At last night’s 86th presentation of the Academy Awards, on the red carpet it was all about the clothes, the jewels, high fashion and “who are you wearing.” During the Oscars TV broadcast it was all about Ellen Degeneres, ordering pizza, taking selfies, and breaking Twitter. Oh yeah… there were some statuettes given out, too.
Today is now all about who wore it best and an analysis of the acceptance speeches. This year there were no big memorable moments like in 1999 when Roberto Benigni after just winning for best actor, was announced the winner of best foreign language film and triumphantly and excitedly climbed up and onto the arms of the seats and seat backs to bound up onto the stage, applauding his audience all the way (video here for that). Yet even so, there were some touching moments and wonderful speeches.
Yesterday, I promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of the speeches. Yet after watching, there were no real bad or ugly moments, just excellent and average ones. Plus, if you’ve been a reader for any period of time, you know I tend to be one for focusing on the positives.
So without further ado, here are my awards for The Best of Oscar Speeches from 2014:
Best Tribute to Mom:
Jared Leto, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” Not only did Leto bring his Mom with him to the event, he thanked her in a sweet way by telling her story. He then had the audience’s attention for when he briefly mentioned the political and humanitarian cause, dedicating his Oscar to AIDS patients around the world.
What You Can Learn: Stories touch the heart and capture your audience’s attention and admiration. Start your presentations with a story and you’ll have your audience hanging on your every word.
Tonight is the 86th Academy Awards presentation. Over the years I’ve vacillated from being a huge fan – one year even attending an officially Academy-sanctioned Oscar party in downtown Chicago dressed in my very own red carpet-style gown (blue sequins from top to bottom as I recall) - to some years skipping watching the show altogether. I’ve had clients who had items featured in Oscar baskets and in this very moment I have an email in my inbox from Oscar.com with a live countdown clock.
Mostly, though, since I’ve been training speakers and teaching public speaking for a living, each year during and after the Oscars show, I’ve been pinged on social media and email when one of the winners makes a speech that totally misses the mark. This year, I came across a FABULOUS, funny video as a PSA for the winners that not only is hilarious to watch, but sums up some of the best advice I could ever give anyone who knows they are nominated for an award, especially those who will be nationally televised. Have a look:
Funny, right? That impressions-master Piotr Michael is on his way to some big things.
After watching that, I decided, this year during the Oscars, instead of just tweeting, I’d keep an more official running tally of the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the winning Oscar speeches. Check back here tomorrow for the full report. Let me know in the comments below your picks for the winners and we’ll see how it all turns out!
In the meantime, I’d like to point out that ALL the nominees have one other thing in common than working in the motion picture industry and being nominated for doing so: they are all at the top of their game, living in their own genius. When you find your own genius, you get noticed, and yes, you can even win awards. Go see the free webinar re-broadcast of how you can get started finding your own genius right away.
As I write this I have tears of humility in my eyes and my heart is overflowing with gratitude.
Today is a joyous occasion for me.
One year ago today I received a miracle. And it was because of you.
I was cured 100% of lung cancer.
It happened through my amazing medical team and the miraculous part came about from the power of prayer. Sharing this story is my way to say thank you and perhaps, if you are battling something in your life: illness, addiction, heartache, you will feel inspired and hold onto hope for a miracle to cure your life, too.
After many months of x-rays, tests, and two bronchoscopies (a procedure that did a look-see down my windpipe to the outer region of my lung), stemming from a serious case of pneumonia that never fully resolved, and a negative biopsy of a tumor found at the entrance to the middle lobe of my right lung, I was diagnosed with adeno-squamous small cell lung cancer on September 20, 2012.
Suddenly I was in a medical whirlwind that those who have ever received a cancer diagnosis know all too well. Seemingly endless tests from CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, blood tests galore and more gave way to appointments with specialist after specialist all sharing their take on my challenge and some gingerly sharing horrible things like “5-year survival rates,” which for a never-smoker, non-asbestos-exposed, no-other-typical risk factor case in a young 42 year old female, were pretty good at about 80-85%. I did meet with this one jerky oncologist who, before examining me, and barely opening my file told me the others were either lying or idiots and I had only about a 60-65% chance of living to see my 47th birthday. He did so in front of my worried father, who carted me to every single one of those visits. You’ll be happy to know, I never saw that oncologist again in my life, and had I not been pre-occupied with cancer, would likely have written a strongly-worded letter to someone in charge. I wanted honesty and truth, but above all I wanted and deserved as a human being COMPASSION and EMPATHY.
