Where Speakers Go
to Grow their Business

(240) 284-3152

Member Login:


  • 01/16/2013 3:31 PM | Deleted user

    The Eight Professional Competencies of the National Speakers Association encompass the specific skills needed to develop a professional speaking career. These competencies are the foundation of the National Speakers Association's Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) program.

    1. Professional Awareness
      This is the "explanation" competency. It provides an overview of the speaking industry. Mastering this Competency provides an in-depth understanding of the National Speakers Association, related professional associations and sources of information, and support for maintaining a high level of mastery in the dynamic world of a professional speaker. details

    2. Professional Relationships
      This is the "how to get along professionally" competency. It relates to the knowledge and skills needed to communicate with individuals and groups with whom speakers often interact. This Competency helps speakers and their staffs deal professionally with several types of industry associates, other speakers, those who hire speakers and those who support speakers with products and services. details

    3. Topic Development
      This is the "creation" competency. It entails knowing the best topics for you, as well as researching and developing the content of your presentations and performances and the skills needed to develop them. This knowledge area also includes techniques for staying on the cutting-edge of topic selection and development skills. details

    4. Platform Mechanics
      This is the "setup/staging" Competency. It involves the elements that can make or break a presentation/performance. It deals with the room, stage, props, equipment and setup people. Knowing and mastering setup/stage skills helps speakers create the setting for a successful presentation/performance. details

    5. Presenting and Performing
      This is the "communication" Competency. It encompasses the theatrical and stage talents of speakers. It embodies the knowledge and skills of presenting/ performing to communicate with the audience. Personal talents, working with audiences and presenting/performing in one or more roles are the key components of this Competency. details

    6. Authorship and Product Development
      This is the "extension" competency. Speakers can extend themselves beyond the stage/platform through authorship and product development. Mastering the knowledge and skills of this Competency helps speakers successfully convert the messages of their speaking topics into marketable products. details

    7. Sales and Marketing
      This is the "developing business" competency. It involves sales and marketing knowledge, skills and techniques to generate speaking engagements and expand the impact of speakers' messages through product sales. If mastery involves wisdom, and wisdom involves the capacity to make finer and finer distinctions to discover uniqueness, that's what mastering sales and marketing strategies is about. Mastering this Competency results in comprehensive sales and marketing strategies for speaking engagements and products. details

    8. Managing the Business
      This is the "administrative" Competency. The business of professional speakers requires continuous attention to many details. Mastering this Competency will help speakers manage the business side of their speaking activities professionally. details
  • 01/16/2013 3:30 PM | Deleted user
    by Ian Percy, CSP, CPAE

    Unless you go somewhere exotic and participate in amazing teambuilding events, most conferences are relatively routine and forgettable. Often what is memorable are things like the time Barb put bubble bath in the spa hot tub, or when Norm got thrown out of the hotel after too much "networking."

    It is too often the case that the annual corporate conference ends up being little more than a lark. "It's just an annual piss-up," is how one executive put it. In these days of cutbacks and frugality, most corporations simply cannot afford to throw money away on an expensive wine and cheese party sleep-over. The answer, however, is not to cancel such events! The answer is learn how to conduct them better. The more we communicate un-humanly through email and teleconferencing, the more we need a positive and constructive face-to-face experience. There is no better way to create a working sense of the whole team and where individuals fit into it.

    I have been speaking at conferences around the world for over thirty years. That includes groups from children's hospitals in Canada to paint manufacturers in the UK to cattlemen in the US. From audiences of twenty people to ten thousand people. Regardless of the conference size, venue or purpose, three major principles seem essential for creating corporate events that are truly and positively life changing.

    Everything people experience at a conference is a message about what the organizers (and the sponsoring corporation) think of themundefinedfrom pre-conference materials to the conference gift. For example, how does the message behind the name tag that simply reads "BOB", differ from the one that reads "Dr. R.J. Barns, Sr. Vice President, Chemical Spills Division, Western Region?" What is the message behind pre-assigned seating? Or having anonymous, if not planted, questions being read off of cards for the President's Q&A session? What interpretation do people attach to the fact that the President left right after his speech while the conference went on for another two days? It's not a case of right or wrong, it's what message do you want to send? First decide on the message of your event, then make sure your methodology or design matches.

