Posts Tagged ‘Speech’

Open Minds Are Key To Good Communication

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2015 at 7:46 PM

During the informal business networking luncheon the attention fell to one member who had just finished speaking. Several people in the room were inspired to offer their thoughts on how this person could make the information provide more compelling to his prospects. The ideas were simple and all focused on helping this person be more successful and yet each suggestion was met with denial – “I already do that”, “wait until you hear my presentation next week” or “that does not work”.

This person was convinced that his current level of skill and success was sufficient and that he did not need any additional help.

The advice was coming from a group of his peers – other business owners who also must speak about and market their services and who also may benefit from the services provided. Yet the speaker was convinced the ideas presented had no merit and he already had the answers.

As I sat back and observed the situation, I wondered how much money this closed-minded approach was costing this man. Potential clients were telling him what they wanted to hear in order to want his services and the speaker denounced each idea.

An alternate approach would have been to listen to each idea, evaluate what was being said, and perhaps even give it try.

Even if your income is not tied to sales, your success in your work is linked to your effectiveness at conveying ideas and information. How much time and energy could you save by being more effective with your communication skills? How much more quickly could you achieve your goals if you improved the way you present your ideas?

We will get college degrees, attend seminars, and even do tutorials to learn new apps for our phone. Too few of us are willing to take time to learn how to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas in a way that motivates and inspires others. We assume we already possess these skills.

How open are you to learning new ideas? How open are you to being more successful?

Find a workshop or coach and improve your communication skills.

This Speaking Tip is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner – usually by helping them avoid the mistakes discussed here. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching.

© 2015 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Early Warning Signs Of A Bad Presentation

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, speaking on May 23, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I knew I was in trouble as I walked in the room. The speaker had not said a word yet my expectations were low and getting lower.

DeadlyThe room was dry and sterile – nothing inviting about it. It was dimly lit with the ubiquitous blue image on the screen signaling an impending PowerPoint. The room was hard to find – there were no signs to direct me and I was irritated at the cost of parking my car. I noticed the room was devoid of refreshments – including water or coffee. I thought longingly of the last cup of coffee sitting in the carafe at home and the bottle of water on the front seat of my car.

It was one minute to start time and I was already watching the clock. The presenter had shot himself in the foot before opening his mouth.

ExcitingI contrast this with a workshop I attended a few days prior. An email provided me with directions, a map, and other basic information. When I approached the building there was a sign outside directing me to the workshop. I was greeted by an enthusiastic instructor who warmly welcomed me, directed me to a spread of food, offered me a nametag, and took time to introduce me to another person she felt I would “click” with. The room was bright and cheerful and the food delicious.

Yes, it does take extra time, effort, and sometimes money to make your audience feel like a guest rather than a number. However, one of these instructors had turned me off before he started speaking. The other had won me over to her side.

Here are some hints:

  • Use directional signs from the parking all the way to the room
  • Send a welcoming note explaining logistics, parking, and time needed to get from parking to the room
  • Greet guests at the door
  • Provide refreshments (no one learns when they are distracted by an empty stomach)
  • Provide nametags to encourage interaction
  • Have guests enter a well-lit room with the Power Point off
  • Consider aesthetics (e.g. using an attractive meeting room, tablecloth on the snack table, flowers, music, art, or posters on the walls)

Everything you do sets the expectations of the audience and affects their attitude. How they feel will affect how open they are to receiving your information. It is true; the devil is in the details.

The Good And Bad Of Visual Aids

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on April 3, 2013 at 7:37 AM

Your audience is 6 times more likely to remember what you say if you include a well-designed visual aid. We remember very little of what we hear, more of what see, and more yet of what we do. The more involved you get your audience in the presentation, the more attentive they will be and the more likely they are to remember what you say.

All presentations can be enhanced through the use of visual aids. Here is of some of the most common visual aids with their attributes and drawbacks.


  • Can be inexpensive
  • Audience members take it home
  • Easily customized to the group
  • Every person has their own
  • Can be distracting
  • Can be expensive
  • Some people take the handouts and skip the talk

Real Objects

  • Tactile and sensory
  • Memorable
  • Unbeatable in the proper setting
  • Interactive
  • Do not apply to all situations
  • May be distracting

White Boards/Flip Charts

  • Inexpensive
  • Changeable
  • Content is tailored to audience
  • Interactive
  • Makes audience feel “heard”
  • Requires good handwriting
  • May cause speaker to have back to audience
  • Hard to lug around


  • Powerful
  • Can be creative and fun
  • Animation makes it easy to highlight key points
  • Can reveal information bit by bit
  • Video and sound are easy to add
  •  Has a bad (and rightfully earned) reputation
  • Prone to being misused
  • Technical problems can be an issue
  • Overused
  • Requires special equipment

Visual aids are powerful additions to any presentation. Use the right one for your situation and you will have a more interactive and memorable presentation.


iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Visit us at Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Eight “Tricks” To A Great Presentation

In Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on March 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Good presentations do not happen and excellent presenters are not born. A good presentation is one that is carefully crafted and an excellent presenter is one that hones her skills and uses her tools appropriately.

tricks and tipsHere are tricks you can incorporate to make your presentations a success.

