Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Unplanned speaking made easy with the Open your Mind framework: Slideshare Presentation

You can watch and follow along with this audio training speech on “Open Your Mind: How to always be ready for any unplanned speech” at slideshare. The link is here.

While this presentation was delivered in a Toastmasters club, it is relevant for many business presenters who need to speak without much preparation time.

Please comment and let me know if there are other topics you would like to see covered.

About the Author

Warwick J Fahy

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who struggle to get their point across and influence their key stakeholders. Warwick helps the executive project their message with confidence allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

Speech Analysis by The One Minute Presenter on Sir Ken Robinson’s Feb 2010 TED speech: Bring on the learning revolution

In this follow up to his famous 2006 TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.

Sir Ken Robinson is a creativity expert and in this talks asks the question, “Why don’t we get the best out of people?” He argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. [Source: TED.com]

Here is my breakdown of the speech. The things that are great about the speech are:

  • Metaphors help make your big ideas easier to grasp

  • Crafting taglines is a discipline in finding simplicity in your (complex) ideas

  • Telling a story that engages is an advanced skill

  • Closing quote can make your message stick

The areas that could be improved include:

  • Making humour work is a funny thing

  • Do you lose credibility if you use shaky facts?

  • Audience interaction is not only about a show of hands

Type of presentation

This is a follow up talk from his highly acclaimed 2006 TED speech and as such the expectations are higher. While well received by the audience, it is hard to imagine that this talk will have as much impact, as the message is lost among the jokes. Well written taglines are the highlight and although the closing quotation is beautifully chosen and delivered it is not exactly related to the idea of creating a learning revolution.

Metaphors help make your big ideas easier to grasp

Robinson uses three major metaphors in this talk, and they all work well.

1. Compares crisis in natural resource with the crisis in human resources (starts 02:30)

although the set up to this metaphor was not accurately made. Robinson says there is a “second climate crisis” when he actually means “ a second crisis”.

This metaphor is followed up later by saying “Human resource like natural resources are buried deep, you have to go looking for them” (04:15). Good analogy.

2. Comparing the education system with fast food. Results are a similar depleting of spirits and energies as fast food depletes the body. (13:00). This really hits home it’s point.

3. Education is like manufacturing (conformity and batching people) (14:35)

What we need now is one based on agriculture … an “organic process” (14:55)

This is a nice comparison and one that is not only easily understood it catches the zeitgeist as organic food is becoming a growing trend, especially among the typical TED talks viewer.

Warwick’s coaching tip: Finding a metaphor or model to frame your ideas on can be an excellent way to convey your message. Vivid metaphors will help the audience remember your big ideas and overall message.

Crafting taglines is a discipline in finding simplicity in your (complex) ideas

Warwick’s coaching tip: Robinson is a thoughtful speaker (in between the jokes) and this reflects the deeper thinking he has done on his topic. A good tip for every speaker is to leave the audience with the feeling that you know a lot more on your subject that you could possibly cover in your talk.

This depth is shown in the clarity and concisely of his taglines or sound bites. Robinson has helped the audience do the thinking by making the complex really rather simple to understand – a significant asset for everyone who wishes to be influential.

Good examples of taglines include:

this is not a crisis of natural resources…but a crisis of human resources” (02:23)

we make very poor use of our talents” (02:30)

that’s simply improving a broken model” (04:40)

what we need is not an evolution, but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else.” (04:50)

it’s a single function device” (when talking about a watch) (08:15)

life is not linear, it’s organic” (08:55)

we are obsessed about getting people to college\” (09:15)

human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability” (10:50)

college begins in kindergarten….[pause]… no it doesn’t” (11:15)

a friend of mine once said a 3 year old is not half a six year old” (11:40)

we have built our education system on the model of fast food” (12:45)

Telling a story that engages is an advanced skill

The fireman story (starts 09:20 – 10:40) makes a strong point on the value of having diverse talent in a community.

The example of three year old children being interviewed by “unimpressed panels” with resumes (12:00) hilariously brings out the ludicrous nature of how competitive early education has become.

Warwick’s coaching tip: When selecting appropriate stories and anecdotes ask yourself does the impact part (memorable) of the story align with the main message you want the audience to takeaway.

