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Speak to spark change

I was a guest lecturer in a class on campus today. I spoke about how to make effective presentations. A presentation about presentations. So meta. I get excited talking to groups about effective presentations. So few people seem to relish the opportunity to speak publicly. Yet it’s such a worthwhile way to force yourself to think […]

Talk with, not at

Note to self: Even if it’s a speech, talk with, not at. It’s a stance, a tone, a shift in perspective that can make an audience of hundreds feel like the speaker is with them, connecting directly and personally. Ask questions. Move. Make eye contact. Feel what they are feeling. Be with the audience. And […]

“Look up. Wake up. Show up.”

I gave the keynote this morning at a regional science fair. As I was getting ready today I told my wife that I had low expectations because the majority of students in the audience were middle-school students. Maybe I’m just remembering my own awkward middle school years, but I had it in my head that […]

Showing my work: Connecting a new team to the mission

We just selected nineteen college students to join our work team, and I’m getting ready for their first training session on Sunday. We always begin with a big picture focus. I feel strongly that Why comes before How. If you want a sense of purpose and a clear mission for everyone on your team (and […]

The truth about art

We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth. –Pablo Picasso Jason Silva keeps making good stuff. I appreciate his effusive expressiveness. He’s got charisma, and I love how he’s using video to convey in short bursts his passion for ideas and feelings that awaken possibility and […]

Presenters: Prepare for AV to fail

I did a talk to a student group last night and the AV didn’t work. It was in the main classroom building on campus where I’ve never had any AV problems before.* I had just created a new version of this presentation earlier in the day and hadn’t taken the time to rehearse, so when I […]

Showing my work: FAB 4

Showing my work helps remind me what a rewardingly messy process creation is. An audience typically only sees the well honed final creation, but it’s worthwhile to share openly the process that creates the product. I take heart when I see an artist show the rough drafts and discarded wrong steps. I’m remixing a presentation […]

Hero Quest

I’m tweaking the slides for a presentation I’m giving tonight to a group of business students. This is my “HeroQuest” talk. If I had to tweet the purpose of this talk, it would be this:   I want these college students to walk away tonight with new possibilities for the future and knowing it is […]

The elevator pitch, the tweet, and clarity of purpose

Can you pitch your idea or make your point in the length of an elevator ride? That’s been a long-standing and effective thought experiment to help determine if you’ve thought clearly enough about your plan and can articulate it simply and quickly. So, if you’re working on a speech or a business idea or a […]

Talk with, not at

Even when standing before an audience, no matter the size, make it feel like a conversation. Talk with people, not at them. Ask questions. Even rhetorical questions feel conversational without actually needing a response. Make eye contact. Connect and respond to the vibe of the room. And in interpersonal communication, master the nuance of listening […]

SpeechCraft: Showing my work

  I’m speaking in a couple of college classes this week about presentation excellence. It’s a favorite topic, but it’s also especially challenging when the audience is expecting excellence by virtue of the topic alone. If you’re giving a talk about how to give talks, you better be good. I’ve tweaked my slides on this […]

Hear, forget. See, remember. Do, understand.

If you want something to stick, you’ve got to take action. Thinking about it or learning about it probably won’t be enough to make meaningful change. Doing something, though, could make all the difference. Listening to a lecture on cooking won’t make you a chef. Watching the Food Network won’t either. But, crack some eggs […]

Talk like a human being

Especially when speaking to an audience it’s tempting to try to put on an authoritative voice, to speak like someone you’ve seen on TV or in a movie. That approach usually comes across as canned or forced and often robotic and soullessly flat. Just be who you really are. Speak like a human, not like […]

Style + substance

Form AND function. Both should be remarkable. Quality content can get lost in poor delivery. Details matter. Presentation matters. I love how Apple cares as much about the package design as they do about the hardware and software engineering of their products. Tweaking the details of a design often leads to new insights in the […]

Diana Nyad’s audacious pursuit

I’m spending this weekend at the lake with my family. It’s a final summer getaway before my girls begin the school year on Monday. Being on, around, or in water is good for my soul. Yours, too. There’s even a popular new book, Blue Mind, that explores the science behind why water makes us happier. […]

Drew Dudley and “lollipop moments”

Life can turn in a moment. A seemingly small gesture, an act of simple kindness, can make a big difference. In a world of people busy distracting themselves, being present and attentive and kind has become a superpower. You can be a hero for others just by paying attention and caring. I was reminded of Drew Dudley’s […]

Keep it simple, make it clear

A story from Ken Segall’s book, Insanely Simple, about his experience as part of the advertising team working with Apple: At one agency meeting with Steve Jobs, we were reviewing the content of a proposed iMac commercial when a debate arose about how much we should say in the commercial. The creative team was arguing […]

The near win

Reaching a goal can derail you. Accomplish it and then what? New goals, I suppose. But a life built around systems and process and thoughtful routines will bring more excellence and more consistent satisfaction than the ups and downs of goal-setting. There’s something transcendent about striving, reaching for what you know may actually be unreachable. It […]

Offstage beat

The excellent public speaking coach and author, Nick Morgan, encourages speakers to do as actors do and master the offstage beat before beginning a presentation. Actors are trained to get the emotion and perspective of their character fully in mind before walking on stage. If your character is angry in a scene, feel that emotion […]

Stoic Optimism: Ryan Holiday’s TEDx Talk

Following up on my post last week about Ryan Holiday’s wise little book, The Obstacle is the Way, here’s Holiday’s recent TEDx talk on Stoic Optimism: There are some good stories in this talk. I loved the anecdote about Edison’s factory burning down and the inventor summoning the family to come because they would never likely […]

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