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10 power questions you must ask when your speech hits a wall

There we were – stuck in the boardroom on a Tuesday afternoon, three drafts in on a keynote speech – and I’d pretty much wrung all the best stuff out of my executive’s head. He was done. But his speech was not. The holes toward the end were gaping. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. Just […]

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The kiss of death for public speakers

Have you ever heard a public speaker say these things? “Look at this chart on the screen. You probably can’t read it, but …” Or how about this? “I’m a numbers guy, so I apologize now if this seems a little complicated.” Or this? “I’ll be throwing a lot of data at you, so get […]

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Speakers: Meet people right where they are (and there’s no place like home)

Will your next speech be somewhere far away from home? If so, challenge yourself to find a link to the local region – and mention it early in your remarks to create immediate goodwill with your audience. Here’s how we did it for a European speaker traveling to Atlanta, Ga., for a keynote address to […]

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One slippery slope: Don’t let unlimited online posting palettes make you a sloppy writer

Hammered hard into my head during journalism school was the Write Tight mantra.  Back then paper didn’t stretch; the online world didn’t exist. So your story had to fit the space on the page.  Only seven column inches? Then maybe you had 250 words. Not 300 words. Not 350 words. Just 250. So Write Tight […]

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Take a risk – change! – and discover more strength within

I was interviewing a client for a speech on leadership when he interrupted my latest question and asked, “So what about you? Are you a risk-taker?”  I stopped typing, not often on the end of someone else’s line of questioning. “I guess I haven’t thought about it before. Why do you ask?” “You just set […]

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Policinski: ‘We need people in the creativity business’

I enjoyed hearing veteran journalist Gene Policinski of the Newseum Institute talk about “The Future of Principles” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last month. Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and its First Amendment Center, gave the keynote address at “A Capital Event,” a one-day conference by the American Society […]

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Speakers, steer clear of the loop-the-loop (10 ways to pace yourself every time you speak)

It was an unforgettable afternoon keynote – but for all the wrong reasons. Turns out I couldn’t understand a word she was saying.  Clearly she had the clout to wow us with something wonderful. And indeed she started out OK, engaging us with a story about her best friend Steve. But then – like a […]

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Pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio (and other ways to endear yourself as a speaker)

No doubt the most captive audience Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough will ever have during his book tour touting “The Wright Brothers” is the one that flocked to a middle school in Dayton, Ohio, last night to hear him speak about The Bishop’s Boys. After all, Wilbur and Orville were Daytonians through and through. McCullough’s […]

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Writing to persuade? (Invoke Cialdini)

Do you rely on electronic communication as your “first touch” when marketing to prospective customers or clients? If so, consider applying Robert Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence when crafting your message, and see if you get better results. Every day HR pros around the country recruit “passive” candidates by sending targeted emails and LinkedIn messages […]

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Speechwriting Sunday School (a new view from the pew)

Last Sunday I discovered a way to make sure not one word is wasted when you write your next speech. Imagine someone will have to sign every word you speak for people who are deaf. Last Sunday I watched and listened, on the edge of my seat, in absolute amazement while Fr. Benjamin Jimenez spoke […]

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