Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters International’

A Speakers Golden Opportunity

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on August 21, 2017 at 7:33 PM

You have finished your presentation and fielded questions: now is your golden opportunity to connect with interested audience members. Audience members are (hopefully) inspired by your words and ready to take action. They want to have personal contact with you and ask a question or share a story.

Evstanding conversationen though you offered the opportunity for them to speak during the question and answer session, many people are shy or self-conscious about speaking in public. Perhaps what they have to say is personal and they do not wish to share it publicly You may be surprised at what happens when they come to you in this way. You will hear wonderful stories, questions and receive referrals and offers of help.

Sometimes they want a few minutes to gather their thoughts before they speak.

During the conclusion of your talk, tell the audience you will be available to speak. Offer an immediate and safe way they can interact with you in a smaller setting. Use an incentive to get them to approach you such as a brochure they want.

Use these final moments to your advantage. Be available to talk: avoid packing up your equipment or chatting with a colleague Mingle with the crowd or position yourself in a prominent place where you are approachable. Many people will not feel comfortable addressing you in front of others and desire personal, one-to-one contact.

One of the highest praises and audience member can give you is to share a personal story with you related to your talk. This indicates they have heard and internalized your message.

You may notice people standing near you, wanting to talk to you but feeling too shy to approach you. Watch for these people and pull them in. Be ready with a few questions to use as conversation openers.

The time immediately following your talk provides you with an opportunity to make high quality contacts with individuals in your audience. Take a few extra minutes to chat, mingle, and be a good listener to their stories. You may end up with many unexpected benefits such as good stories and new partners to help you reach your goals.


© 2007 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.

How Much Time Do You Have To Grab Their Attention?

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2016 at 7:28 AM


15 seconds. That is how much time you have to grab the attention of your audience. 15 seconds to prove what you are about to say is important to them! Use this time efficiently and they are yours. Waste it and you can watch your audience fidget, turn away, and mentally leave the room.  In   one-on-one conversations, you will be able to watch their eyes dart about before they divert the conversation to a new topic.

We know the value of being clear on what we are trying to say. Now we shift the focus from us and look at why it is important to them, our audience.

Start your talk with a provocative statement that will capture your audience right off the bat. Think of a rhetorical question, a joke, a story, a statistic or a dramatic statement that will peak interest and make them want to hear the rest of what you have to say. Find something that demonstrates why what you want to say is of value to them.

Think about this: when you buy a book – is it wrapped in a jacket (or cover) that is designed to intrigue you or is it in plain brown wrapping? The purpose of the cover is to make you want to pick the book up and look deeper. Think of your opening statement as the cover of the book – what are you going to put there to make others want to know what is inside?

An all-too-common mistake is to starting the talk with the verbal equivalent of brown paper wrapping – uninteresting background, the usual thank yous, or other irrelevant information. The audience is lost before you have begun.

When you stand up to speak (or walk into someone’s office) – be ready with a good opening line that is to-the-point and captivating. It should be clearly thought out, well rehearsed and directly tied to your main message, even if you are speaking one-on-one.

Try this experiment – watch other people speak. Do they start with something of interest to you or do they begin by telling you things you don’t really care about? How do you react to this situation and what is it that makes you stay tuned?

The first 15 seconds of your talk are critical to your success. Take time to plan it well so that you grab their attention and make your audience want to listen.


© 2009 All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links from your blog or webpage are encouraged.

5 Assumptions About Public Speaking

In Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on February 4, 2016 at 9:16 AM

ask-questionsPreparing for a presentation is difficult as there are many unknown variables. It is acceptable for a speaker to make certain assumptions about a presentation. Here is a list of the 5 basic assumptions a speaker can make when preparing for a presentation.


