Friday, August 24, 2012

Keep your words short, please

Delivering speeches is not about showing off your extensive vocabulary. There's no need to try to impress audiences with the length of words that you know. Consider the following paragraph from Richard Dowis, author of "The Lost Art of the Great Speech"; 

"Short words can make us feel good. They can run and jump and dance and soar high in the clouds. They can kill the chill of a cold night and help keep us cool on a hot day. They fill our hearts with joy, but can bring tears to our eyes as well. Small words of love can move us, charm us, lull us to sleep. Short words give us light and hope and peace and love and health - and a lot more good things. A small word can be as sweet as the taste of a ripe pear, or tart like plum jam."
Each word in that paragraph is just one syllable, yet they still have the power to evoke powerful feelings and strong emotions. Speechwriters know that short, simple words are often the most powerful elements of great speeches, and brilliant speakers know that too. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson : "An orator is never successful until they learn to make their words smaller than their ideas"
When you prepare a speech, look at the words you are using. Could they be simpler? Is there a way of expressing your ideas in shorter words? You may well find that the impact is more powerful when you trim it down.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TeamGB medallists offered speaking boost

The following press release is being sent out today on behalf of the Professional Speaking Association, of which I am proud to be a board member. Feel free to share it widely through your networks:

TeamGB Olympic medallists offered speaking boost

Every TeamGB medallist at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is being offered one-year complimentary membership of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA), including the opportunity to attend all conferences and regional events. PSA President Derek Arden said “We are aware that some medallists will wish to move from sport to speaking. As the professional body for speakers in the UK, we are offering them help to make that career transition easier”.

PSA member and three times Olympic medallist Kriss Akabusi said “When I retired from sport I wanted to capitalize on my success by joining the speaking circuit. Being a member of the PSA, with all the incredible advice and support, has helped my speaking career enormously. I hope to see some of our great competitors become great speakers by joining Team PSA”

TeamGB medallists from both the Olympic and Paralympic games are invited to contact the PSA to receive their complimentary associate memberships by emailing, or phoning 0845 3700 504

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Practice your dismount

The gymnasts at the Olympics have performed some extraordinary routines, and it's quite beyond me to judge how well they are performing. However, along with you, there's one part of the routine that I can make an assessment of, and that's the dismount. It's clear that their landing has to be as solid as possible, without a step forward or back, and especially without falling over. 

The end of a media interview is a bit like that. It's something that everyone listening and watching can take a view on. If you're hesitant, or mix up your words, people will notice, and form an opinion accordingly. No matter how well you perform in the rest of the interview, if you mess up the ending, much of the impact will be lost. 

Practice of course is the key. You need to have an exit line that you can deliver powerfully without hesitation. You may have only a few seconds, so your message needs to be short and punchy. It also needs to resonate with the audience, so should be a repetition of the main point of the interview.

Land your dismount well, and the interview will be a success. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Raise your Twitter game

Here are a few tips to boost your game on Twitter: 

1) Make your replies more visible. When you reply to someone on Twitter, your tweet is automatically preceded with their name and the "@" symbol. Twitter is now setup so that only people following both sides of the conversation see that tweet. To make it visible to all your followers, simply precede it by a full stop, like this ".@mediacoach". The reply will still get to the recipient, but it will also be visible to everyone else, who may also join the conversation. 

2) 140 is too many. Though the Twitter limit of 140 characters seems tight, train yourself to use around 120 instead. That makes your tweets re-tweetable, since the extra characters are needed for your name and any comment by the re-tweeter. Make it as easy as possible for people to share your tweets by sticking to a lower limit. 

3) Tell the whole story. Remember that your followers may not see the entire conversation, so may not understand what you are referring to. Ensure that you include the context in your tweets to get more engagement.

4) Include a link. If you want your tweet to be passed on, including a link to an article, picture or video increases the chances. Aim to include at least some tweets with links in your conversations.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sir Steve Redgrave in the MediaCoach Radio Show

This week's show features the usual mix of media, speaking and social media tips, plus music from Lisbee Stainton and an interview with Sir Steve Redgrave.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Speaking Tip: Pace yourself

Winners aren't the ones who set off at a hundred miles an hour and then run out of steam. Nor are they people who start very slowly and then work like mad at the end. They are people who know how to pace themselves steadily through an event, so that they finish with a flourish, but are always in the race. 

One of the most common faults that I notice in inexperienced speakers is the tendency to speak too quickly. That may be due to nerves, or to a wish to get the speech over as quickly as possible. The trouble is, you may be speaking faster than your audience is thinking, which means that your message will not get across. 

You need to consider the pace at which you deliver your words. Here are a few tips:
  • Always rehearse your speech out loud before delivery
  • Include enough material to take up 80% of your allocated time - live speaking always "expands"
  • If you finish a few minutes early, no-one will mind
  • If you stumble over words or phrases, you're going too fast
  • Vary your pace to maintain interest
  • Build in gaps, such as images or short videos
  • If your audience looks confused, go back and explain. You have time
  • If you look likely to run out of time, drop something, don't speed up
  • Never rush through slides. Learn how to skip them.
  • Finish slowly and clearly