The 5-Minute Speaker Warm Up

the-5-minute-speaker-warm-up

All performers, from athletes to entertainers, know that a warm-up is essential to peak performance. As a speaker, you can have both a physical warm up and a mental warm up, too!

To get you started with a warm-up routine, I’ll share mine. Take what works for you and feel free to modify.

You may be able to fit a warm up (or parts of a warm up) in your car on the way to a local event, in your hotel room, or in a restroom.  My 5-minute warm up consists of 3 parts: tension-reduction, vocal exercises and mental preparation. If I don’t have privacy, I will often do the vocal exercises in my car or in my hotel room and do the other parts in a restroom just prior to speaking.

Stage 1 (1.5 minutes): tension-reduction

  • Combat breaths: Do at least 4 (breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 4)
  • “Tall Stretch”

With feet a shoulder-width apart, and without bending, raise one arm straight up, reaching as high as you can for about 4 seconds, then do the same with the other arm, then rotate your arms & shoulders outward as you pull your arms back and down, with your elbows leading the way down.  (Click here for a video, starts at 3:10–watch until 3:40)

  • Neck rolls: do a few
  • Facial warm up: Smile big a few times, wiggle your lips around, stick your tongue out!

Stage 2 (1.5 minutes): Vocal exercises (can be done prior to stage 1, if privacy is an issue)

  • Sing the Do-Ri-Mi song a couple of times (or any song that takes your voice through a range of notes):

Do (Doe), a deer, a female deer
Re (Ray), a drop of golden sun
Mi (Me), a name, I call myself
Fa (Far), a long, long way to run
So (Sew), a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow So
Ti (Tea), a drink with jam and bread
That will lead us back to Do, oh, oh, oh . . . Doe . . .

  • Perform a vocal slide a few times (with your mouth open, sing “ah” as you slide from a comfortable low note to a comfortably high note and back down. Repeat, trying to extend your range a little bit, going a little higher and a little lower).
  • Say a few tongue twisters:
    • Red leather, yellow leather
    • She sells sea shells by the sea shore
    • Unique New York

Stage 3: Mental Preparation (1-2 min)

  • Assume one or more Power Poses (hands on hips, arms upstretched in a “V” for victory)
  • Repeat a positive phrase several times, such as: I am smart. I am powerful. I can make a difference
  • Visualize your audience as engaged, looking at you with interest and anticipation
  • Visualize yourself speaking with energy and authenticity
  • Say your first few sentences out loud, with power and purpose

Right before you speak, take a few seconds to breathe, stand tall, mentally rehearse your opening, make eye contact with your audience and smile! (see How to Be a More Confident Speaker in 10 Seconds)

10 Ways to Make a “Boring” Workshop Topic Exciting

Workshop Activities

Have you ever wondered how to create engagement for a “dry” or “boring” topic?

Recently, at the end of a 90-minute workshop I conducted on “Email Etiquette,” for a staff development day for an online public school (on-site meeting), the principal walked up to me with a big smile on his face, “I wondered how you could make this topic engaging, interactive and fun–and you did it! It was great!”

Using that presentation as an example, below are 10 tips you can use on your next workshop-style presentation.

1. Engage before the presentation

  • Informational interviews. I conducted 10 minute “informational” interviews with 3 staff members (the principals of the high school and middle schools and also the chair of the staff development committee). I focused on finding their “pain points” regarding email etiquette. I also got a story that I shared (with permission).
  • Survey. About 3 weeks prior to the presentation, I created a free 10-question Survey Monkey Survey related to the topic that was sent out to their 55 staff members (47 responded!).

The informational interviews and the survey also created “buzz” about the presentation. The audience was excited to hear what I was going to tell them.

2. Tailor the content to include client specific examples, stories and data

The informational interviews and the survey gave me data and insight I could use to tailor the presentation to the organization. Although much of the workshop could apply to any organization, the 10% of tailoring to their organization made the content more relevant to them. Stories are especially engaging.

3. Cover only a few main points (3 is a good number)

People can’t remember too many points. Beyond 3 is difficult. Although there are many concepts and techniques for email etiquette, I grouped them into 3 main categories: Be Clear, Be Polite, Be Professional.

4. Include an audience activity near the start.

Although I don’t do this for every workshop (I often start with a story), for this workshop, I decided to start with an audience activity that was highly engaging and relevant for the topic: dissecting a bad email, first individually and then reviewing with a partner, with the goal being to find the maximum number of things wrong with the email. After this activity, I polled the audience to find who found the greatest number of things wrong and had that person read their list, after which I solicited additions from the audience. The example of a bad email was so bad that there was quite a lot of chuckling as people read it.

