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.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gomer Pyle Had it Right!

Have you ever been delighted by an unexpected Christmas gift? How did that make you feel? That sudden surge of surprise, delight and excitement pumped you up. My favorite part of Christmas is watching my child open a gift she wasn’t expecting. Her eyes light up, a toothy smile pops on her face, and she yells “wow”!

Surprise, delight and excitement are also the best reactions you can get to your next presentation.

You know, Gomer Pyle had it right! “Surprise, surprise, surprise” was one of Gomer’s favorite saying on the popular 1960s television hit series, “The Andy Griffith Show”. And you need to surprise, delight and excite everyone who sits through one of your presentations.

You may be thinking, how do you surprise business audiences who have seen millions of presentations? Some of your listeners may be jaded, bored or uninterested in your topic. That means you have to try harder to get their attention. I recommend that you add one of these surprises to your next presentation:

1. SURPRISE: Open and close your speech in an unexpected way. If every speaker opens by thanking the audience, don’t. Skip the “thank you” and launch into something the audience cares about—a topic that directly affects them or solves their problems.

2. SURPRISE: Share an original story with an unpredictable twist. You want your audience to say, “Wow. I didn’t see that coming!” Not, “I know where she’s going with that tired story. I’ve heard that one a hundred times.” Think like you’re writing a murder mystery for NBC’s “Dateline” television news show!

3. SURPRISE: Be different, unique and entertaining. Build a memorable catch phrase into your presentation that is easy to repeat and remember. I heard a presentation by the owner of a marketing company. At the end of his talk, we were all yelling “bam”! That was the catch phrase he used throughout his speech so we would remember what his company does—Branding, Advertising and Marketing. “Bam” was fun to say. “Bam” was a way to involve the audience, be memorable and stand out from the other presenters (dry, boring talking heads).

For more business presentation tips, go to and sign up for my free business presentation tools.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

#MeToo...Find and Amplify Your Voice

Hashtag #MeToo is empowering women to share their stories of harassment and sexual abuse on Twitter. To be honest, every woman does not have a sexual abuse or harassment story to tell. But every man and woman has a voice. As a communications coach, I’d like to give you a few tips to amplify your voice, no matter what story you have to tell.

The #MeToo social media movement is about finding and amplifying your voice. Since I coach business owners and professionals, my advice is for delivering business presentations. But feel free to use the three P’s to tell your personal story and amplify your voice—on any stage.

When you deliver your message, tell your story with POWER, PASSION and PERSUASION. Here are a few tips:

1. POWER – When you speak with confidence, your words carry more weight. Use direct, action words; vary your pace (how fast you speak) and adjust the volume (speak louder or softer, when you need to emphasize a point). Tip #1: Your voice is a powerful communications tool. Use it strategically!

2. PASSION – Don’t hold back your emotions. Your passion should shine through in your body language, gestures and in your voice. Speak with energy, enthusiasm and emotion. Stay in touch with your feelings and let your listeners know how strongly you care about your story/issue/message. Tip #2: Your hands, face and words should reflect your emotions, your passion!

3. PERSUASION – To make a difference, you have to change minds and hearts. The best way to influence your audience is to tell your story in way that makes your audience think “me too”. When your listeners can put themselves in your shoes, they can see your point of view. We all can relate to pain, loss and uncomfortable situations. Tip #3: It’s easier to persuade someone who can see themselves in your story!

These three P’s will amplify your voice and propel your message to the next level. When you use power, passion and persuasion in your presentation, your message has more impact.

For more business presentation tips, go to and sign up for my free business presentation tools.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can Candy Make You a Better Presenter?

What’s your favorite candy? Snickers, Dove and Hershey chocolate bars put a smile on my face. I’ve even handed out Tic Tac candies to my audience, before starting a presentation. No, they didn’t need the sugar, but I wanted to drive home my message in a candy red Corvette. You can also make your message as memorable as Prince’s hit song, “Little Red Corvette”!

If candy can grab your attention like a fast car, so can T.I.C. T.A.C.S.—seven ways to pull in listeners and hold them, from your first words to your last. Try one of these T.I.C. T.A.C.S. in your next presentation. You can quickly engage any audience with a T.I.C. and make your message memorable with one or more T.A.C.S.

