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Never again speechless – with the little book Impromptu Speaking made simple! (2nd edition)

Impromptu speaking made simple! (2nd edition)We have completely revised and expanded the Little Book of Speaking off the Cuff so that you will never be speechless again. Now the 2nd edition is ready. The new edition is called:

Impromptu speaking made simple!

A guide to speaking off the cuff.

So that you will never again be speechless when, for example, your boss asks you to say something in front of a group of people.

Or when you want to say something at a reception, birthday party oder wedding.

The 2nd, completely revised and expanded edition of the Little Book of Speaking off the Cuff. By Thomas Skipwith.

The book and e-book are available on Amazon.com (affiliate links).

P.S.: If you want to practice your presentation skills with a professional, sign up for one of my presentation skills courses.

The pause is an important rhetorical device.

The pause: one of the most powerful secrets of presentation skills

Not optimal: the Shinkansen

Most of us have also experienced it: The person presenting speaks so fast that no one can follow him. I call it the Shinkansen. He rides so fast from A to B that he doesn’t take time to stop anywhere. Even at the few stations where it stops, it continues right away. After half an hour at top speed, I am completely exhausted. And so did the rest of the audience. Where might that come from?

Probably it comes from the fact that the speaker has not prepared well enough. He realizes after three quarters of the time that he has only shown the second of 10 slides. That’s when he thinks to himself, “Oh, I want to tell and show the rest, so I’ll just step on the gas more.” And with that, from now on, he talks twice as fast as before and looses everyone in the audience. Not good.

The break

The pause is an important rhetorical device.One of the most powerful secrets of rhetoric is the pause. It is completely underestimated. Wrong. The pause allows the audience to think about what the speaker has just said. It is particularly suitable at the moment when he said something important. In my rhetoric trainings I show this very impressively using the example of Martin Luther King and his speech “I have a dream“. Especially at the beginning he uses a lot of pauses.

Especially if you are one of those who speak very quickly, the pause is particularly suitable.

No fear of the break

Some are afraid of the break. That’s why they either don’t make them at all, or they fill them with a filler – usually an uh.

Zitat Skipwith Pause

There are rhetoric writers who say a pause may be up to seven seconds long. For the speaker, this may seem like an eternity – but the audience doesn’t notice. Let it be half of seven seconds. Then it is not a problem in any case. On the contrary.

 

It gives the audience the opportunity to think along.

The exercise

When you rehearse your next presentation, it’s wonderful to practice taking breaks. Count to 3 after each paragraph, preferably with your fingers. This way you’re sure to have a long enough break, too. In the live presentation, you will then probably pause for at least a second.

 

If you follow this tip, you will get more out of your presentations. I wish you much success in this.

 

P.S.: If you want feedback from a professional (again), sign up for one of my presentation skills trainings.

Free images from the Internet – Caution: warning letter!

Free pictures

Whether I like it or not, there are law firms who earn their money with warning letters. I personally experienced this years ago in connection with my e-mail distribution list. Hence, warning letters are a serious topic not only since the GDPR has been introduced. What happened? One of my e-mail recipients did not simply unsubscribe from my mailing list (which, by the way, is always possible with a click at the end of my e-mails), but sent me a warning letter instead. The entire matter, including lawyer’s fees and fees for the warning cost me over USD 1’000.-. If I’m not careful, this can similarly happen to me with pictures and especially cartoons for example, which I occassionally use in my presentations. So here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from warning letters about copyrighted material especially images.

Images are protected by copyright

Basically, all pictures (and all other content) are protected by copyright. Fortunately, there are also several pictures that can be used free of charge and royalty free in your presentations. The magic keywords are “free” and ” royalty free”.

For the complaints not to turn out too harsh, I have collected 10 (not conclusive) tips for a successful 1st of August speech.

Royalty free and freeFree pictures are sometimes not 100% free.

Royalty free is not the same as free. Royalty-free only means that you don’t have to pay for recurring royalties. So it is quite possible that you pay a one-time royalty for an image, but never again afterwards, because the licensor grants you a license for an unlimited period of time. This is common on sites such as www.getty-images.com, www.istockphoto.com and www.fotolia.de.

If you don’t want to pay for an image, you should make sure that it is both royalty-free and free. In technical jargon, royalty free is also equated with the abbreviation CC0. CC0 stands for “Creative Commons” and means that it is material to which no right at all exists or is claimed and can therefore be used for everything. There are numerous image databases that offer their images under the CC0 license. Good examples are: www.pixabay.com, www.unsplash.com and www.pexels.com. It is best to briefly read the terms and conditions of each page.

Image search with Google

Google has a powerful image search function. As soon as you switch to Google, the image search is currently in the upper right corner (see screenshot: Bilder = images).

Via the search field you can now search for any pictures. Enter a search term and press Enter. Now you will see the search results. Here’s the clue: Directly below the search field a menu bar with the word “Tools” will appear. If you click on it, a “Usage rights” (see screenshot: Nutzungsrechte = Usage rights) submenu is displayed (and only then). Select the option “Labeled for reuse”.

Image search with rights of use

This keeps you on the safe side of any copyright infringements.

Why pay for images?

You might ask why someone should pay for an image when both royalty-free and free images are available. The answer is simple: The paid pictures are often better, especially if you want people in the picture. Furthermore, it is much more likely that your image has not already been used uncountable times by others. For example, for the book “To catch fish, use the right bait. Scroing a s a speaker with Power Presentations” we did buy some pictures.

