Questions To Ask Your Speech Coach

When you are selecting your public speaking or presentation skills coach - here are some important questions that can help you select the best speech coach for you.

Tell me about your most unusual or most challenging presentations that you have delivered.

Tell me about some of the books that you have read recently on presentation skills.

Tell me about some of your speech coaching triumphs.

Tell me about your experience working with executives and executive issues.

Show me what your clients say.

In addition to the questions above, here are some criteria to consider.

Your best speech coach is one who speaks as well as coaches.

Your best speech coach is one who has experienced some of your speaking challenges.

Your best speech coach is one who is constantly learning as well as teaching.

George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives
To arrange for Executive speech Coaching – call 905-335-1997

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Presentation Tip #52 - Open with a Success Story

Open Your Presentation With a Success StoryWhen you deliver a sales presentation, leadership speech or motivational talk - open with a success story.

It grabs attention.
It offers hope.It enhances your credibility.It's more memorable.

Success Grabs Attention
To capture attention at the beginning of your presentation deliver a success story. More people will listen because people prefer to hear from winners - not losers. Success creates positive attraction. If you start negative you will repel them.

Success Offers Hope
Start with success and you offer hope to your listeners. Hope is the universal drug. We all want it and can't get enough of it. Hope is a powerful emotion and motivator. If you are speaking to persuade then triggering hope will help move them.

Success Enhances Your Credibility
When you demonstrate success you will have more credibility. Give an example of your success - especially how you helped a client achieve success - and you appear as the expert. Success will increase your value. When you appear as an expert offering high value you will be perceived more as a helpful resource instead of an annoying sales person.

Success is More Memorable
Plant a success story in the minds of your listeners and they will tend to associate you with that story whenever they think about you. They might even repeat that story when they talk to others about you. Use that story early in your presentation and you can refer back to it when clarifying a point later in your presentation. The success story becomes a point of reference for shaping their opinions.
In my presentation skills seminars or sales presentations to prospects I have used the example of how I helped one client close a $10 million deal. Depending on the situation I might convey some of the detail and drama to effectively plant the success story in the listeners' minds.

Prepare Your Success Stories
List your success stories. Search your memory, colleagues' experiences and client testimonials for evidence of dramatic results. Then go back to those clients for more detail if necessary. Write out the best stories. Edit the story so is it easy to tell without detracting from the main message. Rehearse them so you can deliver them comfortably and convincingly.

Avoid opening with the company story about the founder's biography, corporate history and mission statements. That's usually boring. No one cares about your company until they know if you can help them.

Success Breeds Success
Lead with success stories because success is attractive and convincing.

George Torok
PS: Tell me how this tip helps you.
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Can We Really Trust Your Conference Speakers to Stay on Time

If you are organizing a conference, convention or corporate meeting this is the most difficult thing to do. Keep your speakers on time.

Every speaker believes that they need more time than you allot them. Every speaker believes that the audience loves them and wants to hear more.

Most of the time, you, the conference or meeting organizer, can not trust your speaker to stay on time – especially if your speaker is a non-professional. Perhaps you invited an industry expert or company spokesperson to speak because the price was right. They speak for free. That might satisfy your budget but will it present a logistics challenge for you?

Consider this: A speaker who agrees to speak for free with the intention of promoting his product or company will feel that you owe him the time you originally agreed to – and sometimes more.

As the event organizer you probably know that conferences and meetings seldom run on time – which means that someone must cut their presentation. A free speaker will seldom do that because:

  • They don’t know how to truncate their presentation
  • They promised their boss that they would speak for x minutes at your event
  • They feel that you owe them their time - period
And yes we’ve all seen professional speakers abuse your time. Celebrity speakers seem to be the worst because they are basking in the glow of “It’s all about me”. Novice professional speakers make the mistake of going over time because they are still learning.

Every time before they go on stage, the best professional speakers will usually ask the MC or conference organizer, “When do you want me to finish?” And miraculously they will finish on time. Why? Because they have prepared to do that.

Here is a test you can use to see if your speaker understands the concept “Finish on Time”

Ask the speaker, “How will you ensure that you finish on time?”

Does the speaker have his own clock or he is aware of the clock in the room. It’s a bad sign if the answer to both these questions is “no”.

