Sunday, July 15, 2018

Please, Laugh in My Face!

People love to laugh—behind your back. That’s normal. Sometimes, you want them to laugh in your face. That’s gold for a presenter. If your audience is laughing, they are listening and you’re making an emotional connection!

If you can’t get some laughs or smiles, you are in trouble. As a presenter, you want to sprinkle humor throughout your business presentation because it:

 • Makes your audience more receptive to your message. Your points seem fresh, new and novel if you can get a laugh or a smile from your audience.

• Gives you a leg up with your listeners. People with a sense of humor seem friendly, likeable and someone you want to do business with.

• Helps you talk about difficult or serious topics.

• Makes your message more memorable.

But please, don’t trot out any old, tired jokes. Just try one of these humor hooks to keep your audience entertained and engaged:

1. Make an analogy that puts a twist on a common thing/situation. An analogy shows how two different things are similar. For example, “Sunbathing at Daytona Beach in July is like being a rotisserie chicken for four hours”. A simple analogy can bring out a smile!

2. Use the comedy rule: 1-2-FUNNY. List three things. The first two are similar and the last one breaks the pattern because it’s unexpected. For example, “I never know what to expect when I look under my car in the morning. (I always park near Mrs. Bush’s oak tree). Yesterday I found, half a pint of oil, a flat tire and Mrs. Bush’s dentures!”

3. Share a personal story. “If something happened to you and you found the humor in it, there’s a good chance others will, too,” says Carmine Gallo in his book, “Talk Like TED”.

It wasn’t funny at the time, but my first big feature story as a newspaper reporter was on a well-known minister in Charlotte, NC. I was so proud when my full-page story ran on Saturday. By Monday morning, I was nervous, stumbling and embarrassed. I had to look my editor (and the minister) in the eyes and explain the only mistake in my story. I broke the news that the pastor was retiring. To my surprise, he wasn’t. I still don’t know how I got that retirement so WRONG!

Yes, stories are a great way to get a laugh. Use your facial expressions, exaggerated gestures/movements, and dialog between characters to surprise your listeners. And don’t forget to give your characters distinct and memorable voices.

Need help getting laughs in your business presentations? Sign up for a Better Speaking Skills free strategy session at  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Do You Want to Make a Quick Connection?

As a presenter, the fastest way to connect with your audience is to show off your five F’s. When you reveal your failures, flaws, fears, frustrations or firsts with your listeners they can see that you have struggled, just like them. Authenticity is a fast track to connecting with people.

When you talk about how you dealt with your five F’s, you give the audience hope that they can also overcome their failures, flaws, fears, frustrations and firsts.

The first time I stood in front of my entire high school, to introduce the speaker at the 1973 Honor Society induction ceremony, the podium was almost taller than me and the microphone stood slightly above my gold granny glasses. I was so afraid that the butterflies in my stomach would fly out of my mouth; I rushed through my introduction and ran off the stage.

My first public speaking experience wasn’t any better for my audience. They could barely hear my soft voice, with the microphone so high above my mouth, and my monotone message was truly forgettable. I have no idea what I said that day!

But your five F’s do not have to make your audience feel sorry for you. Give them a glimpse at what it took to overcome your failures, get comfortable with your flaws, push past your fears, come to terms with your frustrations, and get better than your first attempt.

How did I go from 17-year-old butterfly girl to presentation coach? Well, I’ve invested time and money into improving my public speaking skills. After more than 10 years of training in Toastmasters International, I have taken classes, been certified as a World Class Speaking Coach and given speeches for the last 15 years.

With practice, training and coaching you can get comfortable enough on stage to connect with any audience. Let them know what it took to look like a winner—your five F’s!

For more presentation tips, like the Better Speaking Skills Facebook page (

Sunday, May 20, 2018

4 Ways to Avoid Boring Your Audience

Do you know what people are saying (in their mind) about you when you stand in front of them to give a presentation? They are thinking, “Please don’t let her be boring!”

