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Tag: communication

Your Speech Needs a Point

Your Speech Needs a Point

When I work with a public speaking client, the first thing we talk about is their intended audience. We need to know who exactly they're talking to before we plan what to say.

The next thing we do is get to the point. This means we determine what their takeaway is. Yes, we know their topic, but a takeaway goes further. A takeaway answers this question:

Five years from now, what is the one thing you want this audience to remember from your speech?

The answer to that question is the point of the speech. It's the takeaway. It's the one thing we build their presentation around.

Most speeches are 40-60 minutes. As a speaker, you can only share a certain amount of information in that timeframe effectively. You cannot tell the audience every single thing you know about your topic. You wouldn't be able to cram your lifetime of knowledge into that 40-60 minutes, and the audience wouldn't want you to.

Instead, determine your takeaway based on your overall topic. Ask yourself what one thing from your speech you want your audience to remember five years from now, and that's your takeaway. That's the whole point of your speech.

Your overall topic may be "Instagram," but your takeaway may be "Instagram Stories are easily utilized to build the know-like-trust factor with your customers."

See the difference?

Once you know your takeaway, write it down as a statement. Print it at the top of your paper when you begin brainstorming ideas for the content of your speech. For each point you think should be included in the speech, ask yourself if it supports your overall takeaway. It it does, keep it. If it doesn't it, save it for a future speech or dump it altogether.

Less is more in public speaking. Keep your speech simple by making a point-- one point-- and delivering content that supports it.

 

We talk about this and other public speaking topics in our Speaking Society. Click here to join our community that accelerates your communication, connection, and confidence!

Your Speech Needs a Point | He says, She says | Carrie Sharpe
3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers

3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers

The Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, to dedicate the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln's powerful words inspired his audience. We remember his speech this many years later, and as speakers we can learn a lot from it. 

Consider these three lessons from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

1. You can make an impact even if you aren't the keynote speaker.

Believe it or not, Abe Lincoln wasn't the keynote speaker that day. Edward Everett was. Everett was a popular orator of the day and was called upon to deliver the main speech at the dedication ceremony. Lincoln was simply asked to deliver a "few appropriate remarks" after Everett. But which speech have you heard of? Which speech do we still talk about to this day? Exactly. It's not necessary to be the keynote speaker to inspire an audience.

2. A speech doesn't have to be long to be powerful.

Edward Everett's keynote that day was two hours long. Seriously. Abraham Lincoln's entire Gettysburg Address was under three minutes and influenced the course of history. Everett himself said, "I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes." Enough said.

3. Slides aren't necessary. 

Abraham Lincoln didn't use slides while presenting the Gettysburg Address. Not only had slides not been invented yet, but they weren't necessary. The focus was on Lincoln's message. Lincoln prepared a powerful talk and delivered it without distractions like slides. They simply weren't needed. I'd also point out that most, if not all, famous speeches have been presented without the use of slides to distract from them. If you'll recall, "I Have a Dream" involved zero slides as well.

 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 

Those words still make an impact long after the speech was delivered. Will yours?

__________ 

 

Click here to read the full text of the Gettysburg Address.

Want to hit the next level as a speaker? Join the Speaking Society to accelerate your communication, connection, and confidence! Click here for details.

3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers | He says, She says

How to Give a Powerful Speech

How to Give a Powerful Speech

It's not hard to give a speech. People do it every day. But if your goal is to connect with your audience and deliver a memorable presentation, you'll need to put in some preparation and practice. Powerful speeches rarely "just happen," so follow these tips to ensure your speech makes an impact.

1. Know your audience.

Knowing who you're talking to is key. Know their basic demographics, but also know their skill level regarding your topic, their interest level in your topic (Do they want to be here, or do they have to?), and what they need to hear from you to move forward. Give them what they need.

