Monday, February 27, 2012

Speaking Lesson from Meryl Streep: Take a Breath

So often Oscars acceptance speeches are a torrent of thank you's - the speaker tries to get everything in before the music cuts in.

While understandable at the Oscars, this is a mistake speakers often make. We try to fill up the space with as many words as possible - and leave no room for what is one of the speaker's most powerful tools -  silence.

What made Meryl Streep's acceptance speech so refreshing - and so elegant - was her pacing. She breathed. She spoke slowly. She actually left time for the audience to absorb her words.
Granted, she went over her time limit. But if all of us could give that kind of speech in under three minutes, we'd be doing pretty well!

From the Green Room: Say less. Say it slower. Give yourself time to pause - and the audience time to process your words.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Word Only

In tonight's CNN GOP debate, the candidates were asked to describe themselves in one word only.

One of these words doesn't belong with the others. Which one is it?

A. Ron Paul: Consistent
B. Rick Santorum: Courage
C. Mitt Romney: Resolute
D. Newt Gingrich: Cheerful

If you answered "C," I agree.

The other three words are concrete - and thus memorable.

"Resolute" is about as abstract a choice as you can get - and is thus utterly unremarkable and unmemorable. As proof, notice the lack of audience reaction after Romney states his choice.

From the Green Room: Whether you have one word or 1,000 - if you want your ideas to stick, use concrete language.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Madonna Teaches Us How to Mess Up

When you get up to speak, you will inevitably make a mistake. Everyone does. What separates the good from the great is not how perfect you are, but how well you can recover.

It was hard to miss Madonna's twice near falls in last night's Super Bowl Halftime Show:

What was striking about these mistakes was how she kept going and didn't miss a beat.

From the Green Room:  Sometimes your most impressive speaking moments happen when something goes wrong, and you bounce back. Embrace your foibles, and keep going!