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Archive for November, 2007

Howard might have lost, but he is still the better speaker

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 26, 2007

For the international readers, on Saturday night, Australia had a change of government.  While John Howard and his party leave office, we have lost  one of Australia’s greatest Orators.  I believe that his skills at the lectern are what kept him in power for so long.

So what was so good about Howard’s public speaking style?  Well have a look at his last public speech where he concedes defeat in the 2007 election.  Here are some points:

  1. Spoke without notes.  You gain enormous amounts of credibility when you can speak without notes.  Even in such an emotionally charged atmosphere as being kicked out of public office, Howard was able to speak off the top of his head.
  2. Great pace.  When Howard came to announce that he had spoken to Rudd, he spoke with great clarity and confidence.
  3. Projection.  Even though he was using microphones, Howard projected his voice to the whole room.  He has always used this technique to ensure that his voice fills the room.  This gives him power and power to his message.
  4. Audience interaction.  There were plenty of Howard support willing to express their undying love for him and kept interrupting his speech.  Howard was able to control them and quieten them down and not talk over the – though I think he wanted to.  This shows that he was in control of his stage and could handle what he was encountering.
  5. Showed a small amount of emotion.  While Howard would not like that he showed emotion on the night, when he announced that he would probably lose his seat, you could see the emotions build up.  While he kept the emotions under control, they were present enough for us to feel sympathy for him.  This small amount of sympathy helps us accept him and listen to his message.
  6. Did not care that he forgot something.  Did he forget?  Who knows, but there is a good chance that he did; after all, he had been PM for 11 years.  He was bound to forget something.  However, when he finished his message, he finished his message.  He did not come back for a second bite at the cherry.  This showed that he was in control of his message.  This added strength to what he had to say.
  7. Finally, he was gracious in Defeat.  Unlike Keating, Howard went out accepting the decision of the Australian people

How did Rudd fare?  Unfortunately not as well.  However he has not been at this for as  long as Howard was.  Where can Rudd improve?

  1. Body language:  Rudd seems to have very stiff body language and staged movements.  (The two hands opening out for the “new pages in Australian History”, and the hand over the shoulder for the fair go going out the back door). These have the affect of weakening his strength as a speaker and leader.
  2. Dull text.  Rudd has a great message, and that is partly why he was voted in.  However, it does not matter how good your message is if you cannot deliver it in a way that does not engage your audience to its fullest.  He should work on a more punchier sentence structure that will allow his message to be more easily integrated.
  3. Keep the rule of 3.  Keep examples to only 3 points.  There is something about only citing 3 examples to make your point.  Making 4 points is too many, and only 2 is not enough.  On occasions Rudd gave 4 and 5 examples and this slowed the flow of his speech.
  4. Add emphasis:  Rudd had a great line of, “Today many people voted Labor for the first time.  Today many people voted Labor for the first time in a long time.”  However, he was not able to emphasis that he has won back many of the swinging voters that have voted for Howard recently.  If he had added a pause for “……Today many people have voted labor for the first time………in a long time”, the Pause would have driven home the point that he has won back the disaffected voters.  When you pause you add emphasis!

However, there was one shinning light in is speech.  He positioned himself very well to achieve what he has plans to achieve.  He appealed to all interested parties, from wider the Australian community, Liberal voters, International Allies, trade unions and the State Govts.  By including these entities in his first speech, he brought the different factions and interest groups together, and after all, isn’t this what a leader has to do?

While Howard is certinally the better speaker, I look forward seeing Rudd improve and potetnially surpass Howard during his time in office!

Here is a link  to a BBC article that showcases both Rudd and Howard.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvK9zklvnXg

Til next time,


Darren Fleming

Australian Public Speaking Courses

Posted in Eulogies, nervousness, Politics and speaking, public speaking | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marketing your Public Speaking skills

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 13, 2007

This blog was not created to show people how to become wealthy public speakers. There are plenty of public speaking blogs out there that can do that.

However, I recently came across this piece of advice from Patricia Fripp, a San Francisco based public speaking coach. They points are great and should be spread. You can get more of Patricia Fripps insights here.

Everything in life is about marketing. Weather you are trying to sell an idea at work or your services as a speaker you need to understand what you have to offer others. Below are some points that will help.

Successful marketing means that you identify prospective clients and position yourself in the market so they choose you over your competition. When I sit down with clients who want to position their marketing, I seek the answers to four basic questions:


Who wants to buy or could be stimulated to want to buy? Who is in a position to buy what you sell? What geographical and financial factors affect this ability? A good way to identify future clients is to listen
— really listen — to those you have now. Their comments, especially negative ones, will help you tailor both your product and your approach to other prospects.


What emotional and physical factors will influence them? I just worked with an east coast psychiatrist who ran a practice with ten other psychiatrists and wanted to position herself. Our conversations quickly disclosed that her community was predominantly upwardly mobile professionals. Many of the women had delayed having children. Due to fertility drugs, a high percentage of families had twins, triplets, or more. We decided to focus her practice on these families, the first practice in the area to do that. How did we do this? First, we realized her potential audience was geographical, that is, in her community rather than regional, national or international. These prospects had distinctive demographics. By appealing to a unique aspect, we hit on her core group. She’s now hugely successful in her practice.