2. Write down your overall takeaway, and stick to it.

Ask yourself: If this audience could only remember one thing from my speech, what would I want it to be? Write your answer down as one complete sentence. That's your takeaway. Write it at the top of your paper as you begin developing your speech. As you add things to your speech ask yourself if each thing supports that takeaway. If it does, keep it in your speech. If it doesn't, save it for a different speech.

3. Prepare notes (not a script).

Memorizing a speech is not necessary and may even sound robotic. It's better to sound conversational yet prepared. Create an outline with bulletpoints. As you talk through it, you'll be able to condense your notes further and further. Ultimately you want to become familiar enough with your material that your notes are minimal. Just a skeletal structure is all you need. The only parts of your speech that should be written out verbatim in your notes are quotes, statistics, and anything else that must be shared exactly as written.

4. Share stories that illustrate your points.

Stories are memorable and relatable, so you'll want to include them in your speech. Make sure you choose stories that are relevant to your topic and audience, and then practice telling them until you sound natural. Don't underestimate the power of stories... they are often remembered long after the speech when statistics are forgotten.

5. Have a conversation with your audience.

Move around the stage naturally. Use expressive (yet appropriate) body language. You want to engage the audience and make them feel like they're part of the conversation rather than passive observers, so talk with them rather than at them. While we're on this subject let me just add that it's virtually impossible to have a conversation with your audience if you're reading slides to them. Don't let slides take over your speech and wreck it. For more information about slides, click here.

6. Practice. Practice again. Practice more. Repeat.

Creating your notes is not full preparation for giving a powerful speech. You must practice. That means you must say your speech out loud so many times that it feels like second nature. When you get on stage for the big day, you should feel like giving your speech is "old hat." When you've practiced enough, your speech will feel like a familiar friend. Your audience deserves your best, and that means you must practice, practice again, practice again, and practice again. Get feedback, tweak things, and practice more. 

And then please practice again.

And again.

Once more after that wouldn't hurt, either.

To deliver a powerful speech you must know your audience, prepare properly, and practice until your speech feels so familiar that you could deliver it in your sleep. Your audience will appreciate your effort, and you'll make an impact for years to come.

Need to improve your speech or stage presence? Click here to schedule a call with Carrie to learn more about how she can help you achieve your goals!

 How to Give a Powerful Speech | Carrie Sharpe | He says, She says

Want to be an Amazing Networker? Stop Doing These 3 Things.

Want to be an Amazing Networker? Stop Doing These 3 Things.

Networking is a hot topic.

Recently I asked our community members to tell me about the kind of networking behaviors that drive them crazy.

Their responses were overwhelming.

It seems we've all experienced some pretty lousy networking tactics over the years, and it's time to put a stop to it. Networking takes a lot of time and energy, so don't waste yours on ineffective (and totally cringe-worthy!) tactics.

If you want to get good results from your networking efforts, stop these behaviors immediately:

1. Making it all about you.

If you spend the entire networking event talking about yourself and your needs, you've missed an opportunity to develop connections and relationships with others (which, by the way, is the actual point of networking). If the majority of your sentences start with "I" you may be making it all about you.  

Veronica Staudt shared this experience: "It was when I was sold a 'networking' event where someone I wanted to meet/hear speak was the highlight. The person never showed up to the event. In fact, the organizers then said, 'You can still speak/network with her at an after party,' which was all the way across town. Even though I was a bit perturbed, I said fine, I attended the original event and the afterparty. Once at the Afterparty, said speaker networked with people for only 30 minutes because she had to leave for another event to emcee."

Kathryn Young said, "I think the very worst is to always have your hand out for help or sales and leads but do nothing to help others. I tell my group, be of service first. Build a relationship. Networking is a long game. Play it well."

Indeed.

2. Forgoing basic etiquette and social skills, both in-person and online.

Networking should serve to increase your know-like-trust factor with others, but if you are rude, obnoxious, or oblivious to social cues, you'll blow it.

