Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making a List…

It’s that time of year! Our “littles” are are making their lists for Santa, standing in lines at the mall to present them with sparkling eyes and having a hard time sleeping as the expectation builds. Hubby and I both have moms who are wonderful gift-givers, and they are asking our family to make our wish-lists for them as Christmas shopping commences.

How about you? What’s on your wish-list this year? I’d love to suggest adding some things to your list that sharpen your speaking gift. (You know you don’t need another sweater!!) How about asking for:

  • A Next Step gift certificate–Your loved one can email me at to set this up, and I’ll send them a gift certificate to “surprise” you with on Christmas morning.  They can be made out for as little as $25 for one of our Group Services conference calls to $225 for one of our individual services.
  • A book on speakingCommunicating for a Change by Andy Stanley (this one is 30% off through the end of Nov.) or by Chip and Dan Heath are two books that are must-reads for speakers.  I’m also currently reading Ken Davis’ book , and I highly recommend it for learning to bring laser-like focus to your messages.
  • She Speaks–It’s a big gift to ask for registration to She Speaks, but if you have people who ask you what you’d like for Christmas, this is a great time to start your savings.  You might have to say that it can be your gift for every gift-giving event this year :), but it will be worth it!


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Attention Getting Intro

Today I’m delighted to introduce my intern, Michaela Marley!  Michaela is a smart and beautiful 16-year-old who has helped me tremendously with Next Step administrative tasks.  She is the source of lots of the social media posts that you see, and I’m eternally grateful for her talents and hard work.  Michaela is also an emerging speaker, and she’s been sharing what she’s learning in her class with me.  I think it’s great stuff, so today Michaela is our guest blogger.  Will ya’ll make her feel welcome by leaving some hospitable comments?  Thanks, friends!  ~ Amy

Hi!  My name is Michaela. I’ve been helping Mrs. Amy with her social media such as Facebook and Twitter for the past year. It has been a great privilege to work with her, and she has given me the opportunity the write this week’s blog post!I am participating in a speech class/club this year. The class teaches how to write great speeches and present them. One of the things that we learned on the first day is how to write an AGI: attention getting intro. An AGI is basically the “hook” that creates a more avid listener in your audience. You might be asking, “What makes a good intro?” Here are some ways to get your audience hooked.1. A personal storyA personal story is probably one of the best ways to get your audience’s attention. It also allows your audience to connect and relate with you on a personal level. A personal story gives a bit of mystery to your speech as well. When you start with a personal story, for example, about your daughter, it keeps your audience on the edge of their seats wondering what’s going to happen next! Personal stories are great ways to get your audience in tune to your speech.

2. A shocking statement or a startling statistic

“I am going to die in less than twenty-four hours!”

Wow. Didn’t see that coming did you? Using a statement like this before going on to speak about how valuable our time is, can give your audience a reality check. A shocking statement, true or not, can really grab your audience’s attention and, depending on what you say, can give them a new perspective on your


It is also a great idea to have a startling statistic, especially when you’re trying to persuade your audience. I wrote a persuasive speech on cell phone driving, and I gave the statistic about the number of car crashes that happen every year due to cell phones. Startling statistics and statement can give your audience a wakeup call.

3. A quotation or familiar saying

Quotes from famous people expand your speech from just you. It’s not just your words anymore, but another reliable person agrees with you as well. Your audience is more persuaded if someone else is supporting your ideas. Also, using familiar sayings such as, “the early bird catches the worm,” and “a penny saved is a penny earned,” can bring understanding and even life to your audience.

4. A vivid descriptive picture

“Close your eyes and imagine that it’s Thanksgiving Day. The large turkey is baking in the oven. Your mouth waters as the aroma of the warm pumpkin pie wafts through your nose. The dining room table is all set and you’re just waiting for your aunts, uncles, and cousins to arrive!” Mental pictures such as this can wrap your audience into your speech and get them ready for the rest of your speech.

AGI or an attention getting intro is what’s going to bring your speech to life even before you get into the meat of your subject. It also gets your audience alert and ready for what you have to say. Next time you’re writing your speech put an AGI at the beginning and see what a difference it makes your audience.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Exciting Opportunity

I got an email with some info that I HAD to pass on to you.  The Rocket Company is doing a repeat of their “Preach Better Sermons” webcast on December 5th.

I watched this webcast in its first airing, and it was absolutely fabulous.  Although the title references “sermons”, the webcast gives invaluable information for speakers coming from some of our country’s best communicators.  You really can’t miss it, and it’s FREE!

  • Date: December 5, 2012
  • Time: 12:00 – 3:30 pm EST
  • Speakers: Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Louie Giglio, Dr. Charles Stanley, Vanable Moody, Jeff Foxworthy, Dan Cathy and Jeff Henderson
  • Cost: Nothing. The event is completely FREE, and since it’s all online, there are no travel expenses.

You can click here to sign up.  I’d love to hear if you’re planning to participate.  Let’s share our takeaways right here on the blog after the event!


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Delivery: Using Placement and Posture to Bring Your Message Alive

We’ve come to the final installment of our series on how not to let a great message get lost in poor delivery. (To catch up on the other posts, click here, here and here.)

What else besides voice, eye contact and hand gestures make for a bang-up delivery?

Placement and posture.

Placement refers to where you are standing on the platform. Posture is how you are standing on the platform.

Let’s start with placement. When standing on stage, be sure to remember the following:

~ The podium is your anchor not your everything.  Yes, you will most likely start behind the podium. Yes, you will return there often to check your notes to see which point or story is next. But DO NOT just stand behind the podium for your entire message. You’ll lose your audience fast.

~ Wander.  Yes, vary your placement on the stage. At times walk off to your left to make a point. Next, when you are telling a story, wander to the right. You may even go out front to emphasize your message. Don’t hide behind the podium. Wander away!

~ Change directions.  In your wandering, don’t just face the audience squarely. At times look from an angle from where you are. So, if you are off to your right, anlge toward the audience on your left and vice versa.

Now, let’s talk posture.

~ Grandma was only partially right. Did grandma tell you to always “stand up straight?” Well, she was only partly correct. Yes, good posture is important. (No one wants to watch a slumping, hunch-backed speaker) but there are times you must mix it up.

~ Lean in to make a point. Are you letting your audience in on a little secret? Lean forward as if to be letting them in on it but keeping it from the world at large.

~ Lean back to make a point.  Blown away by a statistic or a move someone made? Lean back in an “I can’t believe it!” way.

~ Lean on the podium. At times a casual, know-it-all lean on the side of the podium can also make a point during a story or point.

~ Shift those shoulders. Want to show dejection? Drop your shoulders. Want to show pride? Hike them up and back. Not sure if the audience got a point? Shrug them in an “I dunno?” way.

As a speaker trying to impart a message in a memorable way, utilize both placement and posture to your advantage and make sure that great message doesn’t get lost in a poor delivery.



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