Archive for the ‘Communication’ category

The Vital Element in a Winning Contest Speech

March 28, 2010

“The winner of the speech contest is …!”

Speech contest season is in full swing in many organizations.  As a result, I get to listen to many contest speeches as well as mentor a few speakers through speech preparation and delivery.  The better speeches, the speeches that win at the higher levels of competition, have one thing in common — they are written and delivered with this focus: It’s not about the speaker; it’s all about the listeners!

Even speakers who have good delivery skills often forget that their job is not to impress their audiences, but to give a gift of value to the audience (and thus, the judges).  Such speakers may win lower level contests, but as they encounter stiffer competition at higher level contests, they may wonder why the judges favor speakers who may not be as flamboyant or “impressive” in their speaking styles.  That is because top speakers keep in mind the purpose of a speech.

Here are four steps that can keep a contest speaker audience-centered:

1. What type of speeches appeal best to audiences at the speech contest in which you are competing? Choices are: (a) inspire; (b) persuade; (c) inform; (d) entertain

I have not listed “motivational” speeches in the above choices.  Find out the difference between motivation and inspiration at

The reason for the above question is that audiences (and that includes judges) expect contestants to give speeches that are appropriate to a contest.  Examples of speeches that do not match the contest type are: a serious speech at a humorous speech contest; an entirely humorous speech when an inspirational speech or informative speech is expected; an inspirational speech when an informative speech is expected, etc.

2. What is the general purpose of your speech? Choices are: (1) inspire; (2) persuade; (3) inform; (4) entertain

3. What is the specific purpose of your speech? Here is an easy way to figure that out — Fill in the blanks: As a result of hearing my speech, members of my audience will be ________________ (inspired/persuaded/informed/entertained) so that they will _______________________ (the practical result of the effect of your speech on the listeners).

4. “My” story must have a “You” message.  What that means is that even a personal story you share with the audience must be interpreted so that the listeners feel the take away value in that story for themselves.

Try the above four steps for any speech whether or not it’s for a contest.  You will find out that it really is true: “It is in giving, that your receive.”  When you want more for your audience than you want for yourself, you will discover the joy of truly winning at speaking!

Unleash your communication potential!


Create Your Reality Ahead of Time!

March 22, 2010

What is the most powerful force you possess?  Is it love?  is it hate?  is it your physical strength?  Here’s a hint: When have you ever been able to fly like a bird, dive into the deepest depths of the ocean or jump over tall buildings?  You answered right — when you were dreaming!  In our dreams … in our imagination … we can be all powerful.  The imagination has no limits.  When you activate your imagination, you can plant in your mind the seed that can be nurtured to give rise to the reality you dream about.

Earl Nightingale’s multimillion selling record titled “The Strangest Secret” had just that message: “You become what you think about.”  Goethe, the great philosopher, wrote, “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  But how do you actually activate your imagination?  The approach I teach my speech coaching clients is to use multi-sensory imagery to create mental movies.  That is, use more than one of your senses to purposefully imagine the reality you want.  First get into a relaxed state of meditation and then use your major senses of seeing, hearing, and feeling to create a mental movie that depicts scenes that you want to be part of your reality.  Using multi-sensory imagery to create mental movies, was one of the most important approaches I used to twice become a finalist at Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, placing second in 1992.  It is one of the most important tools I possess to enable to me to deliver my best to my clients and to create my desired reality.  Find out more about how to put this into practice in your life by reading my free article at

Strengthening your ability to use your imagination is like strengthening your muscles for physical activity.  “Use it or lose it,” the old adage goes.  The more you use your “imagination muscles,” the more vividly you will be able to imagine.  Challenge yourself to utilize your imagination every time you speak.  Instead of saying, “It was a sunny day,” say “The bright rays of sunshine came streeaming down from the blue skies, warming the earth that was waking up from it’s winter freeze.”  Instead of saying , “I was extremely hungry, as I searched for any restaurant that was open late at night,” say, “My stomach was moaning and groaning with hunger, as if it was screaming “Are we there yet?” as I searched desperately for any restaurant that was open at that late hour of night.”  As you are better able to imagine, you will be better able to use that imagination to create the mental movies of your desired future. Imagine – Dream – Think – Speak – Do – Achieve – Live!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with activating your imagination.

Unleash your potential!

Unleash Your Potential

March 19, 2010

What is the biggest myth that individuals who are afraid of public speaking labor under? I’ll cut to the chase — it is the myth that what they need is outside themselves. Examples of such “outside” elements are: more time to prepare, more knowledge, greater delivery skills, a better looking face, a better suit, a more supportive audience, etc. The truth is, the most fundamentally important resource you need to excel in public speaking is inside you. It can be summarized in one word — CONFIDENCE. Self-confidence is the key that unlocks your ability to access your inner reserves; to access the knowledge that you already have; to focus on the message and the audience instead of yourself.

The vantage point of sixteen years of speech coaching has shown me that most nervous speakers think that a speech coach will teach them techniques to speak more effectively. Before spending time on the fine points of techniques, the wise speech coach first helps the speaker work on the inside elements: self-esteem and self-worth that lead to self-confidence and then to develop the winning philosophy that the job of the speaker is to give value to the audience, not to impress them.

How does a very nervous speaker learn to overcome presentation jitters? Find out at

Stay tuned to find out more in the next blog of Unleash Your Potential!