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Occasionally, young speakers ask me for advice on public speaking.

I love it when they do, not because I’m flattered to be asked (although perhaps I am), but because the art of public speaking is a noble one and if I can contribute positively to anyone who has the courage to stand in front of a group of people, then I’m happy to help.

The following is a random list of suggestions that I’ve given over the years.  I hope that they’re helpful and relevant for people of all ages: Read the rest of this entry »

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My 7 year old son told me about an experiment that he did at school.

He put food dye into a container of cold water and watched what happened.

Then he put dye into a container of hot water and was surprised by what he saw.

The dye in the hot water spread throughout the container much quicker than in the cold water.

Hayden learned an important lesson that day.

He learned that when you add heat to something it moves faster.

This simple scientific principle also applies to communication.

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Educator Daphne Koller recently gave a TED talk that contained the following contrasting quotes:

Firstly, from Mark Twain,

College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.

And then this from Plutarch,

The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.

These quotes describe the difference between giving information that no-one cares about and getting your audience excited about what you’re sharing.

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In many surveys, it turns out that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.

According to Jerry Seinfeld, this means that at a funeral, we would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy!

Thankfully, there are ways to overcome your fear of public speaking.

As someone who is regularly speaking to audiences of hundreds of people, I still get nervous.  So I use three statements that I say to myself to help me to perform at my best.

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A bull rider at the 2007 Atlantic Stampede, an...

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Bull riders have eight seconds to stay on their raging bull.

It’s not a lot of time, but I’m sure to the rider it can seem like an eternity.

Eight seconds.

Research says that 50% of web surfers spend eight seconds on each page that they’re looking at before deciding whether or not to read on.

If you have a web-site or blog, that’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention and encourage them read more.

Eight seconds. Read the rest of this entry »

When well-known speaker and writer John C. Maxwell was in college, he took a speech class.  In that class, his professor introduced him to these four unpardonable sins of public speaking.

For the 40 years since, Maxwell ensured that he always remembered these issues and it assisted him in becoming one of the most influential and recognisable leadership speakers in the world.

If you want to be effective in public speaking, being aware of these mistakes is crucial to your success, so here are the four unpardonable sins of public speaking.

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PowerPoint is a great communication tool.

It allows us to present our ideas in creative and visual ways that previously were impossible.

If used correctly, PowerPoint can be a real asset to anyone who has to speak publicly, whether it’s a group of less than 10 or an audience of thousands.

However, there are also some pitfalls in using PowerPoint that we should be aware of if we want to increase our effectiveness as public speakers.

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Chris Anderson is the curator of the TED (Tech...

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As with every skill, there are do’s and don’t’s involved in public speaking.

One of the best sources of great speakers is the TED Talks website, which contains over a thousand presentations from speakers at the very top of their field of expertise.

When they invite a new speaker to speak, they send them a list of 10 commandments that I would recommend keeping in mind if you ever have to stand up in front of a group of people to share your thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Legend has it that early in their careers, both Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Seinfeld had situations when they found themselves snowed in to a town when on tour.

Their fans couldn’t get to the venue and they couldn’t leave, so they each could have been excused for taking the night off and not performing.

But that wasn’t an option for them.

Despite only performing for the staff of the venue, they each gave it their best, tearing it up and performing as if they had a full house.

They each understood an important principle.

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English: Golf driving practice range with 43 l...

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If you play golf, it’s always a good idea to get to the course nice and early and hit a bucket of balls to get the cobwebs out.

Professional golfers do it, and if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me.

The reason we do this is to get the body into rhythm for the round ahead and to see if you need to make any adjustments to your swing or grip before you tee off on the first hole.

If you don’t do it, you risk embarrassing yourself in front of the clubhouse with your first drive, setting yourself up for a disastrous day.

This principle is important in other areas of life as well.

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