Jackie Kellso

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Art of Public Speaking: Show vs. Tell

In career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, people skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, sales, selling, training, Uncategorized on July 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I was hit by a car at the age of 14.  I spent two months in the hospital and it took me two years to walk again without the aid of casts, crutches and canes.

True story!  But what’s interesting about the way I represent the story?  Nothing!

How’s this version:

I was crossing the street on a chilly, December afternoon, right in front of the Junior High School I was attending. Suddenly, a suped-up car with a loud engine came around the bend, swerving and accelerating towards my friend and me.   I gasped and yelled,  “Gene, hurry towards the sidewalk!  That guy’s out of control!”  Well, that was my last moment of consciousness until I awakened later that afternoon.  By that point, my eyes were swollen shut and I couldn’t assess the sounds or voices of my surroundings. I had no clue as to what was happening to me. “Mom!  I want my Mom!” I screamed. I was in the emergency room.

Do you want to know about my injuries and why I couldn’t walk for two years after that? My guess is you’re interested.

This is the difference between showing vs. telling (when writing) and speaking.  If you’re going to tell an audience about something, it’s the same as delivering a sketch or an outline of your point rather than delivering the essence and relevance of your point. When I coach my clients on public speaking, I emphasize this:  do not tell me about something.  Show me the story.  Peel the layers away and describe it; paint a vivid picture, re-live it in the telling of it.  Make me an interested party.  Draw me into your experience so much so, that I could re-tell it (or re-show it, for that matter) to somebody else.

Not only will your talks be dynamic and memorable, you will increase your credibility as a speaker.  Once you’ve proven that you’re experienced in your subject, you will have earned the right to make a succinct and relevant point, and your audience will listen and believe in you. (For instance, I will always be able to to speak credibly about how people can learn to cope with and overcome emotional and physical trauma.)

A good thing to do is to observe other speakers and determine if they are showing vs. telling. Decide for yourself what’s more effective. Your ability to determine the difference as a listener, will be a good starting point for becoming a better speaker.

Happy showing!

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fear of Public Speaking is Nothing to Fear

In business, coaching, communication, executive coaching, executives, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, training, Uncategorized on July 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I once had a client who had the most intense fear of public speaking I had ever seen.  I witnessed this during the first assignment of a public speaking course I was teaching. Naturally, every class member was a little nervous, but this guy, Mike, got up, mumbled his words, looked down at the floor, trembled and sweated profusely.  I thought he was going to pass-out.  But he didn’t — he presented his one minute speech in its entirety.   The class cheered and I praised him for his courage.  Mike smiled and said how amazed he was that he had gotten through it.  Before he left the class that night, I said, “See, fear doesn’t stop you in your tracks. See you next week!”  He nodded affirmatively and walked out the door.  I never saw or heard from him again.

For years I wondered why this guy gave up on himself, even after proving that he could speak to an audience. But I believe I know the answer now, having coached so many fearful speakers since then.  I focused on fear as the prime coaching issue and ended up magnifying the fear instead of diminishing it. I can only imagine the bravado he would have had to muster to get back into class and speak again, not to mention the pressure he might have felt not to disappoint the class. This was a very powerful lesson for me. What I should have said to him was, “Mike, great job. Next time let’s work on keeping your feet planted.” (Or, something to that effect.)

Would that have brought him back to class?   I can’t say for sure, but it would have given him something skill-based to focus on rather than this monster he was battling.  Today, when a client wants to overcome fear, the very first thing I say is this:  We are not even going to try to overcome fear. It’s there and we welcome it.  Being uncomfortable is a preferred state to sustain when stretching the comfort zone.  The fear may stay with you, it may leave you, we simply don’t care.

The goal is this:  focus solely on the skills that make for a powerful presenter.  Learn the right techniques and structures that support the flow and articulation of your presentations. As examples, concentrate on body language, practice making eye contact, focus on choosing words and concepts that help you drive a point, work on being clear and concise, use your natural sense of humor when delivering dry material.  Just start with one and go from there.  Practice getting in front of an audience and doing it again, and again, and again, and again and again.  It will be the key to making your fear powerless.

In the words of the wise, “It’s okay to have butterflies in your stomach, just get them to fly in formation.”  –Dr. Rob Gilbert

Happy presenting,

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.