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How to make a keynote speech resonate when your audience is wildly diverse

Worried whether your speech has the power to connect with listeners from very different backgrounds and levels of experience? Jump-start your thinking with these seven steps based on a Cicero Speechwriting Award-winning keynote that resonated with 250 men and women from age 18 to 80.   When Barbara Hayde — former president of The Entrepreneurs […]

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7 ways to rock your next acceptance speech

Your audience will thank you if you skirt the predictable – and instead give them something to think about or act upon after the evening is over. For many executives, receiving an award is a good news, bad news thing. First, the good news: “Congratulations! You’ve won an award for your outstanding achievements!” (And now […]

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Your new website: Are you putting lipstick on a pig?

Yet again this week – for the third time in six months – I heard another colleague complain about a problem threatening her company’s reputation, sales and future growth: “Our new website design? “It’s so AWESOME!  “We absolutely LOVE our website design firm, and the new look and feel they created for us. “But our […]

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Can a panel discussion change the way people think or behave?

Last week a fellow speechwriter called for some advice: Her potential client, a professional speaker, needed a new “generic” speech and was asking for a proposal. My fellow speechwriter was concerned because no specific audience had been defined, and how in the world could she write to a nameless, faceless bunch? First, I told her […]

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6 questions to ask before you start to write

I’m often asked, “What’s the biggest mistake people make when they write?” The answer? They simply start writing – and fail to do their best thinking first. Here’s a fix: Before you start to write anything, always take a moment to answer these six questions: WHAT is the point? WHO will be interested in this? […]

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8 ways to improve your writing in 5 minutes

1. Circle every weak “to be” verb: be, am, is, are, was, were. Rewrite as many as you can using action verbs. 2. Make two sentences out of one long sentence. 3. Circle every pronoun: he, she, it, we, they, them. Which ones confuse? Rewrite those sentences. 4. Highlight every general statement. Which can you replace with something colorful […]

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How to wrestle down the beast: Your next Big Hairy Audacious Presentation

Think about the last time you delivered a Big Hairy Audacious Presentation to your management team, customers, prospects or peers. How did your prep go? Were you awash in so much awesome material – that you had to clamor like crazy for focus? What did you leave in? (But more important: What did you leave […]

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23 ways to be an exceptional emcee (don’t skip #13!)

Have you ever attended an event with a cadre of amazing speakers – one after the next – that still felt a bit stilted? Disjointed? Disorganized? Even downright awkward? Maybe that’s because the emcee was far less than exceptional. As a speechwriter, speech coach and author, I’ve been asked more than once to emcee professional […]

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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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