Closing quote can make your message stick

Choosing a quotation that sums up your message can be powerful technique. Like every tool, it can be misused. The trick is to find as close a match as possible to the quotation’s message and your overall speech message. Robinson chose a WB Yeats quotation (starts 16:40) which was beautifully connected to a powerful closing thought of “tread softly on our children’s dreams”. While a lovely closing, it is a little out of synch with the message of creating a learning revolution.

Overall this was a well received presentation, but there were a few areas which could have been improved.

Making humour work is a funny thing

While some of these jokes got an audience reaction, I did not like them as I felt they were often a shallow attempt at humour that did not develop or carry his ideas forward. Toward the end of the talk, the reaction from the audience dropped.

Example: ‘there is a hunger for videos of me’ (01:00) got a good laugh but really is too self indulgent for my tastes, especially when the set up used shaky facts (see below).

I only had 18 minutes frankly..” – audience did not react, perhaps because all speakers have 18 minutes. (01:38)

so as I was saying” (01:40)- again the audience laughed but it comes across as a little self-indulgent when being invited back to TED was an honour not made to many other speakers.

if you don’t believe there is a major climate crisis, you should get out more” – audience did not react perhaps because the point is not really clear (01:50)

I divide the world into two groups” (02:55) – while this got a good laugh, his follow up point did not come out so clearly. His point was that there are two groups of people in the world, those that “endure” and those that “enjoy” (03:30)

The joke about American history not being taught in Britain (05:50) while getting a laugh does not really add any impact to this message. And the set up referring to his lack of knowledge of what was happening in American at that time could have been cut out.

it’s difficult to know what it is you take for granted. And the reason is you take it for granted” (07:10). Not that funny.

The anecdote about receiving his first guitar at the same time that Eric Clapton did worked well, “…it wouldn’t work no matter how hard I blew into it” (13:30)

This uses the element of surprise, self-deprecating humour and exaggeration to get a good audience response.

Do you lose credibility if you use shaky facts?

In the opening to the talk, Robinson explained that 4 million downloads of his 2006 talk had been made, so if you multiply that by 20 you get the number of people who had seen his previous talk. It seems hard to believe that such large groups of people are sitting around watching online TED videos. This multiplier is a rule of thumb often applied to print media which for example if a newspaper or magazine is placed in a library or office would be read multiple times by different people. I am not so convinced it applies to a world of individual downloads.

Warwick’s coaching tip: The opening of a speech should be about building credibility, and Robinson was doing this by sharing how many people had seen his previous talk. Instead of his comment “there is a hunger for videos of me” which seems bizarre, perhaps a better retort would have been to express surprise, shock or amazement. By bringing in some humbleness he would have come across as credible and not self-aggrandizing.

Audience interaction is not only about a show of hands

In this attempt at audience interaction – always a tricky part to navigate in any large conference talk – Robinson uses the “put your hands up” technique. A trusted – if rather overused staple of conference speakers. The problem with this type of interaction is that it comes across as superficial and many people don’t like engaging in this type of interaction due to its overuse.

The interaction starts by asking who was over the age of 25, and wearing a wristwatch. (07:20). The underlying premise is that people under 25 won’t wear a watch because it is a “single function device” [great tagline] and that everyone over 25 wears a watch to tell the time. But do they? Personally I don’t always wear a watch but when I do its more because I like the feeling of being “dressed up” and other people will wear watches for aesthetic reasons or – if you have spent thousands of dollars on a luxury watch– as a status statement. People over the age of 25 wear watches for many different reasons.

Warwick’s coaching tip: A better approach would have been to ask the audience what they thought his daughter called a watch. The answer of a “single function device” would have got a good laugh (as it did when he used it after this interaction) and would have made a clear point on how younger people view the world differently.

Conclusion

This was a well delivered and generally well received talk. While there are very strong aspects to the talk notably the metaphors and taglines used, a greater impact could have been made by making the big idea more visible. What is the learning revolution that is needed? Besides from being organic, how can it be created? Even high level, inspirational speeches need to suggest a direction for the audience to go following the talk. Not as impactful as the 2006 talk. I think this was a 5 out of 10.

To see Warwick’s analysis of Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED Talk speech, click here.