5. Depending on your workshop time, include a mix of audience activities.

  • Individual activities
  • Partner sharing
  • Small group sharing
  • Small group project. For this workshop, I had the audience work through a sequenced activity (for which I previewed the steps and then had them do one step at a time on my prompt), which involved an individual activity, a partner share, a quad share (2 partner groups together) and then the quad creating a graphic poster on a subtopic, with each quad having 1 minute to present to the large group.
  • Large group discussion (it is always easier to get people to share in a large group if they have first shared with a partner or in a small group)
  • Competition (although I didn’t use it in this presentation, competitions can be highly effective). For a presentation on conflict resolution, I have had the audience participate in a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament, for example.

Audience activities should also include a debrief–what was learned and why was it important?

6. Be willing to adjust on the fly

As I had never done the sequenced activity before, I realized that I had one too many steps (I was going to have 2 quads join together for a double quad), so I announced the change and it was no problem.

7. Include some humor. Have fun!

Humor can be planned or in the moment. For one audience activity, I have a slide that asks the audience to yell out the name of an animal on the count of 3, then I click for the line that says “Wait for it . . . 1, 2 . . .”  after which I count “1, 2, 3” Well, before I clicked on the “Wait for it . . .” a person shouted out an animal and then after I clicked on “Wait for it . . .” people laughed because someone jumped the gun.

8. Have a simple, but useful hand-out 

Be careful of having too many fill-in-the blanks on a hand out because people will miss them and some will get anxious to get their handout filled in.

9. If using PowerPoint, have engaging visuals

Engaging visuals are large, intriguing and relevant

Reply Allpocalypse

Slideshare presentation

10. End with a call-to-action

What do you want your audience to think, feel, or most importantly, do?

For this workshop, a follow-up survey and short webinar a few weeks later was planned. The action I gave the principal (because he was leaning forward with wanting to have guidelines, which I knew from our informational interview), was to select someone to head a committee to draft email etiquette guidelines. During the webinar, I would facilitate a discussion of the guidelines.

 

 

Infographic: How to Master Public Speaking

You may not be able to master public speaking just by reading this infographic, but the concept (and tips) that “public speaking anxiety often results from problematic thought patterns that need to be changed” is on target!

How to Master Public Speaking
Source: MastersProgramsGuide.com

FREE Public Speaking Class Jan 11 (Twin Cities)

flyer_Date: Monday, January 11, 2016

Time: 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Location:  Ridgedale Library (Minnetonka, MN) 

Link to reserve your seat (free event presented on behalf of District 6 Toastmasters)

Speak with conviction and confidence! No matter the subject, you can capture your audience’s attention and keep them engaged. In this FREE, interactive class, you will learn how to:

  • Create a “bumper sticker” defining statement to position yourself to your audience
  • Start and end with a bang
  • Keep your audience engaged with stories
  • Develop your points clearly
  • Maintain eye contact, even when using notes
  • Power up your PowerPoint with simple-to-implement ideas
  • Deliver with confidence

Reserve your seat now!

PowerUpPresentationsFlyer

 

FREE ebook: Public Speaking: A Very Short Course

Short course book cover

Free Kindle Book: Public Speaking: A Very Short Course: 7 Lessons for the Classroom, for Workshops, or for Individuals

Free until Saturday, 12/12/15!

You don’t even need to have a Kindle–you can use a Kindle reader app or download a free Kindle reader for your pc.

Book Description:

This short course in public speaking will quickly give you, your workshop participants, or students you teach (high school, college, Adult Education), the basics of public speaking in 7 focused 1 – 3 page lessons.

Each lesson can be completed in as little as 15 minutes, so that this flexible curriculum can be inserted in and adapted to a non-speech class as a public speaking segment. With suggested extension activities, and time for participants to give speeches, the material could easily be extended into a one-semester class.

The downside of the Kindle version is that you can’t write in it, and the lessons, depending on your device and screen size, are not as well-formatted as in the print version. The print version is a very short (26 page) work-text, in a big 8.5-inch by 11-inch format intended for readers not just to read, but to write in as concepts are learned and applied.

Individuals desiring a concentrated self-study on public speaking (or who have a specific presentation to prepare) can apply the lessons to prepare presentations that will get their message heard and remembered without spending hours or days slogging through a lot of theory or fluff (the book is only 26 pages long). In a pinch, the material could even be used to prepare a speech for the very next day!