Ask the speaker, “Are you able to shorten your presentation to meet our shifting time limits?” Is the speaker prepared to leave something out?

If the speaker looks at you strange or starts to protest then your schedule is in trouble.

Ask the speaker, “What have you done to shorten your presentation when the schedule changed at a previous speaking engagement?”

If you want your speakers (professional or free) to adapt to your schedule, ask them these critical questions before you agree to book them for your special event.

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How to Present to City Council: Steve Jobs Video

When you need to speak to city council watch this video first. This is Steve Jobs speaking to Cupertino City Council about Apple's plans for a new office building.

Steve Jobs had many things in his favor going into this presentation in 2011 - and he still prepared and did the right things to ensure his success. I have presented to city council and watched many others do the same. Most of those presenters could learn much from this video.

He was personal and transparent. He started with a personal story about his admiration for HP and the founders of that company. He expressed his excitment about getting a job with HP. Jobs made a joke about his own the 50s.

He proceeded to sell the dream - 12,000 people in one building - and then he explained the significance of that.

He addressed issues that were important to city council and talked in their language.

Landscaping would change from 20% to 80% because we would use underground parking.

The number of trees on the property would increase from 3,700 to 6,000 - including some apricot orchards.

Jobs talked about bus service, tax base and jobs - all key words to city councilers.

When asked a silly question - he replied with "I'm a simpleton, I think that the city should do those things". He humbled himself and did not attack the questioner - which many presenters under fire do.

He emphasised that this would be the best business building in the world and experts would visit our city to study it.

When asked a question about air quality, he personalized it by stating, "Both of my parents died of lung cancer so I'm a little sensitive to that issue."

Notice that the city councilers did not attack him on any of the critical issues because he built his case so well.

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How to Ask, Answer and Anticipate Questions In Your Presentation

Free Audio Class

In this program you will discover
• The two hidden laws of answering questions
• The over-used word that negates your answer
• Three unasked questions that you need to address for your audience
• Damaging lies that many of us were taught about answering questions
• Constructive phrases to use when you don’t get the answer you wanted
• How to convey more confidence when answering questions
• How to structure your presentation to follow the persuasive question sequence
• How to deal with tough and hostile questions without losing credibility
• How to ask questions that engage your audience without threatening them
• Common phrases to avoid because they often offend your audience
• And much more…

Live Audio Class

When: Thursday January 26, 2012 – 2:00pm to 3:00pm EST (New York Time)

Register to get the free download.

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Come on. Speed it Up!

What does that really mean?
Imagine that you are speaking to a group. You are speaking slowly because you want to be understood. You are using pauses because you learned that that is an effective way to create drama in your presentation.

You think that you are doing well with your presentation. Then someone says, “Hey! Can you speed this up?” And you notice a few other people nodding their heads in agreement.

You might feel tempted to speak faster. Don’t do that. That is not what that person was asking for.

Most likely, what they are really saying is, “I get it. I’m with you. Now explain to me how to do this. Let’s move on”.

A normal flow to a presentation is to first explain the background, the issues and the goal. Then you might talk about the history of your organization. Perhaps you are trying to bring every uninformed person up to speed before you address the point of your presentation.

So if one or a few people say, “Let’s speed it up” what they really mean is “Yeah, we know that. What do you suggest? Or how do we do this?”

They are not saying “speak faster”. They are saying, “leave some of this boring stuff out”.

I experienced this frustration when I attended a workshop on the topic of humor. The speaker was a qualified humor writer. I was there to learn “how” to be funnier when I spoke. Yet he wasted the first half of the session explaining “why” humor was important to a presentation. I put my hand up and asked him to speed it up – when what I really meant was “Skip the crap. We already know that it's important. Start talking about how to do it”.

Unfortunately he ignored my request and his time ran out before he got to the "how to". I was disappointed with this presentation because he didn’t appreciate what his audience really wanted.

When your audience pleads with you to speed it up, what they might really mean is:

  • We are past that stage – move on
  • You’re speaking fluff – say something more meaningful
  • Your words haven’t challenged me yet – when will you get to something interesting?
Speed it up really means that you need to better engage and challenge the thinking of your audience. It does not mean to speak faster.