    If you want people to think, give them a book not another bag. Bags don't make you think!

    One group had a "paint-ball war" between management and employees. Now there's a wonderful metaphor for teambuilding!

    Which room layout would look most engaging, fun and productive; one where participants are in casual clothes, chairs and tables scattered with no apparent center of control, or the one where participants are in business attire, sitting classroom style behind computer generated tent cards looking up at an elevated lectern? How these two groups will behave is absolutely predictable. They will behave according to their appearance. This is a law of nonverbal group behavior.

    You can't create a spirit of togetherness by having people widely spread out in the auditorium with most sitting at the back and the first four rows empty. Want togetherness? Book a room almost too small for the group. Barring serious organizational pathology, emotional closeness will follow physical closeness. Reach emotional closeness and you're not far from creating a spiritual bond undefined and it doesn't get any better than that.

    I remember speaking in a room set up in rigid classroom style, everyone in neat rows facing the front (despite my counsel to the contrary). The podium was at least five feet above the participant's level and the lectern was huge. The conference theme? Teambuilding. The executive who had it set up that way really wanted control over the participants and he got it. The teamwork theme was just him being politically correct. The conference was a joke.

    When you give people choice, you give them power. Choice and power are synonyms. When you give people power, you give them freedom. When you give them freedom, you give them back their life and individuality. When people feel truly free they will usually choose to unify and find purpose. And that is what you want, isn't it? The only exception to this is when the audience is angry, and then we are into a whole other topic.

    I feel claustrophobic just reading the agenda from some conferences. Everything is so controlled and so predetermined. Literally every moment is scheduled. The conference ends up being done to people rather than the people doing the conference. No wonder there is so little enthusiasm and commitment. One agenda began: "Welcoming remarks 9:00-9:03." How inviting or real is that? You can tell there was lots of room for creativity and exploration.

    One person organizing an event for senior executives sent out a whole page of instructions on dress, starting with "While traveling wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes." Somebody needed to tell these sophisticated people what to wear on the plane? Was this their first trip?

    I know some organizers believe absolute control and structure is essential. And if you are organizing an event for several thousand, this is probably the best way to go. My intention with these few guidelines is to help unify corporate spirit with our logistical, three dimensional and time-bound needs. The latter needs to change and become a conduit for the former. Let's start designing events that let the human spirit out instead of boxing it. Only then will we see what is truly possible. You will be amazed.


    Copyright © Ian Percy
    reprinted with permission

    Ian Percy can be reached at
    887-502-3898, 480-502-3898

  • 01/16/2013 3:30 PM | Deleted user
    © Patricia Fripp CSP, CPA

    Your message, no matter how important, will not be remembered if you don't recognize the importance of STRUCTURE. Here are some practical ideas that can immediately make you more effective.

    Your Structure

    Can you write the premise or objective of your talk in one sentence? If not, the chances are that your thinking isn't clear enough for the audience to understand your purpose. And if you don't organize your material so the audience can remember it easily, they'll have a hard time grasping your message. They may be dazzled by your pizzazz and laugh at your stories, but little will stay with them afterwards.

    Your next structural imperative is to use statements that make your audience ask "How?" or "Why?" For example, during a talk on "Selling Yourself and Your Ideas to Upper Management," I say, "Everyone in your position can sell themselves and their ideas to upper management." Immediately, my audience is asking themselves, "HOW can I do that?" Or at another speech, I might say, "Every manager needs to develop employees who can think entrepreneurially." And the managers are all asking themselves, "WHY on earth do I need to do that?"

    Your answers to their mental questions, your How's or Why's, become your "Points of Wisdom," the rationale for your premise or objective. Illustrate each Point with stories, examples, suggestions, practical advice, or recommendations. Allow about ten minutes for each Point of Wisdom, an average of three in a thirty minute presentation.

    Finally, frame your premise and your Points of Wisdom with an attention-getting opening and a memorable closing. For example, I helped a scientist neighbor, Mike Powell, with a speech he was delivering to a general audience. I suggested that since most of us don't know what it is like to be a scientist, he should tell the audience. Mike captured everyone's attention by saying:

    "Being a scientist is like doing a jigsaw puzzle... in a snowstorm... at night... when you don't have all the pieces...and you don't have the picture you are trying to create."