"It's hard when you're trying to network at an event and the person you're speaking with is missing the social cues that you'd like to wrap up the conversation. At that point, you must become much more obvious (and potentially a bit awkward) so that you can have other conversations," said Suzanne Brown

Speaker and Author Sasha Gray said, "When you're at a networking event, and some people never get up out of their seat or off their phone to actually network, you wonder who is sending them to this event, and if they are just there for the food. When I go to an event specifically for networking, I want to meet as many people as I can, make connections with as many as possible, and be able to follow up with them that week. If I never see your face, I can't do that."

"I used to help facilitate the weekly networking group for our local chamber of commerce. The most frustrating thing we ran into was a complete lack of respect for time limitations. Each person was allowed 30 seconds for an elevator pitch. I had a timer set to go off at 30 seconds, then another 10 seconds and then another 5 seconds. I had the volume turned up all the way on my phone so everyone could hear, but there were always a couple people who felt those rules never applied to them. The same thing with the 15 minute presentations. Networking isn’t just about getting your name out there. It’s also about showing due respect to others, including honoring their time," said Susan Whitehead.

Robin Oakes added, "Getting a friend request from someone whose page clearly only markets their products and you don't have any connections to that person or interest in what they are marketing. I currently have one I haven't declined yet."

Use good manners, friends. The Golden Rule is still a thing.

3. Hard-selling your products and services to people you have no relationships with and whose needs you don't know.

Sunit Suchdev shared this example: "Getting a private message in my dm inbox on Instagram when I follow someone new- they instantly send me a robotic automated message thanking me for the follow and asking if I’d like to buy their product, join their group etc etc. It’s clear that they haven’t done any research on who I am or what I do- many times the product or service they sell is the same as me. Even if I politely decline, they’ll follow up a few months later and say 'I’m just checking in to make sure you’re still good,' and they obviously still don’t know what I do. I don’t want to take the time to explain that I already have a health and wellness business or already sell essential oils because if they took a minute and learned about me they would know that.... but at the same time, if I politely say no they follow up again. It gets really annoying. I get several of these a day."

Virtual Assistant Lori Evans added, "Two days ago I was invited to a group for curvy singles. I’m neither single nor particularly curvy. I declined the invite. Today I was invited again. So I had no choice but to unfriend the person who invited me. I’ve also never spoken to this person before."

Jen Snyder gave perhaps the most poignant example of a hard sell gone wrong: "Hi! I haven’t talked to you since first grade but I see you’re fat now. Would you like to try my MLM product?"

OMG.

Networking is a vital business-building skill that we all need to master. Knowing which behaviors to avoid is essential to success. We've talked a lot here about what not to do when it comes to networking. For details on what to do, click here. Then head over to our Speaking Society to talk more about networking, public speaking, and other communication skills that will grow your business or career.

Want to be an Amazing Networker? Stop Doing These 3 Things.

You Don't Have to be a Hot Mess to Connect with Your Audience

You Don't Have to be a Hot Mess to Connect with Your Audience

I'd really like to know who decided that the only way to be relatable is to be a hot mess. 

Suddenly I see photos in my newsfeed of women who look like they just rolled out of bed trying to sell me their professional products and services. Piles of filthy laundry. Dirty dishes stacked in the sink. Messy hair. Messy house. Messy life.

Um, no, thanks.

I understand the thought process behind it... no one wants to buy from someone who seems perfect. We want people to be genuine and real.

But must "real" equal "hot mess?"

I don't think so.

As a woman in her forties who has a marriage of over twenty years, professional career, and older children, I am not a hot mess most days. I can't be. People rely on me to be professional and get things done thoroughly. My house can't look like a bomb went off, I can't show up at networking events wearing sweats and a tank top, and I need to be on time for meetings. 

Hot mess won't cut it in my life.

I'm nowhere near perfect, but I'm not a disaster, either. So when I see women selling themselves as a hot mess, I can't relate. I don't equate "hot mess" with "professional."