7 Lessons, which can be completed in as little as 15 minutes each, include:

1. Why Develop Public Speaking Skills?
2. Define Your Message
3. Plan Your Message Structure
4. Engage Your Audience with Stories
5. Say It With Style!
6. Easy PowerPoint Principles
7. Deliver with Confidence

Brief facilitation notes for classroom or workshop use are included.

Additional resources:
Speech Planning and Outline Sheet
Speech Evaluation Form (for peer evaluation)
Impromptu Speaking (tips and how to include in a class)

Click HERE to get your FREE Kindle Book
Hurry! Only free until Saturday!
(I’d much appreciate a review, if you have the time. Thanks in advance!)

Speaking of . . . Wardrobe Malfunctions

Screaming happy

As I sat down in my seat at the conference, I glanced down and noticed that one of my buttons was unbuttoned on the front of my shirt. Not a big deal, right? Well, all I could think of was “how long has that been unbuttoned?” and, “I should have worn a nicer bra!” You see, I had just been presenting in front of a couple of hundred people. I hadn’t noticed a breeze . . . I’ve learned to avoid shirts that button in the front after that . . . revealing moment.

Wardrobe malfunctions are awkward anywhere, but especially when you are on stage and all eyes are on you!

Ideally, you will catch some wardrobe malfunctions in time to replace or fix a garment, but often you have very limited time and resources to deal with wardrobe challenges, especially when you are traveling to a conference or other speaking engagement.

First, reduce the occurrence of wardrobe malfunctions:

  • Create and USE a Packing Checklist. Reduce forgotten items by using a packing checklist. I keep one on my computer, and print-it out before every trip, to double check that I haven’t forgotten anything important. I also include items I will need for my presentation. Google “Business Trip Packing Checklist” if you need some help creating a list.
  • Repair Wardrobe Items. Don’t procrastinate about repairing things like loose buttons, or weak seams. I have a section of my closet for clothing that needs attention (ironing/repair/dry-cleaning).
  • A full-length mirror is your best friend. Before leaving your hotel room, look at yourself up and down and use a hand mirror to check your backside.

Second, proactively plan for wardrobe malfunctions:

  • Bring back-up clothing for some likely to malfunction items (pantyhose)
  • Plan a mix and match wardrobe to give yourself some options
  • Pack a Wardrobe First-Aid Kit. Some things you could include:
    • Wardrobe Emergency Kit (or purchase separately items you are likely to need)
    • Duct tape. I wrap some around a business card (could also use an old credit card) and throw it in my purse. Duct tape can hold up a hem and do so much more! I cannot recommend this tip enough.
    • Black Sharpie. Great for hiding scuffs on black shoes

Third, learn some wardrobe malfunction hacks:

  • Hem falls: double-sided tape, or Duct tape!
  • Button loose: remove the paper from a twist tie and thread the wire through button
  • holes and through the fabric of the shirt, if you are desperate and don’t have access to a sewing kit (ask at the hotel!)
  • Lost earring back: snip off a pencil eraser and use it as a temporary earring back
  • Pantyhose runs: clear nail polish
  • Broken Zipper Pull: paper clip, safety pin or a twist tie
  • Static Cling–rub a wire hanger or other metal object on the material, or, if you have it, hairspray can work. Lotion can help, too!

How you deal with a wardrobe malfunction on stage can endear you to your audience if you smile and soldier on! Guys, just turn around and zip up that fly!

What wardrobe malfunction hacks have you found useful?

Familiarize. Don’t Memorize.

Familiarize

It was the summer of 2009 and I had eight, 45-minute presentations to memorize as a newly hired high school workshop speaker for a local college. The other new speakers and I had been given scripts for each of the presentations, with topics ranging from budgeting to sexual harassment, and had been told to follow the scripts closely to make sure that the promised objectives were covered. We had six weeks to learn the scripts, and would be presenting four of the eight topics in front of the program administrators and a few of the other new speakers.

For the first presentation, I spent hours breaking it down and practicing in small chunks. I practiced in my bedroom. I practiced in my car. I even practiced on the driveway, outlining the presentation in chalk, complete with colorful pictures.  It was an agonizingly slow process.  And I had to do it seven more times before the end of summer.

I had two main problems. One, the material wasn’t my own and some of the phrasing wasn’t my style. Two, it was really, really hard to memorize something word for word, no matter who wrote it!  But, I tried, and largely succeeded, or so I thought.

