Build your brand with stories

Stories are a subtly powerful way to support your speaking outcomes. You can use them to support the points you want to make, but you can also use them to position yourself in the eyes of your audience. When you speak you need to be seen as an expert, though an approachable expert, and the audience needs to understand you and your why. They need to know why they should listen to you and why they should do what you expect form them at the conclusion of your speech. You also have an opportunity to establish yourself and your brand in their memories, through the power of storytelling.

Here are 4 specific ways you can use storytelling to build your brand.

1. Identity

Tell stories about yourself. There are several benefits to this. You can identify yourself as someone your audience can relate to – someone with credibility. You can also show that you are not perfect – reveal a flaw (though not a serious one!!) or a mistake you have made. This makes you seem human, and by revealing vulnerability, you build trust. You can use self-effacing humour here, and if it is the sort of mistake that your audience has made, then they can relate to you, and your story will be the stronger for it. This same story or another one, should progress to show your authority in your subject, establish you as the expert or the source of expertise your audience needs to solve their problems.

2. Why

Use a story to reveal your why – why it is you are in business. This, too, builds trust and shows that you do not have a hidden agenda – are authentic – and makes you appear less “salesy”. People have more empathy with you once they know your why, particularly if it is similar to their own.

3. Understanding
In a business speech, particularly, but in any speech, you are working to break down resistance to your persuasion. If you can tell a story that shows you recognise your audience’s thoughts – their objections – you can show you respect them – understand and respect them and their views. You will, of course, show that those objections are not applicable to this situation, but you will have communicated your respect and therefore established more trust.

4. Authenticity
Find stories about yourself and about your business – true stories. Everyone has a story – from the past, from the present and about the future. And so do businesses – stories about their beginnings, their present and their futures. Spend time finding the ones you can use to establish your brand. Because you have chosen true stories, their authenticity will not be compromised. Beyond that, create stories, do things that are story-worthy – or tell stories about other businesses that indicate the values you hold in your own.

Stories position you as someone the audience can relate to on their own level. Stories position you as someone to whom they can go to solve their problems. Stories position you as someone they can trust. And they do this very subtly but very powerfully. What are your brand stories – personal or business?

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com
 
 

… but I want it now!!

“Impatience never commanded success”

-Edwin H. Chapin

Five tips for overcoming public speaking nerves

Your mouth is dry, heart palpitating, and knees knocking. You go into panic, facing a dreaded public speaking assignment.

It doesn’t have to be so.

These five tips will give you some strategies to overcome those symptoms and have the butterflies flying in formation.

1. Deep breathing will pull in oxygen. Adrenalin, secreted to help you deal with the fear brought on by little doubts, causes breaths to become shallow, or causes you to hold your breath. Deep breathing will help your brain work to capacity, and forcing the slower pace will quell the panic.

2. Bluff. Stand tall, with shoulders back and chest out. Smile. Even though you don’t feel happy or confident, do it anyway. You will look confident and your body will fool your brain into thinking it is confident. This really works!!
Bluff – body and smile

3. Keep you mouth and throat hydrated. Plan to keep a drink on hand while you are speaking., though this sounds impossible. Visualising how you will use it if you need it, and calling up the audacity to do such a thing will carry across to your attitude as you take your place to speak, placing your glass just where you need it to be.

4. Adrenalin sends the blood rushing to the fight/flight centres of your brain at the base of the skull. Place your hand on your forehead and press gently on the bony points. This will bring the blood to the parts of the brain that need it to present your speech best.

5. Know you are prepared. Obviously this depends on actually being prepared, so take every opportunity in the days leading up to the speech to prepare your material. Be familiar with the structure of the presentation, and the ideas to use. Memorise the most important parts, and the parts you are frightened of forgetting. I would memorise the opening of the speech and in the moments before presenting it, would reassure myself that I knew that part, and that would lead on to the rest. It worked!!

For my eBook on Overcoming public speaking nerves, visit http://bit.ly/NEKghl

Leadership

If your actions inspire other to learn more, dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
— Quincy Adams

3 ways a microphone can contribute to your success as a speaker

For all sorts of reasons, speakers will decide not to use a microphone. They are not confident that they know how to use it, they believe their audience will be able to hear them, they consider that they have projection skills, they have spoken in the venue before … and more.

For all sorts of reasons, though, a microphone can enhance a speaker’s success. Here are three….

1. It is very easy to take our voices for granted. Vocal chords are, in fact, easily damaged and that damage can be permanent, irreversible. Even though you are capable of projecting, the sustained effort of projecting can contribute to damage. A microphone will help prevent you straining your voice.

2. Generally, you become familiar with the size of group you can speak to comfortably, without straining your voice, and so that everyone can hear. There are, however, other reasons that people may not hear, beyond the size of the group. It may be that your audience is elderly and hard of hearing. It may be that there is a little child or children in the audience who are noisy. It may be that there is machinery either within the room, like an air conditioner, or outside. It may be that there is another function or a noisy kitchen beside your room. It may be that people in your audience do not share your native language or do not understand some of your terminology.

