I have put out a few newsletter lessons on Energy Shifts but I figured now was time to SHOW it rather than just teach it. Take a look at the following video lesson and please forgive the very temporary mismatched audio and video. Energy shifts breathe new life into vital parts of your speech.
Please feel free to comment and/or give an example of an energy shift in one of your stories.
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One of the most important success factors in public speaking is your ability to customize your speech to make each audience feel like, “This has only happened here” and “This message is truly for us.”
In other words, they don’t want a “canned” speech. They want it to be fresh. You can accomplish this in a humorous way too and that’s where call backs come in to play.
What is a call back?
This is when you refer to something that happened previously in the event, right? Well, yes, but don’t forget to call back to the following as well. I call it the PEST formula for Call Backs.
P = Preparation – call back to something that happened as you Prepared for the event
E = Event – call back to something that happened during the Event
S = Speaker – call back to something one of the other Speakers said
T = Travel – call back to something that happened as you Traveled to the event
See for Yourself
Take a look at the video for a few examples of call backs I used to make a greater connection with my audiences and to have them feel like, “This has only happened here.”
What call backs have you given recently that worked?
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“You should use more visuals in your speeches.” What came to mind when you read that first sentence? Many speakers immediately think it means to use more PowerPoint or Keynote Slides.
While those may be valuable (when used well), you can also use other visuals to connect with your audience, uncover humor, and even evoke emotions.
I like to use pocket props, which are simply props that can fit into your pocket. I’ve seen speakers bring huge props onto the stage that take the attention away from the speaker. Pocket Props are good because you can use them and then hide them when you’re finished so that they no longer split your audience’s attention.
For example, take a look at the following video in which I used a small Pocket Prop that worked well in front of 4000 people at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina:
The letter from my daughter was the pocket prop. Let me ask you a quick question. Don’t you think I know that letter by heart? Of course I do. It’s memorized. How could I forget it? So why do I still take it out and read it? It’s because the prop (the letter) benefits me in multiple ways:
- It makes my audience more curious for what my daughter wrote. Like I always say, “Tease them before you tell them.”
- It lends credibility to the story because the letter is real. In fact, I often flash the letter to people in my front rows.
- You can even turn your prop around on your audience. For example, although I started my speech with humor about my daughter’s letter, what if I ended my speech with emotion by pulling the letter out again and then asking, “If your loved one wrote you a note today, what would it say?” The possibilities are endless when you start thinking of some of the items you have that have back-stories.
The bottom line is that story would not work as well without the letter.
How Can You Get the Best use out of the Prop?
With props, I like to give what I call a “StoryWrap.” This means I simply wrap a story around the prop. This can be quite humorous. For example, here’s a video of me using a prop to tell a story (to an audience in Hong Kong) about something that happened to me in Vancouver, BC.
Once again, this prop helped make my audience curious because, when I walked up on the stage, I’m sure they were asking, “Why is he still wearing that name tag?” I teased them before I told them. Believe me, that story would not have worked very well without having the nametag as a prop.
I simply wrapped a story around the prop and it drew laughs. However, you can also use these Props to deepen your connection with your audience.
Emotional Connection Through Props
For example, I once spoke to Middle School kids and shared a story of how I was able to receive a pair of shoes from one of my basketball idols. I built the value and the importance of the shoes throughout the story. At the end of the speech, I gave one of the students that pair of shoes. It was an emotional moment because of the story that was wrapped around the shoes. Also, I REALLY wanted to keep the shoes!
My Main Man Manley
Recently, the speaker I’ve seen use visuals the best is Manley Feinberg. It helps that Manley is a mountain climber. I coached Manley recently and saw some of his props that went very well with his stories and slides. He had a rope, a bag, a locking carabiner, an anchor, and even an admittance wrist-band from when he was bitten by a snake and taken to the hospital. All of these props were worked seamlessly into his stories and each item gained value because of it.
What I like the most is that Manley gives away some of his locking carabiners to his audience after his speech. In fact, after I coached him, he gave me one. Guess what was written on the side? VerticalLessons.com. That’s right, a well-used prop can even become good marketing for Manley or for you.