1.       Create a clear message – Know what you want your audience to know and do when you are through speaking.

2.      Develop good visuals – Create visual aids that are interesting, clear, and to the point. Audiences often miss the message when visual aids (PowerPoint in particular) are poorly designed.

 3.      Know your audience

Research the group before you arrive. Take time to meet individuals before you speak. During the talk, pay attention to the energy of the audience.

4.      Allow for adequate time to prepare

Preparation is critical if you are to deliver a credible and moving presentation. Create an outline, good visuals, practice; and know how to use your equipment. The first time you deliver a talk should not be in front of a “live” audience.

5.      Make your audience comfortable

Audiences that are uncomfortable in their chairs, hungry, thirsty, in need of a break, or in a room with poor temperature control, will have a difficult time paying attention.

6.      Set up the room to meet your needs

Arrange the seats, tables, lectern and the screen so it works for you and your audience.

7.      Present yourself appropriately

The audience will judge you based on your dress, language you use, and your level of organization. Watch your use of “French”, jargon and technical terms.

8.      Evaluate your work

Check your success based on the goals you set in the first step. Revise your presentation to improve your presentation skills.


In truth, these are not “tricks” at all; these are tips you can use if you want to present well. Yes, it takes time to create and deliver a presentation that is memorable, a good speaker works to engage and motivate their audience – but is worth the effort.


iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Visit us at or Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.


“I’ll Just Pick It Up Along The Way”

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, Education, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales on February 5, 2013 at 8:40 PM

by Stanley K. Ridgley

Adolescent Attitude

One of the conundrums of business presenting is that it’s what is known in the parlance as a “soft skill.”

This moniker, whatever else it purports to mean, suggests that skill at business presenting is somehow “softer” than, say, accounting . . . and that therefore it needs much less attention or development.

Or that it’s somehow “easier.”  That it’s something that can be “picked up along the way.”

This belief – and it’s out there, held by distressingly large numbers of folks – does incredible damage to the early careers of young people, who form a decidedly wrong impression of the craft of speaking publicly.

The Reality

pick it up 1Public Speaking – excellent public speaking – is tough.  Delivering a superb business presentation is one of the tougher tasks, because it often requires coordination with others in a kind of ballet.

And it requires practice, just like any other discipline.

But invariably, the “soft skill” label moves it down the priority list of faculty and college administrators and, hence, of the students they serve.

I can quickly gauge the attention on business presenting at an institution by simply watching a cross-section of presentations.  To be generous, student business presentations are usually lacking across a range of dimensions.  They come across most often as pedestrian and workmanlike.  Many are quite bad.

But this is not to say that they are worse than what passes for presenting in the corporate world.  They are, frankly, usually as good – or as bad – as what is dished out in the “real world.”

The Great Embarrassment

The great embarrassment is that the majority of business students have untapped potential for becoming competent and especially powerful business presenters, but never realize that potential.

Some students pass through the business school funnel with only cursory attention to presentation skills.  Perhaps I’m too demanding, and the degree of attention I’d like to see just isn’t possible.  But . . .

But the craft of presenting needs only the proper focus and priority to transform young people into quite capable and competent presenters

And some institutions get it right.

I’m blessed to serve an institution that takes presenting seriously and whose winning results in case competitions demonstrates this commitment to preparing business students to excel in the most-demanded skill that corporate recruiters seek.  A coterie of professors, particularly in finance, have recognized the power bestowed by sharp presentation skills, and so emphasize their acquisition far beyond the norm in most schools.

Administrators, too, insist that students pass through rigorous workshops that inculcate in students the presenting skills to last a business lifetime.

Especially Powerful Results

And the results can be phenomenal.pick it up 2

Merely by virtue of exposure to the proper techniques, students gain tremendous personal career advantage.  And by elevating business presenting to a level commensurate with the sub-disciplines of, say, marketing, operations, or risk management, B-Schools can imbue their students and faculty with the appropriate reverence for the presentation enterprise.

