I’m in the middle of a regular gig I love: training leaders for my college’s New Student Orientation leaders. We’ve already had our first event of the season, and we haven’t completed all of the training yet. Part of that training involves using a microphone effectively. Because of the timing of events in relation to training, we still have several leaders who have yet to have the microphone training.
During the first event, though, one of the folks who had not yet gone through the training wound up needing to speak on a microphone during a question-and-answer session. She later commented that it was the first time she had ever in her life held a microphone, much less used one–and she was pleasantly surprised that she really enjoyed it!
I’m using “speaker” in a loose sense here. I don’t just mean people who stand on a platform and talk to multiple people at once. I think most people know that telemarketers are advised to keep a mirror on their desks and smile as they talk to prospects on the phone, even though the prospect cannot see them. When people can see you, your appearance affects how your message is received. But it also affects how you feel about yourself as you deliver the message, which may have as great an effect on ultimate reception.
This concept is explored in some depth in Dressing Up the Brain: Wearing a Suit Makes People Think Differently found in The Atlantic. Check it out.
In my public speaking courses, we are just finishing the first round of “speeches.” (I put it in quotation marks because they’re really get-on-your-feet exercises.) I can already see a key difference among many of them.
There are two kinds of speakers: drivers and sailors. (There are two kinds of people: those who put everyone into two categories, and those who don’t. But that’s another post.) Drivers may or may not know where they’re going, but they try to steer everything exactly where they want to go. Sailors, likewise, may or may not know where they’re going, but they’re comfortable adapting to constantly changing conditions. Continue reading
I just stumbled across an article with three solid, specific bits of advice to make conversation easier. This may sound strange coming from a speaker, but honestly, conversation is tougher for me than is speaking on stage. What I do in front of an audience, I’ve a chance to think about and plan for it, rehearse it, and smooth out. I’m in control.
Conversations, on the other hand, are unpredictable. Continue reading
Speakers serve their audiences better when they’re confident. Arrogance is a turn-off. Yet, arguably they are simply two sides of the same coin. Which are you?
I recently had an insightful conversation with my friend Lois Creamer. (Actually, I think every conversation I have with Lois is insightful.) We were talking about personality types, and she pointed out two different, each with large egos, who come across differently because of differences in “people skills.” Continue reading
I hear this from students all the time: “I can talk with people just fine one-on-one. In fact, I consider myself an extrovert! But when I get up in front of a group, it’s different.”
Here’s my response: “It’s only different if you think about it differently.” Continue reading
Photo by Flickr user gerriet
I’ve noticed the last few years that students seem to bring a slightly higher degree of beginning presentation skills into the classroom. I suspect this comes from growing up surrounded by hundreds of cable channels and YouTube.
It has even reached the point where the old saw about public speaking being the number one fear is no longer true. I thought perhaps it was, indeed, a steady trend of increasing confidence. If so, this semester doesn’t fit the trend. In fact, students have generally had more trouble with the second speech round than the first speech round. Continue reading