I don't need perfection, but I do need professional.

I relate to professional. It connects with me. I look to people who are competent, educated, established, and have their stuff together for the most part.

So allow me to reassure you: If you've seen those "hot mess" posts/ads/videos and felt pressure to do the same in order to connect with your audience, it's not necessary to be a hot mess to connect with your audience. Think it through carefully first. 

Is "hot mess" really you?

Is "hot mess" how you want to be known?

Who's in your audience... do they really relate to "hot mess?"

"Hot mess" marketing may work in some industries, but it doesn't work in all. Don't feel pressure to be someone or something you're not. Be you, and connect with your audience in your own way. No hot mess required.

You Don't Have to be a Hot Mess to Connect with Your Audience | Carrie Sharpe

Looking for a supportive community where you can learn more about connecting and other communication topics? You're invited to join us over in our Speaking Society! Click here to join.
3 Ways You're Screwing Up as a Public Speaker

3 Ways You're Screwing Up as a Public Speaker

Almost everyone has to do some form of public speaking at some point. Whether you have to give a presentation to a few coworkers or you're delivering a keynote to a stadium full of people, you need to accomplish your goals of connecting with your audience, teaching something, and inspiring action.

It's easy to screw that up.

If you aren't hitting a home-run with your speeches, it's time to reflect, get feedback, and make the necessary changes. 

Here are 3 ways you may be screwing up as a speaker:

1. You aren't preparing... properly.

Preparation means more than jotting down a few bullet points and going over your notes the night before a speech. To be truly prepared, you need to do the work. That means you need to research your topic, learn what the audience needs from you, figure out which stories and illustrations will enhance your talk, determine how best to start the talk, and decide how best to end it. Then you have to draft the talk, refine it, practice it, record yourself giving it, watch your practice video, make changes, practice again, and repeat. Lack of proper preparation is the biggest mistake I see speakers make. (Need help preparing? Click here.)

2. You don't know your audience.

It's imperative that you know who you're talking to so you can tell them what they need to hear in the way they need to hear it. Do they expect a casual talk or a formal presentation? Do they already know the basics about your topic, or do they need to know all the foundational information? Are they familiar with industry jargon? Think through exactly who your audience is. Think through age, gender, education level, industry, marital status, and any other relevant demographics. If you aren't sure, ask the event planner. (For more about knowing your audience, click here.)

3. You're a diva.

Are you speaking for you or for your audience? Are you making demands? What are your motives for speaking? All too often, I see otherwise talented speakers lose audiences through vanity and narcism. Speaking is serving. Check your pride at the door. Divas don't connect with audiences... they repel them. Audience members can see a diva coming a mile away. (For more on serving your audience, click here.)

It's easy to screw up as a public speaker, but it's also pretty easy to fix your issues. Take the time to really analyze your most recent presentations. Be honest with yourself about each of the three issues I described above, and change accordingly. If you aren't sure how, click here and let's talk about how we can work on it together.

3 Ways You're Screwing Up as a Public Speaker | Carrie Sharpe

Looking for a supportive community where you can learn more about public speaking and other communication topics? You're invited to join us over in our Speaking Society. Click here to join.

Networking Does Not Equal Selling

Networking Does Not Equal Selling

You go to your local networking event. While you're there you pass out 65 business cards, stumble through a few brief conversations about the awful weather, sample the food and wine, and then go home to wait for sales to pour in.

That's networking. Right?

Wrong.

A misunderstanding of networking's purpose causes frustration for so many business owners and professionals. That's because, for whatever reason, we've come to think of networking as selling. Then we're disappointed when it doesn't happen.

But networking does not equal selling.

I repeat: Networking does not equal selling.

Networking may, in fact, lead to sales at some point, but networking itself is not selling. No one goes to networking events with their wallet wide open, ready to throw money at you. That's not networking.

Rather, networking is building relationships. Plain and simple.