One result of this is the creation of young executives who tower over their peers in terms of presenting skills.  And especially powerful presentation skills are in high demand by corporate recruiters.

And so, back to the original contention of folks who wonder what could one possibly write about in a “business presenting blog” . . . just as there is much to be learned, it means there is much to write about.

There is much to be distilled from 2500 years of recorded presentation wisdom.

The wisdom is there . . . it remains for us to seize it and make it our own for enhanced personal competitive advantage.

© 2013, Stanley K. Ridgley. Reprinted with permission.

For more on especially powerful business presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

About Stanley K. Ridgley

Stanley K. Ridgley, PhD is one of the country’s foremost experts on delivering Business School Presentations and is the author of the award-winning 2012 book, “The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.” He is also the faculty instructor for the course “Strategic Thinking” in the DVD series Dr. Ridgley brings to bear the most powerful instructional techniques from one of America’s great business schools and combines them with the lessons of military leadership and high strategy learned on the front lines of the Cold War as a Military Intelligence Officer.

This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Three Things I Learned From This Speaker (and the one thing she was really trying to say)

In BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on November 7, 2012 at 9:14 PM

I learned three things from a speaker I heard at a workshop:

  1. Your credibility (and that of the company you represent) is on the line each time you speak.
  2. You may be full of passion, have a wealth of knowledge, and be the best at what you do, but this will be lost if you lack the skills to present these ideas.
  3. Your competitors gain when you have weak presentation skills.

While this was not her topic, this was the message she delivered. And she delivered it effectively and definitively.

It was very simple what she did and I am sure you could do this too (if you really want to). Here is how:

Start with a weak opening  

  • “I am sorry but I am not used to this microphone – can you hear me?”
  •  “The bathrooms are located…”
  • Talk about yourself and why you are qualified to speak

Demonstrate that your slides are more important than the audience

  • “If this was a smaller group, we would have time for you to talk and share. But since it is so large, I want to make sure we have time to go through all the slides”.
  • Speak non-stop for an extended period of time.

Say things that demonstrate you are not prepared

  • “Is the mic working?”
  • “wow – I have never seen that slide before”
  • “This group is larger than I expected “ (even though many seats were empty)

Demonstrate carelessness and lack of preparation:

  • Have your cell phone ring during the presentation.
  • Once it rings, dig through your bag to find it (curse for added effect)

Use poorly designed slides

  • “I know you won’t be able to read this but…”

Yes – the speaker really did all these things (and more) in one presentation. While her words told a story of the great services her company offers, her actions left a different impression.

Regardless how much new business her company may have gained as a result of this presentation, they would have gained more if they backed up their superior product with a professional presentation that enhanced their credibility. At the end of the presentation, there were still a lot of “undecided” prospects -there was still a lot of money on the table.

I hope you do better in your presentations than this woman and that you better match the words you say with the message you deliver.

Here are 5 fast tips to help you present well

  1. Start strong
  2. Pay attention to your audience and allow time for interaction
  3. Prepare. Walk through your slides and test your equipment
  4. Create opportunities for interaction
  5. Turn your phone off

© 2012, iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved

The Tremendous Advantages Of Being A Good Speaker

In BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on September 8, 2012 at 11:04 AM

We all know how to speak – that comes from having a mouth. But speaking and speaking well are two entirely different things. We all know this as we listen to others talk all the time.

Speaking well helps you:

  1. Improve your professional and personal reputation
  2. Increase your influence in decision making processes
  3. Be concise and on target at all time
  4. Gain the trust and respect of others very quickly
  5. Deal with difficult people
  6. Come across as sincere, authentic and reliable
  7. Increase your success business
  8. Be seen as an expert
  9. Make strong first impressions
  10. Conduct effective business meetings
  11. You attract people – people want to be with dynamic people
  12. Enjoy the rush of public speaking (even if you fear it)

Speaking is easy and we all do it everyday. Speaking well is learned skill. Effective speakers are able to get things done in a more efficient manner. It is that simple. Improve your speaking skills today.

Here are three things you can do to start the process of improving your effectiveness and credibility:

  1. Enjoy free speaking tips and articles at
  2. Talk with a professional speaking or presentation coach
  3. Enroll in the iSpeakEASY Speakers Academy

© 2012, iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved

Call or email for information on how to create and deliver presentations that capture and inspire your audience.

Why Should Anyone Listen To You?