Your job is simple. DO NOT BORE THEM! What can you do to keep your listeners interested? Use anchors to tie your audience to your presentation. Anchors add energy, increase audience involvement and reduce the risk of giving a dull, boring presentation.

For every main point you make, use an anchor to bring it alive for your audience. Four popular anchors are an anecdote, an analogy, an activity, and an acronym. Here’s how you can keep your audience engaged and make your message more memorable:

Anecdote – Tell a story that drives home your point. When people remember your story, they’ll remember your point.

Analogy – Compare your point to something the audience knows about. I like to compare the three parts of a presentation to a three-course meal. The opening is your appetizer, the main message is your entrĂ©e and your closing words are like a dessert. Comparisons make your message easier to digest.

Activity – Have the audience practice what you preach. When your audience participates in an activity, they walk away with a deeper understanding of your message. Activities are a great way to add fun and energy.

Acronym – Turn your message into an easy-to-remember acronym. For example, I like to make my audiences “T.A.L.L.” (Think, Act, Laugh and Learn).

For more presentation tips, like the Better Speaking Skills Facebook page (

Sunday, April 22, 2018

3 Ways You Can Kill a Presentation

Are you guilty of using a “poison P”? Have you ever delivered a business presentation standing behind a lectern or desk, been so serious—you forgot to share your personality with your audience, or read word-for-word from slides or notes?

Don’t worry. I’m a recovering addict with just the right prescription to prevent the three poison P’s: physical roadblocks, too little personality and perfectionism. These poison pills can cut off your audience connection and kill your presentation.

#1 POISON PILL: There’s a physical barrier between you and your audience.
REMEDY: Get as close as possible to your audience. Clear all roadblocks that make it hard to have a conversation with them. I used to love to stand behind the lectern and glance at my notes when I gave speeches at my Toastmasters Club. But the best speakers in our club knew better. They never stood behind the lectern or table. They would walk close to the audience, speak from the heart and look us in the eye.

#2 POISON PILL: You don’t tap into your personality.
REMEDY: Weave your best personality assets into your presentation. Play to your strengths. Do you love dogs? Find a way to mention your passion in your speech. Do you make your friends laugh? Share a funny story with your listeners. Bring your best personality trait on stage with you. You’ll be more interesting, authentic, credible, appealing and fun. You have more energy as a presenter when you show off your personality. And your listeners want to hear something unique about you, your perspective or your subject.

#3 POISON PILL: You’re addicted to the perfection pill.
REMEDY: Forget about perfection. Don’t read your presentation word for word from an iPad, written notes or your slides. Use a conversational delivery style that includes lots of eye contact, interaction with the audience, and little visual contact with your notes/slides. Your audience wants you to explain your message to them, not regurgitate every word you wrote down in your memorized script!

For more presentation tips, like the Better Speaking Skills Facebook page.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Do Your Stories Boost Your Image?

Do you include stories in your business presentations? For years, I shied away from telling stories in my speeches. I didn’t think I could tell a great story. I was right. Then I discovered how to take my stories from good to great. What made the difference?

There are five things I added to breathe life into my stories. Have you ever had a tall, cold glass of Hi-C? That fruit-juice flavored drink leaves a great taste in your mouth! Well there are five C’s that will make your stories as memorable and refreshing as a cold glass of Hi-C!

Great stories, like Star Wars or Black Panther, have the power to capture your imagination. And you can capture the attention and imagination of your audience by using the five C’s of storytelling. They add so much power and passion to your stories, you’ll also get a lift. When you’re known as a great storyteller, you’ll boost your image as a leader, communicator and an expert.

To take your stories from good to great, add these five C’s:

1 – Curiosity – Before you start your story, ask a question that makes your audience curious so they can’t wait to hear what you have to say next. You want them thinking, “Oh please, tell me more”.

2 – Characters – Make your characters believable by describing their appearance, personality and mindset. You want your audience to see themselves and others in your characters.