I knew family and friends were praying for me. And I decided to set up a private Facebook group for those close to me so I could update my status from one appointment to the next. I chose social media because most of my family and friends were there regularly anyway and it was easy for me to “check in” at hospitals and so forth, add photos, and more.
After all those visits I quickly weighed my options, chose a surgeon, and scheduled my surgery for the day after what could have been the final speaking gig of my entire career. Then I had an odd sense of feeling relieved and at peace. I knew, somehow, that everything was going to be okay.
Next is when the miracle of YOU happened.
The night before surgery, nervous yet calm, I sent out a plea to my community of subscribers, my blog readers, and my social media friends and followers, numbering close to 30,000. Here’s what I wrote:
“If you’re the praying type, please send up a prayer for me and the surgeon (Dr. McAfee) that all goes smoothly, is easy, and painless. If you’re more of the visualizing type, please visualize the IV going in the first time easily and my body healthy and complete. And if you’re of the sending good energy type, I’ll take all the good vibes you can muster!”
That short request led to an avalanche of prayers and positive energy from friends and people around the world, in 22 countries, most of whom I had never met in my life. I was added to church prayer lists, lifted up in Facebook prayer warrior groups, and thought about in the private hearts of people around the world. I’m in tears now as I remember it and so grateful for every single one; I can never know how many people even paused for a moment, but I know it all led to my own miracle.
The next morning as I was prepped for surgery before dawn, I silently wept, afraid most of the terror of the IV going in. You see, I’m what they call a “hard stick” and have had occasions where more than a dozen nurses, doctors, and EMTs took over two hours just to run one IV with more than two dozen attempts – each a painful stick of a needle and then some digging inside trying to find access to a vein. Much to my shock and horror, I not only had to have one IV run that day, but because of the multiple medications and various procedures, I needed TWO – one in each arm. I had held it together pretty well over the past couple of weeks, not because I felt the need to hold it together, but because I really was simply working through the process of what needed to be done, but that news was enough to bring the tears forth. My husband was in the room and one of my best friends texted me comfort.
As I was wheeled into the surgical waiting area, away from my husband now, alone with strangers who would soon be cutting into my body, I tried to relax (as if) and focus on the various instructions, repeating my name and birthdate to at least seven people. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery area and my surgeon telling me what she had found.
Similar to most cancer surgeries, when the doctor removed my tumor and lymph nodes, each was examined while I was in the operating room to make sure nothing else needed to be removed and to once again verify the specific diagnosis. That’s when they found something curious – and miraculous.
What was only days before diagnosed from an actual tissue sample as “small cell adeno-squamous lung cancer,” suddenly became something different.
At this point in the story, you should know there are three categories of lung cancer: small cell with its variations, large cell with its variations, and something so rare it’s barely ever mentioned called muco-epidermoid. In fact, in a 20-year study at Harvard University Cancer Centers, exactly 12 cases of this muco-epidermoid lung cancer were diagnosed and treated. Of those 12, not one person died, the cancer never spread, and it never returned. So my diagnosis from a much more lethal small-cell type of lung cancer almost certainly requiring radiation and chemotherapy, to something that became a relatively easy “cut and paste” job requiring only occasional follow-up, was the miracle I received that day.
It’s all thanks to you, my community, my family, my friends and the power of prayer.
I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my next book. For now, as always, I like to provide a few take-away lessons for you, dear reader. So here’s what you can do when you find yourself in a life-challenging situation:
- Build Your Connections Before You Need Them: I’m not getting on my “public speaking rocks” soapbox, but I will tell you most of my connections, and eventually the prayers and support, all came because those people saw me speak either in person or virtually through the Internet. However you do it, build your network and nurture your relationships because someday you may need an army of people to reach out to.
- Kick the Negative Ninnies to the Curb: Stay away from people, even doctors or other specialists and experts who don’t support you or treat you how you want and deserve to be treated. Period.
- Surround Yourself with Loved Ones and Let Them Circle the Wagons: There is virtually nothing family and friends can do for you medically, if that is your challenge, so they often feel helpless. Allowing them to do for you in any way they physically can while you take care of yourself, rest, and recover is a gift so they feel useful and as if they are contributing to your wellness (because they are!) while at the same time giving you the time and space to heal that you desperately need.
With that, I’d like to end with a song that is uplifting that I love listening to. Mandissa thinks you’re an over-comer and I do too! And from the bottom of my LUNG I thank you gratefully for the miracle.