    Your last thirty seconds must send people out energized and fulfilled. Ask for questions before you close so you don't diffuse the effect of your ending. Then finish with something inspirational that supports your theme and creates a "circle" with your opening. My scientist friend Mike closed by saying, "At the beginning of my talk, I told you of the frustration of being a scientist. Many people ask, 'So why do you do it?'"

    Then Mike told them about the final speaker at a medical conference he attended. She walked to the lectern and said, "I am a thirty-two-year-old wife and mother of two. I have AIDS. Please work fast." Mike received a standing ovation for his speech. Even more important, several years later the audience still remembers what he said and can actually quote him!


    Patricia Fripp is an award-winning speaker, sales trainer, and executive speech coach who delights audiences, electrifies executives who speak, and transforms sales teams. Meetings and Conventions magazine calls Patricia "one of the country's 10 most electrifying speakers." She is also the author of , Make It! So You Don't Have to Fake It and Get What You Want.

    PFripp@Fripp.com, 1-800 634 3035, www.fripp.com

  • 01/16/2013 3:30 PM | Deleted user
    © Arnold Sanow

    Closing sales is an art not a science. Everything we do from our communication style, to our dress, to our understanding of the customers wants and needs, can affect our success or failure in closing sales. The way you close a sale depends as much on the product/service you're selling as it does the customer you're dealing with. There are many reasons why sales don't close... here are 9 of the most common mistakes.

    1. Not asking questions.

      Too many times we pre-judge or jump to conclusions about what our customers want or need. By asking open-ended questions to determine such things as lifestyle, hobbies, spending limits and previous experiences we can get a true picture of what our customer really wants. By understanding the customer we can then focus on the right products and services to offer.

    2. Not communicating with the communication ingredients important to the customer.

      If we communicate to everyone in our primary communication style then we will lose about 75% of our sales. In other words everyone is different and therefore everyone needs to be treated differently. For example, some people just want the facts and details about a product or service where others may be more comfortable if you tell stories or anecdotes. So, to persuade, motivate and influence others, communicate with the ingredients they find important.

    3. Interrupting the prospect.

      Whenever you interrupt someone, sensitivity, commitment, closeness and rapport are lost. In addition, by interrupting we may miss what benefits the customer is really seeking

    4. Not paying attention to the prospect.

      To develop the like and trust that are essential in developing any relationship we must give our full attention to the prospect. Taking calls, talking to other customers, looking bored or uninterested can detract or enhance from the relationship we develop with our potential customer.

    5. Showing no empathy or sympathy.

      Empathy means putting yourself in the other person's shoes. For example, if a potential customer wants to go on an adventure trip we offer, but has had bad experiences in the past, we must first understand those experiences before we can discuss why our trips are a best buy.

    6. Not selling benefits... only features.

      Understanding the difference between features and benefits is crucial to your success. Features are about you, your product and service. Benefits are the specific results your product or service offers to your client or prospect. When meeting with a prospect we need to address the buyer's critical self-interest questions such as, "so what?," "who cares?" or "what's in it for me?" You see people don't buy things, they buy results like happiness, making and saving money, saving time, comfort, safety, security, and easier ways to do things.

    7. Pressuring prospects.

      People don't like to be pressured. They like to buy but they don't like to be sold. By planning your presentation carefully and understanding the wants and needs of the potential customer, you'll make more than your share of sales.

    8. Misleading body language.

      It's a fact that only 7% of the message that someone perceives is from the words we use. 38% is from the tone of your voice and the other 55% is from your body language. Therefore 93% of the message that others perceive from you is based on your body language and tone of voice. Unfortunately many times we lose clients because our body language is sending off the wrong signals. To overcome this obstacle and get people to like and trust us, we need to SOFTEN our image. To do this, follow these guidelines. S-smile, O-open posture, F-forward lean, T-talk in a tone that conveys friendliness, concern and enthusiasm, E-eye contact, N-nod as in affirming the other person.