Citation / attribution

Even if the picture is free of charge, copyright law stipulates that the source (the author) hast to be mentioned, i.e. you have to mention the photographer’s name. From the photographer’s point of view, this is quite understandable: he wants to be named and may receive an order in this way (for other, chargeable pictures). Exceptions: On Pixabay (www.pixabay.com), for example, it says that most images do not require image attribution.

By the way, copyright law in Germany says that the photographer’s name must be mentioned right next to the picture.

 

If you stick to these tips, you will be happy to show pictures during your presentations and will be free of warning letters along the way. I wish you success.

 

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1st of August Speech: 10 Tips to succeed

1st of August speech: 10 tipsSoon the time will come again: all over Switzerland countless speakers will give a speech because of the 1st of August. The 1st of August is the Swiss national holiday. Hence there is the tradition of giving a 1st of August speech. I feel this is a worthwhile tradition, because giving a speech is always an opportunity to share a message. When else can you share your thoughts (more or less) undisturbed with a larger crowd?!

Nevertheless, it is clear to most people: you can’t please everyone. Matthias Aebischer, Swiss journalist, presenter and politician, put it beautifully in one of his speeches: “A 1st of August speech that is not criticized afterwards is like a meal in the canteen that you can’t complain about”.

For the complaints not to turn out too harsh, I have collected 10 (not conclusive) tips for a successful 1st of August speech.

Tip 1: Preparation is half the battle.

1st of August speakers are usually asked a long time in advance to speak. If you are the lucky one, do a small written brainstorming and complete the initial ideas from the brainstorming over time. Subsequently you will no longer be starring at a white sheet of paper on July 31.

Tip 2: Anyone who cannot hear you becomes a disturbing factor.

I have often experienced that the organizer skimped on the sound system or didn’t have one at all. Unfortunately I therefore could hardly hear the speaker. It only takes a few audience members to start whispering to each other and you then don’t hear anything anymore. Therefore, make sure that the audience can hear you. With more than 40 listeners I recommend you use a microphone. Preferably a lapel microphone or a headset.

Tip 3: The beginning should make them want more.

Start in such a way that the audience will pay attention to you right from the start. This can be achieved, for example, during the greeting. Instead of  a plain “Dear ladies and gentlemen”, start with a personal anecdote. Then only greet the audience.

Tip 4: Choose the content so that it suits you, the occasion and the audience.

Why not talk about Switzerland? After all, it’s Switzerland’s birthday. As Switzerland is very diverse, you can really choose any topic. Nevertheless, make sure you are clear about your main message. A possible formula for the content is: a personal anecdote, the story of someone else and what you have learned from it. Especially with the personal anecdote you make your speech memorable.

Tip 5: The end is the icing on the cake.

Prepare a crisp ending. “Thank you for your attention.” is not one of them. Instead, you can summarize, relate to the beginning and/or make a call to action. The brave ones bring a suitable joke at the end. It is best to practice the last sentence several times out loud beforehand.

Tip 6: You need a clear goal in mind.

Decide on a clear main message. You are welcome to repeat the main message several times. Your main message could refer to a virtue, e.g. courage, punctuality, reliability, love, perseverance. How about “The world belongs to the brave”, “Steady wins the race” or “I am proud of Switzerland”?

Tip 7: Variety makes life sweet.

A speech that’s serious as hell won’t knock anybody off their pedestal. Switch between seriousness and lightness. If you manage to get your audience to laugh, then that’s a bonus. In addition, it is worth researching what others have already said many times before. You can do without it or on the contrary: It is so important to you that you also want to repeat it.

Tip 8: Speak so that you are understood.

Analyze the audience. Then decide whether you will give the speech in Swiss German or High German (or any other language). If you choose a language that is not your mother tongue, you should practice your speech particularly often. For example, most Swiss-German speakers find it more difficult to speak High German than Swiss-German.

Tip 9: Keep it simple, stupid.

Mark Twain said: “A good speech has a good beginning and a good end – and both should be as close together as possible.” Ask the organizer how much time you have. Many times you will get 10 – 15 minutes. If you are writing a manuscript, you know how many words it should contain. Namely: If you speak at a speed of 100 words per minute, your manuscript will contain 1’000 – 1’500 words.

Tip 10: Tell them who you are.

The audience is curious. They want to know who’s talking to them. Tell them. However, I recommend you spice it up.  Don’t just enumerate what you have done in the past, but use a story to talk about yourself. For example, I could tell you how I can still remember how I grew up in Lucerne next to the Museum of Transport and what I experienced in the course of it all. Thus, the listeners casually learn who I am.

If you stick to these tips, you are already one big step closer to a 1st of August speech that will be positively remembered. I wish you every success.

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Barack Obama

The analogy: a powerful rhetorical device

An analogy is a particularly powerful rhetorical device. It often allows to present an issue much more clearly than if one did it directly. It sometimes takes a little effort to find a good analogy. But those who take the time are at an advantage. Here’s an example.

“Imagine: You go to the doctor, no, better, you go to 100 doctors and 99 of them diagnose “diabetes”. So 99 doctors are telling you that you are diabetic and therefore you should stop eating bacon and donuts. Then what do you say? You say, “It’s a conspiracy! 99 doctors sat down with Obama and want to stop me from eating bacon and donuts!” [Pause] You would never say that! That’s exactly how it is with climate change …”

The words come from the ex-president of the United States, Barack Obama, who in his speech criticized the position of some Republicans on climate change and the Paris treaty. The analogy is convincing and delivered with humor. You have to see and listen to it in the original.

See the video here. (It takes less than 2 minutes).

Or right here:

As always, practice makes perfect. Only if you make the effort to implement the tips, will you have a chance to give a good speech.

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