Seven Good Ways to Think About Your Audience

Seven Good Ways to Think About Your Audience

I was coaching a client recently and realized that this able speaker had some serious misconceptions about how to relate to the people sitting in the chairs in front of him.  It’s essential to keep the right attitude toward your audiences despite the stresses of travel, performance, and occasionally unpredictable audience responses.  A speaker can […]

The Eight Worst Ways to Start a Speech

The Eight Worst Ways to Start a Speech

Every year about now, the conference season kicks into gear and I hear — and coach — speeches and speakers under conditions of high stress and adrenaline.  Inevitably, I hear speech beginnings that don’t do either their speakers or their audiences any favors.  Some are small mistakes and some are more fundamental, but they’re all […]

Alan Alda on Improv, Empathy, and his New Book

Alan Alda on Improv, Empathy, and his New Book

I first encountered Alan Alda as the irreverent, anti-war doctor in M*A*S*H* the TV show.  It was one of those shows that seemed important at the time because of its anti-war attitude and other acts of rebellion.  It gave comfort to those of us for whom the war was a long way off, but the […]

The Seven Worst Things That Speakers Do to Sabotage Themselves and Their Careers

The Seven Worst Things That Speakers Do to Sabotage Themselves and Their Careers

There’s something about the approach of fall that always makes me think about renewal.  Maybe it’s because I was tied to an academic calendar for a good deal of my work life.  The fall, then, is time for going back to school and learning something new to improve yourself, and your career, just as much […]

The Neuroscience of a First Impression

The Neuroscience of a First Impression

You’ve heard the old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so you know first impressions are important, and durable.  You may have heard that people make up their minds about each other within thirty seconds of meeting, or on some other equally flimsy basis.  So you know that […]

When is it OK to swear in public?

When is it OK to swear in public?

Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand swore during a speech at the Personal Democracy Forum at New York University.  She said, “If we’re not helping people, we should go the f**k home.”  And later on, talking about President Trump, she added, “Has he kept his promises?  F**k no.” There was a fair amount of scolding on line […]

Why You Need to Pitch Your Voice Lower

Why You Need to Pitch Your Voice Lower

Back in the mid- or early nineties, I was videotaped for the first time, doing some media work for my then-employer, Princeton University.  Aside from the usual reactions – I didn’t like my hair, my clothes, my physique, or what I did with my hands – I was most astonished by the shrill, pipsqueak voice […]

Why We Need Conferences

Why We Need Conferences

Picture a worker in a cubicle. Gray walls, gray chair, gray computer. Gray hum of background noise all around. When she picks up the phone, the way in which the voice is processed over that instrument cuts out most of the emotion. That’s why telephone calls and webinars are so boring. No emotion. The rest […]

What’s Missing From Your Virtual Communications and How to Fix Them – 2

What’s Missing From Your Virtual Communications and How to Fix Them – 2

This post is second of two on virtual communications. The virtual world offers us two great conveniences; indeed, you can make a reasonable claim that the virtual world depends for its success on these twin pillars:  freedom from friction, and freedom from simultaneity. But those freedoms create new problems.  How can you solve the problems […]

What’s Missing from Your Virtual Communications and How to Fix Them – 1

What’s Missing from Your Virtual Communications and How to Fix Them – 1

The virtual world offers us two great conveniences.  Indeed, you can make a reasonable claim that the virtual world depends for its success on these twin pillars:  freedom from friction, and freedom from simultaneity. What does that mean?  Before email, we had to write or type out letters, memos, reports, white papers – the entire […]