public speaking

10 Presentation and Communication Tips

This is an updated post with the Link Live and Working. Sorry about that for those of you who tried to access it.

Communicating is harder than ever in our culture.

Communicating the story and Gospel of Christ (that is offensive by the way, when we preach it biblically) needs the greatest resources we can muster as communicators.

It does not matter how powerful and true your ideas are if you are unable to communicate them with clarity, conviction and in a way that mobilizes the listener.

So I am always grateful for the communication insights from Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen. His latest post is:

Six Simple Ways to Improve as a Communicator

Leaders Must Communicate VERY WELL...
if they want to be effective and fruitful in their leadership!

I don't know if this is the most important leadership task, but it is sure deserves consideration in your Top Three Must Do Very Well Skills.

  • If you have great ideas, but can't communicate them - your ideas won't be useful.
  • If you are a great strategist, but can't communicate your strategy to others - they won't get it.
  • If you are comfortable with change and know how to lead change, but can't communicate why and how change must happen - then it won't.
  • If you have profound developmental insights for how learning and transformation occurs - but can't effectively share and transfer those insights - ditto.

You get the picture.

Thomas Carlyle on Speaking Truth

Speak the truth or don't speak at all.
Certainly never conclude a person is a good speaker just because they have mastered the art of oratory, passionate proclamation, or clever communication. We are so often drawn to those who are best at spin doctoring the truth. Or presenting personal opinion as if it is the truth delivered once and for all to the saints! All you have to do is recall so much of the recent conversation on "church" by those who have a grievance against it.

When I read some of the just silly or angry words about the church, the passage that came to mind was simply, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at the church." For some of the loudest critics (at least the ones I know personally) are also some of the most grievous offenders. 

Pleasantly Expectant or Dangerously Attentive

WOW! Did that phrase ever capture my attention when I read it in The Soul of a Leader. It comes from the great British biographer of Lincoln - Lord Charnwood. Charnwood was comparing the style of speaking used in the British Parliment with the way Lincoln spoke.

The British speakers strove to keep their listeners:

"pleasantly expectant rather than dangerously attentive . . .
Lincoln's style was the exact reverse."

Abraham Lincoln had a different task. To persuade, convince, mobilize, direct, inspire and renew the moral, political and spiritual life of a divided nation.

Four Fatal Assumptions About you the Listener

This is a follow up thought from yesterday's post on communicating. It also comes from ORANGE. Again, it is prevailing wisdom, but they just say it so creatively that it bears passing on to you. For more of their insights, check out their book - Playing for Keeps.

I speak quite a bit. Some preaching, a lot of teaching, seminars, conferences, retreats, small groups . . . And like most communicators, I think I am pretty good. (Talk about Fatally Flawed Assumptions.) It is interesting that when communicators are surveyed as to how good they think they are, they rate themselves as very good, in the top 10% of communicators. Then you ask their audience to assess them... and the general assessment is - AVERAGE.

Four Essentials for Good Communication

Everything is changing. That includes how people learn. The kinds of communication that grabs hold of them. Their attention span. Their interests. All this means that how public speakers communicate has to change.

I ran across this idea as far back as 1986 when I was introduced to the brilliant, provocative, paradigm changing book - Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. Postman's contention was simple: TV has changed every profession that uses public discourse/speaking as key to its vocation.

Common Mistakes When Beginning a Speech

Here is a newsletter to which I subscribe. It comes from the wonderful folks at Speechworks. You can subscribe to their newsletter and get nice short blurbs on communication. Here is an example of the "goods they deliver."


Leadership requires the ability to communicate. One of the most important skills you will ever learn is the skills of good communication. 

Public Speaking

Here is a great quote: 

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.
(Dorothy Sarnoff)

There have been times when my audience has stopped listening long before I finished speaking. Somehow we (maybe I should say "I") love the beauty of our own voice and the brilliance of our own ideas. And we assume that everyone else is just as enthralled and enamored as we are.

They aren't !!!

So we miss the cues. We keep talking (droning) on and on. And they have checked out.

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