Let's play a game.
Think back to the last meeting/presentation you attended.
What words, phrases, and/or images do you remember?
For most of us, the answer is "none."
We can usually recall vaguely what the presentation was about, but unless the speaker was a seasoned pro, we don't recall many specific moments.
(Unless someone spilled coffee all over the table. That we tend to remember.)
Why is that?
And, more importantly, what can we do to make ourselves as memorable as the seasoned speaker or spilled coffee?
The best way to ensure your presentation is memorable is to use what I like to call "sticky language."
Sticky language is specific and sensory (and receives extra bonus points if it's surprising!)
Let's say I was giving a presentation on how to make your speech more memorable. (I know, very meta.)
Here are two ways I could teach my lesson.
There are few things that make people more nervous than giving a prepared speech in public.
But one thing that certainly does?
Taking questions from the audience after.
Boy howdy, does a Q&A send our lizard brains into fight or flight!
Because we are now outside the land of rehearsed presentations, and into the world of...
(Fortunately for you, dear reader, I'm OBSESSED with improv.)
Q&As can be scary because we feel like there's no way to practice them.
But this simply isn't true.
Professional improvisers don't rehearse the shows they perform on stage, but they practice the skills constantly.
And the seemingly simple skill that the practice the most?
Let's get into it, shall we?
The #1 mistake I see speakers make during Q&A is:
Starting their answer before they've fully processed the question.
We've all seen it.
A politician is asked a pointed question about healthcare premiums, and that...
It's time to own up...
Last time I updated the blog, I gave you my go-to exercise for curing "uhs" "ums" and"likes" in a prepared speech.
(Need a refresher? I'll give you a hint: The exercise is called "Beat the Buzzer.")
At the end of that article, I promised I'd come back next week to reveal how to get rid of those pesky filler words in extemporaneous speaking.
a very long...
Now, is it possible I forgot to hit the "schedule" button on the following blog?
BUT, wouldn't it be more exciting if this long pause was intended to illustrate a point?!
(Let's go with that.)
Because guess what?
When it comes to extemporaneous speaking, the #1 cause of filler words is:
The "uhs", "ums", and "likes" usually creep in when we're unsure of what to say next.
We use filler words as a crutch to help us avoid silences.
Do you suffer from the curse of "ums," "uhs," and "likes" when you speak?
Join the club!
One of the #1 problems clients come to me with is:
"How do I stop saying 'like' and 'um' in my talk?!"
In general, I have two ways I like to fight the plague of what I call filler words.
We'll cover the first method today, and I'll save one for next week, just to keep you on the edge of your seat. ;)
This approach is usually best for memorized speeches—and it's a game!
(We'll discuss the tougher issue of eliminating filler words in extemporaneous speaking next week!)
The game is all about creating new muscle memory around your speech.
When filler words creep into prepared remarks, it's not because you're struggling to come up with the next thought—it's a habitual vocal tic.
So how do we get rid of this tic?
You may not like the answer...
Here's how to play "Beat the...
To memorize, or not to memorize?
That is the first question most of my public speaking clients come to me with.
Here are the two scenarios I usually hear:
Either of those sound familiar to you?
(We’ve ALL been there.)
So, how much exactly should you be memorizing?
In my opinion, whether your presentation is 5min or 90min, the answer is the same.
Here are the 3 elements to memorize:
Let’s break that down, shall we?
This is the opening of your talk. You always want to start your presentation with a hook that engages the audience.
Your hook can take many forms. Here are a...
One of the most common questions I get from my clients is:
How do I break the habit of speaking in monotone?
I can be presenting on the most interesting subject in the world, but when I start to speak in my boring voice, I see everyone’s eyes glaze over.
When I try to add more vocal variety, I feel weird and fake. HELP!
Do you relate to this?
Do you fear that your vocal style is that of Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
Never fear! I’ve got a yuletide cure for monotone coming your way!
Let’s break this down for a second:
What is “monotone”?
Monotone describes a continuing sound, especially of a person's voice, that is unchanging in pitch and without intonation.
So, what’s the cure for monotone?
Adding variation in pitch and intonation!
See, wasn’t that easy?!
I kid, I kid!
See, here’s the problem:
We know the cure to monotone is adding variation to...
Buckle up for week 3 of our on-going blog series:
You ready for tip #3?!
Okay! Here it is:
“Don’t be nervous!”
Wouldn't that be an incredibly unhelpful tip?
Let's talk for a second about why “don’t be nervous” such an unhelpful piece of direction to give someone.
Because it’s inactive.
In general, humans aren’t great at processing negative direction.
For example: Don’t think of an alligator.
Similarly, a doctor trying to improve a patient’s diet will probably have greater success with the prompt “Eat more vegetables” than “Eat less junk food.”
A lovely side-effect of eating more vegetables is that people naturally eat less junk food, but it’s much easier to get them there with an active prompt.
It's week 2 of our cheeky blog series:
and it's time to talk about our pre-speaking warm up!
I'll be doing a video series demoing some of my favorite physical and vocal warm-ups down the line, but today we gotta talk about an essential and too often skipped step of the process...
Who's ready for a pre-speaking mini-meditation?!
WAIT, WAIT, DON’T SKIP THIS PART!
I promise I’m not going to suggest a daily hour-long transcendental meditation practice.
(Although, if you’re into that, by all means go nuts!)
Look, I know that slowing down and focusing on your breath is probably the last thing you feel like doing when those pterodactyls are flapping around in your belly. (Some people talk about butterflies in the stomach, but I think pterodactyls are a more accurate description.)
But at this point, the scientific benefits of meditation when it comes to...
Welcome back to our on-going blog series:
Let’s start out our 1st week of Speak Masterfully Speaking Tips with a brazenly simple suggestion:
If you know you struggle with speaking to a crowd of people, then don’t speak to a crowd of people.
Speak to one person.
Imagine you have a good friend sitting in the back row—someone nonjudgemental. The kind of friend you’d have no problem inviting over even if your place were a mess. Make this a private conversation between the two of you.
Allow your eyes to take in the whole room, but keep the intention of a private conversation. Focus in on the one or two people smiling and nodding.
Not only will speaking to one person calm your nerves, it will create a feeling of intimacy with the audience.
Apply this advice to the writing of your piece as well as the delivery. To quote James Joyce, ...
Please...Don't picture the audience in their underwear.
I’m not sure where that advice initially came from, but I guarantee you there are more effective (and less creepy) ways to calm your public speaking nerves.
How do I know? I’m an actor.
Hi, I’m Sara Glancy, founder of Speak Masterfully. I received a BFA from NYU Tisch School for the Arts in Making a Fool of Myself in Public. (Okay, it was in Drama, but those are basically the same thing.)
And here’s something that might surprise you:
Even after 5 years touring and performing Off-Broadway, I STILL get nervous before stepping onstage.
Yep. Like clockwork, the curtain rises, the heart-rate quickens, and the butterflies flap.
In fact, most actors get pre-show jitters. You learn to get comfy with those nerves and let it fuel rather than derail your performance.
But here’s something that surprised ME:
The first time I stepped onstage as an...