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Category Archives for Public Speaking

Online community and leadership with Alex Rister of Creating Communication

Alex Rister

Online community and leadership with Alex Rister of Creating Communication

Today’s Featured Guest: Alex Rister


Where are you right now? Your car? The gym? On the train? The bus? Wherever you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably doing it alone. Maybe with headphones on. It might feel lonely, but do you know that there are people all over the world listening to this very same podcast? Maybe at the exact same time that you are.

Unfortunately, a huge challenge in the online space right now is creating community. Although technology exists that attempts to bring us together, it often leads to lots and lots of people doing things in isolation. For me, I find a lot of similarities between working with students online and working with clients online.

Our guest today has done some interesting research in the online teaching space and talks to us today about some challenges and successes that come along with it. Alex Rister teaches communication and presentation classes at a university, pursues her second M.A. in Interpersonal Communication, and serves as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Junior League of Greater Orlando. In her spare time, she curates Creating Communication, a blog on best practices for communication and presentation. In addition to talking about online interaction, we also dove into leadership and presentation revolution. It all ties together, and is perfect for you – the modern entrepreneur who is sharing your passion online.

You can find Alex at the following places around the Web:

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn

Creating Communication blog

Resources from Guest:

Alex’s SlideShare Presentations


Want more? Listen to past episodes here.

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Ready to sell more with your next sales video or webinar? Use this template.


Learn how to Talk Like Ted with Carmine Gallo

480px-Carmine_Gallo2Today’s Featured Guest: Carmine Gallo

Something that you probably don’t know about me – I really struggled with the branding and messaging behind this website because I wanted to completely avoid the word, “presentation.” Yuck. It has such a negative connotation. The last thing I wanted was for my audience to think I was all about wearing a suit, standing in front of a conference table and reading from a Power Point slide. That is just about the opposite of what I’m about and what I teach.

That is why I was so excited for today’s show – we talk about creating the story behind the message and then making that story appealing with use of visually appealing graphics. Is it a presentation? Yes. But it is more than that – it is a way for you to connect your ideas and the people who need them. We talk about getting you the opportunity to position yourself in the marketplace, to gain exposure in front of your audience and just opening yourself up to endless opportunities by improving the way that you present your ideas.

Carmine Gallo is THE MAN when it comes to business communication. A former CNN and CBS correspondent, Gallo parlayed his successful career as a broadcast journalist into a communications practice where he coaches leaders whose products touch your life every day. His clients include Intel, Coca-Cola, Chevron, SanDisk, Medtronic, Hyundai, LinkedIn, Pfizer, and many other global brands. Gallo’s communication techniques have been implemented by top executives in fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs in start-ups and small business owners.

He is the author of 7 business books. His latest book, Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Gallo taps into what makes a TED presentation great. Carmine interviewed dozens of popular TED speakers as well as top neuroscientists. In Talk Like TED, Carmine lays out techniques and the science behind each technique that teach anyone how to deliver the most impassioned and persuasive presentation of their lives.

Carmine shares some of this with us today. He touched on two points in particular that I think you’d like. First, he talks about the structure behind some pretty impressive and successful talks, specifically, he talks about the hero/villain structure. Definitely something you’ll want to implement if you’re selling anything – in a public forum or private – doesn’t matter. He also talks about picture superiority – and how to use images to elevate our presentations.

Tweet: Learn from @carminegallo and deliver the most persuasive presentation of your life @clearinfluence

You can find Carmine at the following places in the Web:

Carmine’s Website

Talk Like Ted Website

Follow Carmine on Twitter

Carmine’s Facebook Page

Connect with Carmine at LinkedIn

Resources From Guest:

Carmine’s Youtube Channel

Carmine’s Amazon Page

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds

If you like what you see, join the Clearly Influential Community. You’ll receive a free bonus gift: How to Organize Any Presentation with 7 Bonus Templates. Click below to get your copy.