By the way, I tend to speak slower than many speakers and I use the pause more effectively than most. Other speakers have commented favorably to me about both these techniques and no one has asked me to “speed it up”.

Speed it up does not mean - speak faster. It means you need to say more meaningful things. Say things that make your audience think. They are challenging you to make them think.

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Ford CEO Runner Up in 2011 Executive BS Jargon Award

What did he say?

BS jargaon award for Ford CEO

It can be mildly entertaining and incredulously frustrating when business leaders make statements that convey nothing but BS.

Lucy Kellaway writing for the Financial Times announced the executive winners of her annual  Jargon Awards.

Honourable mention goes to Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co. for what Lucy labels as a purposeful yet content-free statement:

“Going forward, we are focused on aggressively managing short-term challenges and opportunities and we remain committed to delivering our mid-decade plan and serving a growing group of Ford customers.”

What did he say?

If I was a nervous investor before hearing that statement, I would be nervous and confused after.

The winner is this category of Sound And Fury goes to Cisco Systems Inc. CEO,John Chambers, who managed to be even emptier - and much uglier - in fewer words:

“We will accelerate our leadership across our five priorities and compete to win in the core.”

What was he smoking?

Imagine the staff searching for a straight answer about what he wants. What does he really want and how will we measure that?

Read the rest of "And the winners of 2011’s guff awards are..." by Lucy Kellaway as printed in the Globe and Mail.

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How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

Have you heard that dumb question from your parents when you were a child? Have you inflicted it upon your child as a parent?

I'm guilty of using it and naturally I learned it as a child.

You know the scenario. Something has not gone according to the plans of the parent. Therefore the parent pulls out this useless "authority hammer" from their "parenting toolkit". It's a no win question. Neither the parent nor the child has the answer and the conversation ends badly.

It's a dumb question. There is no right answer. There might be lots of smart ass answers. But there is no answer that will advance this conversation to a positive conclusion.

Did your teachers ever tell you that there are no dumb questions?

Ha! They lied. There are many dumb questions and questions that might sound smart but are dumb because of bad timing.

As a business presenter there are times that you might ask questions of your audience. When you do it well, questioning is a powerful way to connect with your audience. When done poorly, it can be insulting, embarassing and disastrous.

You can learn more about how to use questions intelligently in your presentations by listening to this free audio class:

How to Competently Ask, Answer and Anticipate Questions in Your Presentations

It's free to register. You can listen to the live audio class on January 26, 2012 and/or download a free audio file of the class.

Among other points, you'll learn how to avoid asking dumb questions.

Check out the details and register to listen to this important audio class.

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Body Language Oozes Testosterone

We know that body language sends messages. Those messages are not always clear to your audience. There are intended and unintended messages that body language might convey.

But did you know that your physical body language also sends chemical messages to your own body?

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Burnside News.
Amy J.C. Cuddy, assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, has performed extensive research in various human areas of behaviour, feelings and control in the workplace. Her findings can help many managers become better presenters and overall more confident professionals at stress-inducing periods, like employment interviews, meetings and all in-person events.

Working with co-authors Dana Carney and Andy Yap from Columbia University, Cuddy completed a definitive study that became a wonderful article, Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance, which appeared in an issue of Psychological Science magazine (September 21, 2010).

The interesting point from this research was that when you stand more powerfully your body cooperates by producing more testosterone - which makes you feel more powerful.

Stand proud and you will feel proud. Look good and you will feel good.
Body language is not only what your audience reads into your message. It is also how you feel about yourself and your presentation. This is critical when you might feel anxious about presenting. If you want to feel more confident - look more confident. Then drink the testosterone.

Read the full article Improving Presentations Skills with Power Poses

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Does the Bigger Man Win?

Presentation bigger
When speaking in front of an audience, does size matter? Specifically, do you appear more powerful and thus more persuasive when you are taller and/or larger than your competition.

On his NeuroScience Marketing Blog, Roger Dooley states, "There’s data from business showing that tall men are more likely to be promoted than shorter guys, and that they also earn more money."

Dooley provocatively suggests "Politics is Simple: Vote for the Tall Guy".