3. WHAT ANGLE SHOULD YOU TAKE? How is your product or service unique?

Why is it perfect for your target audience? How is it different from everyone else’s? How will it fulfill your core group’s needs in a way that no one else can? This is positioning yourself in the market.
(Remember how Avis advertised, “We try harder.”) As an example, when other advertising consultants do presentations, they talk about budgets, print versus TV, soft versus hard sell. I position myself by emphasizing that you start by targeting your audience, positioning your product, and creating distinctive selling propositions. Lots of mom-and-pop businesses, confronted by super stores, can’t compete or even survive unless they find a unique niche to fill.


We all know people with great ideas, products, and inventions. They spend a fortune developing this product, but it sits there because they have no idea what to do with it. Is there a system in place to put your product in the customers’ hands and return their money to you? Or do you need to create one?


Darren Fleming
Australian Public Speaking courses

Posted in presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking courses, public speaking tips, Understanding your audience | 2 Comments »

3 Myths of Public Speaking

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 13, 2007

This article appeared in the Charlotte Observer on Sunday July 22 2007. the original copy can be found here http://www.charlotte.com/business/story/206834.html

Keys to overcoming fear easier than you think
If you are one of the estimated 15 million Americans suffering from a phobia of public speaking, take heart. The trick to overcoming your fear may be as simple as re-examining your basic assumptions about public speaking, say Harrison Monarth and Larina Kase, communications coaches and authors of the new book “The Confident Speaker.”

Here are three public speaking myths:

• Myth No. 1: Everyone can tell I’m panicking!

Your feelings are harder to read than you think. No one but you knows your heart is racing, so take a breath and try to calm down.

The lesson: You’re probably doing much better than you think.

• Myth No. 2: People are judging me.

Many of us mistakenly believe that nervousness automatically counts against us. But most audiences respond better to speakers who exhibit discomfort. “Most people have some level of worry about speaking in public, so when they see your nervousness, they may empathize with what you’re going through,” Monarth and Kase write.

The lesson: The audience is probably on your side.

• Myth No. 3: Postmortems will help me improve.

Those of us who suffer from a fear of public speaking are our own worst critics, write Kase and Monarth, and we tend to use the postmortem as an opportunity to ruminate over our missteps, which only exacerbates the problem.

The lesson: Skip the post-game analysis.

While I generally agree with this article, I must take point with the Myth Number 3.

Even if you hate Public speaking, it is vital that you at least debrief with yourself about how you went. This will help you improve endlessly. Even if you have no intention of doing any more public speaking because you stuffed it up, it is better to work out why you stuffed it up so you can avoid the mistakes in future situations, or similar events.


Darren Fleming
Australia’s Public Speaking Coach
Australian Public Speaking courses

Posted in presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking tips | Leave a Comment »

Annoying Speaking Habits

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 12, 2007

We have all encountered speakers that have annoying habits.  This could be the over use of “um, errs and Ahs”, the tendency to waffle on and on and on and on and on………or the speaker who simply does not get to the point.

…….And this does not just have to be a speaker on stage.  It can be someone in a meeting, a customer on a call……………..or even a sister (or brother!).

I’m compiling a list of these annoying habits so I can address advise skills to overcome them.  This means that you will never have others accusing you of having the annoying habit!

So please, let me know what they are…………….


Darren Fleming

Australian Public Speaking Courses

Posted in public speaking, Understanding your audience | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Breaking the Rules of Public Speaking video

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 4, 2007

I recently wrote about breaking the rules of Public Speaking.

Here is the video of my Speech in Fremantle, Australia on the rules of public Speaking and how we can break them and get away with it.


Darren Fleming

Australia Public Speaking Courses

Posted in comedy, humour in presentations, nervousness, presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking humour, public speaking tips | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Eulogy

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 4, 2007

One of the toughest gigs in public speaking is the eulogy.  It is something that no one likes to do, and if you are known for having some skills in public speaking, by default it will become your duty to deliver it.  I recently had the opportunity to help a very good friend prepare the eulogy for her father.  I thought that I would share some of the tips that helped her.  These are not just speaking tips that I have read, but tips I used when I delivered the eulogy for my father as well. 

  1. The Eulogy (like the funeral service) is for the living, not the deceased.  It is a way of public remembering your loved one and what they meant to you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to re-write history.  This does not mean that you turn the deceased into the saint they never were.  Rather, it means looking for the brighter things your loved one gave to you and others.  Shine the light on the best parts and remember them.
  3. Tell stories.  People will want to hear about the stories of your loved one and what they meant to you.  It is these stories that other will remember long after the service has ended.
  4. Have a support structure for delivering your eulogy.  This may mean having the speech written out with you, someone by your side, or someone prepped to take over should you become too emotional.
  5. Don’t be afraid to let the emotion show.
  6. Don’t be afraid to have a laugh.  At my fathers’ funeral, one of the speakers was Dads best mate.  He recounted many funny stories that we had never heard.  Even the officiating Minister was in fits of laughter.  The speech mirrored Dads’ life, and this helped us to remember him.
  7. Finally, take a recording of the day.  Have someone take photos and make an audio recording of the day.  This may sound macabre, but its not.  As with all major events in life, we want to look back and relive the emotions of the day.  A funeral is no different.

 Do you have any other suggestions for the Eulogy? 


Darren Fleming

Australian Public Speaking Courses


Posted in Eulogies, humour in presentations, nervousness, presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking humour, Understanding your audience | 1 Comment »