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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tips for Flights - Opening Keynote

If you're flying mid-day, wear your sunglasses because ultraviolet rays from the sun are more potent: especially if you're flying above the clouds. To read, lower the window cover and use the overhead lighting.

Carry your own small water bottle on board to avoid having to ask flight attendants for drinks. Also, when the meal is served before the beverage, you're able to wet your whistle while you eat. Half the battle of flying is remaining hydrated. It's better to go to the restroom four times because you've been hydrating yourself than to land exhausted and need four days to catch up.

Bring your own snacks (carrots, sliced cucumbers, other watery vegetables; apples, pears, and other fruits), but not candy or dead carbohydrates such as chips, crackers, or dehydrating foods. Even the worst of airline meals will go down more easily if you eat your own nutritious snacks before or after. These will help keep you regular, and your whole trip will go better.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Overcoming Audience Resistance - Opening Keynote

Noted speaker, author, and High Point University president Nido Qubien has observed that "Barriers resulting from audience resistance fall into two categories: external factors that cause people to tune you out, and internal factors that prevent them from giving you their complete attention."

1) External Barriers
People often form first impressions on the basis of external factors, says Qubien. "If the first impression is negative, you won't get the person's attention. Look for characteristics of dress, speech and actions that may be turning people off. If your dress is too casual, frivolous or distracting, you may be losing listeners. If your voice is strident, shrill or guttural, people may find you unpleasant to listen to. In certain areas, regional accents may turn people off. If you speak with a pronounced regional accent and are doing business in a region where that accent is not commonly heard, you may have to look for ways to overcome this barrier. You may want to work on acquiring a more generic accent. Or you may want to spend some time cultivating the person's confidence."

2) Internal Barriers
"Internal barriers to communication may stem from a lack of interest in what you're saying or a lack of understanding," he says. "If you discern a lack of interest, find some way to lead your listener to identify with your message. How does it concern your listener personally? What bearing does it have on the listener's job, income, health, family, or security? Once you establish that point of identity, you'll have attention."

In conclusion, "People have a way of erecting defense mechanisms and emotional barriers when they feel threatened by what you are saying or by the way you are saying it," notes Qubien. "Studies have repeatedly shown that people, like other creatures, feel protective of their territories. Invade those turfs, or act in a threatening manner, and you will be sure to turn off their attention. When your task is to deliver an unpleasant message or to persuade your listener to take some unpleasant action, look for ways to neutralize the negatives and to reassure the person who feels threatened."

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Impact of Good Speaker - Opening Keynote

A strong positive reaction from the audience members and the visible exhibition of learning are desirable outcomes for any speaker. A larger question, however, is "what impact did the presentation have on job performance?"

It behooves you to make follow-up efforts to determine what changes in behavior, if any, on the parts your audience members resulted from a speaker’s presentation. Have audience members done anything differently since the presentation? Has their behavior changed? Has their performance improved? Do groups handle their responsibilities with greater ease? The simple speaker evaluation rating sheets that audience members complete directly following the presentation don't and can't answer these types of questions.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Communications, Writing Etiquette, and Public Speaking - Opening Keynote

Emily Sorenson, Education Outreach Specialist at offer these selected resources for communications, writing etiquette, and public speaking... and observes that these resources are free and publicly accessible:

Student Guide to Public Speaking: Tips, Resources, and Inspiration

Writing the Perfect Resume: How to Make an Eyecatcher

Activism in School: A Guidebook to Getting Your Voice Heard

How to Succeed as a Tutor: Career Skills, Resources, and Certification Information

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Choose a Big Meeting Room! - Opening Keynote

As recently as a few years ago, 30% of white-collar workers still had private offices, based on a poll of 9,300 people by office furniture maker Steelcase. However the typical office has shrunk. It was about 16 by 20 feet many years ago, declining to 8 by 10 feet.... So, 320 square feet versus 80 square feet.

For meetings then, choose larger rooms. People in tiny cramped offices will appreciate it!

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Good or Bad?: Surpise Speaking Experiences - Opening Keynote

When I was retained to speak on board a cruise ship to the National Association of Women Business Owners, I was surprised and pleased to discover that I was the only male presenter on board!