  1. Assume all your equipment will work perfectly. Do not arrive early to do a check, do not call ahead to troubleshoot any compatibility issues. It can be a good idea to boot your PowerPoint as the audience watches this will allow you to share the cute picture you have on your desktop.
  2. Assume you are the expert and the audience knows less than you. You do not need to ask audience members what they know or believe about your topic – assume they know nothing. Speak the entire time leaving very little, if any, time for questions. The faster you speak, the more words you say, the bigger “bang for the buck” the audience receives.
  3. Assume you are more important than the audience. Do not waste time learning about your audience or listening to audience member before you speak. You are the speaker, not them. It is more important they learn who you are as you are the guest. Besides, in 45 minutes you will be out the door and will never see these people again. Anything you may learn will be a waste.
  4. Assume the audience will not care about your appearance. Dress in a very casual manner as this will help audience will see you as a regular guy. Overdressing can make you seem stuffy and unapproachable. Wearing jeans to a business function is good as your relaxed demeanor will help the audience relax.
  5. Assume the audience will forgive you if you mispronounce the name of your host and the organization that asked you to speak. This will demonstrate to them that you believe you are important and will leave them wondering if they named their organization incorrectly.


Speaking is often considered a “soft skill” – that is one that is less important than other business or life skills. Many people believe they can “muddle their way through” most any speaking situation without any formal training or even much thought. Research supports this theory as 82% of speakers are fair to poor.

Implement these 5 assumptions you can be part of the majority!

 Mini-Workshop on “Dangerous Assumptions On Public Speaking”

Thursday, February 11, 2016 – Details

This “tongue-in-cheek” speaking tip is provided by iSpeakEASY. Our clients become the 18% of speakers that are good to excellent. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

This Is What Others Say About iSpeakEASY

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2016 at 11:56 AM

“You have been, in effect, a year’s worth of Toastmasters encapsulated into a couple of sessions.”

Clyde L. Schultz, Dentist and Professional Speaker


“I’ve attended many workshops on public speaking in my 35-year career – this was the most useful.”

David Belitsky, Suisun Resource Conservation District


“I’m so excited about this course. I received tremendous value and was able to immediately apply the new skills. My business is growing with some thanks due to this workshop.”

Coree Cameron, Partner, Cameron, Coffey and Kaye, A Professional Corporation


“I can’t think of a faster and more efficient way to improve communications in a business than to attend Ethan’s trainings.”

Anastasia Shuster, Access Speakers


“I’ve been using the booklet and speaking tips for my quarterly financial presentations. They have been very helpful reminders and have improved my presentations.”

Laurie Talcott, Chief Financial Officer, Point Reyes Bird Observatory


“I learned from the interactive format and everyone in the group was supportive. The feedback was invaluable and has helped me. I highly recommend this workshop.”

Imee Burkett, Isagenix International ID/Coach,


“The workshop was focus, supportive and fun.”

Robin Fett, Hypnotherapist,


“I got 6 new referrals following my first presentation. Thanks for your help and guidance.”

DJ Colbert, BNI Power Lunch


“Ethan helps companies become more profitable by helping them to close more accounts due to effective communication. I think he would be very beneficial to your sales team.”

Sarah Scudder, Golden Pacific Systems, Inc.


“The training session was exciting, well organized, and engaging. The materials were easy to understand we were given the tools to improve our speaking skills.”

Rainer Hoenicke, San Francisco Estuary Institute.


“At a recent gathering of scientists, presentations by staff who had attended an iSpeakEASY workshop were dynamic, engaging, conveyed information clearly, and held the audience’s attention.

Beth Huning, Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture

So What?

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2015 at 8:05 PM

so what 1“So what?”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Why should I care?”

“Why is this important to me anyway?”

Though it may sound as if these words are coming from a teenager; these questions are going through the minds of everyone as you speak. It does not matter if you are presenting to a large group or talking one-on-one. The main thing your audience cares about is themselves. They are wondering how what you say proves valuable to them.

When you are planning your presentation, put yourself in the position of your audience and ask yourself the same questions. Why are you telling this to your audience, why would they care, and most importantly – why is it important to them? If there is no reason, then don’t say it as your audience will not be listening anyway.

Most people do not have an intrinsic desire to take in new information for the sake of learning. We are bombarded by information every day and rely on internal filters to control what we absorb.

When you speak, the listener will be unconsciously deciding if the information is important to them or not. Your job is to present your message in a manner that lets them know why it is in their interest to listen to you. It is the speaker’s job to demonstrate why the listener should pay attention rather than to space out or think about something else.