Create an Impressive Presentation with Bryan Kelly of What the Speak

Create an Impressive Presentation with Bryan Kelly of What the Speak

Bryan Kelly

Today’s Featured Guest: Bryan Kelly

We’ve talked a lot on this show about non-verbal communication – what you’re saying beyond your words. When on stage in front of a large or small audience, a large component of your message is visual – what you show them Yet, creating visually appealing slide decks is a challenge for many speakers. For many of us, we have a double standard. When we’re in the audience we can easily recognize a poorly constructed slide show – especially one that lacks creativity and puts the audience to sleep. Yet, when faced with the challenge of creating visual aids, many of us fail to produce something memorable.

Yet – having captivating slides goes beyond giving your audience something pretty to look at. It can be a very important aspect of your presentation – and could make the difference between getting a sale, investors, or even simply engaging the audience so they remember you and your message.

Today’s guest is an expert at delivering an incredible presentation – images and all. What The Speak was started by Bryan Kelly, an award-winning blogger, successful entrepreneur, and marketing executive whose work has been featured in several publications like the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Dwell, and Metropolis.

Early in his career, Bryan was an aspiring recording artist who had invested almost $100,000 in musical and performance training, but struggled to make a living. One day, after totally nailing an interview for a job he seemingly wasn’t qualified for, it occurred to him—performance skills provided an edge in business.

Realizing most of us don’t come from this kind of background, Bryan decided to share expert discussions and insider tips to help you gain a similar edge.

On today’s show – we explore the psychological effects images have on your audience, the most common reason why so many speakers fail to produce captivating imagery and what you can do to improve your slides starting today.

Resources Suggested by Bryan

slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

Today’s Challenge

1. Avoid compulsion to plop outline in your presentation software.

2. Dedicate 1 hour to dedicate to your slides

3. Think about the stories that you will share, rather than a data dump

You can find today’s guest at the following places around the web:

Follow Bryan on Twitter

Check out Bryan’s Podcast – What the Speak

If you like what you see, join the Clearly Influential Community. You’ll receive a free bonus gift: How to Organize Any Presentation with 7 Bonus Templates. Click below to get your copy.


Mark Jeffries | Business Influence

Mark Jeffries

You can find today’s guest at the following places around the web:

Mark’s Website

Follow Mark on Twitter

What kinds of signs do you look for that lets you know whether your listener is engaged, or ready to bolt? Do you ever wonder “what is he thinking??” when you’re talking to others about your business or ideas?

Before today’s interview, I had no idea what NPM means. It means nods per minute, in case you’re wondering and according to our guest today, you can count the number of NPM’s you’re getting while talking to someone to guage their interest. Pretty cool. There are some other things to look for too. He even tells us what to do if our listener isn’t engaged to earn some points and salvage the conversation.

Mark Jeffries has an interesting story. He has become a much sought-after Keynote Speaker and leading event Moderator/MC across USA, Canada and Europe. Having spoken in front of more than 100,000 event delegates, published two books and appeared on Network TV numerous times, Mark has established an impressive brand and enviable following. His recently released e-learning course has taken his message to a whole new audience around the world.

Mini Summary

Join me in today’s episode where we learn about the Square of Influence, and how it relates to Business Influence, how to avoid Name Amnesia, what the jealousy affect is and how to use it to sell without selling and more. Plus, Mark has a very useful challenge for us this week. It will make a  difference in the way you’re perceived.


Special Offer Page Promo Code – mjkn18151 – $10 intro price

Grab Mark’s free ebook – Creating the Perfect Event

Christina Canters

Presentation skills for creative fields

Christina Canters on the Clearly Influential Podcast

Christina Canters on The Clearly Influential Podcast.

Presentation skills for creative fields

Christina Canters

You can find today’s guest at the following places around the web:

Christina’s podcast and blog: Design Draw Speak

Connect with Christina on Twitter: @CJCanters

If you’re listening to this, there is a good chance that you are somewhat of a creative person. Perhaps you own a design firm, you’re a web designer, you might write a blog or you’re into photography.

You might not realize this, but the way you talk about the things you create might be all the difference between selling your products and services and not.

There are actually some specific challenges that come along with talking about creative types of works. In fact, when I work with students, presenting concepts – which is what any of your designs would be at the stage of presenting to a client – is one of the toughest types of presentations they can  give.


