Tag Archives: public-speaking

How to Win the Secrets of Success

Dale Carnegie’s classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was written more than seventy years ago. However, the information contained within the pages is still highly relevant in today’s world. It doesn’t matter how old you are, nor what career path you have chosen. The basic principles can help you improve your foundation.

Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy for yourself!

This book will help you to become a more effective speaker, master the workplace culture, develop your leadership style, and hone your customer service skills. The book has sold more than 15 mil­lion copies world­wide over the years. Billionaire Warren Buffet has stated many times that he was terrified to speak in public early in his life. He took the Dale Carnegie course, and was amazed at how much his life changed.

It seems as though our days fly by at about 300 miles per hour. We are busy, and don’t always have time to sit and read a book, no matter how good or important it might be. This is why Dale Carnegie Training has now released an iPhone app. The “Dale Carnegie Secrets of Suc­cess App” is designed to bring you as much of the original information as possible in a way that is quick and easy to consume.

There are more than 30 videos built in to the app, which illustrate the most effective ways to employ Dale Carnegie’s Human Relations Principles. You’ll find fundamental methods to help you reduce your stress, conquer worry, and be more effective in the workplace. Additionally, the app contains tips created to address issues ranging from team building to time management… and from coaching to conflict resolution.

To celebrate the launch of the app, Dale Carnegie Training is giving away 200 copies of the original book.

If you would like to win a copy, leave a follow-up comment on this post. Let me know how this book could enhance your life, both in the workplace and at home. I will select ten winners at random on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010. The contest is open to anyone, no matter where you live in the world.

Did SXSW Interactive Panels Fail to Entertain?

This article was written by a guest blogger. B. Imei Hsu is a nurse / psychotherapist, dance artist, and Yoga instructor. When she’s not in session in her private practice, she’s wondering whether her cat needs his own QR code. For more info, contact her at [email protected]. Both Imei and her cat live in Seattle, WA.

[Editor’s Note: I happen to agree with what Imei is about to lay down. That, and I’m very grateful for AMD’s sponsorship to help me get to SXSW last week.]


Are panels, workshops, presentations, and keynote addresses at one of America’s biggest web development, film, and music festivals supposed to entertain the masses? Is a part of the dollar value of our interactive passes mapped to an expectation that the audience – that I, as a n00b and newcomer to Social Media – would be engaged, encouraged to laugh, and occasionally led to the edge of tears?

With the amount of alcohol, food, and over–the-top parties, maybe I’m off on this one. Maybe we were only self-medicating with food and drink to better tolerate the bored masses of speakers, interviewers, and trade show representatives. Maybe the elaborate dinners were only there to distract us from the festival itself.

It’s been said that SXSW Interactive Is Dead – and reasons have been given Why SXSW Sucks.

I had heard rumors of outside SXSW pass groups: groups that had formed to take advantage of the convention without laying down the high price of a full pass to any formal aspect of the event. And indeed, I ran into a man who said he had formed a highly-popular fringe group for Facebook, only to have it shut down because of infringement rights. The organizer claimed that there were plenty of other more interesting aspects to attend at SXSW than the official meetings, trade show, and parties opened to pass-holders only.

But wait. I cracked open my swag bag on Day 2 and almost sliced open my bare foot with the corner of the SXSW Interactive program. Heavier than a phone book, the program guide was clothed in Bing-like orange regalia, its insides accessorized with slick ads for every tech company’s biggest parties for the week, and a listing of each registrant, volunteer, and presentation description. The “mini me” program cheat sheet was equally organized, replete with a centerfold convention map. Nothing says sexy like knowing where you’re going. Or where the blogger lounge is so you can get some bleu cheese and a plastic cup o’ wine with that last post you’re flying through.

More impressive, the QR code on the pass allowed participants to check into various locations and be easily followed by others, making communication and tracking a snap. With an iPhone, My.SXSW, Twitter, and Foursquare, it was a stalker’s paradise. On the streets at night, I kept thinking that my first iPhone app needs to be a proximity detector to prevent users from falling off a sidewalk or bumping into other pedestrians as their faces were glued to their screens, making sure they (and a few hundred others) would wind up in the same crowded bar, shouting at each other and complaining about the lack of chill places to hang out.