Your Turn – What’s a Proven Process for using Pocket Props?
- Take an item that’s important to you that may be in your home or office.
- What’s the story behind it? Why is it important? What does it signify?
- How can you make its meaning universal?
Making It Universal
Let’s just touch on that last point. Manley gave me a locking carabiner but I’m sure, by now, he knows that I will never climb a mountain. However, he uses the carabiner, rope, and anchor as a metaphor to show how you can support other people during their climb in life and that’s why the message becomes universal. It’s not just for mountain climbers, it’s for anyone on any climb. That’s why I keep his locking carabiner on my desk. It’s a reminder for me to “Keep others on belay.”
When using visuals, it’s important to think beyond slides and to dig into your own life and find items that are meaningful to you and can become meaningful to others. If it changed your life then it can touch theirs. Whether it’s a letter or a carabiner, it’s really a reminder of your message.
Okay, I’ve said enough. Now it’s time to go back to being the best daddy in my whole family.
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Have you ever been advised to ask questions in your speeches?
It’s sound advice, because questions can benefit you and your audience in many ways. However, I’ve seen many speakers destroy their speeches because of how they asked their questions.
Are You Really Interested?
I’ve seen speakers ask questions only to have their audience members feel like the speaker isn’t really interested in their answers. They realize the speaker doesn’t intend to have a true dialogue and is simply asking questions because someone told him or her to do so.
Are you watching your watchers?
As a speaker, it’s critical to have your audience feel that you’re watching and listening to them while they’re watching and listening to you. That’s the exchange of energy. That’s the real connection.
In the following coaching video, Isaak picks up some advice that can help him start off his speech with a connection rather than a rejection. See for yourself.
Note: Thanks to Lewis Roth for shooting this video.
3 Important Questions to Ask About Your Questions
-Are you splitting longer questions into shorter ones?
-Are you looking at different parts of the audience as you deliver each question?
-Are you waiting long enough for your audience to answer your question in their own minds?
Although Isaak’s questions were at the beginning of his speech, this lesson applies to wherever you decide to ask your questions. Shorter, punchier, clearer questions beat longer, junky, ambiguous ones all the time. Don’t you agree?
What are some short questions you ask during your speech?
How do you know how long to wait before you continue speaking?
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In our new Teleseminar entitled Storytelling: From Lackluster to Blockbuster (available on August 18th), Michael Hauge and I discussed 4 types of characters that can save your stories and make them MUCH more interesting.
In the following excerpt, you’ll hear about two of these characters and get a quick idea of the ways they can propel your stories to new heights. Once you listen to the 3-minute clip, feel free to reply to any or all of the questions below.
Questions About These Valuable Characters
Why do you think you shouldn’t be the Guru of your own story most of the time? There are exceptions of course.
When do you think it IS a GOOD time to be the Guru of your own story?
What are at least 2 ways the Reflection Character helps bring your story to life?
Even though you only heard a short part of our conversation about the Nemesis, how do you feel the Nemesis can make your story more intriguing?
Are you ready for August 18th?
On Tuesday August 18th, you’ll be able to pick up more than 35 storytelling tools, ideas, principles, and strategies that can make you a spellbinding storyteller whose message sticks. On that date, you’ll be able to access and download the Storytelling: From Lackluster to Blockbuster teleseminar replay (1 hour and 43 minutes long) that will likely change the way you see your stories and your speeches moving forward.
Note: I was going to wait until later this fall to release this teleseminar, but, when I went back and listened to it, I realized this content is too valuable to sit on and I felt compelled to release it sooner.
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A couple of weeks ago I recorded a storytelling Teleseminar with Michael Hauge, a highly-successful Hollywood Script Consultant and Story Expert. I expected to learn a few good tips but ended up being blown away by his content. My stories (and your stories when you heed his advice) will never be the same again. They’ll be much improved and make even more of an impact.