Design your talk from your audience’s point of view. Why is your message important to them? Why is each part of your talk of interest to them? How will listening make their life better? Examine each part of your talk from your audience’s perspective.

If you address these questions in your planning, you increase the likelihood your audience will pay attention and absorb what you are saying. If you fail to address these questions adequately, you will end up with an audience of one – and the one person paying attention will be the person doing the speaking.

With appreciation to Sam Ham.

 © 2009 – All Rights Reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help people speak effectively and with confidence.

Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

The Benefits Of Communicating Well

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2015 at 7:52 PM

I am working with a financial professional who I will never use again or refer to my friends. He may be brilliant at what he does and an absolute wizard when it comes to numbers – I do not doubt his core competencies at his job nor do I worry (too much anyway) about the long term impacts of what his work will do to my wallet. I will not hire him again simply because I do not understand much of what he says or does. This is not from a lack of effort on his part – but it is from a lack of his ability to successfully communicate what he is doing and recommending. confused

His talk is rushed, full of jargon and terms that I am sure mean something to people in his industry: he throws around ideas, alternatives, and excuses each time we speak – and even though we both are both professionals, who are intelligent and competent in English – I am clueless as to what he saying.

My advice for this gentleman goes in one of two directions: either learn to communicate the meaning of his work to his clients, or he should remain in the backroom and let someone else handle customers. What he is doing now may be in my best interest – it is hard for me to know as I don’t understand – but it is far from in his company’s best interest as there will be no follow up business or referrals.

He is not alone in his communication deficiency. Most people do a poor job explaining their work despite their expertise at the work they do. A study in 2006 demonstrated most non-profits have a difficult time obtaining community, public, and financial support based not on the value or quality of the work they do, but on their ability to communicate the benefit of their efforts.

Being competent in your work is expected. Being able to communicate the value of your work is essential to your growth, expansion, and to gaining the support and trust of your clients.


To Communicate Effectively With Your Clients

  • Take time to listen to your clients and help them understand what you are saying
  • Interpret what you are saying from the language of your industry to the language of your client
  • Translate jargon and remove acronyms from your talk
  • Assume your clients know less about your industry than you do until they demonstrate otherwise
  • Watch their faces to be sure they are understanding what you say
  • Spend as much time communicating with your client as you do on their project
  • Attend trainings and workshops on how to effectively communicate



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.

The Last Time I Let An Audience Get The Best Of Me

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on June 10, 2015 at 8:16 PM

I remember the last time I let an audience get the best of me. It wasn’t really the entire audience, it was just one person who was unhappy or angry at the group that I represented. I let him rip me to pieces in front of everyone. I was embarrassed, belittled, distracted and felt quite stupid.

I remember the experience well because I left feeling beat up and angry at the man who attacked me. As I drove home though, I realized my anger was misguided. Yes, he was a jerk and yes he was trying to make me look bad but the real culprit was me: I allowed this happen.

I had the tools to better manage the situation I just forgot to use them. I let him lay a trap and like a fool, I walked right in. It was a good, but painful, lesson for me to learn and it has never happened to me since.
By comparison a year ago I led a meeting where there was a woman clearly gunning for me. This time though, the experience though ended quite differently and I walked out giving myself high fives in my brain. The difference was this time I remembered what I knew and I used the tools I had at hand. I was calm, I let her speak, I asked clarifying questions, and the more she spoke, the more outrageous she sounded to all in the room. I used the audience as my ally watching their reaction to her behavior and then asked if they wanted to continue her conversation of if they preferred to return to the agenda.

The next time you make a presentation, take stock of all your tools and training before you go into the room. Don’t allow fear to guide you, but do prepare for anything that might happen and keep control of yourself. If you sense something beginning to happen, breathe, think, and respond but don’t react. Chances are great you will not have to use all of your tools, but it sure is great to have them handy when you need them.

Tools For Managing Hecklers


  • Set ground rules for audience behavior and stick to them.
  • Always be on guard – pay attention to all questions
  • Make sure to understand the questions or issues raised
  • When dealing with a heckler (or possible heckler), allow them to speak freely for a limited time as they will probably dig themselves into a hole
  • Use the audience as your friend
  • Be calm – it is usually not personal
  • Ask for more information as most hecklers expend all their energy in the first punch and have little more to say after the initial attack

This Speaking Tip is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching for groups and individuals. We take good speakers and make them excellent.

