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Welcome to the blog of author and speechwriter/ coach, Joan Detz.
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Was your speech successful?

Measure the success of each presentation. You have many options:

  • Use audience evaluation forms
  • Ask a trusted colleague to observe
  • Record yourself
  • Create a twitter hashtag for your program – and check the activity
  • Post a summary of your message on LinkedIn – and note the interest
  • Did the host ask you to return?
  • Did audience members ask you to speak at their meetings/conferences?

Do not bother people on Mondays

Joan’s Tech Tips: an occasional series of quirky tips for anyone who has to communicate

Mondays are not a good day to bother people. Monday mornings are the worst. People feel overwhelmed with the tasks already in front of them. Many wonder how they’ll manage the week’s deadlines. Some wonder how they’ll make it through the day.

It doesn’t  matter what technology you use to communicate – the “Avoid-Monday-hassles” principle stays the same. Before you reach out to colleagues with a text, an email, a tweet, a request, a demand, a long report, a phone call, an impromptu “drop by”, or a paper airplane with coded messaging, think. Ask yourself, “Does this person want/need this message [read: “intrusion”] right now? Could it wait a few hours? Would I get a better response if I waited until tomorrow?” The answer is probably yes.

Whatever you do, don’t initiate networking suggestions on a rushed Monday morning. (“Hi, I’m looking for a job in your field, and I thought it might be great to get together for coffee an hour  this week.”) Bad timing. Don’t initiate philanthropy requests on Monday morning. Bad timing. Don’t ask someone to make a two-year commitment to chair a big committee on a Monday morning. Bad timing.

What works best on a Monday? A short bit of one-way communication (text, email, vmail) that gives the recipient some good news and doesn’t require a lengthy reply.  Acceptable examples: Your proposal  was accepted … Your grant has been approved … Your new desk will arrive on Thursday … Your department will get a summer Friday schedule, with work ending at 1pm.

Communication works better when you think about the other person’s needs/wants. Timing matters.

March is #WomensHistoryMonth … ALL of March (not just the first few days)

When the calendar goes from February to March, Women’s History Month gets a lot of attention. But as March progresses, the attention drops off.

A presentation tip for speakers wanting to honor Women’s History Month:

Include visuals – not just in your presentation, but also in the announcements for your presentation and in the follow up social media.

Libraries offer terrific visual collections – diverse and inclusive. Tap into these images. Give your audience fresh images to convey the wide range of women’s achievements.

Consider the Library of Congress. Download photos, posters & more from their Free to Use and Reuse site: loc.gov/free-to-use/?l… #WomensHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/FinKQIH2Jv

March is National Essential Tremor month – How do tremors impact public speakers?

Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking – often of the hands or arms.

Speakers with essential tremor (ET) might gesture to the audience and notice that their extended arm begins to tremble. Or they might use a pointer to highlight something on a slide and find their hand begins to shake.

ET can also impact a speaker’s voice.

I’ve known speakers who became self-conscious of their tremors and avoided public speaking assignments. Some avoided asking questions during meetings. Others sought jobs where they didn’t have to present.

Everyone has the right to speak. Everyone has the right to convey their expertise. It’s called inclusion.

If  you have a colleague/relative/friend who deals with tremors, maybe now’s a good time to discuss National Essential Tremor month. Information is power. Don’t let essential tremor derail a career.

Joan’s tech tips: Don’t introduce a speaker by reading from your phone

Perhaps you’ve seen people introduce speakers by reading from their phones. Perhaps you think it might be okay for you to do, as well.

It isn’t okay. It isn’t okay at all.

I’ve seen phone-readers lose their place, scroll nervously, mispronounce names, fumble with phrasing, bend their head down to see the screen, squint to read the small type, forfeit all eye contact, miss what’s going on in the room.

Audiences don’t like any of this.

Phone-reading might be easy, it might be fast. But it isn’t okay.

Your audiences deserve better. So does your speaker.

An occasional series of quirky tech tips for writers, speakers, teachers, entrepreneurs, execs … and pretty much anybody who has to communicate for a living (which is to say, almost all of us)

Can You Say a Few Words? by Joan Detz

Includes: How to introduce a speaker

How to cut a speech – when you don’t want to cut any of your favorite points

A colleague wrote that he was having a hard time cutting a too-long presentation. He had put in all the points that mattered to him – and he didn’t want to cut any of them.

Later in his speechwriting process, he read It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It  (St Martin’s Press), and he began to look at the topic from the audience’s point of view. What would they want to hear? What would they expect to learn?  What would they need to know?

Most especially: How long would they be willing to sit for an after dinner lecture?  

Once he looked at the topic from the audience’s viewpoint, it was pretty easy for him to cut away the unnecessary material.

 It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It by Joan Detz

“I’ve found all of Joan Detz’s books to be highly useful, but this one may top the list because it has a few topics not covered in her other books.”

Joan’s tech tips

An occasional series of quirky tech tips for writers, speakers, teachers, entrepreneurs, execs … and pretty much anybody who has to communicate for a living (which is to say, almost all of us)

This, from author Anne Lamott:

“Almost anything will work better if you unplug it for a few moments … including you.”

Consider this a reminder to unplug yourself sometime today. Even a few minutes without sitting in front of a screen or squinting down at your cell will refresh you. (Honestly, do you have any idea how much a bent neck can hurt posture?)

PS … Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. I buy all her books. Read one sometime.

The quote of the week: from a news conference

The quote of the week comes from Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson [speaking at the Chicago Police news conference on the arrest of Jussie Smollett]:

 “I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention, because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’re giving to this particular incident.”

 Well said.  

The best communication advice anyone ever gave me

More than a decade ago, I did a presentation on public speaking for Columbia Women in Business – a club for graduate students at Columbia Business School. With more than 400 members, CWiB is one of the largest organizations on Columbia’s campus.

My presentation went well.

Afterwards, an attendee came up to thank me for the communication tips I offered. Then she added: “I’d like to return the favor by giving you a tip of my own.”

Here’s a summary of the insights she shared with me:

Women who change their opinions on a topic often face a unique blow back. Whether in business or politics or medicine or education, women are likely to get public criticism when they change their views.

Maybe they supported something 5 years ago, but they don’t support it now. They get labeled “flip-flop” or “indecisive” or “wishy-washy”. And what do they do? They often respond with apologies. “I’m sorry. I regret that choice” or “I’m sorry. I wish I’d made another decision.”

Apologies have their place – absolutely. But many women apologize way too often.

Better?

If criticized for changing your position, consider this simple honest statement: “New information presented itself.”

When new information presents itself, wise people listen. Wise people keep learning.

When new data shows a better way forward, wise people make fresh decisions.

“New information presented itself.” Memorize this short statement. You’ll convey truth and confidence – in just four words.

Gratitude to the wise audience member who shared  this with me…

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