3 Quick Keys
Below are 3 very quick storytelling excerpts from the Teleseminar. I strongly suggest that you participate in this post. How? Listen to each audio and then answer the questions I have underneath. You can answer them just for yourself or post your answers in the comments section. Either way, your stories will thank you.
Oh, and this is just the very tip of the iceberg of the teleseminar (which includes more than 25 solid and sometimes rarely used storytelling tips) that will be available in early August.
This first audio is simply what Michael describes as THE primary objective of storytelling
Questions – what story elements do you believe help you meet the primary objective of storytelling that Michael mentioned? Which element(s) do you feel you do well? What do you think you could do better to achieve this primary objective?
This next clip provides a fantastic piece of advice for describing your characters and making them real for your audience.
Question – What’s one example of a character in one of your stories that you can describe using Michael’s advice?
This final clip includes one key (one of dozens) that will help your story achieve the primary objective of storytelling mentioned in the first audio clip of this post.
Question – When does the EXACT moment of conflict happen in your story?
I look forward to hearing from you!
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Five years ago I sent out 25 phrases to guide you to greatness in speaking. Today, you get 40.
I strongly suggest that you keep these phrases where you can see them, because internalizing them can dramatically and automatically drive you to greatness in speaking. If you’re very serious about speaking, discuss the list with other speakers. This reflection exercise can lead to lots of breakthroughs in your speaking.
Note: Most of the phrases are mine but I’ve included a few guests phrase-makers as well.
- “Let your long road lead to their shortcut.”
- “You can’t rush and resonate.”
- “Don’t add humor; uncover it.”
- “Speak to one but look to all.”
- “Tease them before you tell them.”
- “Stories must be true but they don’t have to be factual.” Michael Hauge
- “Speak like you talk, not like you write.”
- “Put the process, not the person, on a pedestal.”
- “When you lift yourself up, you let your audience down.”
- “Condense to connect.”
- “Come across as similar, not special.”
- “The phrase determines what stays.”
- “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.” Old speaker proverb
- “No phrase, no stage”
- “What’s loose is lost”
- “If you take us through the problem, then take us through the payoff.”
- “Conflict is the hook and dialogue is the heart”
- “Let your story become their story”
- “What you pick up in the Cure (the Cure scene), you hand them out the door”
- “Don’t tell; ask”
- “Sell the belief before the relief.”
- “The more specific and visible the goal, the stronger the story.” Michael Hauge
- “Don’t be the Guru of your own story.”
- “Don’t create a message without first creating a mess.”
- “What gets recorded gets rewarded.”
- “Too many speakers try to get across too much information in too little time.”
- “Never sell a product, always sell the result.”
- “Put the result before the resource (or request).”
- “Never close your speech with the Q & A.”
- “Show it before you say it.”
- “People buy into what they help create.”
- “Give a hint and let your audience fill in the rest.”
- “It’s the look before and after the line that makes the line.”
- “Don’t just establish conflict, escalate it.”
- “Reactions tell the story.” Darren LaCroix
- “The bigger the obstacles, the more emotional your story.” Michael Hauge
- “Don’t tell us, take us.” Mark Brown
- “Don’t speak for standing ovations, speak for standing invitations.”
- “Check the VAKS.”
- “People remember best what they hear first and last.”
Bonus phrase (from my son Ace): “When the chips are down…eat them!”
I’d love to hear from you to see what are some of the phrases that guide you in speaking? Feel free to share some of your own phrases too!
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Average speakers get a good response, but exceptional speakers get their audiences to take action. Exceptional speakers help change lives long after they have finished speaking and that’s why they get rehired time and time again.
How do speakers become exceptional? They learn the tools that prompt their audience members to go beyond listening and to take action. Here is one of my favorite tools to help you do just that.
Persuasive Tool: “Most People”
Listen to the following 1-minute audio (from very early on in my speaking career) where you’ll hear two of the most persuasive words in speaking.
The two most important words you heard were “Most people.” You can use the term “most people” to get your audience to take action because of the following truth:
Most people do not want to be most people”
The words “most people” are extremely influential because, if used correctly, they immediately create a comparison between something the audience does not want to be (or have) to something they do want to be (or have). For example, once they get the message about “most people living on get set,” they immediately want to avoid being placed in that category. Then the key is to give them a way to avoid it.