Another time, I presented a half-day seminar to a group of association executives who were given nothing for breakfast and nothing during the breaks except for coffee or tea. By the third hour of the presentation, blood sugar levels and attention spans were dropping all over the room. Had I known in advance, I would have brought bagels and cream cheese for everyone!

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Communicate Like a Corporate Rock Star - Opening Keynote

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE offers insights for communicate like a corporate rock star:

In an era of tough competition, presentations that persuade, educate, motivate, and inspire give you a competitive edge. Good presentation skills are no longer simply nice to have; they can mean career life or death.

Imagine yourself in the front row of a ballroom at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Sitting with you are 1,500 sales professionals from all over the world. This was a software company's challenging January sales meeting. That company had recently bought a competitor, and 40% of the sales professionals had nothing to do with the decision.

The VP of Human Resources challenged the president: "We need everyone to know they are working for the right company, at the right time, that our strategy is sound, and that they can have a great career with us. You are an engineer, a brilliant leader, and rather shy. You are not a bad speaker; for this meeting, however, we need for you to become our corporate Rock Star."

Here are the Rock Star elements that our shy engineer used and that you can also use to become a Rock Star communicator in the business world.
    1: R= Rehearse
    2: O = Opening
    3: C = Core Message
    4: K = Kick A$$ Closing

Rock Star Principle 1:  R= Rehearse
Great performers and rock stars value rehearsal. Even if executives work with a speech coach, with speechwriters, or a communications department, to become a Rock Star presenter, they must be actively involved in presentation preparation. Find time to rehearse.

When your message is internalized, you know your structure, could wake up in the middle of the night and deliver your opening and closing, and have informally told your stories. Get serious about rehearsal and delivery.

Rock Star Principle 2: O = Opening 

The first 30 to 60 seconds of your speech set the tone. They help build anticipation.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. What a pleasure to be here.” Sounds polite, but it is predictable, boring, and will not inspire action or commitment. It is not Rock Star quality. Rock Star performers will tell you, “We open with our second best song and close with our best.” These performers may have conversation with the audience to thank them for attending or for years of support but not at the opening!

You may be thinking, “Patricia, I have 45 minutes for my speech. That’s plenty of time to warm up and connect.” Wrong. Your audience is full of stimulation junkies with short attention spans. Come out punching and grab the audience’s attention. Make them think, “Wow! This is going to be good!”

An audience will forgive you anything except being boring. Being too predictable is boring. Start with a story, dramatic statement, question, or an inspiring thought. Our software president walked out and said, “Welcome to a brand new company!” He then described what had happened that made this the best move ever.

Rock Star Principle 3: C = Core Message
Each Rock tour has a theme. Know your central theme and core message. Your opening remarks must logically transition into the main message. The body will prove your central idea.
After his opening line, our executive answered the audience’s unspoken questions. Why was the decision made, what would it mean to them, and why was he the best leader?

Rock Star communicators need to reveal the person behind the position. He told a story.  “I was a 14-year-old boy playing chess against my best friend. We were equally matched as far as skill was concerned. That is when I first learned the importance of strategy.” Is the audience really interested in these stories? YES!

The person behind the position is the person they would fight for, work long hours for, and whose corporate strategy gives them confidence. We respect the position; we get emotionally connected to the person. It is not only what you say that communicates your message. It is also the subtext, what you aren’t saying outright. They are thinking, “Our corporate strategy must be good. Our president has been studying strategy since he was 14.”

Rock Star communicators also realize that in order to inspire action, you need to appeal to the audience’s rational self-interest. People make decisions for their reasons, not yours. They need to understand what is in it for them.

Rock Star Principle 4: K = Kick A$$ Closing
Remember, rock stars always close on their best song. Review your key ideas, and you have many options to close on a high. Close your presentation with the same words, thought, or vision from your opening. Remember, your last words linger. Leave them with a reinforcement of a key idea or an inspirational thought from your presentation. Consider the technique that our software president used.

If you are going to be a Rock Star presenter who inspires action and commitment, do not compete with yourself! Your audience can’t listen and read. A boring PowerPoint with too many words or too much information can sabotage a great presentation. Did your audience come to read or to hear you?

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