The goal of networking is to make connections and cultivate a community that becomes your professional network. Your network becomes your team of people to tap into when you have a question about something, want to refer someone, require a listening ear, or need a collaboration partner. Your network is your community of friends.

With any friendship, you must spend time together. Ask questions. Get to know each other. Care enough to be thoughtful and courteous. Learn more about each other's family members, struggles, and businesses. Follow up and stay in touch.

Be in it for the long haul. Networking is not a one-and-done event. Networking is a courtship.

To network effectively, you must:

1. Use good eye contact. Put your phone down, and look the other person directly in the eyes. Give all of your attention to that person without distraction.

2. Ask questions. Your objective is to learn about the other person, so ask things like "What do you do?" and "How did you get started doing that?"

3. Listen. Listen more than you talk. Listening shows that you care, and you don't want to miss any important details that are being shared!

4. Follow up. Get the other person's contact information so you can continue the conversation later. Send articles that are of interest to the other person, tag them on relevant Facebook posts, and meet up again at a later date.

5. Brainstorm collaborations. Someone whose work complements yours is a perfect collaboration partner. Find ways the two of you can team up on a future project.

Always remember that the goal of networking is to build relationships. Networking does not equal selling. Connect with people, learn more about them, and continue the conversations, and you'll create a community to support you for years to come.

Networking Does Not Equal Selling, by Carrie Sharpe of He says, She says

Looking for a supportive community where you can learn more about networking and other communication topics? You're invited to join us over in our Speaking Society. Click here to join.

Evaluating Your Year as a Speaker

Evaluating Your Year as a Speaker

At the end of each year (or anytime, really!) it's important to evaluate how you're doing as a speaker. As speakers, we focus so much on speaking that we sometimes forget to pay attention to the business side of things. Knowing your numbers and developing smart strategies are vital to your success as a speaker, especially if you'd like to make money at it.

Have you taken time to evaluate how things are going for you as a speaker and communicator? Are you setting, and achieving, your goals? It's time to evaluate.

Some things to ask yourself:

1. Do I have a speech (keynote or workshop) that I'm proud of and can get hired to deliver? (If not, what needs to happen to get to that point?)

2. Do I have a money-making strategy for my talks in addition to speaker fees? (If not, what can be planned to ensure profits from speaking gigs?)

3. Do I have a plan for getting hired to speak in the next 12-18 months? (If not, the time is now.)

4. Have I done all the behind-the-scenes prep work for pitching myself? (One-sheet, website speaker page, listings with bureaus, networking, researching conferences, etc.)

5. What other types of speaking do I need to plan for the next 12 months? (Facebook Live, podcasts, radio/TV interviews, teaching classes, online workshops/webinars, etc.)

6. When I speak, am I truly connecting?

7. Am I building that know-like-trust factor and long-term relationships with my audience?

Grab some paper and a pen. Spend some time today working through that list so you're all set for the next year or so. It's important to analyze how things are going before making plans for the future.

Need help working through your ideas and plans? Need to improve your speech or stage presence? Click here to schedule a call with Carrie to learn more about how she can help you achieve your goals!

Evaluating Your Year as a Speaker- He says, She says

Speaker Spotlight: Sasha Gray

Speaker Spotlight: Sasha Gray

Our Speaker Spotlight series puts the focus on speakers in our community. Iron sharpens iron, and we can all learn from the experiences of others. We asked questions and our speakers answered them. These answers come from Sasha Gray.

Who do you most like to speak to? Tell us about your ideal audience.

I am a motivational humorist that resonates with women who need that confidence boost or online business owners that need to understand how Facebook can help their business.

What are your favorite topics to talk about or teach?

I love seeing eyes light up when I show online business owners how to make a small change on their FB page that will make a difference in the reach of their posts.

I love seeing eyes light up when I talk to women about self confidence, and how to break out of the habits that keep them from living a life they love.

What sets you apart from other speakers? What do your audiences love about you?