    9. Failure to listen.

      Many people assume that to be good in sales you need to do all the talking. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the best sales people are those who listen. By listening you not only become more popular but you also learn and earn more. To become an active listener follow these rules:

      Limit your own talking,
      Concentrate on the person who is talking,
      Don't interrupt,
      Paraphrase what has been said,
      Talk in a conducive setting,
      See things from the other person's viewpoint,
      Notice nonverbal communication,
      Don't just think of what you are going to say next, and
      Don't pre-judge.


    Arnold Sanow is a speaker, trainer, marketing and business strategist, and the author of five books and numerous articles. He'd be happy to answer your questions by e-mail at: speaker@arnoldsanow.com www.arnoldsanow.com or by phone at 703-255-3133.

  • 01/16/2013 3:29 PM | Deleted user
    © Alan Weiss

    I've found that "collaboration," in many cases, means that someone wants to take money out of my bank account and put it into their own. I never collaborate with anyone who doesn't bring something to the table, be it business, sweat equity, legwork, or new ideas.

    Any collaboration has to be greater than the sum of its parts. That is, one and one must equal at least four or five if the relationshipÑand its requisite work, cooperation, compromise, and investmentundefinedis to pay off. There must be a synergy which exponentially increases your combined value to the client. Adding an additional survey or training program does not do that. But adding long-term, longitudinal measures or comparisons against best practices elsewhere probably does.

    Here are some criteria for evaluating a proposal to collaborate:

    Does the partner have credible references?
    Can you find out something about the quality of their work on an objective basis? Do they have a track record of success in your types of clients?

    Do they add repute?
    Will their name mean anything to your clients and prospects? Will their client list add credibility? Are they bringing added cachet to you, or using your cachet?

    Is their approach complementary?
    Do their models and processes interlock with yours with minimum adjustment, or will you have to make major changes in your approaches? How user-friendly are they for you?

    Will their inclusion dramatically increase your profit--
    not solely revenue--from an engagement? Is the work you will invest far more than offset by the earnings you will reap?

    Are they willing to take a risk?
    Are they amenable to investing in the development of the partnership, or are they asking you to take all the risk? What are they providing in terms of capital, personnel, support, and time?

    How equitable is the proposed revenue sharing?
    If the revenues will be from business you never otherwise would have attracted, it's worth considering less of a percentage. However, if the business is simply incremental to your existing business, then a larger percentage may be called for.

    Will they provide access to their clients
    for your work, or do they merely seek access to yours? How open do they appear to be about their client base, work habits, and proprietary materials?

    Do you like them?
    Chemistry is everything. Are these people you would enjoy working with in a client? Do they immediately impel trust and high standards? Or do they make you somewhat uncomfortable?

    Most collaborations never get off the ground.
    They are the result of "let's do something together" with neither party wanting to put much effort into it other than offer the other's services when the opportunity presents itself. Effective collaboration is based upon a sincere belief that the other party brings a "turbo-charge" to your offerings, with the commensurate willingness to invest resources to tune that engine.


    © 2001 Summit Consulting Group, Inc.
    All rights reserved. (reprinted with permission)

    Alan Weiss, www.SummitConsulting.com
    Summit Consulting Group
    P.O. Box 1009, East Greenwich, RI 02818-0964
    ( 401) 884-2778, Fax: (401) 884-5068

  • 01/16/2013 3:28 PM | Deleted user
    © John Jay Daly, APR PRSA
    1. What is the central purpose for this presentation?

    2. Describe make-up of audience: (demographics, psychographics, age range, level of expertise, gender etc.

    3. List size of group. undefined location - total time involved undefined is it routine or special meeting? (if latter, describe).

    4. If this is special event, describe it in detail:

    5. What position do I have in program?
      a. Who precedes me?
      b. Who follows me?
      c. Other helpful notes:
    6. In rank order, briefly list the 3 the "key thoughts" you wish to convey and why:
    7. What action(s) do I wish this audience to do immediately upon my conclusion:

    8. If there are residual actions I wish audience to take, list them and note "by when":

    9. If it's possible to give talk a strong "working title" list it:

    10. Summarize in 25 words "the essence" of your message:

    11. Do it in under 12 words:

    12. Create words to make "the mundane memorable" and "prosaic picturesque" that are relevant to message:

    13. Take whack at clear yet clever opener:

    14. What about a strong, memorable close:

    15. What media will attend or cover talk remotely?

    16. Who prepares brief press summary & when?

    17. Have all vital logistical details been confirmed (a/v needs undefined passouts - directions - lodgings undefined travel etc)