Compare and Contrast
One of the greatest ways to get people to take action is to use the compare and contrast method in many different ways. For example, for years Zig Ziglar compared being a “wandering generality” to being a “meaningful specific.” Once we realize that most people are wandering generalities, we immediately desire to become a meaningful specific.
This worked so well for Zig Ziglar because it simultaneously moved us away from what we did not want to be (a wandering generality) and moved us towards what we did want to be (a meaningful specific). This method pushes and pulls you at the same time.
Look back at the first sentence of this post. What does it compare? It compares average speakers to exceptional speakers and then gives you a way to be exceptional.
Be a Bridge-builder
In speaking, you want to create a bridge between what the audience doesn’t want (to be average) and what they do want (to be exceptional) and then let them know the way to cross that bridge (i.e. 3 keys, 4 steps, 5 Cs, etc.). This is a wonderful way to set up your message because you’re heeding the following valuable speaker advice:
Tease them before you tell them”
Questions for you for your next speech
Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself as you prepare to give your next speech. These can help you use the “most people” line to get them to take action.
What do MOST PEOPLE do that your audience should avoid doing?
What aren’t MOST PEOPLE doing that your audience should do?
You can also ask the same about how most people think or how most people are, etc.
NOTE: If you don’t feel comfortable saying, “Most people (because you haven’t conducted a scientific survey with slopes and standard deviations and percentages of failure, etc.),” you can say “Many people.” However, that will lose some of its power. Why? It’s because that sounds like something most people would say.
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How would you like a tool to create a deeper connection with your audience than you’ve felt before? Take 6 minutes to listen to the following audio from one of my live workshops.
When you integrate this tool, no matter how many people are in your audience, each one of them will likely feel that you are speaking directly to him or her. Now THAT’S a connection!
The Hallway Test
Remember, if you can say it to one person in a hallway, you can take it up onstage. Just to spell it out for you (since you couldn’t SEE what we did with the activity), the key is to use your language so it sounds and feels like you are speaking to one person while you’re looking at everyone. So when Carlton asks, “Have you ever been to Baltimore,” he will be looking at the entire audience even though it will sound like he’s speaking to one person.
Note: This same concept applies to the stage and the page. For example, on this post, I wouldn’t write, “I want you all to go out and use this tool.” Instead, I’d say, “I want you to go out and use this tool.”
Feel free to reply to this post with how it feels to speak to one and look to all. I look forward to hearing from you. Oh, and don’t forget the “Look to all” part.
Featured Program of the Week
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This post has a strange title because, I’m sure your objective is not to ruin your speech. However, if you understand some of the ways we ruin our speeches, you can avoid making these mistakes and take your speeches to greater heights.
Here are 20 ways speakers ruin their speeches. Some of the points have explanations while some don’t. I strongly suggest that you find a speaker buddy and discuss at least a few of these mistakes.
Note: I’ve made absolutely all of these mistakes at times during my career. That’s how I know how damaging they can be.
Mistake #1: Rushing – most speakers know that rushing is bad for business. After all, “You can’t rush and resonate.” However, it’s important to understand WHY speakers rush. Most of the time it’s because the speaker is trying to say too much in too little time. The old speaker proverb says, “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.” There’s no time for connection when you’re rushing through your material. Remember, less is often more.
Mistake #2: They take too long to get to their stories
Mistake #3: They took too long to get to the conflict in the story
Mistake #4: They establish the conflict but don’t elevate it
Mistake #5: They don’t tease them (the audience) before they tell them
Mistake #6: There’s no emotional change in the story’s main character
Mistake #7: They add humor rather than uncovering it. There are numerous ways to uncover humor without having to go on a detour to do so. In fact, I developed an entire course called Humor Speaking Secrets that covers 33 ways to uncover humor and keep your audience laughing all the way through your speech.