In BNI and Business Networking, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Increased sales, inspiration, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media on May 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM

On Credibility and Nervousness

My friend Theresa is a wonderful speaker. She is alive, animated, smart, articulate and people love her. She came to me recently though and told me that while she does well in front of some audiences – other times she totally loses it. She cannot hold her thoughts, rambles, and finds herself finishing 1-hour talks in 10 minutes. She was perplexed as to why sometimes she could be so confident, self-assured, and charismatic and at other times feel like a bowl of jello.

Nervousness properly managed is a good thing – it is a primal reaction that keeps us sharp and attentive. Becoming so distraught that we are unable to focus is, however, not a good reaction to nervousness. While there are many reasons we get nervous in front of a group – understanding the cause is the first step to managing it to your advantage.

As Theresa and I spoke, the cause of her nervousness became apparent. If she felt the audience knew less about the subject than she did, she was confident and self-assured. What made her nervous was believing the audience might know as much or more than she did on a particular topic

No wonder she was nervous – she was afraid the audience would see her as a fraud despite the fact that she has an advanced degree, tremendous passion and more than 20 years experience.

She had not convinced herself she was a credible source of information – and could not therefore convince the audience of that.

The next time you plan a talk, begin by asking yourself (and do write down the answer!):

Why am I qualified to speak on this subject?”

If you are like most people, you might initially draw a blank here. However, think hard. How many years experience do you have with this subject, what work, (paid or volunteer) or life experiences do you have that relate to your topic? Do you have a degree or other training that ties in? Do you have a love or passion for what you do?

In order for your audience to perceive you as credible, you have to believe you are credible. There is a reason you are qualified to stand in front of that group and speak – find it and you will feel your nervousness (or part of it anyway) fading away as your self confidence increases.

Thank you to Dr. Jon Hooper for introducing me to the Source Test.


“Good Speakers are born. Great Speakers are trained. Click HERE to learn how you will benefit by attending the Speakers Academy .


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© 2007 – All Rights Reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

The Single Most Important Speaking Tip

In Attracting New Clients, BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Presentations, marketing, speaking on February 1, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Speaking Tip #1

This speaking tip is so basic, that people sometimes laugh when I say it:

Be clear on what you are trying to say and what you want your audience to know when you are done.

It sounds so basic, but a common mistake is not being clear on what we are really trying to say. Think about it – if the speaker does not have a clear idea of what they are trying to say, how is the audience supposed to figure it out?

We feel rushed or, worse yet, we believe that since we are just “speaking for a few minutes at a staff meeting” or “having a quick word with the boss (or spouse, kids etc)” that we don’t need to prepare.

The next time you are going to speak, whether it is in front of a group or one-on-one, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I want them to know when I am done speaking?”

When you can answer this question – organize your thoughts and then you are ready to begin.

Being clear in your own mind on your objective will go a long ways in helping you present your thoughts in a clear and concise manner that will be effective.

Treat every conversation with care and respect. Before you speak, put yourself in the driver’s seat and say, “where do I want this to go”?


Are you an experienced speaker interested in improving your skills and increase the effectiveness of your presentations? The Speakers Academy is a fast, intense, four-part workshop for professionals that want to increase their confidence, become more credible, and accomplish more with their words.

We will build on your existing skills and bring you to a new level with your speaking.

Click here to learn more about the Speakers Academy.


© 2010 iSpeakEASY – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY: We Help People Profit From Their Words.

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Put Your Gold Up Front

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Fund raising, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized, web video on September 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM






The speaker at the lectern let go with a gem of a statement. I nudged the person next to me and said “that was brilliant”.  My companion looked up from his smart phone and said “Huh? I did not hear it, I must have been distracted.”

The fault was not with my companion. The speaker had spent so much time droning on with boring details that most people in the room had checked out. By the time he got to his golden statement, few people were paying attention to hear it. (If you know me, you might think it is amazing I caught this insightful statement). As I looked around the room, I noticed that most people were distracted with their phones, shuffling papers, or just looking out the windows. By the time the speaker said something worth hearing, few were listening.

If he had started his talk with his golden words everyone would have heard them. Not only that, it is more likely they would have paid attention to the rest of his comments. At the beginning of his talk, 100% of the audience was focusing 100% of their attention on him. Rather than capitalizing on this opportunity, he lost his advantage by going over dry details that were of low value and, perhaps, did not need to be said at all.

Everyone pays attention at the beginning of your talk – use this opportunity to share your golden thoughts and grab their attention.

In case you wondering, there is “gold” in the middle of the first paragraph.  If you are like most people though, you missed it. Just like the speaker in the story above, the gold is buried too far to be noticed. Look at the paragraph below and notice how much easier it is to find the gold.