    © John Jay Daly

  • 01/16/2013 3:28 PM | Deleted user
    by Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE
    1. A disregard for time.
    2. Unclear purpose
    3. Inadequate preparation
    4. Failure to capture attention.
    5. Pomposity
    6. Boredom
    7. False endings
    Few things create a more vivid perception of an executive than his speaking ability. The higher execs rise in an organization, the more frequently they are called upon to address others. Ironically, little or no training is given hapless executives to develop this skill. If they become good at public speaking, it is either a gift of genetics, they get lucky, or a combination of both.

    Increasingly leaders are realizing their need for skills development that falls outside of what is typically offered by their organizations. That is one reason why executive coaching has become so popular. Often one of the primary areas coaches focus on is communication, both interpersonal and public.

    As a professional who makes his living giving speeches and seminars, I've sat through hundreds if not thousands of executive presentations. More often than not, the speeches I've heard businesspeople make were less than memorable. And far too often the presentations were painful, not only for the speaker to give, but for the audience to feign interest through.

    The majority of executive presenters, even those who flopped dramatically, were well-intentioned. Nobody sets out to destroy her credibility with a bad presentation. So why do people fail in spite of noble intentions?

    Intention requires technique to be successfully communicated. It doesn't matter how well you want to hit the golf ball. Only good form and practiced skill allow you to consistently do so. Public speaking is no different.

    I am puzzled why so many seem to think that speaking well in front of an audience is a natural skill. Public speaking, like all skills, is developed. The more often one speaks, the better one becomes if--and this is a big if--he focuses on eliminating undesirable behaviors and developing needed ones.

    The fastest gain that can made in improving your ability to speak well is to eliminate those things that cause disaster. While I've observed great creativity in flopping, there are seven common reasons why executive speakers fail. I'll explain those reasons and what to do about them.

    1. A disregard for time.
      History has no record of anyone who gave a speech that was too short, but we've all been in audiences when the speaker stopped speaking on what seemed like a different day than he had begun.

      This problem--speaking too long or taking more time than allotted--seems to be epidemic among high level business leaders. Most meeting planners value their job too much to be candid with an executive and tell him that he completely destroyed the agenda by speaking for an hour when he was scheduled to speak for 15 minutes. And no employee is going to complain to the executive's face about talking way too long.

      Being self-employed allows me the luxury of being totally honest: speaking longer than planned is rude. It suggests to the audience that the speaker and her presentation are more important than anyone or anything else on the program. The length of a presentation shouldn't be a function of title or power, but a function of how long the exec agreed to talk. If you say you need ten minutes, quit after 10 minutes. If you need more time, negotiate for it in advance. But don't take the next three speakers' time because you either don't pay attention to your watch or you are too arrogant to realize that the high point of the meeting just might not be listening to you speak twice as long as expected.

      Start on time and stop on time. Not only will your audience respect you for it, but it will prove that you respect your audience.

    2. Unclear purpose
      Here's the million dollar question of any presentation: what's the point? Executives who don't have clear objectives for their presentation usually achieve little.

      Heaven help you if your objective is "to inform." Duh? Every speech informs, whether by design or by default. Attempting only to inform is aiming too low. Why not use the opportunity to motive, inspire or encourage? Why not take advantage of your chance to share a vision or create camaraderie?

      Design your speech the way the pros do. Begin by asking, "At the end of this presentation, what do I want listeners to think, feel and do? Good presenters speak to the head, the heart and the hands. Challenging people with lot of information of limited practical application is more frustrating that inspiring.

      If you can't clearly identify a worthwhile purpose for the presentation, you probably shouldn't be making it.

      And it doesn't hurt to begin with an overt statement of purpose: "The reason I'm speaking to you today is..." It may not be clever, but it will significantly increase that odds that you'll fulfill your purpose if you enlist the audience early on.

      What about speeches that someone else writes for you? It is critically important that a speech writer have access to you and your ideas. Even the best speech writer isn't clairvoyant. Your speech will only be written as well as the input you provide. This is not the time for "hands-off" delegation.

