Absolutely: Are you feeling queasy yet?

Words drive thoughts. Thoughts drive emotions. Emotions drive decisions.

The use of the right words can move your listeners in the right direction and the use of the wrong words can move them in the wrong direction. Right, meaning in the direction that you want them to go and wrong meaning the opposite.

It’s not just the choice of words that lead to your success or failure but the abuse of words.

When you present you want your audience to remember the most important words that reinforce your message. You don’t want them to remember words that detract from your message.

The speaker was talking about coaching. So you would think that the words that the audience should remember the most would be about coaching – the process and the results.

Instead, the word that I remember most from this presentation was “absolutely”.

I heard it so many times that I started to feel sick when I heard it. Sometimes it was uttered three times within two minutes.

Absolutely, Absolutely, Absolutely.

The speaker was using the word, “Absolutely” instead of “yes”. I did not hear the speaker say “yes”. Curious, what was she hiding?

Superior speakers use shorter words and short sentences to get their message across. Absolutely is four syllables while yes is one syllable. Which do you think is the better word to use?

If you mean yes – say yes.

Job interviewers and police interrogators will tell you that the more words a person uses to answer a simple yes or no question – the least likely that the answer is true.

Did you complete your degree? Absolutely
Did you kill John Doe? Absolutely not.

Do you love me? Absolutely.
Did you have sex with that person? Absolutely not.

Did you mean yes or no?

If you mean no – say no.

Why would a speaker say absolutely when they mean yes?

Perhaps they think that “absolutely” sounds sexy, modern or intelligent. In each of those cases they are talking insincere.

Perhaps they are uncertain about their information or position. “Yes” would sound much more certain.

Perhaps they are mimicking a word that they just heard which suggests that they are not thinking about what they say or how it might affect their message.

Do you want your listeners to remember your key message or do you want them to remember an annoying word like absolutely?

George Torok

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.Share/Save/Bookmark

Dealing with a Hostile Audience

The best example of taming a hostile audience is Marc Anthony’s eulogy for Julius Caesar after the murder of the emperor. Following is Marc Anthony’s speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

ANTONY. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

He addresses the listeners as equals just as many US presidents start their speeches with “fellow Americans.” And he puts them at ease by offering only to bury Caesar not praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.

He starts to play with their minds by suggesting that it is easy to forget about the good deeds and only remember the bad. This plants some doubt in the minds of the listeners, maybe even some guilt for already forgetting of the good deeds. He reminds them that the greatest crime according to the murderer of Caesar was that he was ambitions. Then he points out that Caesar has paid the price for that crime.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men-

He speaks well of the murderers. He casts no stones.

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;

He talks about his friend. An emotional appeal.

But Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.

Notice how he repeats this refrain. It is effective because it anchors the crime of which Caesar was accused and executed for. And the message about Brutus being a honorable man starts to rub listeners as untrue.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man. Reminder of the good things that Caesar did while reminding them of the now weak crime of ambition.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

In fact he does. The use of the word, “but” in the next line is a clear indicator of disagreement.

But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause;
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

An emotional tug at their guilt and the setup for a pause on his part to allow the listeners to think and speak amongst themselves.

FIRST CITIZEN. Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

SECOND CITIZEN. If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar has had great wrong.

THIRD CITIZEN. Has he, masters? I fear there will a worse come in his place.

FOURTH CITIZEN. Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown; Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.

FIRST CITIZEN. If it be found so, some will dear abide it.

SECOND CITIZEN. Poor soul, his eyes are red as fire with weeping.

THIRD CITIZEN. There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.

FOURTH CITIZEN. Now mark him, he begins again to speak.

It worked. The audience is now listening more intently to Marc Anthony and they are rethinking their original position about the validity of killing Caesar. Mark Anthony has turned the audience. And they are ready for his next push.