He justifies that statement with this opening:
"Our decisions aren’t always as rational as we think, and choosing a presidential candidate is no exception. Researchers at Texas Tech have found an innate preference for candidates who are more physically imposing. This tendency is considered to be an example of evolutionary psychology, in which modern-day humans still exhibit behaviors developed in our hunter-gatherer days. (Or, simply put, “caveman politics.”)"

Politically incorrect or not, there appears to be a correlation between an individual's height and possibly body size and their perceived leadership abilities.

In my experience observing, training and coaching speakers, I've noticed this same relationship. Specifically a speaker who appears to be larger often projects more power and thus is more effective as a presenter.

Regardless of your size, how might you use this information?

The key to remember is "relative size". How large or tall or powerful do you appear to your audience as compared to your competitiion. Even if you are not a political candidate you are still competiting.

If you are a large person, flaunt it.

If you are a smaller person, you can appear to be larger by:

  • Standing closer to the audience
  • Standing as tall as you can
  • Walking confidently
  • Talking in a deeper voice
  • Moving your arms in bigger gestures
  • Speaking from a raised platform
  • Not hiding behind the lecturn
  • Speaking slower
  • Moving about the stage to consume all the space
My friend and mentor, Peter Urs Bender, used these techniques to appear much larger on stage than he was. He remarked to me that after people watched him speak on stage they often approached him to speak with him. Peter noticed that many people did a double take in suprise when they realized how short he was.

When he was on stage he appeared powerful because of his presentation skills. Because he appeared powerful people assumed that he must be tall.
If you want to appear more powerful when presenting, use these techniques to appear larger.
Read the full article Politics is Simple: Vote for the Tall Guy by Roger Dooley

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Speak More Slowly - important lesson from Stroke Victim

When Words Failed Him  is an inspiring story about Harvey Strosberg, a trial lawyer who suffered a massive stroke that robbed him of speech.

He learned to speak again and more importantly returned to his career as a court room lawyer.

A lesson that he points out is that he found he was more persuasive when he spoke slower. He suggests that most lawyers need to speak more slowly to win their arguments in the court room.

It's curious that after years of a successful law career he was still able to learn how to present more effectively. We should never stop learning. Too many presenters forget or ignore the fundamentals of presenting. In this case, because he had to learn how to speak again from scratch he was more willing to learn how to do it better.

The lesson for business presenters - don't wait for a stroke to force you to learn the fundamentals. Start speaking slower today.

Read the full story When Words Failed Him at the Globe and Mail.

George Torok

Public Seminar: How to Deliver Superior Presentations

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Warning: Trailer Trash Words and Phrases that Destroy Your Credibility

The words that you use tell your audience who you are, where you are from and what is your level of education. Based on those blatant messages, your audience decides on what label to slap on your face.
If your audience perceives that you are “beneath” them in education they tend to be less willing to see you as an expert.

There is nothing wrong with coming from the other side of the tracks. Oprah has pointed out often where she came from. But she also made it clear that she didn’t stay there. She improved her language skills…..

Watch out for these words and phrases that might slap you with inferior labels.

You Guys

This is pure trailer trash talk. The correct term is “you”. The word “you” is both singular and plural. We learned that in high school. The phrase “you guys” is just a touch above the gang phrase “youse guys”

This word is dismissive. It suggests that you are dismissing what the other person just said or that you wasted their time with your previous message. Avoid it.

The word is “In – ter – net”. Three syllables with a clear T in the middle. It’s not “Inner-net”.

The individual who claimed to be an expert on creative thinking kept pronouncing this word as “crate”. Just plain trash talk.

Freak You Out

The individual from the previous example also used this term. The only place that I’ve heard this term is on the TV show “Trailer Park Boys”. I’ve looked at that show a few times and I don’t want to advertise that fact. Neither should you.

If you speak or present to senior executives, they will likely be “language educated”. That means that they will listen to your words and judge you and your value on the words that you use. Their ears will be tuned to key words and phrases that enable them to quickly label you and your value.

The wrong words can turn your listeners into objectors immediately. If you want to connect with these high value decision makers then learn to speak their language.

George Torok

Executive Speech Coach

Presentation Skills Seminars

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