    3. Inadequate preparation
      There is no excuse for "winging it." The best speakers are always--and I mean it literally--prepared for what they say, even if their demeanor suggests otherwise.

      That brilliant toe-in-the-sand presenter you heard that came up with the wonderful analogy and spectacular quotes "on the spot" really didn't. She planned carefully not only what they were going to say, but how they would appear "off the cuff."

      Here's how to tell if a speaker hasn't prepared: he doesn't say anything important. To make best use of your time and the audience's time, think through and practice what you'll say.

      If you saw a Broadway show where none of the actors had practiced in advance, you would demand your money back.

      Too bad audiences don't get the same privilege.

      And please don't ever beginning by saying, "I really haven't thought about what I'm going to say..." There are no bragging rights to that. If you ever find yourself tempted make that statement, at least be honest and say, "I'm a goober and I'm going to waste your time."

      Henri Nouwen, the Catholic mystic of the late twentieth, was once frustrated as he prepared for an important speech. His insight? Live prepared, rather than simply trying to prepare. Maybe this is what Tom Peters was alluding to when he instructed managers to have a "stump speech" with the same three or four most important messages ready to give and give again at every opportunity.

    4. Failure to capture attention
      The scarcest resource in the world used to be time; today it is attention.

      The average listener is bombarded with messages from many different sources. From email to radio to voicemail to cell phones, everybody is trying to tell us something, and your attempt to give a speech is just one more bombardment.

      That's why what you say and how you say it had better grab the audience's attention right out of the shoot. You don't have time to "warm up." ("Thank you for inviting me to be here today. It is indeed my pleasure to address you. What a great meeting it has been so far. Blah blah blah blah blah.")

      As my friend and high-powered speech coach Ron Arden says, "In the theater, you'll never see an actor warm-up on the audience. They warm-up backstage."

      So forget the hackneyed concept of warming up the audience. Hit them square between the eyes with something that will break their preoccupation with what they need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home from work.

      Most importantly, make your remarks relevant. Post moderns are less interested with the question "Is it true?" and more interested in the question "How does it affect me?" Sure, you need to be intellectually honest to prove your points, but never forget to prove that your message matters to the listener.

    5. Pomposity
      Ego-driven leaders are more concerned with what followers think about them than they are with what followers do because of them.

      But you don't necessarily have to be arrogant to be pompous. Sometimes it happens accidentally when a speaker confuses impressing a listener with influencing her.

      Impressing people is, for the most part, a head-game: it changes what they think of us. Influencing people is a behavioral game: it changes what people do because of us.

      A preoccupation with self is deadly. Self-absorbed speakers present to get their needs met, rather than meet the needs of the audience. The audience instantly recognizes it.

      One of the best kept secrets in speaking is this: the audience wants you to do well. Everyone knows how painful it is to watch a speaker bomb in front of others, so instinctively, the audience is pulling for you. And they'll cut you a lot of slack--allow for mispronunciations and other mistakes--if you are sincerely interested in them.

      If you speak down to them or try to blatantly impress them, they' ll turn on you like a pack of rabid dogs. It won't be as obvious as the rabid dogs, but beyond their polite or at least neutral nonverbals, they'll be mentally dismantling you for being a pompous ass.

      You wouldn't be asked to speak unless someone believed that you have credibility, and something to say. That is enough. Don't undo that assumption through efforts to prove your status to others.

    6. Boredom
      "Isn't life a thousand times too short to bore ourselves?" That wasn't uttered by a tired audience member, but it could have been. Helen Keller said it.

      An audience today contains many people who were raised on MTV. That means they spent formative years watching music videos that often contained 150 images in the course of a minute. Watching a talking head is, for them, about as stimulating as watching software load.

      Nobody ever flops who entertains. Don't get me wrong: to be simply entertaining is not in itself a worthwhile goal for an executive presenter, but is sure beats the alternative, which is to be boring. Sell the sizzle and the steak.

      Great restaurants know that the presentation of cuisine is as important as its' preparation. Presentation and perception go hand-in-hand.

      "Amusement" comes from two words meaning "not to ponder." "Entertainment", on the other hand, is engaging. The value of entertainment for a speaker is that it mentally engages listeners. I've found the best way to educate is to slip good ideas in on the wings of entertainment.