Here’s my problem: why go through all that administrative trouble, design, and organization, only to overlook one of the more disappointing experiences of the entire conference: boring presenters and/or interviewers?

This is by far not an official survey, but I executed my own casual query about the lack of quality presentations to nearly every person I encountered. Here were the top five answers in no particular order:

  1. The presenters were poorly prepared, or did not appear to have prepared (i.e. no microphones, no questions for the audience, quiet voices, too much personal banter off-topic).
  2. The presenters did not stick to the topic of the presentation.
  3. The presentation failed to entertain.
  4. The presenter or interviewer did not engage his/her audience.
  5. The presenter allowed the outspoken audience members to dominate and take control of the presentations, veering the topic off course to crash and burn.

Again, maybe because I’m a n00b, I am expecting too much. I wanted every panel to be as unpretentious and transparent as, “How Not To Be A Douchebag at SXSW,” and every keynote to be as engaging as Danah Boyd’s. I wished for every tech-oriented presentation to use the tools like “Wow, That’s Cool… Fun with HTML5 Video,” and every panelist to be as humorous, compassionate, and on-target as the two women at “Be Your Own Boss: Create a Life You Love.” I was not expecting myself to wonder if I wouldn’t have better luck sipping a Macallan 12 year-old Scotch as I sat through a number of surprisingly uninteresting presentations.

Conferences in the health care world are equally problematic for me.

Every two years, I must complete 36 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) to renew my license as a mental health counselor. Six of these units must cover the topic of legal and ethical issues – and let me tell you, they are usually some of the most boring ones out there. Most of us buy a CEU courses to meet those six CEU requirements; we simply crank out the answers, collect our CEUs, and look for the nearest painkiller.

If you attend a live conference, you could be purchasing six hours of torture on the level of emergency dentistry without anesthesia.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if we brought a highly-trained attorney together with a comedian and taught the same subject. I can only imagine my fellow colleagues laughing so hard, they wouldn’t be worrying about what scares them the most about caring for mentally ill clients in an age of litigation.

What’s the solution? I can no longer honor people for simply showing up the way I used to. I’m only going to honor those who show up with their full presence AND some training on how to engage and entertain the audience that really has come to learn.

Here are a few tips that would have made the difference for this n00b:

  1. Use the technology. If you have a microphone, practice using it. If you have a PowerPoint presentation (PPP), make it relevant, photo-rich, and free of excessive words and endless bulletpoints.
  2. Define terms. It’s easy to be immersed in your culture and language whilst estranging the very people you are there to educate: new users, late adopters, and the not-already convinced.
  3. Take a speech or voice class. Better yet, brush up on your acting. Acting is a craft that teaches you how to engage an audience, whether live or remote.
  4. Do a run-through at a smaller venue. Get feedback. Record yourself. Look for POI’s (points of improvement). Noodle with it.
  5. If you don’t think a solo has enough weight to it, see if you can’t combine with someone else who the brings the best out of you. Tandem might be better than solo. See #4. Test it.
  6. Share a telling example of your work, product, or service. Use the tools: film clips, audio, screencasts, digital reproduction, music, etc. These help your audience emotionally connect with you and your passion. But make sure it is VISIBLE and AUDIBLE in the room you’re using. Please.
  7. Don’t be afraid to entertain. The beauty of Schoolhouse Rock! was the simple idea that grammar could be fun. Find your angle. Let us laugh with you.

Getting behind the microphone and in front of the camera should be seen as a privilege, even though most of us own digital cameras and sound equipment. Maybe if we saw our roles as entertainers and educators – and not just media “rawk stars” – we’d attract the right kinds of engaging presenters and interviewers to present at SXSW 2011.

And I’d be happy to beat a path to the front of that line.

Should Twitter be Banned at Conferences?


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I was fortunate to be a keynote speaker last week at the LeWeb conference in Paris. It was definitely an amazingly well put-together conference. I cannot express enough gratitude to Loic and Geraldine for making us all more than comfortable during our stay. I did happen to notice one thing during the conference that bothered me a bit, so I decided I wanted to talk to you about it. Twitter tends to play a large role during conferences. However, I’m not so sure it’s a good thing.