About the Author

Warwick J Fahy

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who struggle to get their point across and influence their key stakeholders. Warwick helps the executive project their message with confidence allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

Trend in business presenting – the 18 minute presentation

Jim Gray in The Globe and Mail has an interesting article that picks up on the global success of TED Talks and suggests that this is the future direction of business presenting. I agree to a degreee. What do you think?

Read the article here.

Here is my comment:

Nice article and I think it does pick a trend for shorter – more impactful – presentations. Of course there will always be expectations but for executives who wish to become influential to their stakeholders then the 18 minute presentation is a useful concept.

This is one of the reasons that I am studying TED Talks speech in preparation for my new book. Using samples of people who are ‘giving the speech of their lives’ is a useful benchmark for all aspiring business presenters.

Warwick John Fahy
Author, The One Minute Presenter

About the Author, Warwick J Fahy

Would you like to know how to create impactful 18 minute business presentations? Contact me today on +86 1391 786 7502

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who struggle to get their point across and influence their key stakeholders. Warwick helps the executive project their message with confidence allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Speech Analysis by The One Minute Presenter on Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED Speech ‘Schools kill creativity’ [long post]

Sir Ken Robinson is a creativity expert and in this talks asks the question, “Why don’t we get the best out of people?” He argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. [Source: TED.com]

Here is my breakdown of the speech. The things that are great about the speech are:

  • Engages the audience with humour

  • Peppers the talk with anecdotes and quotes

  • Has a clear message through taglines

  • Uses rule of three

  • Stays on track even when telling jokes

  • Uses checking questions

The areas that could be improved include:

  • Clearer conclusion

  • Humour may not work for ‘larger’ audience

Engages the audience with humour

From the laughter, the audience clearly enjoyed the speech and the jokes. Robinson makes what could be a dry subject – changing the education system – into a humorous experience. Example of humour that worked:

  • Self depreciating joke about being in education (01:10)

Robinson starts an anecdote about being at a dinner party, then says that if you are in education you are not invited to dinner parties or at least not invited back. As he is in education himself, this works as a light hearted look at dull dinner party conversations. He follows this up with an important point, that while you may be bored with other people’s education experience, you loving talking about yours.

  • Famous figure from Stratford to LA (06:55)

He jokes about Shakespeare being seven years old and the trouble he would have caused his teacher and father. While this did not have a strong message, it was a light hearted transition to his next point – moving to LA. Also, he connects himself with the birthplace of Shakespeare which is subtle positioning.

  • Personal experience about son’s girlfriend (07:45)

When telling how his 16 year-old son did not want to go to LA on account of this having a girlfriend, Robinson jokes that he was leaving England because of his son’s girlfriend. Judging from the great laughter this really amused the audience. Perhaps they could relate!

  • Unexpected comment (03:20)

Early in the talk, after a large round of applause, he said “That was it by the way?” which got more laughter. Humour is very much about the unexpected. Some comedians call humour the moment when the train leaves the tracks. This comment is a perfect example. You expect him to move on or perhaps say ‘thank you’ but instead ends the talk. Laughter follows.

Warwick’s coaching tip: While humour is a great way to connect with the audience, it requires some advanced skills. Fundamentally a deep understanding for the audience and what they would find funny. Secondly, great timing in delivering a joke or punch line. The risk in using humour is that you can alienate your audience with an off-colour remark or badly delivered line. Always test your humour before hand on as many people as you can, including those that represent the audience.

Peppers the talk with anecdotes and quotes

Robinson uses anecdotes – which are short observations or stories – and quotations throughout his speech to good effect.

Anecdotes (15:10)

He finishes with a powerful success story about a ballet choreographer who had learning difficulties but because she was directed into dance school became a world famous choreographer of shows like Cats. Robinson notes that if treated today she would be diagnosed with ADHT, given pills and told to calm down. A powerful story that wraps up the urgency for a new way of approaching education.

Quotations ( 06:10)

He uses a Picasso quote ‘all children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up’. Again this is an excellent choice because it accurately sums up his message.

