What’s the Most Important Personality Trait for a Speaker?

What’s the Most Important Personality Trait for a Speaker?

What’s the most important trait for a speaker?  Extroversion?  Confidence? Charisma? I’m going to suggest something that may surprise you.  I think the most important trait is that one that has become obscured of late in our information-overloaded, media-hungry, celebrity-obsessed world:  humility. Why?  Because the only reason to give a speech is to change the […]

What’s the Most Important Moment for a Speaker?

What’s the Most Important Moment for a Speaker?

What’s the key moment in the life of the speaker?  Is it the standing ovation? The off-script excitement of a Q and A session? The moment of connection with an audience at the beginning of a talk? All those moments are important, but the most important moment is the moment before you go on.  How […]

A Simple Way to Make Conferences Better

A Simple Way to Make Conferences Better

A weary traveler, down on his luck, comes to an inn.  He’s cold and hungry, so he goes into the common room.  There he sees a table spread with all sorts of delicacies and delicious-smelling food. And yet, he notices right away that the people sitting around the table look hungry, sad, and frustrated.  Soon […]

The Speakers’ Code – Ten Tenets of Public Speaking

The Speakers’ Code – Ten Tenets of Public Speaking

Speakers don’t have a union, and we’re a motley collection of thought leaders, experts, teachers, crusaders (in the non-twelfth-century, deracinated version of the term), and misfits.  We’re on our own a good deal of the time on the road, on the stage, and on the search for new ideas. So we need a code. Here’s […]

What if Donald Trump Were a Woman?

What if Donald Trump Were a Woman?

What is the role of gender in public speaking?  It’s an incredibly complex question, and one about which I’ve posted before. Recently, a couple of INSEAD and NYU professors teamed up to illustrate a particularly vexed version of this question: the role of gender in the recent debates and election for the American president. They […]

Max Martin, Number One Song Hits, and Public Speaking

Max Martin, Number One Song Hits, and Public Speaking

There’s only one songwriting team who has written more Number One Billboard hits over more years than Max Martin:  John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  And yet few people outside of the music biz have even heard of Max Martin, a media-shy Swede who divides his time between Stockholm and Los Angeles. Martin has written and […]

Five Body Language Takeaways from President Trump’s Address to Congress

Five Body Language Takeaways from President Trump’s Address to Congress

President Kennedy began his famous inaugural address with a line about a torch: Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. . . . And he closed it with another image about lighting up the world: […]

Can Political Beliefs Be Changed, or the Cultural Divide Repaired?

Can Political Beliefs Be Changed, or the Cultural Divide Repaired?

The proverbial visitor from Mars – especially one who was here for a return visit — might be pardoned for wondering how societies across the globe have become so polarized in their beliefs.  Whether it’s the Trump crowd, or its opposite, or the Brexit fans or the Remain folks, or the Marine le Pen people […]

Why Speakers Should be Helping Audiences Forget What They Know

Why Speakers Should be Helping Audiences Forget What They Know

There’s a particularly tedious kind of speaker that ostentatiously tries to teach his audience something by having the audience repeatedly recall some big idea, or some list, or the seven levels of . . . knowledge about a certain subject.  The hapless audience has to shout out, or chant in unison, or (worst of all) […]

What the *#@&! Should Speakers Swear?

What the *#@&! Should Speakers Swear?

Should a speaker swear on stage?  Is it ever appropriate, and if so when? These questions used to have an easy answer:  no, no, and never.  Profanity on stage used to be a deal killer, a contract ender and a career finisher.   Twenty years ago, I watched one promising speaker say “sh*t” on stage once, […]