Gift Books for Presenters

book recommendations for public speaking

With the holidays fast approaching, you may want to gift yourself a book on public speaking skills.  I’ve read many books on public speaking, but only a few more than once. Consider adding to your library (physical or ebook) one of the 5 books on public speaking that I own and have read more than once:

1. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers by James C. Humes.  This book is packed with practical tips (like the “power pause”) gleaned from leaders in history.

2. World Class Speaking: The Ultimate Guide to Presenting, Marketing and Profiting like a Champion by Craig Valentine and Mitch Meyerson.  By reading this book, an aspiring professional speaker can learn both speech creation  and speech marketing techniques.

3. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte. This is a gorgeous book that beckons you to study its concepts with engaging visuals and examples.  I found the section on the Hero’s Journey to be most useful as it made me consider the audience as the hero and me as the guide.

4. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds. This is the book that inspired me to have simple, clear and beautiful PowerPoint slides.

5. Cat Got Your Tongue? Powerful Public Speaking Skills and Presentation Strategies for Confident Communication or, How to Create the Purrfect Speech by Diane Windingland. Yes. I wrote this book and I still refer to it!  As a special gift to you, the ebook version is free through Saturday.  Get it now!

Gift yourself a book on public speaking!



Create Content Experts in 20 Minutes

20 minute content expertsWorkshops are designed to give people practical takeaways, but all too often, there is just too much content to cover.  Of course, the easiest solution is to reduce the content, but sometimes the content to be covered is prescribed, such as training employees on new methods and procedures or, covering all the officer duties for a nonprofit organization.

How would you like to create content experts in 20 minutes?

Would you like to learn a workshop technique that takes almost zero preparation time, promotes critical thinking, engages the participants in discussion and meets the goal of getting through content?

The “Create Content Experts in 20 Minutes” technique takes about 20 minutes to complete and involves giving each participant some reading material (not more than about 10 minutes worth of reading).  Typically this would be a chapter or two in a book or a section of a manual (or an officer role description).

The chapters in a book can be divided among the participants so that most of the entire book ends up being read (for example if you have 5 people at a table, each person can pick 1 or 2 different chapters). Each participant reads the selected material with a highlighter and picks out the 5 most interesting or important pieces of information.

After the reading time is over, the participants share their top 5 items with others in a small group (usually in groups of 4 or 5).  Then, the small group picks the top 5 out of all the items shared.  After all groups have gotten to the top 5 list, a spokesperson for each group shares the top 5 with the entire group.

The technique can be approached in a few ways:

  • Using Best Sellers on Your Topic: This is easiest for a small group.  You could probably raid your own library and bring a few books.  You will need one per participant.  Each participant picks out a chapter that seems most interesting to them.
  • Using YOUR Book: Give every participant the same book (preferably YOUR book that you have pre-sold for use in the workshop) and divide the chapters among all so that the entire book is read.
  • Using Procedure manuals or Role Descriptions: Divide the sections so that each section is read by one or more people in the group.  You could even divide the group so that each table has one section to read and discuss as a small group before sharing with the larger group.

In a scenario for officer training, using a Toastmasters club as an example, let’s say a trainer wants to train all 7 officers during a club meeting, which also includes non-officer members.  Rather than having the trainer talk about each role, this task is much easier and more engaging using the “Create Content Experts in 20 Minutes” approach.

The officer descriptions can be printed out and distributed so that each person gets one officer role description (making sure the actual officers get their own role description).  Each person can read and highlight the role they received and then get in a group with others who may have received the same role description.  This small group can then select 5 most important duties.  One person from each small group can share with the larger group the 5 top most important duties.  That way all of the officers (and the non-officers as well), hear the office duty highlights and the process of individual reading, thought and then small group discussion helps with information retention.  If time allows, a question and answer session can be held and possible scenarios discussed.

In addition to being an effective and engaging way to get through a lot of content, participants get a sense of accomplishment from helping contribute to the other participants’ knowledge.

Create content experts in 20 minutes!

Try Screencasting Free with Jing

Have you ever tried to explain to someone in an email or on the phone how to do something on the computer?  You can take screenshots and that helps, but sometimes people need to see how you do things.

Try screencasting free with Jing, an easy tool to create brief tutorial content or to give feedback.  With Jing you can share images and short videos of what you do on your computer.

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Re-engage Your Audience with a “Snowy Owl Moment”

Snowy Owl World of Birds ShowThe audience was losing interest quickly.  They were shifting in their seats.  They were talking.  Some were even crying.

Of course, more than half the crowd was under the age of five.

Yesterday was Member Monday at the Minnesota Zoo and I had brought my twin two-year old granddaughters to the bird show.  One, Zoe, sat attentively.  The other, Ava, sprawled out, tummy down, kicking her feet rhythmically on the wooden bench seat.  She, like many of the other children had lost interest in the blah-blah-blah talk of the presenter.

Has that ever happened to you when you were presenting?  Have you ever started to lose your audience?

There are many reasons that an audience may drift:  attention fatigue (if it has been a long day full of presentations), after- lunch stupor, distractions, content too basic or too complicated and more.

When this happens, you need to shift gears, or have, what I will now call “a snowy owl moment.”

That’s what the presenter at the zoo did.  She even said, “Let’s do something more active” and directed our attention to the back of the auditorium.  An expectant hush fell over the audience.  A door slid open to reveal a large, snowy owl crouched in take-off position.  The owl glided soundlessly down to the stage, inches above the heads of the people in the center section, the section my granddaughters and I were seated in.  The previously bored Ava exclaimed, “Wow!”  Zoe pointed at the owl and made hooting sounds.  Their attention was focused.

Now, you probably can’t summon an owl, but you can have a “snowy owl moment” by changing the pace drastically.  Here are just a few ways you can switch gears:

  • Ask questions/do a Q&A session
  • Have a small group or partner discussion
  • Tell a dramatic or humorous story
  • Use an unusual prop
  • Do an activity

For adult audiences, you will want to switch things up about every 10 minutes.

Keep in mind that there likely will be a few distracted people in every audience, no matter what you do.  Don’t obsess over those people.  Focus on the ones who connect with you and that will encourage you to do your best and to give them your best “snowy owl moment.”

Here’s a pic of my granddaughters (Zoe is on the left and Ava is on the right):