Has a clear message through taglines

Taglines – or soundbites – are short phrases that can be used in public speaking to help the audience understand a key point and remember the message after the talk. Robinson used taglines throughout his talk to convey his message:S

  • All children have tremendous talents and we squander them (02:55)

  • Creativity is as important in education as literacy and should be treated with same status (03:05)

  • We get educated out of creativity (06:20)

  • The purpose of public education is to produce university professors (09:35)

  • They live in their heads (10:10)

  • In the next 30 years, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history (12:10)

  • Need MA instead of a BA …..process of academic inflation (12:50)

  • She isn’t sick, she’s a dancer (16:50)

  • People who had to move to think (17:05)

Warwick’s coaching tip: The speaker has the responsibility to edit down content into a clear message. The more work you do on this part of your content, the more successful you will be in conveying a clear message.

Uses rule of three

The rhythm of three is used to help both the audience and speaker remember key points. Robinson used this technique twice:

In introducing the three themes of his talk: creativity, uncertainty of future and capacity for innovation from children.

At 13:00, Robinson says we know three things about intelligence

  1. Diverse

  2. Dynamic

  3. Distinct

Note how the words are alliterated (all start with the letter ‘d’) which is another memory device.

Warwick’s coaching tip: This is a great way to help organise your material quickly and it will help you memorise your flow.

Stays on track even when telling jokes

A strong part of Robinson’s delivery is that he knows his content so well that in the middle of introducing a list of three, he segues to a joke which gets a big laugh, and then comes back to the third point seamlessly. Although he may look like he is ad-libbing from time to time, I would be fairly certain that he has delivered this speech with these jokes many times before.

Warwick’s coaching tip: Remember to stay on track, especially when you get a good reaction from your audience. It is easy to get excited and get sidetracked.

Uses checking questions

Connecting with an audience can also involve asking short connecting questions. Robinson uses rhetorical questions, which do not require an answer:

…don’t you?

..am I right?

..wasn’t she?

Just by asking such a question, the speaker brings the audience along the path that he is taking in the talk.

Warwick’s coaching tip: Don’t overuse them and have a variety of different questions.

While this was a well received talk, there were a few areas which could have been improved.

Clearer conclusion

Robinson opens his conclusion with the following statement:

I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology one in which we start to reconstitute our conceptions of the richness of human capacity (17:50)

This is too long a sentence (32 words) and is not very clear, alluding to the thinking of an university professor joked about earlier in the speech.

A couple of alternatives might have been:

  • I believe our only hope for the future is to completely change the way we look at education

  • I believe our only hope for the future is to take a much wider, more comprehensive view on learning

Robinson’s next phrase – a simile – was difficult to say and did not come out smoothly:

Our education system has mined our minds in the way we have strip-mined the earth for a particular commodity (18:05)

While the simile is a good one, the wordplay is not smooth, in particular “mined our minds” does not come off the tongue easily.

Humour may not work for ‘larger’ audience

From the audience’s reaction, they loved Robinson’s sense of humour. With a larger audience watching online, I wonder whether some of the more cliche jokes about his wife’s cooking play so well. I was reminded of British comedian Tommy Cooper in some of his joke telling. This distracted me from his main message. Compared to the positives this is a small point, but one worth considering when we face multicultural audiences.

Warwick’s coaching tip: You need to find a balance. Ask yourself does the joke have a point in content or moving the speech along. For example, when joking about moving to LA and his son’s girlfriend, Robinson then connected this to the fact that the hierarchy of subjects in school is the same all around the world. Limit jokes that are irrelevant to a minimum.

Conclusion

This was a well delivered and well received talk which demonstrated a deep understanding for the motivations of the audience in the room. It combined a nice variety of personal anecdotes, well chosen quotations and crafted taglines. While the sense of humour may not work for everyone and the content a little light on substance, it certainly conveyed a simple point well made. I think this was a 7 out of 10.

About the Author

Warwick J Fahy

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who struggle to get their point across and influence their key stakeholders. Warwick helps the executive project their message with confidence allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

The King-Size Fears of Public Speaking

Tips to improve your next presentation

Is the fear of public speaking really such a big fear? The uncomfortable moments in the Oscar winning The King’s Speech, probably felt painfully familiar to many who have been under pressure while presenting. It certainly did for me and as someone who went to a speech therapist for elocution lessons as a child it made me think what we can take away from watching a movie about a man learning to manage his stammer. This article will cover some of the good tips and dispel the bizarre.

