Snakes, Spiders and Public Speaking

Are you afraid of spiders? Snakes? Heights? How about fear of speaking in public? Fear of public speaking, better known as ‘stage fright ’is one of the most common fears people experience.

At some time in your life, you’ll probably be asked to speak in public. Are you getting anxious just thinking about it?

Whether you’re giving a toast at a wedding, conducting a business meeting or speaking to a large audience at a social event, you’ll want to be prepared to do your best.

Let’s start with the worse possible thing you can do to overcome your fear of public speaking. It’s diving head first into the situation without preparation. This way of dealing with your fear is guaranteed not to work. However, for some people, it works, but for most of us, it doesn’t. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

There are better ways to overcome your fear of public speaking.

As soon as you are asked to give a speech, you should determine if the topic you are asked to speak about would take the form of a motivational or educational speech. A motivational speech inspires the audience to make some kind of change in their life. An educational speech could be on a wide range of topics from politics to baseball.

After you determine what type of speech you’ll be giving, start planning the details.

Key Point: Your audience wants one thing and one thing only. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me?” If your speech does not meet your audience’s needs, your time will be wasted.

Before you start writing your speech, use a planning checklist and ask yourself the following:

  1. Is my speech motivational or educational or a combination of both?
  2. What’s the goal of my speech?
  3. Is the title of my speech compelling and address the needs of my audience?
  4. What is one action item I want my audience to take away

Answer these questions and you’re on your way to reducing or eliminating your fear of public speaking.

Click HERE  to learn more about over coming fears that prevent you from transforming your business.

What’s The Difference Between an Elevator Speech and a Power Message?


In this post, I’m going to talk alot about power messages and little about elevator speeches. The topic of topic of elevator speeches is covered in my post called Does Your Elevator Speech Stop at the Right Floor?

If you’re self-employed and your business mostly relies on referrals from colleagues or others, you’ll want to have an elevator speech and power message. Your elevator speech is aimed at those people in a position to refer business your way. Your power message is what you say to potential customers or clients. Your power message generally takes place on the phone.

Why do you need both an elevator speech and a power message? You  might ask, “Why can’t I say the same thing to both referrers and prospective clients?” Use your power message when a potential client wants to know what you do and how you can help them. Focus on what you do within the context of what is in it for the potential client or customer. Your power message is less scripted than your elevator speech.

What do you say if a prospect initially asks you how much you charge? I call this type of prospect a ‘shopper’. First, do not answer the question. Second, do not launch into your power message. Ask a few benign questions such as, “What are you looking for? Have you talked to others in the same business?” If you are unable to redirect the conversation back to the other person, then quickly land the plane by simply stating your fee (or a range of fees). Try once more to turn the conversation back to the customer. Shoppers shop for bargains. You are not a bargain-basement store.

Is it okay to use jargon in your power message? It depends on who the customer is and how much knowledge he or she has about your business. It may be fine to use some jargon with a customer who knows your business. If you have a customer unfamiliar with your business, the moment you start to use jargon, you will lose the customer’s attention. The conversation automatically shifts back to you instead of focusing on the prospect’s needs. See my post Here Comes the Jargon Police.

Now it’s time to write your power message. Aim your message at the person most likely to purchase your product or service.

Here’s an example of a power message used on the phone.

I worked with a fitness studio to create a new marketing program. One objective of the marketing plan was to get prospective clients to call the studio for a complimentary training session. The owner was targeting men over age 50 who had metabolic syndromes (Metabolic syndromes are clusters of conditions – increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels – that occur together, increasing risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. (

“My name is Meg B. and I’m the manager at Fitness Strength & Training in Any City, USA. I have been a personal trainer for the past 11 years and have a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State in Kinesiology. I’ve worked with people who are diabetic, elite athletes, and many weight-loss clients. Fitness Strength & Training is a unique fitness studio because you receive a personalized exercise experience, nutrition coaching, and most importantly, accountability. All of our training sessions are conducted one-on-one in semi-private rooms to eliminate dis- traction. We help people realize their true potential as we coach them towards a healthier lifestyle. “I’d be happy to offer you one complimentary training session. Also, I’d like your contact information so I can send you our newsletter.”

Notice this power message contained the three parts:

  1. Information about the trainer
  2. Information geared to helping the client
  3. A strong landing or closing

This power message is only 126 words. She said what was needed and stopped.

A power message is not as structured as an elevator speech. Meg clearly articulated the goal of training: a healthier lifestyle. It’s the “What’s in it for me (the client)” part of the message and she smoothly, in a self-assured way, landed the plane.

