The Human Mind:
enjoy collecting antique books on
public speaking and selling. I found the following quotation to be very
“Probably the most remarkable product of
nature, in its centuries of evolution, is the human mind; and the second
wonder of the universe is the communication of the thoughts and feelings
of one mind to others by means of the voice in speech and by means of
the body in gesticulation. Each man is limited in the position he may
assume in the world by the development of his mind.”
The above quotation is from “Effective Public
Speaking” by Frederick Robinson, Ph.D., published in 1914 by
The basic idea is equally important today as it
was at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sure, we now have the
Internet and PowerPoint to help, but they are just tools. How
effectively you and I convey our thoughts and feelings will largely
determine our success.
simple pause is your friend, especially when you are communicating in the
workplace. Most professional speakers will agree that the pause is a
powerful tool for making a presentation memorable.
Three of the several benefits the pause
delivers: first, it gives you time to think and “take the
temperature” of the people to whom you are speaking. Second, the pause
gives your listeners time to absorb important points that you make. And
third, the pause helps even a monotone speaker to sound better by
breaking things up a bit.
An important point in using the pause, vary the
length and do not abuse it. Like many excellent tools of presentation,
overuse any tool and it will blow up in your face.
was 1988, the year I attended my
first convention of the National Speakers Association. I was privileged
to attend a session on platform skills given by Captain Gerald Coffee,
who spent much of the Vietnam War at the “Hanoi Hilton” as a
prisoner of war.
In his session he suggested:
1. Make your experience the experience of the
2. Embrace your audience.
3. You must feel the experience you share so
deeply, as a sense of responsibility.
4. Share your experience from the window of how
it applies to the everyday life of your audience members.
5. Believe you can make a difference.
the 1989 Convention of the National Speakers Association, held in
, I attended a session conducted by the late Robert Henry, a fabulous
humorist. Among the many points he made, three resonated strongly with
1. “Speak for the one person in the audience
for whom I can make a difference.” [While you might be thinking that
it is better to present to a crowd, by focusing your message in a single
person, your power and passion will be more evident.]
2. “Keep in your mind throughout your
presentation that what you want the audience members to be thinking is,
‘I like me better when I’m with you.’” [This powerful mind shift
helps you, the speaker, to focus on your audience rather than yourself,
there by making your presentation more user-friendly and easier for the
audience members to digest.]
3. “If you get knocked down you only lose if
you choose to stay down.” [As a presenter, stuff happens; microphones
stop working, video cueing goes haywire, noise in adjacent rooms becomes
overly distracting, and a plethora of other things can become pitfalls
to your presentation, making if less influential to your audience. The
secret is to have “B” plans for all of the above and to be in the
moment, which will allow you to adjust to whatever situation is thrown
Your Audience Involved:
the 1990 Convention of the National Speakers Association, held in
, I attended a session conducted by Robert Pike, Owner of Creative
Training Techniques. He shared what he referred to as his 9 dynamite
springboard motivators for getting attendees involved in your
1. Outline an incident; and use “you”
rather than “me”
2. Ask for a show of hands
3. Ask a question
4. Make a promise
5. Get them laughing
6. Piggyback on an introduction—comment on a
point or use humor
7. Make a provocative statement
8. Use an unusual statistic
9. Use a prop or some other interesting visual
Sure, you have heard about most of these ideas
before, however, try using a new one the next time you present to a
group and keep a watchful eye on the results.
in public, professionally or on a volunteer basis can be a wonderfully
fulfilling experience, enjoy your journey.