Tips from “The Positive Guy”

Andre

I hard Andre du Toit speak “The Positive Guy” this evening, and he left us with a few valuable tips about public speaking. Here they are. I hope they are useful!

Some tips

  • It’s all about personal brand – you and not your company are the brand
  • Small audience – content; large audience – a show
  • You have to want to be a better teacher
  • PowerPoint is used for training – not for speaking

Companies hire you to:

  • Make more money
  • Save money
  • To make a huge difference to their staff

And finally…it is all about referrals.

Why Toastmasters

Cds 2009 08 15 17 48 13 Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

I was asked to write a short piece as to why I have been a member of Toastmasters for over 15 years. I have shared it below.

My intention when I joined Toastmasters was to be a member for a few months – just long enough to improve my business speaking skills. More than 15 years later I am still a member, and I am asked why? Here is the answer. Toastmasters has not just improved my business speaking skills, it has played a major role in my career, from being more confident at work to being called upon to deliver presentations to fellow staff members, customers and suppliers.

I regularly chair meetings and design sessions, helping teams develop software applications for some of the largest companies in South Africa.

Without the communication and leadership skills I have developed from Toastmasters I would not be in same position as I am.

I have met some amazing people and make some great friends, not just at home in Cape Town, but quite literally all over the world. I have Toastmasters friends in every continent that I can call and say hi to.

It truly is an organization where leaders are made, and more importantly where friendships are made.

Craig Strachan, District Governor, 2009/2010

Pic: Congratulating the 2009 World Champ of Public Speaking, Mark Hunter at the Toastmasters International Convention

Shopping with Cybercellar; a lesson in customer service

First of all full disclosure; Cybercellar gave me a R100 discount voucher to try out their website with the aim of writing a blog post about it “if you feel that we are worth mentioning, we believe we are!, it will be appreciated.” Well they gave me R100 to spend on wine; of course I am going to use it!

And I am going to mention my experience because in some ways it was amazing, and in some ways about the worst I have ever experienced. But whatever happened, there are lessons here.

The story in brief.

The downhill experience…

  • I ordered 6 bottles of wine on the evening of 9 April, and according to the website I would get next day delivery.
  • On the late afternoon of the 10th, I received an email that the order had been shipped and I was given the tracking number.
  • Nothing arrived on the 10th or the 11th.
  • On the 12th I got a call from the courier saying that they were running late and would deliver to my home in the evening (a Friday).
  • Later that day I got another call from the courier saying they would not make Friday, but would deliver by 10am on Saturday (by which time I thought “yeah right”).
  • And of course nothing arrived on Saturday.

Rescuing a bad situation…

  • On Saturday afternoon I sent a complaint email to Cybercellar, expecting a response on Monday.
  • That afternoon the CEO (Johann) called me and offered to personally deliver my order on Sunday (they are in Paarl – 76km away to my house)
  • On Sunday morning Johann arrived with my 6 bottles of wine, and a bottle of Springfield Sav Blanc (yummy), and told me that when the courier eventually delivered my actual order it was mine to keep as well.

In summary the courier messed up my delivery (it eventually arrived on Monday – almost a week late), and Cybercellar gave me 7 bottles of wine as an apology personally delivered by the CEO on a Sunday.

And finally the lessons.

  • As Johann and I agreed it was the courier that messed up (and not Cyberceller themselves), but we also agreed that as a customer it was not my problem who messed up. He took ownership and fixed the problem.
  • You can turn a customer around by turning a negative experience into a positive one.
  • Sh*t happens, but it is what you do about it that makes a difference. Service excellence is shown at its best when things go wrong.

Will I purchase from them again? Yes; not because of the order experience, but because of the amazing way they fixed the problem.

Finally, their website is great, they have a massive selection of wine, and you get R50 off your first order.

Just get out there

Two of my interests are photography and public speaking, which is why I follow the blogs of Both Darren LaCroix, who won the world champion of public speaking in 2001, and Jared Polin (aka the Fro), who is the most amazing photographer and teacher out of Philadelphia. They both have a lot in common:

  • Both are passionate about their respective professions
  • Both have excelled in their profession
  • Both give out there knowledge freely

And they both believe that the best way to improve is to immerse yourself and practise what you want to get better at!

