Don’t Fidget

Some years back, Ellen was teaching a two-day presentation skills class and one of her students had a big moustache. A really big, “handlebar” moustache. A lighter-hued version of this: Now, the moustache itself was not a problem. The problem was that the student (let’s call him Snidely Whiplash) liked to twirl the ends of […]

The Standup Speaker

Before you read any further, take a few minutes (5:46, to be exact) to watch this YouTube video of 14-year-old standup comedian Dylan Roche. Isn’t he hilarious? He also provides very good examples of three elements that standup comics and public speakers have in common. 1. They both perform in front of a live audience. […]

The World’s Worst Presenter

One of our favorite TV shows, Whose Line is it Anyway?, frequently includes a bit called “The World’s Worst . . .” in which the players must come up with various examples of the worst characteristics of a variety of professions. The world’s worst surgeon, for one example: (Player mimes performing an operation.) “Am I […]

How Anyone Can Tell a Story like J.K. Rowling

Top business schools ranging from Columbia to Wharton teach storytelling as a way to prepare leaders to deliver compelling, persuasive messages that appeal to both heads and hearts. Firms ranging from KMPG to Deloitte now couple candidate recruitment with storytelling, and companies like Nike and Disney include “storytelling skills” among other qualifications for open jobs. […]

How to Get a Standing Ovation

First let us ask, have you ever actually gotten one? We’ll bet it was a memorable moment in your life if you did. (And we’d love to hear about it.) But we’re thinking that most people have only seen others getting one: actors in a theatrical performance, concert performers, State of the Union address givers […]

Your, Um, Filler Words Are, Like, Killing Your Credibility. Here’s How to, Uh, Fix This in 4 Weeks

It doesn’t matter how elegantly your PowerPoint presentation flows, how artfully you can field difficult questions, or how perfectly balanced your mix of statistics and stories is. If you’re filling your delivery with filler words like “um”, “uh”, “like”, “right”, “so” or “you know”, you’re wasting valuable air time, undermining your professional credibility, and giving your listeners multiple opportunities to tune […]