Mistake #8: They don’t have a “Foundational Phrase” that’s fewer than 10 words and easy to remember and repeat
Mistake #9: They don’t use a mix of anchors (anecdotes, analogies, activities, acronyms, audio-visuals, etc.) to keep the energy high and help their audience members remember their points
Mistake #10: They speak to everybody instead of speaking to one and looking to all. For example, they say, “How many of you have been here before…” instead of saying, “Raise your hand if you’ve been here before” or “Have you ever been here before.” You should sound like you’re speaking to one person (grammatically) rather than speaking to 200. I wouldn’t walk up to one person and say, “How many of you have been to Baltimore?” Therefore, I shouldn’t say that onstage. If I can say it to one person, I can say it that same way onstage.
Mistake #11: They don’t give looks before, during, and after delivering their lines. Remember, like my friend Darren LaCroix says, “Reactions tell the story.”
Mistake #12: They don’t sell the results of heeding their message. For example, let’s say you speak on the topic of marketing. Instead of selling them on creating a marketing plan, sell them on the opportunity to get new customers and THEN introduce the concept of the marketing plan. After all, their goal is not a marketing plan, it’s new customers.
Mistake #13: They don’t become the characters in their stories. I see many speakers who have characters that all look and sound alike. While being subtle, it’s important to use posture, positioning, facial expressions, and a slight change in your voice to differentiate one character from another.
Mistake #14: They’re not conversational. Remember, while in your story, you can be as wild and crazy as the story takes you. However, when you’re speaking directly to your audience, it should be conversational.
Mistake #15: They’re too theatrical. Remember, speaking is NOT a stage-play. It’s a dialogue with your audience. Speakers that get onstage and act like they’re in a Shakespearean play will usually not connect with their audience.
Mistake #16: They speak like they write. You don’t want to sound like you’re giving a spoken article. Instead, it’s important to speak like you talk, not like you write. For example, if you don’t usually use a word like “ponder” in your everyday conversations, why should you use it onstage? It’s not the authentic you. If you do use ponder on a regular basis, use it onstage too. The best speakers are themselves onstage.
Mistake #17: They give what I call “Slope speeches.” These are speeches that start off really well (on a very high level) and then go downhill. This is usually a result of one ineffective rehearsal problem that many speakers have. They always rehearse from the beginning of their speech.
Let’s say you have a 30-minute speech that is split up into 3 major points. What many speakers do is practice from the beginning (point #1) and then go through the rest. But what happens when they’re inevitably interrupted by life? They usually go back and start over again with point #1. So point #1 gets lots of attention while points 2 and 3 starve. I suggest that you practice one point (one module) at a time and don’t always do it in order. Then, when you actually get onstage, you can bring it all together for your audience and it will also still be fresh for you.
Mistake #18: They don’t provide their audience with a Roadmap. It’s important to let your audience know where they’re going on this journey. For example, I say, “These 4 R will lead you to get remarkable results in your business and in your life.” Now my audience knows we’re going from one R to the next R to the next R and so on. This makes is easy for them to follow along.
Be creative with your Roadmap (i.e. 4 Steps, 3 keys, 5 tools, etc.). You might also spell it out for them like I do when I say, “First you’ll pick up tools to CREATE your message, then tools for DELIVERING it, and finally, you’ll get tools to SELL your message so your audience takes the exact next step you want them to take.” This helps my audience can follow along with CRAFT, DELIVER, and SELL.
Mistake #19: They don’t give a Big Promise. Your audience needs to know WHY they are there. They should be excited about being there. For example, I say. “By the time you leave here today, you’ll have the tools to keep your audience on the edge of their seats and make them glad they came.”
Mistake #20: They don’t record their speeches. Each speech you give can get exponentially better if you record and listen to the ones you’ve already given. It’s not about looking for what you did wrong. It’s about seeing what you did right so you can do it more often. It’s about seeing there you can uncover more humor. It’s about taking out what might be considered boring. It’s about testing and tweaking so you can touch more lives.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s something you can reference to make sure you stay away from these mistakes.
I wish you the absolute best in your upcoming speeches and I wish the same for your audiences.