Darren LaCroixIn the case of Darren:

 The more you work on your ‘talent,’ the more talent you’ll be given. What you have now is more than enough. Do you bury your talents or invest them? Want to speak in front of an audience of one thousand? Knock ‘em dead at a local service club and more will be given. In my early days of comedy, I had to perform better than those around me at the open mic nights to deserve the right to perform at a professional comedy show.

Darren is well known in the speaking circles for his mantra “stage time stage time stage time “.

And now from the froFro:

Do we ever reach a point where we can be satisfied with our work and don’t need to keep pushing ourselves to learn?…there’s always something more we can learn and I believe that deep down we all know that we should keep learning, studying and progressing as photographers and as people. It’s our own work that teaches us the most. “First, KEEP SHOOTING. If you don’t shoot, you will have a tougher time learning.

There is a clear message here. Stop thinking about getting better, take action! If you want to be a better speaker, speak at every opportunity. Record yourself, evaluate and improve on your speeches. It you want to be a great photographer, take photos. Examine them with a critical eye. See what really works, and what doesn’t.

What are your passions, and what are you doing to get better? Are you sitting at home, or getting out there?

Guest post: 5 Tips for Conquering Q&A

“What Questions do you have for my answers?” – Henry Kissinger

When roles are reversed, and audience members are handed the microphone, many public speakers turn a brighter shade of purple. But this article will outline 5 practical steps for beating Question & Answer Sessions, and help you leave the stage as victor.

But first, the preliminaries: Questions and Answer sessions have become routine with many forms of public speaking and will often be expected by a host. It entails giving the audience members opportunity to reply to the material you’ve been presenting by having them ask questions. It does not necessarily entail simply asking for comment (that can be long, boring and often useless), but specifically setting apart a short time frame where you direct audience members to raise their hands if they have questions.

This can naturally be scary for even seasoned speakers, especially when speaking on a new topic. Its one thing to have the microphone in hand, with all the natural authority that it conveys, but it’s a different and more vulnerable thing to open yourself up to the audience. So here are seven tips for conquering Q&A:

1) Use the Bucket Method. This is the best way I know of to prepare for Q&A, and I stumbled upon it in Carmine Gallo’s book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Used by smart CEO’s and diplomats alike, it basically entails placing anticipated questions into separate categories (or buckets) and then preparing set answers for each category.

For example: Let’s say you’re marketing a new toaster that your company has developed. You’ll likely have a “features” bucket since audience members are sure to want to know what makes your toaster so special. Perhaps you’ll have a “funding” bucket, or a “patent” bucket and certainly a “price” bucket.

The benefit of this method is that it streamlines your preparation. There’s no way you can prepare and memorize answers for hundreds of potential questions, so dividing questions into categories like these, simplifies the process.

2) Anticipate Questions. This one ties on to point one above. Certain questions are just naturally to be expected and for these, you can and should prepare laser-like answers that come straight from the textbook and convey the authority you have on your topic.

3) Get Experience. This is obvious, but there’s a side benefit: Most public speakers will tell you that nearly 90% of questions asked by an audience on one single topic, will be repeated by the next audience. If you’re giving your toaster speech in front of Audience A, then tomorrow when you do the same in front of Audience B, you’ll already have answered nine out of every ten questions possibly coming your way!

4) Never, ever take a question personally. I recently saw a video of Steve Jobs being personally insulted by an angry audience member who asked a demeaning question. Jobs’ reply was absolutely masterful. He never took the insult personally, refused to retaliate and instead, by focusing on the solution to the question, he never got angry (surely the response the audience member was hoping to elicit).

Some people are impossible to satisfy and you’ll occasionally stumble upon a smarter-than-thou who simply thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about. These people are true tests of your character and self-confidence and you can beat them by refusing to indulge them.