I'm 'real'. What on Earth does that mean...are others an illusion? 

I'm down to earth and have 'been there, done that' and speak to the heart of my audience, resonating with those that are struggling to find the journey they're supposed to take.

What does your dream speaking engagement look like? Describe it here.

I would love to be on the stage of a giant conference, speaking to thousands of business owners or women that are looking for the self confidence they've misplaced, with enthusiasm that is tangible in the room, and music encouraging the occasional dance party.

Bloopers happen to everyone. Tell us about one that happened to you. How did you handle it?

I did an entire Scattered Sasha Show (1 hour) with a stink bug snugly stuck in my hair. 

I didn't even NOTICE it so I did NOTHING.....

However, when I've had my daughter interrupt my show, my dog begin barking, or people show up to my door unannounced. I just go with the flow....It's all life and my real life is what my audience seems to love, so it's all good.

How do you control your nerves during a speaking engagement?

Honestly, I LOVE speaking and don't recall ever having a case of the 'nerves'. I feel very fortunate because I know public speaking is one of the top fears people have. I'm almost always ready to jump up on stage (real or imagined) and start talking!

What's the best advice you've ever gotten regarding public speaking?

Be Yourself! 

What do you hope to accomplish with your speaking in the next 10 years?

I want to connect people to each other, I want to connect with them and I want them to feel as if they are a better version of themselves after hearing my speech.

Sasha Gray, Scattered Sasha

I'm Sasha, and I hang out over at Scattered Sasha, where I offer motivational antidotes, laugh-out-loud funny stories, a touch of sarcasm and a whole lotta sass. So when people ask me that elusive question of 'what do you do?', my answer usually runs along these lines:

"I'm a motivational humorist that runs on caffeine, chaos and cuss words and my life has been slapped together by pixie dust and tequila."

But all that makes one heck of a story....and I love to tell that story, along with a lot of other stories, as often as I can.

And my goal is always the same: to make you laugh, encourage your journey, and lift you up so you can fly on glitter covered wings.

Connect with Sasha:

Website: www.scatteredsasha.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/scatteredsasha

 

Sasha Gray, Scattered Sasha

How to Choose the Best Speaking Formats for You

How to Choose the Best Speaking Formats for You

Each year, I like to create a speaking plan for every month of the year. Speaking is excellent for visibility and establishing expertise, so I like to be consistent with it. But not every type of speaking is perfect for every person.

There are so many speaking options. Podcast interviews, webinars, online and in-person workshops, speaking from stage, videos and courses, and Facebook Live are just a few of the options available.

How do you choose which is best for you?

Start with what you like. Are there certain formats that you enjoy more than others? Some of us like interview-style speaking where we're answering questions asked by someone else. Some of us like the interaction of leading a workshop. Some prefer to stand alone on stage and deliver a speech. Consider each option, and make a list of the ones you'd enjoy most.

Then think about which format would be best for your career or business currently. Are you focusing on getting more visible right now? Are you focused on appearing more of an expert in your field? Do you need to grow your following in the upcoming months? Each speaking format delivers a different result, so think through what you'd like to focus on and make a list of which speaking formats would best achieve your goals.

It's also important to consider your personal speaking skills and experience level. If you're new to speaking, Facebook Live may be a good option for getting started. It will help you gain confidence and hone your speaking skills. If you aren't experienced in crafting an entire speech, interview-style formats may be more your speed. If you're a seasoned speaker, maybe this year speaking from stage would be best for your career or business. Push beyond your current comfort zone, but have a plan for doing so. Begin where you are, and challenge yourself to move beyond your current level. If you're nervous about speaking or aren't sure where to begin, click here for details on how we can work together to get you stage-ready. 

Regardless of which formats you choose, be sure to create a speaking plan for each month of the year. You need the experience and visibility from speaking, so plan it out (flying by the seat of your pants is not a good plan). Don't leave it to chance.