Public Speaking tip – What to memorise

Some people memorise their whole presentation. Some people read the whole speech. Both of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. But most people use a compromise and, if possible or necessary, use notes.

Two very important parts of your speech are the opening and the closing. If you memorise those you can be sure you will use the words you chose for the greatest impact, and you can concentrate on delivery and especially on eye contact. You can choose to read them, but you will need to find other ways of giving them power. You probably should also memorise the punch lines of your jokes, and any words you are quoting verbatim.


If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.

Dianna Booher

Using reciprocity to persuade without manipulating – “Do the right thing”

If you want to persuade, you can build your success with the reciprocity rule.

What is the Reciprocity rule?

When someone gives us something, we feel obligated to give something back. We are uncomfortable if we don’t. And that something might be a physical object or it might be a service or a gift. That something might not even be something we want or need. We probably never asked for it, or expected it.

How does this work?

The Reciprocity Rule has been ingrained in us for centuries. I suspect it began in a society that was based on barter and trade. The system could only survive if there was a rule that we always return favours, we must never owe. It safeguards anyone who wants to do a favour or give a gift – they know they will get something in return.

Strangely enough, the return favour can be bigger than the original and we will reciprocate even if we don’t like the person who gave the gift or don’t like the gift itself. The rule is that deep and that powerful. It is part of our socialisation process. People who do not return favours are shunned. We are brought up that this is the right thing to do, and warned of dire consequences if we do not “do the right thing”.

Because the rule is so deeply ingrained, we are used to using it when we need to make decisions. There are so many decisions to be made on a daily basis that we will use whatever we can to avoid having to think about them and this rule comes in handy. Oftentimes the decision to think in a certain way or to choose a particular person can be based solely on the fact that we owe them something, or that they gave us something.

It has been found that no human society does not use the reciprocity rule. It has been used by corporations and governments to persuade people for thousands of years.

I want to look at this concept of “doing the right thing” but first want to add some of the ways the Reciprocity Rule works in practice. It does not just apply to gifts or favours. It applies to concessions. I request a favour and it is refused. Then I request a smaller favour. Because I have made a concession to you, it is highly likely that you will accede to the smaller favour in return. If I yield to your opinion on one topic, it is more likely that you will agree with me on the next topic, in return.

Now, given all of this information, you can go ahead and use the reciprocity rule in your persuasion efforts. Making sales? Offer a freebie, any freebie, and ask for the sale. Asking for a favour? Ask for a huge one first, then you can ask for what your really want. Want to change someone’s mind? Agree with them on anything else, but expect them to change in the way you wanted. And this amounts not just to persuasion, but to manipulation.

We all know of salesmen, the old type of salesmen, who use the rule of reciprocity to trick people into the sale – to manipulate. Many of us immediately put up a barrier as soon as we suspect the trickery. Every time someone knocks on my home front door, I move into that barrier mode. I don’t like it because I cannot “do the right thing”, and politely reciprocate. I have to be on alert to trickery. In the end, we will use the rule of reciprocity to buy or to return favours or to be persuaded, when we believe that the gifts or favours or beliefs are valuable and offered in good faith. We will not reciprocate a favour or gift for a trick or a marketing tactic.

Now I want to turn this around and look at the situation from our viewpoint as speakers who want to persuade. And there are speakers who are so obviously using these techniques with one thing in mind – manipulation – their own gain…. they are not “doing the right thing” either.

And now there are other people not “doing the right thing” – in our audiences. As a speaker, we also are facing the challenge of dealing with people who are distracted from our messages by their electronic devices – their phones, laptops, tablets. Not very long ago, this would have been considered incredibly bad manners, to show such disrespect for a speaker – certainly not “doing the right thing”. So we cannot depend on our audiences to do the right thing and sit through ill-disguised efforts to trick them into buying our products, or trick them into doing us favours or trick them into believing the message we have for them.

So what is the answer to this quandary? How can we create a win-win situation for everyone – persuade ethically and not manipulate or trick. I think the answer lies in “doing the right thing”.

Be prepared to give without expecting something in return. Know that giving is a useful persuasion tool, but give anyway.

Give value – that is value to the audience or your client or potential buyer, something that is exclusively for that person or group of people.

Be transparent and authentic. Make it clear that you are giving a gift. Use language that reinforces this side of the transaction. But make it clear that the recipient has a choice. You are “doing the right thing” but also empowering your client/audience/buyer. Empowered people feel more open to being persuaded. Make it also very clear that what you are asking for in return is in their best interests as well – the service you offer, the new perspective you introduce, the product.

If you want to use the rejection-retreat strategy, then do so transparently. It is valid to assume that a portion of your audience will want the higher priced product, the more difficult action to take. It is also valid to assume that perhaps more will want the lower priced/easier solution, and you can make that clear as well.

