Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Speaking ~ Be Brief

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, Guest Author

Centuries ago great speakers often spoke two hours and more. But today when sound bytes on television news are the norm and serious problems are solved in an hour on a television drama, audiences are most interested in speakers that get their points across in a short period of time. In a speech delivered to a Women in Communication audience, Patricia Ward Brash said, “Television has helped create an impatient society, where audiences expect us to make our point simply and quickly.”

Today great speakers are noted for their brevity. Billy Graham, in a recent city-wide campaign in Cincinnati, spoke about 20 minutes each night. Theodore Sorensen in his book, “Kennedy,” gave guidelines by which President Kennedy prepared speeches. No speech was more than 20-30 minutes. He wasted no words and his delivery wasted no time. He rarely used words he considered hackneyed or word fillers.

A&SbeBriefAs Purdue communications professor and researcher Josh Boyd wrote, “In physics, power is defined as work divided by time. In other words, more work done in less time produces more power. In the same way, a speaker’s message is most powerful when he [or she] can deliver a lot of good material in a short amount of time.”

Here are guidelines to make brevity a key foundation in your next speech. First, keep your stories under two minutes in length. In preparing a story, continue to ask the question, “How can I say this in less time and in fewer words?” Script out your story and then seek to condense it. There is an adage in using humor: “The longer the story the funnier it had better be.” Connecting this principle to stories in general, we might say, “The longer the story, the more impact it had better have.”

To make sure your stories stay under two minutes, include only information that answers the questions, “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” and “Why?” If it doesn’t answer one of these questions, leave it out. Make sure also that you have a sense of direction in the story. Each part of the story should move toward the conclusion in the mind of the listener. The listener should always feel you are going somewhere in developing your story.

Second, when possible, follow the proverb, “Less is better than more.” Never use three words when you can say it in two. Leave out clichés, filler words, and hackneyed words, such as “You know,” “OK,” and “All right.” Leave out phrases such as “Let me be honest,” or blunt, or frank. Avoid “In other words.” or “To say it another way.” Speak in short sentences, short phrases, and short words. Word choice should be instantly clear to an audience. Make it a goal to make every word have impact in your speech.

SBoyd

For more info, click the book cover!

Third, know the length of your speech by practicing it. Never be surprised by the length of your speech. Never say to an audience, “I’m running out of time, so I must hurry along.” You should know because of your preparation and practice of the speech. To go one step further, if you know the time limit on your speech is 20 minutes, stop a minute short; don’t go overtime. Audiences will appreciate your respect of their time and will think more highly of you as a speaker because of that. You should never be surprised by how long it takes you to deliver a speech

AnecdoteFourth, learn to divide parts of your speech into time segments. Let’s use a 20-minute speech as an example. The introduction should be no longer than 2 minutes. You can get the attention and preview your message easily in that length of time. Avoid opening with generalizations about the weather or the audience. Let the audience know up front that every word you speak counts.

Spend the bulk of your time in the body of the speech. This is where you make your points and give support or evidence for each point. The final two minutes should be your summary and move to action statement. Some speakers have a hard time concluding. When you say you are going to conclude, do so. As one wise person stated, “Don’t dawdle at the finish line of the speech.”

One way to keep your speech brief is to have few points in the body of your speech-no more than three. With a maximum of three points, you will have the self-discipline to condense rather than amplify. In organizing your material, accept the fact you will always have more material than you can cover and that you will only include material that relates to one of the two or three points you plan to make. Trying to cover four to six points will almost invariably make you go overtime in your speech.

A key to success in speaking is not just having something worthwhile to say, but also saying it briefly. We need to follow the speaking axiom, “Have a powerful, captivating opening and a strong, memorable close, and put the two of them as close together as possible.”

BONUS Articles: Ten Lessons on Presentation & Performance You Can Learn by Watching Taylor Swift
Speaking Secrets of Joel Osteen
Speakers: Stay on Time!

Copyright © 2015 – Stephen D. Boyd. – Reprinted with permission. Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is a professor of speech communication at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. He is also a trainer in communication who presents more than 60 seminars and workshops a year to corporations and associations. See additional articles, resources and contact info at www.SBoyd.com.

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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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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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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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Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Structure a Great Presentation

Every professional speaker (and wannabe speaker) should watch this TEDx talk (18:11) by Nancy Duarte on the structure of great presentations. In it she reveals the “shape” of some of the world’s most effective speeches and how using this structure can help you express your own ideas more powerfully. Watch this video when you will not be interrupted. It’s important to really pay attention.

nancyduarteCopyright © 2012 – Nancy Duarte. Skilled CEO, inspired presenter, and gifted educator, Nancy Duarte is a sought-after speaker whose own presentations live up to the expectations established in her books. Audiences leave inspired and firmly grasping new VisualStory™ tools that transform the way they communicate. Nancy is the author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Visit Nancy’s Website.

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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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