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Darren Fleming and Executive Speaking

Posted by Presentation Skills on February 10, 2008

If you’re looking to improve your presentation and communication skills, you need someone who has spoken to large audiences, can show you how to use humour and can give you the skills to think on your feet.

Darren Fleming from Executive Speaking can teach you the skills that you are after.

Are you WOWing your Audience?

Get these skills from


Posted in Executive Speaking Video, humour in presentations, nervousness, presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking courses, public speaking tips | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Nuts and Bolts of Public Speaking: Book review

Posted by Presentation Skills on February 3, 2008

I have just finished a great book on public Speaking, The Nuts and Bolts of Public Speaking.  The author Craig Valentine is the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking and a highly paid keynote speaker in the US.

What sets this book apart from others is that it focuses on the basics.  From speech structure to how to use the rule of three to gte your point across with more impact, this book has it all.

There is one fantastic section that I loved.  It was on finding the magical moments from your own life that will bring your speech alive.  These are the parts of your speech that the audience will hang off.  Despite what we think, we all have an enormous amount of stories that we can draw upon to help us illustrate our points.  This section is well worth the cost of the book alone.

If this book could be improved anywhere, it is that there is no index or detailed table of contents.  This is a great reference book, but the lack of an index makes it difficult to reference!

Over all, a great book, and you can order a copy from Craig here.  Just tell him I sent you.

‘Til next time.


Darren Fleming

Australian Toastmasters Champion

Posted in humour in presentations, Martketing your speaking skills, nervousness, presentation skills, public speaking, Public Speaking books, public speaking courses, public speaking humour, public speaking tips, Understanding your audience | 4 Comments »

Great Speakers are Great Persuaders.

Posted by Presentation Skills on February 3, 2008

If you have to persuade anyone, you will need this! 

When a great speaker stand to speak, they have a whole arsenal of tools that they can use to persuade you to their message.  One that we can all use is the “Push and Pull” method.

Put simply, the “Push and Pull” refers to how you structure the features and benefits in your message.  (Understanding the difference between features and benefits is a basic sales technique.  For example, the feature of the car is that it has an air-conditioner; the benefit is that you can travel in cool comfort on hot days.  People will always buy the benefits over the features)

You can use the Push and Pull to deliver your benefits in different ways:

  • The Push – The air-conditioner is great because you can travel in comfort.
  • The Pull – The air-conditioner is great because you don’t want to be hot and sticky when you arrive at your destination.

Both the Push and Pull give the benefits of having an air-conditioner but they are worded differently.  The Push a positive approach while the Pull has a negative approach.

You can use these two techniques individually or together.  If you were to use them together you could say something like, “The air-conditioner is great because you can travel in comfort.  After all, who wants to arrive all hot and sticky?”

So how does this apply to today’s work place?  When structuring your message, look at how you can use the positive and negatively worded benefits in your message.  This can apply to anything from change management, the need to increase sales or even in training sessions.  Simply focus on your message and how it benefits your audience and use the “Push and Pull” to get your message across.

‘Til next time.


Darren Fleming

Australian Toastmasters Champion

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

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 »


Posted by Presentation Skills on September 24, 2007

These days it seems that every business presentation you go to has to have a PowerPoint slide show.  While PowerPoint is a great presentation aid for delivering a message, if you’re not careful it will smother what you have to say.  PowerPoint should improve your message, and not become your message.  PowerPoint is about making it easier for your audience to understand and accept your message.  It’s  not about showing off how clever you can be.  Below are a few points to keep in mind when you next need to use PowerPoint.

  1. Should you use PowerPoint?  Not every message should be put into a PowerPoint presentation.  if you are considering using PowerPoint ask yourself if it will help your audience understand your message.  If it wont help, be different and don’t use it! 
  2. Don’t let the PowerPoint presentation be a substitute for knowing your message:  Don’t fall for the trick of reading the slides to deliver your message.  If you simply read your slides, your audience will read them too. They will read ahead of you and blank out what you are saying.
  3. Minimise visual distractions:  Everytime your audience sees movement on the screen they will look at it. If they are paying attention to the screen, they are not paying attention to you. 
  4. Just because PowerPoint can, does not mean that you should:  PowerPoint is fun to play with and can do some amazing things, but that does not mean that your audience wants to see it.  After they have seen the first slide fly in from the right, the heading type itself out and the bullet points twirl in from the distance they will become tried of it.  If your doing it to keep them entertained, can I suggest that you should look more closely at your content.
  5. Use contrasting backgrounds:  Make your background 1 solid colour and choose a font colour that can be easily seen against it.  If your audience has to struggle to see the text they will have trouble reading it.  If you make regular presentations to clients consider getting a professional template made.  Standard Microsoft templates stand out!
  6. Know and use the ‘B’ key:  When you no longer want the audience to see what is on the screen simply press the ‘B’ key and this will turn the screen black.  When there is nothing to look at, they audience will pay attention to you.  This is what you want. When you want to move to the next slide, simply press the space bar or click as you normally would.  The ‘W’ key has the same affect and turns the screen white.
  7. If you are going to use a laser pointer, have a reason to use it:  The reason you have a laser pointer is to point out specific things.  If you are using a pointer to simply point to the words that you are saying, what message are you giving about your audience?
  8. Moving from slide to slide is easier than it looks!  There are many ways to move forward with slides.  Pressing the left button on the mouse is the most obvious.  But did you know that the left and right arrows will move you around the slides too, as will the space bar.  If you want to go to a specific slide, simply type the number in and press the enter key and you will go there.  You can get a ton of other tips by pressing the ‘F1″ key!
  9. Never skip a slide!  If there are slides in your presentation that you don’t want to use, hide them from your presentation before you get up to speak.  If you are standing in front of the audience and you skip 2 slides, the audience will wonder what was on those slides and wont pay attention to what you are saying.  This will brake your connection with the audience and ruin your credibility.
  10. Limit the number of slides:  For those old enough to remember your aunties slide show of her trip to Europe you will know why you have to minimise the number of slides you use.  If you weren’t around in the 70’s and don’t know what a slide show is consider yourself lucky!
  11. Get to the point:  As with any type of presentation, you need to get to the point ASAP.  After all, time is in short supply these days.

