they’ll fit in your speech or what point they could assist you in making. You will find that a good story fits into several different contexts and can be used in a variety of circumstances. The important thing is to begin to collect your stories.

Once you have amassed a library of these stories, you can begin to work on the best of them. You’ll find that you can recall them easily with only a keyword or two, so that you can carry them all with no more than an index card of cell phone screen. Then, when you’re preparing for a speech, you can pick two or three that fit easily with your topic and your audience. Your meeting participants will be appreciative.

JeffDavidson

Jeff Davidson

Copyright © 2014 – Jeff Davidson. Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, aka “the work life balance expert” works with busy people to increase their work-life balance, so that they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a happy home life. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, and Dial it Down, Live it Up. He is a columnist for Association News, Accounting Web, CPA Practice Digest, Insurance Business America, The Practical Lawyer, Physician’s Practice, Public Management, and Human Resources IQ. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com.

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Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Monday, December 29, 2014

Ten Lessons on Presentation & Performance You Can Learn by Watching Taylor Swift

Jeff Davidson, Guest Author

I almost titled this article, “Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Performance I Learned by Watching Taylor Swift,” except that I had learned most of what I needed to know long before she came along. Still, you can’t help but marvel at the young lady’s ascension. She is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, heading toward a level of super-stardom that is almost incalculable. Her tours sell out the largest concert venues around the world and, in some cases, soccer and football stadiums.

A&SNet-TaylorSwiftI am not a fan in particular, although I do admire several of her songs, including “Forever and Always,” “Sweeter Than Fiction,” “Safe and Sound,” “Style,” “Blank Space,” and “Welcome to New York.” What captures my interest is her unflagging determination to offer a superior performance every time.

When Taylor Swift was 14 and 15, apparently she and her parents made the rounds to many TV and recording studios in Hollywood and Nashville asking if she could offer a live demo. Most producers said no and summarily dismissed her. The takeaway is that at an early age she had already intended to be a star performer. Today, she’s simply living out her dream.

Forever and Always

I saw her for the first time on “Saturday Night Live,” about six years ago. I only caught her performance midway but was mesmerized. Here was a tall, slender, teenage girl, not with the world’s greatest vocals, wailing away on a song called “Forever and Always.” She had such conviction in her singing that I, and apparently millions of others, was captivated. Who was this young lady? How did “SNL” find about her so early? Where did she come from? What was the driving force behind her music?

In the years since, all these questions were abundantly answered as Taylor Swift rose in the world of country music and then straddled the line between country and pop music, finally settling on pop.

In observing her professionalism, one can’t help but marvel that she has mastered virtually all the techniques of effective performance. Among dozens of things she does exceedingly well, here are some worth contemplating for speakers:

Ten Tips for the Ages

1. Taylor Swift’s stage presence is extraordinary. She most definitely owns the stage. Wherever she is appearing, for whatever size audience, under whatever conditions, you feel as if she is totally comfortable.

2. Her energy level is extraordinarily high and focused. You could say this about many singers, but if you watch any Taylor Swift performance you’ll quickly notice that she uses all 5’10″ of her height and all 122 pounds of her weight in her performance.

3. Her movements are coordinated and appropriate to the song, the audience and the venue. Objectively, she does nothing out of the ordinary, but she prances and moves about on stage in a way that keeps the audience riveted. Obviously, she has worked out all of this well in advance, and the preparation pays off.

4. Her connection to the audience is amazing. Through gestures, eye contact and a variety of other stagecraft techniques, you get the sense that she is totally there, in every performance. Some singers and performers allow you to watch. Some induce you to watch. Taylor Swift performs in way that all you want to do is watch.

5. Unbeknownst to many, she is a virtuoso pianist and plays other instruments as well. This capability helps, even during songs when she is not playing any instrument. When she does employ her guitar she is totally comfortable with it.

6. She is a student of performance. Recently asked to be a coach on the hit television show “The Voice,” she astounded the four regulars coaches – Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton – by instantly assessing their team members’ practice sessions and, in a matter of seconds, offering insightful suggestions that immediately improved their performances.

If you haven’t seen “The Voice” episodes when Taylor Swift was coaching, go online to the many segments available on YouTube. Although she’s only 25 years old (born in December, 1989), she has stated that she makes mental notes of every performance she’s seen, whether at the American Music Awards, the Country Music Awards or the Grammys. She didn’t go to college, but she certainly is an excellent student and her unparalleled performance wisdom belies her tender age.