- Recommit. You know speaking is powerful and you’re ready to make that happen and get on more stages. Recommitting to speaking means taking specific actions like setting some time aside to reach out to meeting planners, update your materials, start telling people you’re a speaker, and plan your marketing after your speech.
- Practice. If it’s been a while since you’ve done your speech, pull it out and practice it a few times beginning to end. Make any necessary changes based on new services you offer or current events in your industry.
- Start Fresh. You may be in a different situation than you were when you originally took my Signature Speech(TM) training or discovered speaking. Or you might have something totally new or unique you’ve come up with in your business that people LOVE that has nothing to do with your old speech. Maybe it’s time to write a new one. If it is, pull out your Signature Speech(TM) course content and put together a new speech.
Do you ever wonder if your audience is as excited about your speech as you are? Or maybe, are you secretly worried that you might be boring your audience to tears?
- Sleepers: Some people have incorporated so much movement and activity into their lives that when they are forced to sit still, like during your speech, no matter how fantastic you are, they literally collapse and fall asleep. That’s more about them than it is about you. But if you have more than one person looking groggy as you speak, you could be boring.
- Otherwise Engaged: If your audience members are sneaking glances at their phones, zoned out, arms crossed, looking around the room, and not listening to you or your message, you could be boring.
- You Don’t Ask for, And Don’t Get Any Response: If your entire speech is one-sided and could be delivered the same exact way by video, you’re missing the point of having people there in person. With a live audience, you have the opportunity to ask questions, elicit feedback, even – gasp- ask them to stand up and move a little. If you deliver a monologue and never even ask for so much as an occasional head nod, you could be boring.
Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s symposium event in beautiful Galena, Illinois. My client, Brian Basilico, author of It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon, introduced me to the meeting planner because he was going to be speaking at the same event and was booked before I was. In a typical turn of events where another speaker had cancelled (sadly this happens all the time), the meeting planner called me in a panic; would I be willing to fill in at the last minute with less than 2 weeks’ notice? Sure. Of COURSE I would; I was planning to be there anyway!
One of the sponsors of the event, the beautiful and serene Aldrich Guest House Bed & Breakfast, was host to the speakers the night before the event. So there I was, sitting around the dining room table with Brian, an expert in social media, and Traci D. Ellis, an attorney who works with professional women handling their business and personal needs. Smart people.
Yet, as we chatted about our presentations (and they both put finishing touches on their slides), I quickly learned that neither had planned to offer anything for sale to the audience, except for Brian’s book.
As I explained to them, there will be people in any audience who are ready to buy something from you RIGHT AT THE MOMENT YOU ARE ON STAGE. Unless it was in the speaker’s agreement with the event that you would not be permitted to sell any products or services, then by all means you should. And here’s why:
If you firmly believe in your heart of hearts that what you do for people with your services or the results that using your product can truly enhance the lives of those who invest, then it is wrong to withhold that from people you know you can help and who need it. All that’s left to do is to make sure they know what it is you offer. Plain and simple.
Beyond that, you deserve to make a living. Yes, I know you love speaking. And yes, I know it’s a joy just to be able to share your information with an audience. And yes, of course you get plenty of benefits from speaking even if you don’t make a dime. But as one of my mentors, Jeff Herring has always said, if you go out of business because you’re not making enough money to support yourself, then you’re doing the world a disservice, robbing them of your unique gifts. So get paid when the opportunity presents itself.
There are too many complex steps to “closing” on stage with audiences so you get the maximum results to discuss in a blog post. Even so, with some audiences, you don’t need a bunch of tricks and techniques; and they may not be appropriate for that audience anyway. Even if you never try a single “closing technique,” all you simply have to do is tell your audience members, “You might be wondering about how the details of what we’ve been talking about today can help you. I also do consulting in my business where I talk to my clients on the phone for an hour and we work out the details to [fill in the blank]. Normally I charge $250 for this hour. Today I’m offering a [discount/bonus/wh
atever] so you’ll get that hour for just $197. If [what you do] is something you’ve been struggling with, let me know today and I can help you.” You’re not hard selling. It might take you all of 30 seconds to say. You’re just sharing in a friendly, helpful way.
Using that simple strategy, Brian was excited when he was approached by a couple people who wanted his offer and one ready to give him a
check on the spot. Had he not offered it, the opportunity could easily have been lost, the moment past, and the cash left on the table. Instead, by simply offering a service, someone in the audience gets to benefit from Brian’s substantial brilliance. And I couldn’t be happier for him or his new client!
Do you always offer something for sale when you speak? How has that worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
But luck had nothing to do with it.