PowerPoint is a great tool that can help you deliver your message.  Just don’t let it become your message.

‘Til next time.



Australia’s Public Speaking Coach

Posted in PowerPoint, public speaking, public speaking courses, public speaking tips, Understanding your audience | Leave a Comment »

The 7 commandments of Public Speaking

Posted by Presentation Skills on September 2, 2007

In order to communicate effectively with anyone, there are a number of rules and conventions that should be followed.  Although I generally don’t like to be prescriptive, the points below offer a quick checklist for speakers.

  1. Know your reason for speaking:  Know what message you want to convey during your talk.  This will make preparation much easier;
  2. Know who your audience is, and what they want:  By understanding your audience, you will be able to tailor your message to meet their needs;
  3. Give your audience a reason to listen:  Find out what is important to your audience and use this as part of your presentation.  By knowing this your audience will pay attention to you so you can get your message across.
  4. Only speak to one person: Although this sounds counter intuitive, speaking to one person will bring the audience into what you have to say.  Whilst you see many people that you are speaking too, your audience only sees 1 person speaking to them.  Therefore, from their point of view, you are in a one-to-one speaking situation.  Speak as though you are in a one-to-one situation and the audience will think that you are talking directly to them!
  5. Tell a story and make a point:  People do not want to hear just the facts; they want to now what the facts mean.  So give them the stories behind the facts;
  6. Always leave them wanting more.  Don’t give everything away in your speech.  Always leave them wanting more so they want to follow you up.

Posted in public speaking, public speaking courses, public speaking tips | 2 Comments »

Understanding your audience pays off

Posted by Presentation Skills on September 2, 2007

At a recent course I held in Adelaide, I asked a number of business owners if they wanted to get some free publicity for their business.  The answer came back, ‘who wouldn’t!’ so I thought that I would share the trick with you.  I’ve used these tricks to get $50,000 in publicity for Executive Speaking, and you can use it too.  It is easier than you think, and will also work for any worthwhile cause – not just businesses. 

The trick is to understand your audience and what they want!

What did I do, and how did I do it? 

When I started Executive Speaking I wanted to generate some publicity.  I decided that the easiest way to do this was to get some advertising in national magazines that my audience reads.  However, I did not want to spend the big bucks to place ads in the magazines, and I was skeptical that they would work anyway. I decided that the best (and cheapest) way to get into these magazines was to write something for them that they needed.  The logic behind the thinking was this:

  1. Most people ‘out there’ need to improve their public speaking and communication skills.  Public speaking is not something that most people like, but they know they have to get better at it.  Therefore an article on public speaking would probably be appreciated as there are very few ‘How to’ articles in the media about it.
  1. Editors are always looking for something new that they can give to their readers.  They need this to keep their publications fresh and their readers interested.  As there are virtually no public speaking articles about, I thought I could write some.
  2. So I called the editors and said, “Hi.  My name is Darren and I have something that your readers need.”  I then explained what I could offer their’ readers’ and how it would benefit them.
  3. I then submitted the article.

 I have used this technique a number of times with many different publications.  This has resulted in me getting articles in BRW, MyBusiness, The Advertiser, Marketing magazine and others.  I have been able to include contact details and information about what I can offer my clients and how I can meet their needs.  The article works better than an advertisement as it offers real value to the reader that they can take away and use.  This helps build a relationship with the readers as well. So how can you use this?  Ask yourself: “Who are the people I want to reach, and what do they need?”  Then work out what they read and approach the editors of the magazine, newspaper, or radio.  Remember, the first audience you have to get to listen is the editor.  So work out what they want and how you can provide it.  What do they want? Is it something fresh and new, or an article that looks at a topic from a different angle? Once you have this worked out, write and submit your article.  If it is well written it will be run.   A few points to remember with this:

  1. Don’t just write an ad disguised as an article; the editors won’t run it.
  2. Offer value in the article; &
  3. Finally, swallow your pride and get someone good to read and edit it.  Get them to be ruthless.  This will help it get published

 The whole process from initial contact to a published article can take a few months, so get started now! It really is that simple!

Posted in public speaking, public speaking courses, Understanding your audience | 6 Comments »

Using stories in public speaking

Posted by Presentation Skills on September 2, 2007

As a speaker, it is your duty to connect with your audience.  It does not matter what the topic is, or who is in your audience, if you are not connecting with your audience your message is not getting through. 

One of the easiest ways to connect with your audience is with the use of simple stories. Simple stories are anecdotes that illustrate the point that you want to make.   

We use stories in our daily conversations.  Have you ever told a work colleague what happened on the way to work; your partner what you did at work, or the kids about what you did when you were young?  These are all simple stories that people share. 

People are drawn to these stories because of the emotion that is contained in them.  Your story of the trip to work may generate the emotion of laughter; you may share the emotion of frustration or success when describing to your partner what happened at work.  And your kids love the emotion of excitement from when you were younger. 

But where are the stories for your presentation?  Simply look at the facts and figures and ask yourself, “What do they mean?”, “What is the storey behind them?”  It is story behind the facts and figures that people want.  If you “facts and figures” tell you that your clients can save 10% by switching their services to you, tell them a story of someone who has achieved that.  That’s a story! 

Very few people will feel warm and fuzzy about facts; however, they will remember your stories long after the facts have been forgotten.

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