Monday, August 31, 2009

Taylor Mali and the Power of Words

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

I had the chance to hear a wonderful poet present at the National Speaker's Association Convention in July - Taylor Mali.

His use of words was beautiful. He chose each word carefully so its meaning and sound hit just the right note in his poem. And he paused to great effect so the audience had a chance to drink in his words.

One of my favorite poems was "Miracle Workers," his tribute to the work that teachers do. Check out his "Miracle Workers" video on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neslRBRo_wc and observe his masterful use of words and pauses. (You can also check out his other poems, including "What Teachers Make" and "Totally Like Whatever.")

The next time you have to give a presentation, emulate Taylor and choose your words with care.

And for all the wonderful teachers out there who work so hard to educate our students, have a great year!

Gilda's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Public Speaking... and Mary Poppins

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

Today is the 45th anniversary of the movie musical, Mary Poppins, which starred Julie Andrews and Dick VanDyke. Not only is it a wonderful movie, but it also has some lessons for public speaking.

One of my favorite songs from the movie is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! As a child, I delighted in learning to say this word (all 34 letters of it) because it was so big and complicated. In order to learn it, I had to break the word into sections and practice each section separately. Then we put all the sections together and I practiced saying them. Eventually, I could say the whole word!

What does this have to do with public speaking?

Well, giving a presentation can be a lot like learning to say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - it can be overwhelming and seem impossible. But if you break the presentation down into smaller pieces -your opening, your key examples, your supporting stories and data, your closing - and spend time preparing and practicing each section and then putting all the sections together, you can be successful.

In honor of the anniversary of the movie, watch it again - or for the first time... and use the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious method the next time you have to give a presentation.

Gilda Bonanno's blog http://www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eye Contact While Presenting

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

Whether you're speaking to an audience of one or many, it's important to make eye contact in order to connect.

It demonstrates your willingness to connect to the audience on a personal level. It also shows that you are confident and proves that the information resides in your head, not your notes or the slides. When you present, you are talking to individuals, not an impersonal mass of people. You want each person to experience the communication one-on-one.

How long should you look at each person? About 5 seconds, which is about the time it takes to complete a thought. Then move on to another person. Yes, 5 seconds will feel like a long time at first!

If someone is uncomfortable with your looking at them in the eyes, they can choose to look away. If you're nervous about looking the audience in the eyes, you can try this as a starting point: look right above their eyes, at their eyebrows. The difference won't be that obvious to them and it will help you get more comfortable until you can look them straight in the eye.

Here are other tips to help you use eye contact more effectively:

**Avoid "tennis eyes" - moving from one side of the room to the other in a repetitive pattern, as if you were watching a tennis match.

**Avoid scanning the room quickly, trying to look at everyone at the same time.

**Aim to connect with all sections of the audience on a random basis - no one should be able to predict where you will look next.

**Stand where you can look at people seated in all parts of the room - don't ignore any section or person.

If you practice your eye contact, you will be able to face any audience with confidence.