All eyes are on you, when you open a presentation with one, two or all three T.I.C.’s:
T – TEASE your audience
I – IGNITE curiosity

The “T” in T.I.C. stands for tease your audience in your opening. Don’t give away your main message too soon. If you jump into your main points immediately, you give your audience no reason to listen for the big finale. You want to entice the audience to come along for the ride. Like a good TV cliffhanger, make your listeners want to tune in for the rest of the show. A good tease gives the audience reasons to stay with you and tells them what they gain, if they do.

The “I” in T.I.C. stands for igniting curiosity. The best way to do that is to ask a surprising question. Throw your audience a pitch they aren’t expecting. You can frame a topic in an unexpected way that clicks their curiosity button. Questions that start with “Have you ever” or “imagine” pull your audience into your message and engage their curiosity.

And the “C” in T.I.C. stands for a compelling visual. Give your audience a compelling visual to help them visualize your message. You can share a personal story, slides, photos, video or a prop (like Tic Tac candy) to visually bring your message alive for your audience. Visuals help your listeners see the point you’re trying to make.

Your message will stick with the audience after your final words, when you close with one or more T.A.C.S.:
T – TAP into a bigger picture
A – ASK your audience to take action
C – CIRCLE back to your opening
S – SIGN OFF with a memorable slogan

To “T”, tap into a bigger picture, remind the audience how your message relates to their vision or values. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech ended on a high note and tapped into our values of fairness, justice and equality in a memorable way.

To “A”, ask your audience to take action, move your audience from passive listeners to engaged participants. Ask them to buy into your ideas, buy your product/services or turn your words into powerful good deeds. When your listeners take action, you know your message has taken root with them.

To “C”, circle back to your opening, remind your audience of a story or example you mentioned in your opening. You can also start a story in your opening and finish it at the end. That’s called a circular close. It ties your message up in a nice package.

To “S”, sign off with a memorable slogan, capture your message in an easy-to-repeat phrase that summarizes your main point and makes it unforgettable. Television advertisers use this powerful communications tool to perfection. Can you still hum TV jingles from decades ago? For your next presentation, see if you can come up with a catchy phrase that sums up your message in less than 10 words.

Make it easy for your audience to remember your message by closing with T.A.C.S. (tap into a bigger picture, ask your audience to take action, circle back to your opening or sign off with a memorable slogan).

Can candy make you a better presenter? Tic Tac candy can freshen your mouth and T.I.C. T.A.C.S. can make your message as unforgettable as your favorite candy or Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”!

Are your presentations getting the job done? Discover the six proven ways to connect with your audience and get them to take action in my free checklist, “Make Your Message Stick (Like Glue) to Any Audience”. To get audience connection and take action ideas, email to

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Take Four Tips from Trump

Donald Trump is not your typical politician. But his C.A.R.U. is worth a billion dollars to any apprentice presenter. I’m not talking politics. When I see Trump on television I am looking at his communications style—it’s unique, clearly defined and overflowing with four gems less polished speakers should steal.

My daughter says, “Mom, you love a good acronym!” She’s right. There are three things I just can’t walk away from—cookies, chocolate and acronyms! That’s why I have cooked up this acronym for Trump’s stump speech style, “C.A.R.U.”

1. CONVERSATIONAL – Actually, Trump is a master of the three C’s (confident body language, conversational delivery and comfortable stage presence). He walks on a stage like he owns it. He has a face-to-face conversation with his audience (he rarely speaks from notes). And he’s just as comfortable talking to one reporter as he is a crowd of hundreds. Tip #1: You can captivate any audience if you are confident, conversational and comfortable on stage.

2. ANIMATED – Trump doesn’t use a lot of gestures, but when he does, they are powerful. He has even impersonated fellow politicians, to get some laughs. Trump does a mean Bernie Sanders (Democratic presidential candidate) losing control of his crowd to two women hecklers and a spot-on Marco Rubio (GOP presidential challenger) reaching for a water bottle during a speech. Tip #2: You can use your face and body to keep your audience engaged and amused. Remember, everyone loves to laugh!

3. REPETITIVE – Trump uses the power of repetition well. Even toddlers know that he only wants to “Make America Great Again”! Tip #3: When your audience can repeat your catchy slogan, you know you’ve made your point!