ANTONY. But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world. Now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters! If I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honorable men.
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, 'tis his will.
Let but the commons hear this testament-
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read-
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

FOURTH CITIZEN. We'll hear the will. Read it, Mark Antony.

ALL. The will, the will! We will hear Caesar's will.

ANTONY. Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs,
For if you should, O, what would come of it!

FOURTH CITIZEN. Read the will; we'll hear it, Antony.
You shall read us the will, Caesar's will.

ANTONY. Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it.
I fear I wrong the honorable men
Whose daggers have stabb'd Caesar; I do fear it.

FOURTH CITIZEN. They were traitors. Honorable men! ALL. The will! The testament!

SECOND CITIZEN. They were villains, murtherers. The will!
Read the will!

ANTONY. You will compel me then to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corse of Caesar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? And will you give me leave?

ALL. Come down.

He comes down from the pulpit.

THIRD CITIZEN. You shall have leave.

FOURTH CITIZEN. A ring, stand round.

FIRST CITIZEN. Stand from the hearse, stand from the body.

SECOND CITIZEN. Room for Antony, most noble Antony.

ANTONY. Nay, press not so upon me, stand far off.

ALL. Stand back; room, bear back!

ANTONY. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle. I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii.
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through;
See what a rent the envious Casca made;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him. Then burst his mighty heart,
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish'd over us.
O, now you weep, and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity. These are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.

FIRST CITIZEN. O piteous spectacle!

SECOND CITIZEN. O noble Caesar!

THIRD CITIZEN. O woeful day!

FOURTH CITIZEN. O traitors villains!

FIRST CITIZEN. O most bloody sight!

SECOND CITIZEN. We will be revenged.

ALL. Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill!
Slay! Let not a traitor live!

ANTONY. Stay, countrymen.

FIRST CITIZEN. Peace there! Hear the noble Antony.

SECOND CITIZEN. We'll hear him, we'll follow him, we'll die with him.

ANTONY. Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honorable.
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it. They are wise and honorable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts.
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend, and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him.
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood. I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me. But were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.

ALL. We'll mutiny.

FIRST CITIZEN. We'll burn the house of Brutus.

THIRD CITIZEN. Away, then! Come, seek the conspirators.

ANTONY. Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.

ALL. Peace, ho! Hear Antony, most noble Antony!

ANTONY. Why, friends, you go to do you know not what.
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not; I must tell you then.
You have forgot the will I told you of.

ALL. Most true, the will! Let's stay and hear the will.

ANTONY. Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.

SECOND CITIZEN. Most noble Caesar! We'll revenge his death.

THIRD CITIZEN. O royal Caesar!

ANTONY. Hear me with patience.

ALL. Peace, ho!

ANTONY. Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs forever- common pleasures,
To walk abroad and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! When comes such another?

FIRST CITIZEN. Never, never. Come, away, away!
We'll burn his body in the holy place
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.
Take up the body.

SECOND CITIZEN. Go fetch fire.

THIRD CITIZEN. Pluck down benches.

FOURTH CITIZEN. Pluck down forms, windows, anything.

Exeunt Citizens with the body.

ANTONY. Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt.

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.Share/Save/Bookmark

4 Questions You Need to Answer in Your Presentation

Every time you speak you must answer four questions for your audience.

This addresses the question of purpose and relevance.

This addresses the question of direction.

This addresses the question of detail.

What if?
This addresses the question of wild cards.

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.

Sales & Marketing Executives versus 12-year-olds

Who delivers a better presentation and why?

Recently I listened to a group of senior sales and marketing executives speak at a networking meeting. I also served as a judge at a speech contest for 12-year-olds. These two unrelated events prompted me to compare the presentation skills of each group.

1. Guess who was more engaging, attention grabbing and memorable?

2. Guess who was boring, uninspiring and easily forgettable?

The answer to question one is – the 12-year-olds. They were good.

The answer to question two is – the sales & marketing executives. They needed improvement.