For years it had been my dream to get on TV as a featured guest expert. I’d read articles, talked to PR folks, and thought a lot about what I wanted to do and how I might do it.
Whenever I’d see featured guest experts on TV segments, I’d think to myself, “That guy is on there doing it. Why can’t I?”
Here’s why… I wasn’t actually trying to get on TV.
Sure I wanted to get on TV.
I thought about it.
And I did all those things that felt like taking action to get on TV.
But it wasn’t until I took the *real,* meaningful, right actions that included actually writing a segment proposal, planning with my PR coach, Shannon Cherry, figuring out the name of the right person to send the proposal to at each station (no simple task, I tell you!), and picking up the phone to talk to a human being- several of them per station – to get myself scheduled, that things started to really happen for me.
The most interesting part of it all – with all that advance training and preparation, when it came down to rolling up my sleeves and getting booked, it was easy because I knew what to expect, what to say, and what to do once I arrived at the stations. It was easy. Once I took the right actions.
I got booked not just by one station – but by two and appeared two days in a row! That was also pretty cool. I was on the NBC/FOX affiliate and the CBS affiliate. They were both different experiences, too, which I’ll save for another post, but the main lesson I learned was even with all the preparation and ideas, if you don’t take the right actions you never achieve your goals or reach your dreams.
So many people tell me they wish they could be on stage more. It’s their dream to share their message with the world. They take courses and read books, learn on webinars and really think about being on stage. But now, ask yourself, what have you *really* done toward that end?
Do you have your speech ready?
Do you have the description of your speech together, along with the bullets of what your audience will discover?
Have you picked up the phone and spoken to or sent an email to someone who actually plans events and books speakers?
What’s your challenge to getting that together and making it happen for you? Please share in the comments below. I want to help, because I am SO excited to be able to share my TWO videos of the in-station TV interviews from my days on TV and I want YOU to feel just as excited to share your photos and video from your time on stage. Here are my videos now!
And this one:
Way 10 is Present a Webinar and Way 11 is Virtual Workshop. You can offer either one this weekend and end up with more money in your account before your head hits the pillow Sunday night. Just follow these simple steps and tips:
- Choose your content. Base your choice on what your customers or clients tell you they are interested in, want more of, or have questions about. For a last-minute webinar or workshop like this, make your life easier by selecting content, slides,or worksheets you already have prepared. Or simply make it a live free Q/A session. No prep for you!Way 11: If you already have a workshop fully prepared with a sales page ready to roll, simply tweak the sales page to reflect the date (see #2 below), and offer a reason for people to pay you to join the class at the last minute such as a discount or special added bonus. You make money to speak on the front end with this by people paying to take your workshop.
Way 10: If you don’t yet have a workshop and/or a sales page in place, then offer a free webinar or teleseminar where you provide the phone number and/or link to join your presentation. Then during the call sell something. It can be a physical or digital product, a book, a past set of recordings you’ve done, or even your coaching service. Give listeners a reason to buy on the spot and an easy way to pay – set up a buy button on your website and you’ll make money then and there!
- Determine your schedule. Virtual weekend events are most well-attended on either Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings. Choose one of those times for highest attendance, keeping in mind when you are at your best: early bird or night owl!
- Invite people. If you have an email list of subscribers, invite them for sure. Acknowledge that this is the last minute and make it an exciting opportunity; some ideas: “stop the presses!” or “this just in!” or “I’ve never done this before!” or something else fun. Regardless of if you have subscribers or not, also invite people via social media. Announce your presentation on every account you have and all the groups you’re in (that allow you to post invites): LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube… Make sure people know the topic and give them a reason to attend.
- Speak at your event and make money! Cha-ching!!
Earlier this week I mentioned that my friend, Bob The Teacher Jenkins was in town staying at my home for what turned out to be a 3-day VIP mutual intensive work session with some fun and family games thrown in the middle. Bob even taught my 5th grader, Gracie, all about binary and hexidecimal numbers. Yep, it’s what we do for fun
In my previous post, I asked for questions for Bob & I and today I’m sharing with you the answers to those questions. We made a video that turned out to be almost an hour long with some in-depth tips that answered questions like:
- What are the dos and don’ts of using props in a speech?
- What are some effective ways to use humor in a speech?
- How do I promote my book when I’m just starting out and don’t have any following yet?
- How can I get my first joint venture partner?
- What was the turning point when your business began to soar?
Have a look and I’d love to see your answers to some of the questions or your thoughts on our answers in the comments below! Oh- and be sure to watch the outtakes at the end – we had A LOT of fun and laughs doing this!!
