The Power of a Single Sound

Let’s give Benedetta Berti her due.  Her TED talk is packed with fascinating information about the way that terrorist states operate, and how to effectively combat them.  I love her inventive Power Point slides, her creative use of statistics, and her rousing call to action.

But as is the case with many Ted-talkers, there is something to be desired in the way she is delivering her speech.  To begin with, she is speaking much too fast.  Keep in mind folks, the audience does not know nearly as much about your topic as you do.  It’s important to take your time, so your concepts can really land.  She also appears to be reading her speech, rather than coining her ideas in the moment.  Since she is so knowledgeable about her topic, it might have been a better idea to bullet point her speech, rather than write it all out, so she could keep things loose.

I’d like to call your attention to her articulation.  She is mispronouncing the “th” sound consistently throughout the speech, lending to some confusion.  Is that “den” or “then”?  “That” or “dat”?  This single mispronunciation is a major flaw in the speech.  Yes, native English speakers will probably be able to translate, and understand the mispronounced word, but what about non-native English speakers?  Will they be able to parse her speech, identify the mispronunciation, and figure out which word she is really getting at?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

If English is not your native language, and you have a speech coming up, run it by a friend, or a coach, or your spouse… anybody who has good speech.  This will allow you to identify where your articulation problem areas lie, and correct them before your big day.

Four Public Speaking Tips from the Sixth Republican Debate

Well the first is…

  1. Don’t stick your tongue out like this:
Trump tongue outIt’s weird.  Trump does it at moments of high tension as if to say “Hey I’m just kidding!!”  Not a good idea.  Be aware of your non-verbal tics.  This is national television people!
2.  Know your facts cold – If you are speaking in an impromptu format (debates, q and a, etc) you need to know your facts better than if you are giving a planned speech.  Ted Cruz seems to have an encyclopedic mind for facts and figures.  He used it to great effect when he nailed the Donald on the birther issue.
3.  Don’t Rush – This means you Senator Rubio.  Rubio tends to speak very, very quickly.  It cost him when he got his facts mixed up in regard to gun violence.  Take your time and pace yourself out.
4.  Use Bold Hand Gestures – Bed carsoon
Ben Carson tends to gesture like his hands are wet rags.  Amp it up a little Ben!  Gesturing with your hands is scientifically proven to improve your impression with an audience, but it’s important to gesture confidently.

Three Signs Your Presentations Need Help

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Do you feel that your presentations lack spark? Are your colleagues nodding off in the middle of your speeches? Here are a few signs your presentations could use an overhaul:

1) No Preparation – If you haven’t done the preparation work on a presentation, culling together the material, designing your PowerPoint, agonizing over the premise, rehearsing it out loud in front of a coach or colleague, then you can’t expect the presentation to take off. There’s no excuse to wing it.

2) Your Absolutely Sure Your Presentation Is AMAZING Nope. I find that the people who are most sure about their presentations are often the ones with the worst presentations. I’m not sure why this is, but I think a little self doubt is good. It forces you to work hard, think creatively about each slide, and really do your homework.

3) No Follow Up Questions – It’s always best to end a presentation by asking for follow up questions. You can be sure you’ve bombed if no one has any! It’s generally an indication that you have not been clear enough with your material, or that you have not presented your material in an interesting enough manner.