Let’s face it – if someone is a presenter at a conference, they are there for a reason. The conference organizers invited them there to talk to you about something they felt you should hear. The day I spoke at LeWeb, there were several heavy-hitters who went before me that morning. These were dev-centric presentations, from people at Twitter and Facebook. My speech was less tangible, and more of something to really make you think about what exactly community is.

Not everyone in the audience was interested in what I had to say. That’s fine, I assumed that would be the case. You cannot make everyone happy. During the rest of the weekend, I noticed that many of the people in the audience were busy on Twitter. I also happened to realize that much of what was being said was negative, and sometimes even harsh.

The problem with people using Twitter during a presentation is that they are paying more attention to the voice that is in their head than they are to the voice on the stage. There’s a reason the voice is on stage, remember? I’m not sure what prompts people to not want to listen to a particular presentation. But I feel that if you don’t have something nice to say – then you should say nothing at all. People need to learn how to be negative properly.

We need to remember it’s not about us… it’s about the person on stage. Twitter almost takes away from the person on stage, more than it enhances it. People, again, are more interested in themselves than the speaker. If you aren’t interested in a paritcular speech, that’s ok! Just walk on out of the room and do something else. There’s always something else going on during conferences.

I can’t help but thinking Twitter needs to take a backseat when it comes to conference presentations. I’ve seen it detract too many times. Too much negativity can swell, and cause problems. It may be the thought of the crowd, but sometimes it’s ok to keep your thoughts to yourself. There are a lot of important people in the audience, yes. However, the person on stage is the most important one of all.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. It’s your turn. What do you think?

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Do you have Tips for Presentation Style?

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Richard sent me the following email, which I feel is an excellent discussion point:

You do not come off as a shy person, as I am, but how do you manage to stay so calm and relaxed when you are presenting your live feed to the community? When I give presentations to my classmates, I have the bad habit of speaking too fast and not enunciating my words clearly. You, however, seem very relaxed, you pace yourself, you are easy to understand, and you speak very eloquently while using mature vocabulary. It also appears that you are able to speak very professionally off the top of your head, assuming that you do not write out what you say beforehand. I just really admire the ways you go about presenting information. I was just wondering if you had any tips at all about pacing yourself, focusing on what you are saying, and just staying relaxed. I think this would be a good thing to bring up with the community, unless you already have, because first impressions are very important.

I’ve pretty much been a ham all my life. I’m someone who always upstaged other people. I really enjoy doing the videos every day, for that very reason. Even though I’m energetic about it, I’ve refined my style over the years. I am a perfectionist when I record. I am known to literally do take after take, to get one I am really happy with. I want to always make sure I’m coming across the best way that I can. I’m always cognizant of the fact that most people who see my videos will see them after the fact, instead of live.

Practice, practice, practice… it really does make perfect. In High School, I tried out for what was called “Speech Squad”. Most of the comments I got were along the lines of “SLOW DOWN!”, because I always tended to speak too fast. Being on radio and tv has helped me to really think about what I do and how I do it. I’ve been able to refine my presentation style over the years.

Heck, no matter how much you practice you’re going to be nervous. That’s normal. Tap into that emotion and passion. Do your best to surface your thoughts in a way that is clear, cohesive and coherent. Connect with your intended audience. Even though I tend to throw in those $10.00 words at times, it’s really about what’s in my heart… not my head. For me, it’s about relaying useful information to the world. My approach has always been honest, genuine and transparent. It’s true… sometimes I am over the top. I get excited, and get increasingly louder as more and more thoughts jump into my head. I fall victim to saying “uh” and “Uhm” as much as anyone.

That’s my biggest tip. You don’t have to fill every second with noise. Take a breath. Take a pause. There’s no ‘undo’ button or delete key if you say the wrong word, but you can still correct yourself. You’re human, after all. Don’t try to be too perfect. People will connect with you more when you come across as human and imperfect. Show your passion, put your heart and soul into what you’re doing.

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