      And by the way, telling a joke is risky. When it works, it works well. When it fails, nothing fails worse. The best way to avoid groaners is to use humor in such a way that it illustrates your point. If the audience doesn't laugh, the illustration is still of value. And if they get a chuckle out of the humor, that's just icing on the cake.

    7. False endings
      Remember this variation of a familiar acronym: FEAR is False Endings Appearing Real.

      I've seen it a hundred times. A speaker starts to conclude, even tells the audience of his intent, and then tells a pithy, witty story. The audience responds favorably. The speaker gets a rush. "Wow, they liked that. I've got an even better story," he thinks to himself. And then he ends again, with another story/quote/challenge/admonition/etc. Like a junkie who has just had a good fix, the speaker keeps ending, until there is no positive response, but rather visible signs of disgust. By then, it is too late.

      You can only effectively conclude once, yet I've seen executives conclude over and over. Each false ending weakens the message that was in front of it.

      The false ending nightmare usually begins with these words, "In conclusion...." That triggers hope in the audience's mind. "Hey, it's almost over!" They expect you to wrap up quickly.

      In my mind that means either summarizing or making a final point. Several points, or the introduction of new points, is not a conclusion.

      A simple rule to remember: a good ending happens only once.

      The beginning of excellence is the elimination of foolishness. You can bump up your speaking performance by analyzing your last presentation by asking these seven questions:

      1. Did I stick to my allotted time?
      2. Did I develop and present purposefully?
      3. Was I thoroughly prepared?
      4. Did I capture attention at the very beginning?
      5. Did I positively influence listeners?
      6. Was I appropriately entertaining, or at least not boring?
      7. Did I end only once?

      An affirmative answer to each of those questions virtually guarantees that the next time you make a presentation, you won't be a flop. Not only will you be flop-proof, most likely you'll be perceived as an articulate and effective speaker.


    Copyright© Sanborn & Associates, Inc.
    Reprinted or displayed with permission of Sanborn & Associates, Inc.

    Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is a professional speaker published in the areas of leadership, change management, customer service and teamwork. He works with business organizations who want to reach the next level of success and individuals who want to perform at their best. You can email him at Mark@MarkSanborn.com, phone him at (800) 650-3343 or visit his Web site at www.marksanborn.com

  • 01/16/2013 3:25 PM | Deleted user
    Ronald P. Culberson, CSP, LCSW, Director of Everything! FUNsulting, etc.

    It was the last day of a week-long training program for 20 senior executives. The program had been full of theory, discussions, out-of-the-box thinking and real-life experiences which exposed them to the challenges of leading people. I had the privilege of offering a morning program on the FUN in leadership but had the distinct disadvantage of following a dynamic group of excellent speakers and trainers. The coordinator began my introduction as I stood in the "wings" of the training room. He started describing the "next scheduled presenter" as someone with many more accolades, successes and fame than me. Then he ended by saying, "Unfortunately, he could not be with us, so please welcome Ron Culberson!" The room erupted with applause and laughter. I confidently walked to the front of the room and jumped onto the head table. Yes, the table. As I towered above the group, my eyes met smiles, questioning looks and their undivided attention! I told one of my favorite FUNny stories and explained that we were about to embark upon a journey of finding FUN in the role of management and leadership.

    In today's world of information overload, a presenter must find a way to make his/her message memorable or it will be lost in the barrage of messages that hit us every day. Humor is one of the most effective ways of making a message memorable. But you must first have a message to deliver. Whereas humor for the sake of humor is entertaining, humor that supports valuable content is a powerful tool. George Burns once said, "You know you're getting old when you bend over to tie your shoe and think, "What else can I do while I'm down here?'" What makes that FUNny is that George Burns was old when he said it. The humor reinforced a common perspective that aging is no FUN while it allowed him to laugh at his circumstances. Let's look at a few principles for adding more humor to presentations.

    The Introduction.

    Your introduction as a presenter can be a great way to set the stage for your message. When I used a "fake" introduction in the example above, my intention was to parody the typical introduction thus showing my audience that we should not take ourselves too seriously. This,in turn, reinforced my topic.

    The Opening.