In terms of making a concession, it makes sense to address objections to an idea early on in a presentation. People need to feel understood and to have their beliefs and prior understandings validated, even if you are about to prove them wrong!! And that is the “doing the right thing” aspect of making a concession in terms of a belief so that your audience may be more happy to reciprocate and make a concession towards whatever you want to persuade them to do, think or feel.

I really do not want us to be part of the increasing number of speakers who use ill-disguised efforts at manipulation in order to persuade – not when it is so easy to “do the right thing” and persuade with honesty, openness, integrity and to create a win for all concerned.

© Bronwyn Ritchie … If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie helps speakers to be confident and effective. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to

Keep It Simple

In this cluttered marketplace it is more important than ever to keep your message simple. People just don’t have the attention span to work hard at understanding what you have to offer. Consider Google’s core message as they sought out venture capital years ago.

“Google provides access to the world’s information in one click”.

Can you do that with your business?


… realise your goal in a minimum of time and with a minimum of physical effort

The person with a fixed goal, a clear picture of his desire, or an ideal always before him, causes it, through repetition, to be buried deeply in his subconscious mind and is thus enabled, thanks to its generative and sustaining power, to realize his goal in a minimum of time and with a minimum of physical effort. Just pursue the thought unceasingly. Step by step you will achieve realization, for all your faculties and powers become directed to that end.

Claude M. Bristol

Public Speaking tips – What use is information?

Yes you are an expert in your field. Yes you can present mountains of information. But it will not impress your audience, nor will it create an impact … unless you make it relevant. Make it relevant to your audience. How will it solve their problems? How will it make life better or more profitable? Choose the pieces of information that will be of most use to them. Each piece of data or fact should be couched in a point about its usefulness. Use stories and case studies to further make an impact.

The art of speaking …

Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing.

Sir Ralph Richardson

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If you don’t want your humour to fall flat, get to know your audience

Think about your favourite speaker, or perhaps about a speaker you admire hugely. Chances are they use humour. Humour is certainly one of the elements of success as a speaker. Many successful speakers use it. That does not mean, however, that we should all use humour in every speech we give. It may not be our personal speaking style, and it needs far more skill and finesse than just throwing some good jokes into our speeches.

What may be a “good” joke on one occasion may be an absolute insult on another. And that will depend largely on the audience. Before you speak at any occasion, you need to know about that audience so that you do not insult them. Research their interests, their political persuasion, beliefs, this customs and their history. If you want to avoid insulting your audience be very aware of their culture.

Robert Orven said “I’m beyond being shocked – but I’m not beyond being offended.” Questionable humour may suit one audience but not another. So be very sure of your audience when you choose your humour. Be sure you are aware of your audience’s mores and beliefs and their humour buttons.

While you are researching your audience you are also gathering material that you can use to create humour. Imagine being able to share a joke with your audience about the event or the venue – something that they find humorous or ironic about their situation. It will be powerful because they are already open to the humour in that situation. Perhaps there is someone within the group who is already using humour in some way and you can call back to that and share in it. Maybe there is someone who has a particular character trait that they are used to being ribbed about. Be careful! If you can turn the humour against yourself because you share that same character trait it will be so much better.

So research your audience to mine possible situational humour. Find out their favourite sports teams, their home town, well-known people within the group and its history. You can send a pre-presentation survey or questionnaire. You can interview the program coordinator or event organiser or the person who invited you to speak. Read the organisation’s own publications and those of their particular area of involvement in the world or their profession. Talk to people who have been members of the group for a long time. Gather the stories. What are their idiosyncrasies? Find out what they think is funny. Uncover any running gags. There you have a source for humour customised and tailored to work for this group.

And that means you don’t need to bring in generic jokes that someone else has written, unless you re-write them to suit the situation. Being able to relate your humour to the people in your audience is a powerful way to connect with them and to take them on the journey of your presentation.

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© 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, confident and sucessful, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to

Visual communication – how to create and use charts for successful executive presentations

Say It With Charts: The Executive’s Guide to Visual Communication

Gene Zelazny

Look to this comprehensive presentation encyclopedia for information on: how to prepare different types of charts – pie, bar, column, line, or dot – and when to use each; hands-on recommendations on lettering size, color choice, appropriate chart types, and more; and, techniques for producing dramatic e-Visuals using animation, scanned images, sound, video, and links to pertinent websites.

‘Say It With Charts, 4th Edition”, shows you how to put your message in visual form and translate information and ideas into persuasive, powerful charts, visuals, and multimedia presentations – holding your audience’s attention as you communicate exactly what you want, with no confusion.

A man’s best friends …

“A man’s best friends are his ten fingers.”

-Robert Collye