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"Changing the world, one presentation at a time"


The political season has afforded us with many opportunities to observe the speaking styles of the candidates. CNN has had several body language experts on, providing detailed analysis of every move each candidate made. While we don't have to go into quite that much detail, we can benefit from the following do's and don'ts from the debates:
Tell stories. This is a wonderful way of connecting with your audience on an emotional level and, if highly descriptive and visual, your story will be remembered long after your speech is over. Example: Obama's story about his grandmother.
Synchronize your gestures to your words. If you say, as an example, the word "large," your hands should open wide to reflect a large amount. If the gesture does not match up with the word, it creates discomfort for the audience and reduces your perceived credibility. Example: Romney used 1-2-3 hand gestures effectively.
Maintain your composure under pressure: You may be asked a tough question during a Q&A session or something may go wrong with the technology. Do a body language check to be sure you are not fidgeting, grimacing, or moving nervously about the room. Example: Ryan was complimented for keeping his cool during the vice-presidential debate.
Drink water after being asked a tough question: The impression might be that you are nervous and apprehensive. Example: It was pointed out that Ryan sipped water before the debate even began and he did so throughout.
Laugh when another person is speaking (unless he/she is telling a joke): The person who is laughing may be considered rude and disrespectful. Maintain your dignity and character at all costs, as ethos is an important component of persuasion. Example: Biden's dismissive and interruptive laughter during the vice-presidential debate.
Stammer or use filler words: Repeating words (due to nervousness or lack of preparation) or using too many "um"s and "er's creates a vocal distraction. Use a brief pause instead. Example of too much stammering or use of fillers: Obama in the first debate; Romney in the second.
Shift weight from foot to foot: When making an important point, it's essential to stand solidly with feet about shoulder distance apart. Example: In the second debate, Romney shifted his weight at times, while Obama was more grounded

If you have a high stakes presentation coming up and would like to appear more "presidential," call or e-mail to arrange for a coaching session, which includes digital recording and an extensive evaluation. 954.474.5235

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  • If you want to create more impactful presentations, use fewer words and more images, as Seth Godin did in his presentation. Research shows that you can't read a lot of text and also concentrate on the speaker.
  • Would you like to be better at detecting lies? Read Spy the Lie by Philip Houston. The experts use non-verbal cues, as well as vocals, and specific types of responses to help them find the liars.
  • Fear of public speaking? Check out my e-workbook Break Your Fear of Public Speaking! on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ITunes.
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Warm regards,
Marsha Freedman
"Changing the world, one presentation at a time."