Why did 12-year-olds deliver better presentations than senior sales and marketing executives?

The 12-year olds were competing in a speech contest. Many of their parents were there. Money and prestige were on the line, so they were well rehearsed.

Each presenter had a focused message. Their presentation was designed to deliver that message. Some were deep and serious while others were light and whimsical. In all cases the message was clear and easy to summarize.

The presenters spoke to the interests of the audience. The topics ranged from “the influence of the media”, “tourism in third world countries”, “the family van”, “peculiarities of the English language”, and “homework”. Yet each speaker related the topic to the listener.

Each speaker told colorful stories. That sparked images in my mind. Many said things that were funny and made me laugh. Some statements challenged my opinion. I was impressed by the carefully selected words and phrasing. All were simple and understandable.

Each speaker conveyed passion for their message. Each radiated that they were happy to be speaking to us.

These speakers were bold. They stood before the audience, looked people in the eye, delivered their statements and performed.

What did the Sales & Marketing Executives (SME) do poorly?

Winging it
The SME seemed to be winging it – even though they were competing for attention, memorability and jobs. These SME were between jobs but seemed reluctant to compete and rehearse. Yet, clearly a lot of money was on the line. If their family had attended, would they have prepared better?

There was no focus or purpose evident. It almost seemed that they first were reciting their resume and then what they had for breakfast. Okay, I’m exaggerating the breakfast part – but it seemed as boring as porridge.

Each speaker seemed to be caught in their own self-centered world. Most didn’t relate to me or how they might fix my pain or that of my contacts. How could I help them if I didn’t know what they were offering? Stating “who you worked for” tells me little. They needed to speak of pain and solutions.

Facts, history and blah, blah, blah. Some related recent experiences but none that were worth remembering. Many used filler, self-sabotaging and jargon words. I was bored, confused and unimpressed.

I didn’t feel it. The emotion that I felt was remorse. “Why am I here?”

You might think that Sales & Marketing Executives would be anything but humble. You might think that Sales & Marketing Executives would grasp the difference between benefits and features. I thought so too.

All of the SME sat while speaking, crunched in their chairs some with an arm draped over the back of the chair. It was as if this was a family picnic instead of a possible career defining meeting. I found it curious that none of the men wore a tie. Did they want to be taken seriously? Or was this just a social club?

Presentation Skills Contest Results
What’s the score? 12-year olds -1. Sales & Marketing Executives - 0.

Some of you might think that I’m too hard on the Sales & Marketing Executives. That I’m expecting too much from them. Maybe – but I bet that I’m not the only one.

© George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives. He coaches business leaders to deliver deal-closing presentations. Find more free presentation tips at http://www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com Find more tips and ideas for your presentations at http://www.facebook.com/PresentationSkillsClub To arrange for training for your team call 905-335-1997

Sales & Marketing Executives versus 12-year olds

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.

Comments & Questions from Audio Class: Confidence

How to Radiate More Confidence than you feel when speaking - feedback

If you listened to the live broadcast or the recording, this is the place to add your comments, suggestions and questions about this program and topic.

What ideas were helpful to you? How helpful did you find this program? How has this program made a difference for you?

What topics do you suggest for future audio classess or email tips.

Thank you for your feedback

George Torok
The Speech Coach for Executives
Author of Power Presentation Tips

PS: Watch for more free audio classes on presentation skills

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.

Radiate More Confidence than You Feel - free audio class

Listen by phone to this free audio class on Thursday November 2 at 2:00 pm EDT. If you can't make that time you can still listen to the recording - but you need to register here http://presentation-skills-seminars.com/

Topics and question to be addressed include:

Why should your audience feel confident?

5 Confidence boosters before you speak

5 Techniques as you start

How does your audience decide if you are confident?

First aid for when the nerves strike

The dirty dozen red flags of non-confidence

If you are not yet registered and you want to appear more confident when you speak register now.

George Torok

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.