Obviously, you need to research your audience to discover how they will affect your need for a microphone. Visit the room before your presentation if you can. Find out what is happening on the day and at the time you will be speaking. Test the acoustics. High ceilings can make it more difficult to be heard, for example.
And yet, despite all your research, you cannot always foresee what is going to be happening on the day. So if at all possible have a microphone available, and then if something unexpected happens or the audience is too large for your comfortable projection, then you will be prepared.

3 A microphone has the ability to improve your voice, not just prevent it being damaged. It will give you the ability to speak in a more conversational, more personal way and connect more strongly with your audience. If you have a lapel or handheld microphone it will also allow you to get closer to your audience for an even more personal approach. It is also a great way to add power to the points you want to emphasise.
It can also improve a soft voice, although this is difficult. Generally a person with a softer voice needs to speak directly into the microphone, always. Because of the inability to project, if they turn their head away at all, the voice will be lost.

So learn to project, but always ask for or accept the offer of a microphone. It will add impact to your speech and help save your voice. And you can always leave it off if you so choose.

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com

Presentations in Action

80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters

by Jerry Weissman

Weissman shows you how to

Content: Master the art of telling your story.

Graphics: Design PowerPoint slides that work brilliantly.

Delivery: Make actions speak louder than words.

Q&A: Listen more effectively, and handle even the toughest questions.

Integration: Put it all together in one seamless, winning presentation! => http://bit.ly/NCM4ER

The first lesson

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”

Thomas H. Huxley

8 Ways to harness the words that you use for public speaking success

The ways you use language and words in your speeches and presentations can make or break your chances of success.
 
This is because success in public speaking depends on how well your audience understands your message and responds to it. They won’t understand if you lose their attention, because they will stop listening. They won’t understand if you distract them from the message. And they certainly won’t understand if they cannot understand the language you use.
 
So let’s look at 8 ways to get and to keep – that understanding and attention – using words
 
 
1. Avoid losing the audience. Be sparing with dates, figures and statistics. These are all very powerful ways to support your points, but overuse them and they just become boring, and your audience will turn off. If data is absolutely necessary, use your slides to create a visual rendition of it. Tell stories about it. Find some way to relate it to your audience – percentages of people like them, for example, or of their country.
 
2. Don’t forget to credit your sources for all of these as you would for your quotes. Support your credibility!
 
3. You can also avoid boring your audience by varying the pitch and the volume and pace of your words. Use pause for drama. Speak quickly to communicate your energy and enthusiasm, and then use a slower rate for emphasis. You can also deliberately vary the structure of your sentences. A single word can have huge impact used on its own, particularly if it comes after a wordier segment. All of these are keeping your audience hooked.
 
4. Remember the rule of three. There is a creative vibration in the number three – and you can create impact using it. So you might list in threes – “Faith, Hope and Charity” is an example of a list of three. Or you might repeat a particular phrase structure three times, for example “You could try words, you could try deeds, or you could always try good food.” Use the technique sparingly, though, or it will outlast its welcome, and be more of a distraction then a support.
 
5. We all have short attention spans. This is exacerbated in these days of communication delivered in truncated, rapid-fire bytes. So you have to organise your presentations so that you do something frequently to keep attention. Change your delivery style. Support your words with a new visual. Challenge with an activity for audience involvement. Tell a story. Whatever techniques you use, introduce them often and vary them. Each will have its own impact, but make sure that impact supports your chosen image and message.
 
 
6. Use humour if you can, create vibrant word pictures and tell stories to reinforce concepts. These will allow you to avoid presenting a continuous flow of theory which will kill audience attention and it will give vividness to your material that will make the message last in the minds of your audience – powerful impact.
 
7. Consider your audience when you are choosing the words that you use –the vocabulary. Speak to them in a language they understand. Look at your technical terms, and any jargon that they may not understand. Use examples, stories, quotes and other support material that has relevance to their lives and their interests. You will keep their attention and their interest.
 
8. Finally, remember this is a speech or spoken presentation. Spoken language is very different from the written. Writing tends to use far longer, more convoluted sentences, which often use voices that we would not use in speech. Try reading out the sentence you just read and see how awkward it sounds when it is spoken. Again, it is a case of speaking to the audience in their language – the language they expect to hear spoken. So if you need to write your presentation first, take the time to read it out loud, and then say those same ideas as if you were telling someone face to face. If you absolutely have to have a written draft, then re-write using what you said aloud. Make sure, though, that you can make eye contact.
 
A speech or presentation is, after all, a conversation, despite the constraints of expectations and formality, and in any conversation, we need to make ourselves worth hearing. The audience is the determinant of what we say if we want to be successful, to maintain their interest, don’t bore them and speak to them in their own language and you will have a fruitful “conversation.”

© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to http://www.30speakingtips.com