On the day of the presentation, I was the first speaker. I went through the script almost flawlessly.  It was . . . too perfect.  Actually, it wasn’t perfect at all. My pace was a little slow, as I was trying to recall the exact wording at times. My words weren’t my own, so I sounded a little “stilted.” And, my eye contact was more of a glazed-over look as I was actually looking at the words on the imaginary page in front of me.  I had studied the scripts so carefully, that I knew where on the page I was when I was presenting the material.

When I finished, I looked over at the administrators. They smiled politely, clearly wondering what happened to the expressive woman who had wowed them with a lively audition just a week before. And then one said, “You don’t have to memorize it and you can even tell your own stories, as long as they are relevant.”

What a relief!  I just got my summer back.  It would still take time to prepare for seven more presentations, but if I could speak extemporaneously, practicing from an outline instead of a script, and include my own material, then not only would it be easier, but I would sound more conversational.

As I was basking in relief, the next speaker started. He had not memorized the material.  I’m not sure if he had even had tried to learn it.  He actually read the script, occasionally looking up, which sometimes caused him to lose his place. This approach, the reading approach, was not going to work at all in front of a teen audience (not in front of any audience, really).

The third speaker didn’t memorize as I had done and he didn’t read the script, either.  He gave an impromptu version, loosely following the outline, but missing some of the key points.  He was clearly not familiar with the material, although he was easy to listen to.

The fourth speaker hit it out of the ball park.  He had discovered the key: Familiarize. Don’t memorize.

Familiarize. Don’t memorize.

If I could familiarize myself with the material, and know it well, but not memorize it, I knew would connect with the teens. I could speak from the heart and really look into their eyes, not at my imaginary script. Of course, certain phrases were still expressed the same way every time and once in a while parts were impromptu, unplanned comments inspired by the moment.

To get away from sounding scripted, I learned I needed to practice from keywords, or an outline.  I had to resist the writer’s temptation to say it exactly as I wrote it. If I did, I sounded “stilted.”

I sounded stilted because I didn’t write the way I spoke.  When we speak, we used shorter sentences and shorter words.  We use contractions. We use an active voice (e.g., Chelsie wore an itsy bitsy, polka dot bikini) vs. a passive voice (“The itsy bitsy, polka dot bikini was worn by Chelsie).

To speak with passion, don’t memorize, don’t read and don’t speak completely off-the-cuff, instead . . .

Familiarize. Don’t Memorize.

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am

Just the Facts

“I just want to get the facts, ma’am,” Joe Friday (actor Jack Webb) famously implored when questioning women in the old TV police show, Dragnet.

Joe Friday might have just wanted the facts, but your audience wants more.

Sure, they want to know your material, but they also want to know you. They want to connect with you as a human being and they want to connect with your material because it matters to them on an emotional level. Even the hard-nosed business types and the highly educated professionals.

Emotions connect us and drive us in a way that dry logic can’t. Logic will get hijacked by emotions almost every time. If you can connect with your audience on an emotional level, they can be more easily moved to agree with your supporting logic.

I once had a presentation client, I’ll call “Susan” who was preparing to present a 3 hour seminar on a topic in psychology. Well, the first thing Susan and I talked about was the need for at least one break for the audience. No matter how fascinating your topic nor how engaging you are as a speaker, people need a “bio” break! That concept was an easy sell.

The second issue was the huge amount of content she wanted to cover, using a PowerPoint presentation that truly was “Death by PowerPoint,” with slide after slide of bullet points, long paragraphs, and charts that were impossibly complicated.  Getting her to put less on her slides was a bit more difficult than getting her to allow for a “bio” break, but she relented when reflecting on her own experiences having to sit through such visual torture.

What was more difficult was getting Susan to try to engage the participants emotionally, through stories, especially personal stories.

Why?

Susan, like many other presenters felt that stories were “fluff.”

“I have a lot of material to cover and telling stories just doesn’t seem professional. Stories are fluff.”

After a little more digging, she also admitted that telling personal stories was uncomfortable.

“I would feel too vulnerable showing emotion in a story. And I might make other people uncomfortable.”

BINGO. She was afraid of being judged for having emotion or recreating an experience that would invoke emotions in others. Her professional veneer might get tarnished by emotion in the telling of a personal story.

But she was willing to try.

I asked her to tell me WHY her topic was important, what difference did it make in the world. I asked her how she first realized the importance. And . . . she told me a story, a story about an experience with a client that forever changed her practice. As she told the story, she was animated and engaging. I could put myself in her place and feel her emotions.

“That’s your story! That’s the story you start with,” I told her.

We worked on the story, and the rest of her presentation, to add some additional touch points (and some audience activities . . . 3 hours is a long time to keep people’s attention without switching it up).