3 – Conversation – Add conversation between one or more characters. Dialog is a great way to generate a laugh and drive home your point.

4 – Conflict – Make sure your story has a problem or conflict the audience can relate to. Your audience should see themselves in your character(s) struggle to fix their problem.

5 – Carryout message – Summarize the message your story delivers in an easy-to-repeat slogan that is short and catchy (10 words or less). You want your audience to walk away repeating your carryout message or catch phrase.

For more easy-to-use storytelling tips, go to and sign up for free Better Speaking Skills business presentation tools.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

5 Biggest Public Speaking Mistakes You Must Avoid

What do ambitious women and awesome public speakers have in common? A panel at the Women on the Rise Orlando empowerment expo laid out a roadmap for women who want corporate success and pay equality. Their advice will also help men and women avoid the five biggest public speaking mistakes.

I repackaged their message as a M.A.G.I.C. bullet for men and women who want to be successful presenters. To be an empowered and extraordinary presenter, avoid these five mistakes:

M - MINDSET: Mistake: You have an “I’m good enough” mindset. Solution: Step outside of your comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable.

A - ADVANTAGES: Mistake: You settle for less than your best. Solution: Go for the P.I.E. advantages. PERFORMANCE (Perfect your ability to move an audience). IMAGE (Boost your image as a leader and an expert by making presentations). EXPOSURE (Give speeches that raise your personal, professional or business’ visibility).

G - GROWTH: Mistake: You assume you can’t improve your presentations. Solution: Look for ways to grow or strengthen your public speaking skills.

I - INJECT: Mistake: You bore your audience by playing it too safe. Solution: Inject emotion, passion and your authentic self into your presentations.

C - CONFIDENCE: Mistake: You feel unsure or scared in front of an audience. Solution: Remind yourself that you have something valuable to say and confidently deliver your message.

Let me know if you have ever made one of these mistakes. How did you rebound from it? Remember, missteps are part of the learning process that moves you along the road to speaking success! Share your horror and success stories at or

Monday, January 15, 2018

4 Ways You Can Captivate an Audience Like Oprah

Oprah Winfrey jumped to the top of a list of potential 2020 candidates for president of the United States after giving a speech, accepting the Cecil DeMille award for lifetime achievement. What did she do in her January 7 Golden Globes award show speech?

Oprah ignited our imagination, gave us a history lesson and stirred our emotions. She even had a room full of Hollywood heavy hitters clapping and cheering like they were at a political rally. She clearly captivated her audience. And there are four things you can do to captivate an audience like Oprah.

In his new book, “SOAR,” Bishop T.D. Jakes explains what he tries to do in every speech or sermon: “I want my preaching, teaching, and speaking to be as relevant, engaging, powerful, and transformative to my audience as possible.”

Oprah’s Golden Globes speech was relevant, engaging, powerful and transformative. To make the T.D. Jakes recipe and Oprah’s speaking style work for you:

1. RELEVANT: Speak on a topic that’s relevant to your audience. Oprah spoke directly to the women in the entertainment industry who launched a “Time’s Up” movement to help women facing sexual harassment in the workplace. The theme of her acceptance speech was female empowerment.

2. ENGAGING: Use vivid descriptions so your audience can visualize the scenes in your stories. You could see Oprah in 1964 as a little girl “sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house” watching Sidney Poitier get an Oscar for best actor (first black man to win that award). Couldn’t you feel how exhausted her mom was when she “came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses”?

3. POWERFUL: Vary the speed and volume of your voice for emphasis. Oprah slowly announced that “Recy Taylor died ten days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday.” And she turned up the volume to loudly proclaim: “I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories.”

4. TRANSFORMATIVE: Offer new information, a different perspective or deeper understanding of your topic. Was Oprah’s speech your first introduction to Recy Taylor? I had never heard of this African-American woman who was raped in 1944 while walking home from church. Her story brought me to tears!

Need to make your next presentation as powerful as Oprah’s, go to and sign up for my free business presentation tools.