The King’s Tip: Always stand up to deliver a speech of importance.

An engaging speaking voice is very relevant today, as many business presentations are given through teleconferences. The lack of visual cues makes it harder for listeners to catch the message and tougher for speakers to read the audience. Standing up places you in an assertive posture and allows deeper breathing from your diaphragm which aids better vocal quality projection. Opera singers could deliver with such a wide range while sitting. Strengthening your abdominal muscles enables you to better fill your lungs with air. So you now have another reason to get to the gym. It’s optional whether you would want to have your wife sitting on your stomach.

The King’s Tip: Gradually expand your ability to project your voice.

Adding strength and authority starts with becoming comfortable with the sound of your own voice. Before I became a professional speaker, I was incredibly shy and self-conscious when speaking to groups. Partly this is because I am a natural introvert like many professionals in finance, IT and engineering. This can’t be changed overnight but like any skill can be developed. Practise your presentation out aloud, ideally in a meeting room, and project your voice so that someone at the back of the room would hear. While you don’t need to sing out your windows, find fun excuses to raise your voice, like playing sports or refereeing a football match at your children’s school.

Aside from voice improvements, the movie also highlights the importance of preparation and rehearsal.

The King’s Tip: Great speakers are made, not born.

No infant starts to speak with a stammer and no one starts with a fear of public speaking. Conversely, no one is born a natural public speaker. Circumstances, experiences and environment all play a key part in how people develop. I had a bad experience in a school drama class that put me off public speaking for decades. The good news is that these fears can be overcome. Hard work and determination to improve are the greatest success factors in becoming an effective public speaker. How many presenters could match the King’s dedication when he visited his speech therapist 82 times before a six month world tour? Many presenters do not allocate any time to rehearse their speech. If you have three weeks to prepare a totally new 20 minute presentation allow between 30 minutes and 1 hour a day for preparation and time-block it in your calendar. You wouldn’t expect to become a better swimmer if you never went to the pool, so find the time to practice your speaking skills.

The King’s Tip: Learn to self-evaluate

You don’t learn by doing, you learn by re-doing. Accelerate your learning by listening to your presentation on a video or audio recorder. This highly effective way makes you more aware of the areas you need to focus on – if you can get over the embarrassment of looking or listening to yourself! After watching a recording, take a piece of paper and divide it into two halves. Write down all your strengths on one side and areas that you would like to improve on the other. You will be surprised after this exercise, sometimes you sound better than you imagined. Most audiences don’t judge us as harshly as we critique ourselves.

Tips to avoid

Tips to avoid include relaxing your throat by smoking deeply into your lungs! Voice care is important so drink plenty of water and add lemon or honey. You can also lightly massage your vocal chords before you start presenting. Another piece of bad advice is “always start with a joke”. While humour can connect with your audience, it’s such a high risk approach. You might offend, not deliver it with the best timing or just not tell a funny joke. Not the best way to start your presentation.

In addition to the above tips, The King’s Speech highlights two key lessons. Firstly, only you can change you. If you don’t want to improve or if you don’t think it’s that important then your progress will reflect that. Secondly, being consistent and realistic about changing an engrained behaviour is essential. Put some time aside to rehearse and the improvements will follow.

About the Author

Warwick J Fahy

“I work with high-potential senior executives who need to be more confident and influential with their key stakeholders. I help the executive quickly and powerfully express their opinions into message based presentations – even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.  Buy or download the book here.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

If you have ever sat through a presentation and felt like this picture, then give us a call. We help executives learn how to get to the point and create memorable and persuasive presentations. Call us on +86 21 6101 0486

“Ever feel like the presenter is making too many points?”
“Ever feel like the presenter is making too many points?”

Photo credit: Piotr Bizior

Two Key Executive Speaking Skills: Get to the Point and Project your Voice

The opening of The King’s Speech, starts with the King stammering his way through a speech in front of 120,000 people. While you may not face that level of pressure, having the ability to deliver effective presentations is an important skill to fast track your career, especially into senior ranks. Often a better presenter will be promoted ahead of a manager with superior technical skills. As an executive speech coach, I am invited to work with senior executives to help them iron out difficulties they have communicating with their key stakeholders, like board of directors or clients. Here we examine two common obstacles facing managers and executives in China and suggest a few solutions. Don’t worry, none of them involve smoking cigarettes or putting marbles in your mouth!