While we were making this video, more questions came streaming in, so Bob and I talked about it and we’ve decided we have to figure out a way to do this again. Stay tuned for more details as they become available. Got a question of your own? Go ahead and share it in the comments below.
Improve Your Speaking Skills – 5 Tips to Stop Saying Um and Ah When Speaking on a Teleseminar, Webinar, or In Person
Today’s blog post comes thanks to a question on Facebook that one of my online friends, Sharon McPherson, saw, tagged me, and recommended me to help with. So thanks Sharon!
Here’s that question as it appeared on Facebook:
As I read this post, I realized I get this question A LOT and have for years. In fact I even wrote an article about it – I knew I did, I just had to find it. It’s on Ezine Articles here. Apparently I never put that article on my own blog (oh if I had a nickel for every time I knew better, but didn’t do something I’d have a second home on the beach already!). I’m fixing that today, and updating it just a bit.
You see, many business professionals think they sound OK when presenting their content on teleseminars, webinars, or even in person. But it’s when they listen to themselves on the recording later or are confronted with a set of transcripts that they realize they have a few issues to improve. The good news is we all can improve when we take that first step: realizing we need help.
One of those problems is ums and uhs; also “like,” “you know,” and other verbal crutches show up a lot in too many presentations. If you want to cut those out, here are my top 5 suggestions for the most effective ways to get past the ums so your message comes through loud and clear:
- Be Aware
This is the important first step. Many people simply have no idea they rely on verbal pauses or disfluencies until they hear themselves on a recording. The first step in overcoming any addition is to recognize and acknowledge that you have one. And truly, people who say um and uh too much are addicted to their crutch words. Having an awareness that you make this mistake will get you that much closer to stopping it.
- Practice Out Loud
If you have a tendency to um and uh, the reason is often because you have an idea of what you want to say next, but you’re not totally certain. So you insert a verbal filler to fill the space while you figure out the next word. Practicing out loud will get you to the point where you are completely comfortable with what you’re saying, and therefore not have the need to um or uh (or at least greatly reduce it). If you plan on delivering the same material multiple times, you’ll have to practice much less often as you gain more experience. If you can, record yourself while practicing so you can hear where you tend to um and uh the most.
- Work From Detailed Notes and Not a Script
You’d think a word-for-word script would make it easier to stop the ums… and it can. But only if you have experience making a script sound natural. Otherwise you’ll sound like you’re reading. That’s the opposite extreme of um and uh and sounds just as bad. Use detailed notes and be sure of the points you want to make.
- Focus During Your Presentation
Listen to yourself as you present your speech or teleseminar. Do not think about anything else other than what you are saying, how you are saying it and your audience: IN THAT MOMENT. People will um and uh when they are distracted from their planned comments. For example, while on a teleseminar, shut down your email, Facebook, and other instant message features so you won’t be visually interrupted (sometimes just the sound of those things can distract you enough to trigger an um.) Don’t try to multi-task while leading a call or doing any type of presentation. Focus and pay attention to the moment.
- Connect with Your Audience
Here’s a fun test to do the next time you’re practicing with a friend: try to say um while making direct eye contact. It’s nearly impossible. Why? Because you’re having a conversation and um isn’t a word. Um doesn’t fit and doesn’t make sense. While you’re having a 1:1 conversation, you would likely avoid um and uh. Make your presentations much more conversational and your um and uh will disappear. On a webinar or teleseminar where you can’t see your audience members, you could post a photograph of your ideal client or audience member where you can see it to remind yourself you’re talking to actual human beings and not just to your computer screen.
Is it crucial to get rid of all the ums and uhs? Experts disagree, but in my decades of experience as a speaker, audience member, and instructor, I haven’t thought less of a speaker who had outstanding content with an occasional um or uh. You don’t have to eliminate every um and uh when the rest of your message is solid. The time to get concerned is when your audience is listening for your next um instead of paying attention to your message. So fix what you can, give yourself a break, and um, keep on public speaking.
As to the reply that Contentrix doesn’t know what I offer – for someone who has verbal fluency issues, I offer several personal services. I will watch a video or listen to a recording and analyze the challenges in both content and delivery, which is delivered as a written report; then I’ll work with and coach the speaker via phone or Skype video chat to improve during a series of private sessions. And I guarantee that anyone who works with me in this intense kind of way WILL improve dramatically.
So now you know!
What kinds of challenges do you recognize in yourself as you speak? And what has worked to help you improve? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.