Here are some do’s and don’ts concerning your power message.

  • Don’t tell the caller what you don’t do
  • Frame all conversations in a positive way
  • Your power message should be modified to fit your website, online business presence, other online professional listings, or additional promotional information.
  • Practice your message. Write it down and say it out loud.
  • Have someone listen to your power message. Ask him or her to give you feedback. Ask for one thing he or she liked about your message and one technical suggestion he or she might have for you.

Having a strong power message will make you a more powerful businessperson.

For more tips on elevator speeches and power messages go to



PowerPoint – What’s the Point? Making the Most Out of Your Presentations Part 2

Five Surefire Ways to Make the Most Out of Your PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Use as few slides as you can to make your point. It’s kind of like packing a suitcase for your vacation. First, pack everything you want and need. This overloads your suitcase and makes it hard to close. Next, remove at least half of what you packed and repack the suitcase. Now everything fits and you can happily go on vacation knowing you did the right thing. Go through the same exercise with your slides.
  2. Face the audience and talk directly to them. Do not look at your slides. As I said above, this is the most important thing you can do to keep your audience engaged. In other words, don’t talk to your slides.
  3. Turn your presentation into a story using visuals, not bulleted words. Do not use cartoons to make your point. Some audience members might feel you are infantilizing them.
  4. Distribute your presentation handout to your audience in document form (not in PP).
  5. Use your own slides. I was listening to a talk at a conference where the speaker was using PowerPoint. She showed a slide that I thought would fit perfectly in a presentation I’d be giving in a few weeks. I asked her if I could borrow that slide. She said that would be OK. When I presented the talk and clicked on that slide, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, remember how this fit into my talk. It made sense when she used it but did not work for me. I’ll never do that again.

The most important lesson I’ve learned about using PP is that less is more. The less I explain, the more my audience will comprehend. I ask myself, “Do I really need to flash slides on a screen as a way to get my message across? Instead, I prepare a coherent and brief document to be handed out.

So, what’s an effective use of PP? – Try using one or two slides with graphics related to your happy-ending story. Tell a story. It’s a powerful way to get your message across and connect with your audience.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at

PowerPoint – What’s the Point? Part 1

According to my son Max, “Death by PowerPoint (PP) is painful”. As a marketing major in college, Max sat through countless hours of PP presentations in his classes. He would complain and say, “Just give me the notes”.

There might come a time when you’ll be asked to give a talk on a topic of interest to those in your business or professional world. And, chances are you’ll be asked to use PP, a slide show presentation software. I’ve been in that situation many times.

I want to talk about the use of electronics aids in presenting information to a group. Have you ever attended a talk and the some of the following things happened?

  • The speaker’s microphone did not work or it screeched with a deafening noise
  • No one knew how to turn the lights down in the meeting room
  • No one could figure out how to connect the speaker’s laptop to the projector
  • If a recorded video was shown, it’s quality was sketchy or inaudible
  • The notes that the speaker handed out were too small to read
  • The speaker’s slides were different than the written notes you were given

I’m sure you can think of other ‘challenges’ you’ve had with getting the electronics ready for your presentation. Assume that something will go wrong. Talk to the conference organizers several hours before you give your talk and make sure everything works.

Using PP as Part of a Business Information Sharing Presentation

I’ve given many talks at national conferences and seminars. For most of the talks, I had to write proposals before the talk would be accepted. After the proposals were accepted, I’d be given a list of things to do prior to the actual talk. Now remember, these talks were not sales pitches but content-sharing presentations.

Here are some of presentation guidelines I came across.

  • Speaker is allowed to place their company’s logo only on the first page of the presentation
  • Speaker cannot in any way, mention what their business does. The conference organizers do not want sales pitches, they want the speaker to share knowledge about their industry or profession
  • Speaker is not allowed to mention the names of their customers or clients
  • If you are scheduled to speak for a one-hour, your talk should last no longer than 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for question and answers.
  • Speaker has to submit their PP presentation no later than three weeks prior to the conference. (I usually got in trouble because I generally do not finish my presentation three week prior)

These restrictions can be annoying, but if that what it takes to get yourself in front of customers, then just do it.

In the next installment of PowerPoint – What’s The Point, I’ll share five surefire ways to make the most out of your PowerPoint presentation without putting your audience to sleep.

Before your prepare your next PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to read a brilliant essay by Edward Tufte titled The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. You can find it at