I called her a few days after her presentation to ask how it went, and she seemed almost amazed at how well it went.

“When I opened with that story, I had them all spellbound. It was an incredible experience to connect with them. Some even had tears in their eyes. I made my topic important and relevant to them with that story. It wasn’t fluff.”

Don’t be afraid to connect with your audience by being authentically vulnerable. Tell personal stories that evoke emotion. And tell those stories with passion!

Not afraid, but passionate.

Engage with Passion

60020425-109My husband and I recently had a photo shoot with our 4 grandchildren. As you can see from the above photo with two of them, this was not the typical posed photo shoot. It was wild, with an overwhelmed 17-month old, who had just arrived with her mother from New York that day, almost-3-year-old twins who were chaotic whirlwinds of energy, and a relatively calm 10 year-old, who thought the whole process was so fun that he asked, “Can we do this again?”

It was unlike any photo session I had ever participated in–high energy, directed by the photographer, but unscripted, with no static poses. I was skeptical about the results, until I saw the pictures. Energy and love, a passion for family is clearly evident. I’m tempted to share all the pictures, but I won’t!

This experience and the resulting photos reminded me of the compelling nature of passion. Bring passion to your speaking to bring compelling engagement with your audience.

All too often, especially among business speakers and content-expert speakers, presentations are dry, passionless PowerPoint info dumps. The speakers often care, deeply, about their topic, which is a starting point for passion, but the passion is lost in translation to a presentation.

Why does this happen?

There are many reasons, but three that I see often are:

  1. Ignoring or fearing emotional connection
  2. “The way it’s always been done”
  3. Scripting an entire presentation

These will be explored in detail as topics for the next 3 posts.  Stay tuned to find out how you can be the speaker that holds an audience spellbound (at least some of the time) with your passion, not afraid to connect emotionally, not afraid to challenge convention, not afraid to drop the script.

Not afraid, but passionate.

Why You Need an Accent Coach for Your Business

Do you have an accent? Even if you have lived in the U.S. all your life you likely have a regional accent. My regional, Minnesotan accent was clearly apparent to me last week when I spoke in Houston, Texas. Y’all know what I mean?

If you have more than a slight regional accent, you may not be understood or your intentions may be misinterpreted. Today I have a guest blogger, Claudette Roche, a dialect coach.

accent_reduction_los_angeles

Claudette writes:

You may have heard about accent coaches, and you may think they provide services for actors. While that is one aspect of their job, they also provide a valuable skill for business people. Hiring an accent coach can help improve communication in your business.

Speak Clearly

One of the primary benefits of hiring an accent or dialect coach is that you will learn to speak more clearly. A coach can teach you to enunciate your words for better understanding. If you are not sure how this could benefit you, consider these scenarios:

  • You are speaking at a conference in another part of the country and you have a strong accent.
  • You are talking with a client from another part of the world through a video meeting.
  • You are training your staff in a seminar.
  • You are doing a presentation of your product or service to potential clients or customers.

In each one of these situations, speaking clearly so that you can be understood can enhance your results. You will be more likely to convince customers to give your product a try or win over a current client on a new idea. You will be able to communicate with your staff how to implement a new procedure or teach others at a conference about your industry or business.

If you have a strong accent or poor enunciation skills, your audience may misunderstand what you are saying. The result could be lost sales or ineffective instructions to your staff. You could have a misunderstanding on how to proceed on a project because someone didn’t know what you said.

What Training Do You Need?

The kind of training will depend on your particular situation and the goals you have for your business. Perhaps you want to become a public speaker who can attend conferences around the country. Maybe you have a thick accent that you want to lose to communicate more effectively with clients in other parts of the country.

When you work with an accent coach, he or she will help you learn how to enunciate every word correctly. This will reduce the sound of your accent and make it easier for people to understand you. You can also learn how to understand other people’s accents. This could be an important trait to learn if you will be opening an office in another part of the country or internationally.

You may decide that members of your staff can benefit from this same training. If you have managers who work with people around the globe or if they will be setting up offices in other locations, they may need to learn how to speak well to be understood.

Effective communication is essential in today’s business world. While many think of written communication, spoken communication is just as important. Being heard and understood can have a significant impact on the bottom line on your business. As you work with people from around the world, you must learn how to speak effectively and clearly.

Claudette Roche is a dialect coach who teaches accent reduction in the Los Angeles area and virtually via Skype (The Accent Coach Website).  She teaches foreign and American accents to actors and business persons/executives.  In 2010 she was named as one of The Top 5 Voice Coaches by Hollywood Weekly Magazine.