Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SPEAKING SKILLS--Learning from the best

I don't profess to have all the answers--but I know the people who do. Like Mark Sanborn, one of the best speakers I've ever heard. Mark's the guy who discovered The Fred Factor, a must-read for anyone interested in leadership excellence and customer service. He's also a Certified Professional Speaker and a past president of the National Speakers Association. (Check out his website at marksanborn.com for more information.) Let me share something Mark wrote a while back on presentation skills that every speaker should take to heart:

6 Principles for Powerful Presenting
by Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE

  1. It isn't enough to have a message. It must be YOUR message. What is it about your topic that is important to you? That is where your uniqueness lies. Don't give books reports. Bring your unique perspective to the audience. When you discover your message, you also release your passion.
  2. The best advice on speaking I ever got was over 20 years ago from David Johnson, then an Ohio legislator. He told me that every audience wants to be entertained. I have found that education is usually best delivered on the wings of entertainment.
  3. At the beginning of every speech, your primary challenge is to break preoccupation. Each audience member is preoccupied with their own thoughts and concerns. A powerful, attention-grabbing beginning is critical.
  4. People don't remember your points, they remember your illustrations. If they can remember the story, then they will be able to remember the point or lesson that the story teaches. Stories are like mental coat-pegs: a place for listeners to hang ideas.
  5. Demosthenes, when asked about the first, second, and third desiderata of rhetoric, replied, "Action, action, action." End with a call to action. Make it clear what you would like your audience to do as a result of your presentation. Be clear on what they should do, not just what they should think.
  6. The primary reason why speakers fail is lack of preparation. Practice may not make perfect, but it does make one better. Enough practice makes one great. Speaking, like any other worthwhile endeavor, requires much practice and preparation.

(Mark Sanborn's next book is due out soon, called You Don't Need a Title to Be a Leader: How Anyone, Anytime Can Make a Positive Difference.)

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