Brilliant Content for Your Speech? Great, but Delivery Is Everything

Majora Carter gives an impassioned, brilliant speech in the video above, taken from TED in 2006.  There’s a number of things she does very, very right from a public speaking perspective.  What’s most impressive is the way she uses personal stories to illustrate larger social problems; her family’s migration story became a basis for stats and facts about redlining and economic injustice in the South Bronx, the story of her childhood neighbourhood’s tragic downfall and her brother’s death is used to contrast her experience with her largely white audience, and to point out economic inequality.

But, alas, Mrs Carter falls prey to the same problem that bedevils many TED talkers; she speaks much, much too fast.  Facts and figures rush by the audience in a blur.  I would guess that is because she is trying to cram a 45-minute speech into her 20-minute time allotment.  She would benefit greatly from pairing her speech down and breathing at the end of each thought.   A recent study found that pausing 5x in a one-minute speech makes your material more memorable.  So take your time!  If you are a quick talker, try using a metronome to control the rate at which you speak. 

Articulation Exercises for your Next Big Presentation

Did you know that over 20% of English speakers can’t pronounce the words “espresso” or “prescription”?  In my executive presentation coaching business in New York City and New Jersey, I am often stunned at how frequently seasoned presenters mispronounced words.  So how can you avoid this? The problem is solved by engaging your articulators more; your lips, your tongue, your lower jaw and your soft palate.  Try watching this video and take my tongue twister challenge! Post your results here.

Good luck!

What Makes for a Great Attention Getter?

I LOVE this acceptance speech.  And a big part of what makes Sam Rockwell’s acceptance of the 2018 Best Supporting Actor Award so excellent is the attention getter he gives at the top.  What makes it so great?  Here’s my thoughts:

  1. It includes a touching personal story about his parents! – Stories are your STRONGEST weapon against audience boredom, y’all.
  2. It’s not only a story, but, also, a short joke, with a great punchline – notice the way that Mr Rockwell sets up his story to be solemn, and then takes us in a surprising direction.  Jokes are GREAT icebreakers.  A great joke needs to be BRIEF and have the ELEMENT OF SUPRISE.  Mr Rockwell’s joke has both.
  3. His icebreaker is appropriate for the occasion – it’s about going to the movies with his parents, and he uses the story as a way of demonstrating both his love of movies and his appreciation of his parents.