7. She is constantly evolving. Whether or not you like her music, if you take the word of top critics and music aficionados, it’s undeniable that each album has gotten better. She recently made the choice to forsake country music and focus on pop music, whereas she had been straddling the line for years. Her latest album, “1989,” the year of her birth, has won critical acclaim from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Time magazine, among legions of other publications.

8. As far as one can tell, she is down-to-earth. During an interview on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show,” she stated that album reviews do matter and any artist who says they don’t is not being honest. How she maintains an air of humility and that common-person touch probably can be attributed to her parents. At some point, however, you have to concede that the young lady has what it takes in terms of looks, personality and sufficient talent to make herself a star.

9. As her fans – Swifties – know, and many critics have lamented, her songs are highly personal, representing her relations with men, with friends and her life’s events. Because she is self-disclosing, many fans gave her an immediate pass. Today, it is understood that Taylor Swift writes songs from her personal experiences that have meaning for her and, happily, also have meaning for her listeners.

10. Taylor Swift lives in the now and has a focus on the future. Her decision to abandon country for pop was done with the realization that she’ll be in the business for the long haul and that the popular music route will enable her to grow and expand in novel ways. In past decades, many performers who have attempted to leave one music genre for another have not always fared so well, among them, Bob Dylan, Jewel and LeAnn Rimes. Taylor Swift made the switch young enough to recover from any potential setback but with the success of “1989,” apparently has already leapfrogged over that hurdle.

BONUS Article: In A World Of Stuntvertising, Taylor Swift Schools Brands

JeffDavidson

Jeff Davidson

Copyright © 2014 – Jeff Davidson. Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, aka “the work life balance expert” works with busy people to increase their work-life balance, so that they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a happy home life. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, and Dial it Down, Live it Up. He is a columnist for Association News, Accounting Web, CPA Practice Digest, Insurance Business America, The Practical Lawyer, Physician’s Practice, Public Management, and Human Resources IQ. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com.

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Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Q & A for Speakers – Negotiating Fees

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Speaker Tips — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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Jeff Davidson, Guest Author

It is possible for meeting planners who need to negotiate with speakers to stay within their budget. Fee integrity is very important to speakers, to speakers bureaus and meeting planners.

Question: Are there instances when speakers can legitimately fit an organization’s budget without altering their fees?

Answer: Yes. My friend, negotiating specialist Jim Hennig, Ph.D., CPAE, says that speakers can legitimately charge different fees in different situations.

breathingspace1. Multiple engagements: two or more bookings deserve quantity discounts.
2. Dual-purpose engagements: when the speaker accomplishes several things at one speech.
3. A shared speaker: when an organization cannot afford a speaker, they include another organization to share the costs.
4. Product sales: book, audio and other products are included or able to be sold BOR (Back of the Room sales).
5. Trades: Many speakers will trade for a needed product or service from host organization.
6. Different fees for special groups: non-profit organizations, government agencies, etc.
7. Time-of-year fees: lower fees for slow months, such as August or January.

Larry’s NOTE: The cost of developing a keynote address is high. For example a one hour keynote could represent an investment of 40 to 50 hours of work-time. That is why some speakers will not adjust their fee. Consider positioning yourself as an expert, not a speaker. It’s a significant difference in your mind and your clients’ minds. When you’re a speaker, you have a speaking fee, and you get stuck in this sort of discussion about whether to stand firm on fees or not. When you’re an expert, you don’t.

BONUS Article:For Agents and Bureaus Only: 10 Vital Issues for Bureaus” by Jim Cathcart

For more from Jeff Davidson – 56 Audio/Visual Products (CDs or Mp3s), click here!

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Jeff Davidson

Copyright © 2011 – Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC, Breathing Space Institute Founder. Jeff is among the most productive people you’ll ever meet. He walks the talk and makes sure he has “Breathing Space” every day. Jeff has inspired thousands with his humorous, energetic, riveting presentations, and extraordinary breadth of knowledge. At last count, Jeff has written 56 books. Visit Jeff’s Website at: http://www.BreathingSpace.com.

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Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact: AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. CelebrateLove@cox.net – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at: www.AuthorsandSpeakersNetwork.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationships” BLOG at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking” BLOG at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Weddings” BLOG at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

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