A lot of ink and electrons have been spilled (if that’s the word) on storytelling.  Surprisingly little of it is helpful.  How do you tell a good story?  The advice varies, from useful-sounding stuff like, include the telling detail to focus on what you know.  The best book on storytelling is one about myth, Joseph […]

In Public Speaking, Address the Audience’s Safety Issues

It’s hard to get anyone’s attention these days.  We receive, what, a billion marketing messages a day, something like that.  People you pass in the street have ads tattooed to their foreheads.  The piles of books on our nightstands threaten to scrape the ceiling.  Magazines and newspapers?  Forgetaboutit.  You’ll never catch up.  We’re oversaturated, so […]

How to Give a Bad Speech

The vast majority of presentations given throughout the business world are mediocre.  The political world has a more interesting mix of good speeches and truly awful ones.  Remember John McCain’s speech the night of the New Hampshire primary?  He read a bad speech badly.  The only palliative we can extend him is that he probably […]

Passion in Public Speaking

Do you need anything besides passion to succeed as a speaker?  Is passion enough? Unfortunately, no.  If passion were enough, monkeys would write great fiction (the ones who are allowed typewriters).  Public speaking involves both artifice and emotion.  It does take passion — and without passion, a speaker is dull indeed — but it also […]

The Speaker’s Focus Should be on the Audience; the Audience’s Focus on the Content

Consider the standard, garden-variety, dull-as-ditchwater business presentation. A business person shambles to the front of the room. People look up briefly from their Blackberries, and seeing nothing of extraordinary interest, return to their email and to-do lists. After fumbling apologetically for a while with the technology, head down, fingers flying, the presenter finally achieves Power […]

What’s an elevator speech?

What’s an elevator speech?  Let’s say you’re about to speak at an important conference.  You leave your hotel room, high up on the 25th floor or so, and you punch the button for the mezzanine.  The elevator stops on the 12th floor and someone gets in.  He’s wearing golfing attire, and he looks at you […]