5) Don’t end with a Q&A session. Toastmasters recommend that a speaker never end a delivery with Q&A, and it makes sense. Since it certainly won’t be the most exciting part of your speech, it might be a good idea to interrupt yourself before your final (hopefully climatic point), give time for Q&A, and then proceed to end your speech strongly.

———————–
Leon Potgieter is an English Teacher, Christian Minister and Public Speaking Enthusiast who’s been living in the Republic of Korea since 2008. His website effective-public-speaking-tips.com is an ever growing online portal for public speaking tips, speechwriting help and presentation techniques, and compliments a lot of my content, so well worth checking out.

 

(and he is South African).

Do you return messages?

I am working with a large company in Cape Town on some web development. The total value of the project is in the millions of Rands.

Recently I contacted a potential vendor to set-up a meeting to discuss how they could assist and work on the project. They never responded to my  my requests. So we are not going to be working with them, and they have lost a potential huge customer and a lot of business.

I contacted three people to fix some damp in my house. One never got back to me, another quoted over 5 times the going rate for the job, and the other is finishing off the job today. This is while businesses are complaining about the “tough economy”.

Do you return messages? How much business have you lost because you did not get around to answering an email?

You know that you are an “old” Toastmaster when…

A tongue in cheek look at some of the changes in the Toastmasters organisation over the last few years.

You have been a member for more than a few years if:

  1. You achieved a CTM award. Do you remember the Able Toastmaster award?
  2. Your CTM manual had 15 speeches in it
  3. As VP Education, you had to fax programmes to members, and if you were a member the programme was faxed to you by the VPE
  4. You remember carbon-copied area visit reports which needed to be mailed to the district governor
  5. Club and district performance reports were mailed to clubs and district on a quarterly basis. You could not view them online
  6. Membership application forms needed to be mailed or faxed to WHQ
  7. Educational awards needed to be mailed or faxed to WHQ
  8. You were not admitted to a club meeting unless you were wearing a jacket and tie (ok some clubs still enforce this, but very few)
  9. New membership dues was $16, and renewals $18 (or even less)

While this list is in jest, it shows how the organisation has progressed over the last several years, and how it continues to be a dynamic and growing organisation. Now we have:

  1. A very strong communication and leadership track
  2. Programmes are placed on club websites and emailed to members
  3. Area visit reports are electronically processed and automatically emailed to relevant people
  4. All club and district reports (as well as archives) are available online
  5. Most forms can now be processed online, including new membership applications, dues payment and  educational awards
  6. It is far less formal than in the past, and clubs have adapted their formality to suit their markets
  7. We now have a podcast, and online training
  8. Yes dues are now $20 and $27 respectively, but still astonishingly good value

What should be added to the list?

Grow your Voice to Speak with Confidence

Grow your Voice to Speak with Confidence

Dr Petro Janse van Vuuren

This book discusses aspects of public speaking that we often neglect, and that is using your voice as an effective tool to get your message across.  Instead of telling you how to structure your presentation, how to use the stage or to use body language, she focuses understanding, developing and using the core muscles required to have an effective speaking voice.

It is a little like a Pilates or Yoga course for developing your speaking voice. It is written in 6 chapters, each building on the previous chapter to help you to develop your speaking voice. The accompanying CD takes you through the physical and vocal exercise in the book. While the exercise are good for developing the core muscles (hence my Pilates comment), they are also good for general warm-up (thinking about it they remind me of choir warm-up exercises from high school).

Dr van Vuuren has plenty of experience in the theatre, and many case studies to backup her approach. The book is for sale on her website for R190. You can find out more about her book and workshops on her website.

This is a good book to compliment traditional public speaking training, and I see a place in my bookshelf for it.

Music on NPR

(Slightly off topic)

Here is something a little unusual. On Saturday. a song that I wrote using Garage Band on my IPAD was broadcast live as the opening song on Geek Speak, a radio show from KUSP (Central Coast Public Radio, Santa Cruz). It is syndicatd via the US National Public Radio podcasts. You can listen to the show here (but you have to wait until the end to hear the credits).

You can downoad the song off my photo-blog here: Geek Speak Theme