    Once you have been introduced, you have 90 seconds to capture the audience's attention. There are several FUN ways to do this. A FUNny story, a joke or a FUN activity will certainly keep them interested. When I stood on the table, I had the audience anticipating my next step (pun intended). Once when Barbara Bush was asked to speak at the Wellesley College graduation ceremony, a large number of the all-female graduates-to-be felt that she was not the appropriate speaker since her accomplishments had been a result of her husband George Bush's presidency. However, in spite of the protests, the school kept Mrs. Bush on the program. Immediately after being introduced, Mrs. Bush said this, "Someone in this audience may someday preside over the White House as the spouse of the President and I wish him well." Her comment was met with overwhelming applause and she quickly won back the audience.

    The Middle.

    During your presentation, there are numerous ways to add FUN and humor. Many speakers warn against using jokes in presentations. I have had success with jokes because I test them first. I may weave a joke into a real story so that I keep the power of the punch line while describing a real-life experience. I will also use jokes as illustrations. For instance: A three-legged dog walked into an old west saloon and said, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw". This joke shows how two seemingly different ideas are brought together through humor. The art of bringing ideas together directly supports a number of workplace issues like problem solving, conflict management and teamwork. So the joke can illustrate, in a FUN way, a serious issue. Using personal stories, quotes and cartoons are other ways of reinforcing learning points with FUN and humor. Remember, however, that permission must be granted to us copies of cartoons.

    Another underutilized form of humor is FUN group activities. Many activities teach interpersonal skills while being both FUN and FUNny. I often use games such as Pictionary, Taboo, Charades and Wheel of Fortune as a way of covering information in my programs. It is a lot more FUN to see participants act out learning points than to just view them on the screen. Creative activities add variety, movement and interaction to a program. Participants usually enjoy them as long as you do not put them on the spot. When you organize group activities, also consider giving out FUN prizes to those who participate. Toys, books, audio tapes and even cash are FUN rewards and the participants will appreciate being recognized.

    Finally, your visual aides can also be FUN. Try to liven up slides, overheads, flip charts and handout materials with pictures, catchy phrases or humor. It adds spice to an often mundane part of the program.

    The End.

    The end, just like the beginning of a presentation, needs to grab the audience. Make sure you end with a powerful quote, story, joke or activity. Do not just stop and say, "Thank you". Your presentation will linger in the minds of the audience if you finish with pizzazz. The most important asset in your presentation is you. As long as you use FUN and humor to enhance your skills and expertise, the experience will be genuinely memorable for the audience. It just takes your willingness to be creative and take a few risks. Harvey Mindess said, "People do not need to be taught how to have FUN. They just need to be given permission." I give you permission to make your presentations more memorable with humor and laughter. If you are afraid of the risk, remember what Ann Landers said, "Three out of four people are mentally imbalanced anyway. So think of your three closest friends. If they seem all right, you're the one!" Enjoy!


    ©1999 FUNsulting, etc.

    Ron Culberson, Director of Everything! at FUNsulting, etc., helps people and organizations find and enjoy humor to achieve a healthier perspective in life or work. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest earned award from the National Speakers Association, and is one of only 421 individuals worldwide who have received this designation. He has provided entertaining and informative programs to over 40,000 people in more than 500 associations, government agencies, non-profit organizations and Fortune 500 companies. To find our more about programs, services and products visit his website at www.funsulting.com or call (703) 742-8812.

  • 01/16/2013 3:22 PM | Deleted user
    THE GLOBAL SMALLPOX ERADICATION PROGRAM AND HOMELAND SECURITY Address by RANDALL J. LARSEN, USAF (Ret.) Colonel, National Security Advisor, Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and NSADC member.
    Colonel Larson's keynote was delivered to the National Center for Simulation (NCS) Medical Technology, Training, and Treatment Conference, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, June 2, 2008.

    Lessons Learned from "A Good War"
    View full PDF text.

The National Speakers Association (NSA) is the leading organization for professional speakers. Since 1973, NSA has provided resources and education designed to advance the skills, integrity and value of its members and speaking profession.

Newsletter Sign up

Contact Us

Email: info@nsadc.org
Phone: (240) 284-3152

Copyright 2018 • NSA DC • Website Managed by Village Green Consulting LLC

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software