4. UNIQUE – Trump’s unmistakable style starts with his face—he rarely smiles. He likes to pout and comb his hair in that signature front-side flip. My advice is simple: bring your personality, sense of humor and special style to your next presentation. For example, I never step on stage without a nearby prop, a few laugh lines and my short Afro. Tip #4: You don’t have to be perfect—just authentic—to connect with your audience.

No, I will not be voting for Donald Trump (I’m ready for Hillary). But he is a speaking coach’s best friend. Trump has a lot to offer speakers still looking for a unique presentation style. Thanks, Donald. Your C.A.R.U. is worth a billion dollars to any apprentice presenter!

If you’re having trouble developing your unique presentation style, contact Coach Rosalyn Gist Porter, 407-761-7625 or

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Defines You Better Than Your Resume?

Do you remember this scene from the movie “Best Man Holiday” when Harper (played by Taye Diggs) asks his old college buddies (and the boyfriend of a dear friend) to boil their core values down to three words? Lance (played by Morris Chestnut), an NFL football player in the film, quickly rattles off his big three—“faith, family, football”.

Can you rattle off the principles you stand for? Recently, I thought about my three core values as I prepared to deliver a speech on business storytelling. I traced my defining values—caring, coaching and competence—back to the small Caribbean island of Nevis, the homeland of my maternal grandparents. My grandmother Adina passed these values on to my mother Helen, who passed them on to me.

Caring, coaching and competence—my values—tell you more about me than my resume. They represent who I am and what I stand for. As a business communicator for more than 20 years, I have seen a slow decline in our ability to connect and communicate with each other.

We have very short attention spans, and they’re shrinking every year. The average person’s attention span dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 (before Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were around) to only 8 seconds in 2013.

That means, when you talk to people, you need to be a skilled communicator to hold their attention. That’s why I teach business executives and professionals how to deliver their message in an interesting way. We need competent communicators who can connect with any audience, no matter how short their attention span is.

I believe communication is the key to solving problems at home, in the workplace and in the political arena. That’s why I love standing before a group or sitting with a client coaching them on what to say or do to express their ideas with passion, enthusiasm and power. Coaching presentation skills is my way of adding more effective communicators to our community, corporations and schools. Those are my core values.

The next time you’re in a job interview, at a networking event or making a business presentation, please share one or two of your core values. You’ll be more memorable if you include your values in a story or example that illustrates the essence of who you are. Remember, your core values define who you are better than your resume!

Stories are a great vehicle for connecting people. Learn how to share your personal or professional values through storytelling. If you want to build your business storytelling skills, email me at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Healing Power of Storytelling

No matter how old you are, the loss of your mother creates a void in your life as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon. When my 93-year-old mother died in June, I struggled with a profound sense of loss. Intellectually, I told myself, “You were blessed to have Mama in your life for nearly 60 years”. But emotionally, I knew that I’d never hear her voice again, watch her play the piano, touch her soft face or taste her best dish—spaghetti with turkey meatballs!

The day of her funeral was hot, sunny and emotionally draining. Thank goodness, my cousin Laura (the tall lady in the photo) flew from Virginia to Louisiana to be with us. She was right there to help us get through that day. After the service, she showered us with stories about aunts, cousins and uncles we barely knew.

Instead of wallowing in sorrow, we hung on her every word. When she talked about crazy Uncle Rob, you could just see his anger in her face, hear his mean voice and feel the pain he inflicted on his wife. Laura brought that bully alive (he’s been dead for years) with vocal variety, strong gestures and colorful descriptions. She helped us take our mind—if just for a short time—off our pain.   

Laura’s stories connected us with the past and made us treasure our family more. Although it is hard to live without the woman who was the heart of our family, my mother’s strength and spirit will always be with us. So will the tradition of storytelling.

Storytelling reminds us that we love, we laugh, we cry, we grieve and we are stronger because we are all connected. The healing power of storytelling turned my salty tears into belly laughs and my deep sorrow into eternal gratitude. Thank you, Laura, for sharing stories that lifted my spirits and touched my heart!

Stories are a great vehicle for connecting people. Learn how to share your values, success stories and pivotal life lessons through storytelling. If you want to build your business storytelling skills, email me at