Obstacle One: Getting to the point

Many business presenters struggle to get to the point. They over-elaborate and leave audiences wondering, “What’s your point?” half-way through the presentation.

Sometimes changing industry is the cause. Jessie Wang, a 15-year veteran from a Big 4 consulting firm, switched to become an in-house tax specialist for a high-end real estate developer. Unlike her previous experience, where after submitting a client report, she had no connection with follow-through, now commercial directors expected advice and recommendations on how to implement a project. Although everyone regarded Jessie as an expert, frustrations emerged in meetings and telephone calls with the directors. Jessie gave rambling presentations covering tax legislation in too much detail. Her audience simply wanted to grasp the main point quickly and directly. Under time pressure and with millions of dollars investment on the line, they needed the best advice to make a decision and move on.

The solution worked on two levels.

Firstly, I helped Jessie understand how to construct a message-based presentation using a technique called the inverted pyramid. This technique puts the crucial information and message at the start and adds supporting points in decreasing order of importance. This executive summary approach uses the opening one to two minutes to outline the core message and key points to the audience who can then relax as they know where the presentation is heading. Secondly, to help Jessie adopt an in-house expert approach, I introduced a framework into which Jessie could slot her content. I work with 12 presentation frames and selected one that enabled Jessie Wang to cut out the irrelevant technical details, and finish the presentation with a strong recommendation. One approach divides the content into three parts; the problem, a range of possible solutions to address this issue, and finally a recommendation with caveats.

The resulting shorter, more outcome focused meetings helped lower tensions and improve key relationships with the commercial directors.

Obstacle two : Improving vocal projection

A common theme in The King’s Speech was vocal projection and this is a common obstacle facing many presenters. Jacky Li works in a Beijing professional services firm and as a new partner is expected to represent the company at industry events and bring in new business. Like many technical experts working in finance, IT, and engineering, Jacky is naturally an introvert, and is brilliant working with numbers and processes. Over the years by going deeper and deeper into his expert silo, he has secured consistent promotions. However, at this stage in his career, he needed to switch from being a technical expert to a more outgoing executive working with a wider range of stakeholders.

Two barriers stood in the way. Firstly, a lack of confidence at the daunting task of this expanding and unfamiliar role. This is common for newly promoted executives who find that their new portfolio includes a skillset that they have never developed. Secondly, Jacky had a very quiet voice, also common with introverts. This was not a problem when communicating one-to-one, but became a major fear factor when facing prospective clients or a conference hall full of industry peers.

Jacky worked on a plan to make steady and measurable progress on his voice which would also improve his confidence levels – a virtuous cycle. I applied a range of approaches to expand the range and volume of his voice. Warm up exercises were borrowed from opera singers, exaggerated vocal emphasis techniques were taken from improvisational theatre acting and scientific measurements were made with decibel readers. I provided a safe and supportive environment for Jacky to stretch his comfort zone.

In about one to two months, Jacky could clearly hear, see and feel the change. He had received some positive comments from his colleagues while in a client sales meeting, he could see that when he projected his voice with more confidence his audience paid more attention. This all helped Jacky feel more confident and as a result he was able to start to fill his new role with more energy.

Conclusion

Getting to the point and increasing your vocal projection will make a significant improvement to your presentations. Another take away from The King’s Speech is that hard work and persistence will triumph any current deficiency you have.

About the Author

Warwick J Fahy

“I work with high-potential senior executives who need to be more confident and influential with their key stakeholders. I help the executive quickly and powerfully express their opinions into message based presentations – even when under pressure.”  Learn more about who I help here.

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.  Buy or download the book here.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

If you have ever sat through a presentation and felt like this picture, then give us a call. We help executives learn how to get to the point and create memorable and persuasive presentations. Call us on +86 21 6101 0486

“Ever feel like the presenter is making too many points?”
“Ever feel like the presenter is making too many points?”

Photo credit: Piotr Bizior