© 2015 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Bring Your Message Home

In business, Business Networking Groups on January 28, 2015 at 8:08 PM

A good novel has a really exciting conclusion. A good presentation should have one too. novel ending

Unlike a novel though, your conclusion does not have to be a surprise or a cliffhanger – it should be predictable and your final words should hang in the air and stay in the mind of the listener.

A strong conclusion will:

  • Bring your message home
  • Tie together all your points
  • Tell the audience what it is you want them to do
  • Let the audience know you are through speaking

Most importantly though, it demonstrates your competency as a speaker and shows that you are earnest about your subject.

While this is one of the most critical parts of your talk, many speakers give it inadequate attention. They reach the end of their talk and trail off into nothingness, losing the final WHAM the conclusion should deliver and hurting their credibility as a speaker.

As important as the conclusion is, it is generally the easiest to write. An effective and easy formula is to:

  • Restate your theme,
  • Remind the audience of the 3-5 key points; and
  • Tell them what you hope they will do next.

Try plugging your details into this concluding statement:

“By now you can probably see why (your main point) is so important. We have discussed (3-5 key points). If this is of value to you then I encourage you to (action you want them to take).”

Think of it this way – your audience is most likely to remember your final words – so choose those last thoughts carefully and deliver them with a punch!

The ending of your talk is critical: it is like the final chapter in a book, the punch line of joke or the last chord of a song. To maximize your effectiveness as a speaker, take the time to create a well thought out, well rehearsed concluding statement.


Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Are We Communicating?

When Is It The Right Time To Not Speak?

Fear Of Public Speaking Is Universal

Show The Audience You Don’t Care

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

Bridge Building and Better Speaking

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2014 at 9:08 PM

building bridgesEffective speakers build bridges between themselves and the audience. They get to know the audience to create a feeling of connection. They learn what interests and motivates the audience, and show themselves as a multi-dimensional being. Doing this allows the speaker to address the needs of the audience while making the presentation feel more like a conversation with a friend rather than a pitch by a stranger.

The more you can bridge the gap between you and the audience, the more accepting they will be of your ideas.

Use these techniques to move from an” us and them” situation to a feeling of “I am one of you”.

  • Arrive early, set up, and mingle. Take time to greet members of the audience. Introduce yourself and ask them questions. This is an opportunity for you to learn about your audience on both an individual and group basis. Spend more time listening as your turn to speak is coming.
  • Reference individuals in the audience. When speaking, refer to individuals in the audience by name and refer to your conversations with them. This makes the one person feel very good while demonstrating to the entire audience that you value them.
  • Ask the audience questions. Encourage them to raise their hands and create opportunities for them to respond. This creates a group experience and unites the audience.
  • Listen to the speakers that precede you. When presenting as part of an agenda, arrive early and observe the proceedings. Sit quietly and listen. This shows your interest in the audience, assures you are on time, and gives you insight on other issues they are dealing with.
  • Talk about common experiences or values that you share with your audience. Based on your conversations with individuals, what do you know, do or feel that is common to the group? What are your shared interests and goals?

All of these steps build bridges while tearing down barriers between you and the audience. Take time to learn your audience: talk with them and find out what makes them tick. Include them in your presentation. Your credibility will soar and your audience will be more receptive to your message.

© 2007 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.

We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.


The Most Important Tip To Effective Speaking

In Business Networking Groups, Communication, Public Speaking on August 7, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Know what you are trying to say. Period.

This speaking tip is so basic, that people sometimes laugh when I say it but it is true.

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.

Speaking without knowing your point can be likened to driving without a destination (except it lacks the romance of the free-wheeling spirit heading down the road). You veer right, then turn left, go straight for a bit, you double back, take a side road that leads you no where. You end up talking about all kinds of things that really are not pertinent to the message you are trying to deliver, the audience tries to follow you but ends up lost and takes a “mental vacation”.

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”?

© 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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