Mostly because concepts – by definition – are abstract. They often exist only in your mind. So, how do you clearly communicate an idea when the person on the other end really has no idea what you’re talking about and has very little to compare it to?

Pretend for a minute that you own an advertising firm and you’re pitching a plan for a video that you think will go viral. Maybe you’re not even speaking to the client yet, but just to your team. Therefore, you haven’t had the chance to put together a mock up yet and you are still just brainstorming with your co-workers. How do you get them to visualize – to REALLY see what you’re talking about?

If you have ever been in this situation, whether at an ad agency, or sitting around with your friends discussing an equally abstract concept, you have possibly experienced frustration when what you know to be a good idea, doesn’t win the vote.

Is it because your idea was inferior? Likely not. It actually all comes down to presentation. And, if you’re lacking the ability to clearly communicate your creative concepts – you’re likely missing opportunities to grow your business, progress your ideas, and make the sales.

 That’s where today’s guest comes in – Christina Canters.

Christina Canters is passionate about helping design students become confident, creative communicators, which she does through her podcast ‘Presentation Skills For Design Students’. She is also a fully qualified architect and enjoys blogging, dancing and eating peanut butter out of the jar. You can find her podcast and blog at

Today, she speaks to the creative as well as speaking to those that could stand to be a little more creative in their presentations. She also shares a very interesting story about how creative communication helped her land an interview with a leading expert, despite having a relatively new podcast.

Christina’s Challenge:

Listen and be present while in a conversation.

If you like what you see, join the Clearly Influential Community. You’ll receive a free bonus gift: How to Organize Any Presentation with 7 Bonus Templates. Click below to get your copy.


The Real Reason You are Misunderstood – Non-verbal communication at Work

The Real Reason You are Misunderstood

You said exactly what you meant. You were clear about your intentions and your message. So, why is there any confusion?

Non-verbal communication makes up a surprisingly large part of our communication. Non-verbal communication is everything that is not spoken. It includes everything from the tone of our voice to our posture and everything in between.

But, does this behavior actually send a message? It is hard to imagine that something as simple as our body’s orientation is actually telling our audience something.

Amazingly, non-verbal communication is powerful. When there is a discrepancy between what we hear and what we see (for example), we need to decide which message is the correct message.

Take a look at this video for an absolutely AMAZING example of what happens when we receive two different messages.

If you skipped that video, you had better go back, because you won’t believe it if I told you.

The end result is, non-verbal communication is powerful. As senders of messages, we need to utilize both verbal and non-verbal communication to accurately relay our message.

What part of your non-verbal communication causes confusion? Is there something you can work on to eliminate such confusion? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear.


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brainstorm content

Brainstorm content ideas that captivate with these 3 easy steps [How To]

Brainstorm content ideas in 3 easy steps [How To]

So….. what are you going to talk about?

If you regularly produce content either online or for live presentations, you know that coming up with fresh ideas is challenging. Even if you have a general topic, you’ll need to decide how you want to narrow that topic so it is interesting and relevant for your audience, is technical enough to add value, but not too technical to confuse or overwhelm the audience, and fits within your allotted time/space. Having a system to brainstorm content is critical, but you don’t want to systematize that process so much that you kill your creativity. That is a lot to think about!!

In this post, you’ll learn how to use Kenneth Burke’s pentad to brainstorm content for your presentation, video or post.

I first discovered the pentad in a rhetorical studies class. It is used to analyze a rhetorical situation, specifically to uncover the drama and motivations behind actions. This is perfect for brainstorming content because that is exactly what you want to do; that is, you’ll want to discover their motives for action. Once you discover the motives, you can create a captivating story about any topic.

There is always drama under the surface, even in mundane topics. Since it it tax season, we’ll use accounting as an example.

Following are three steps to use the pentad to identify the drama in any situation, giving you something interesting to talk about.

Brainstorm content ideas

Brainstorm content that captivates

Step 1: Learn the 5 Parts of the Pentad

The first thing is to understand the pentad. There are five parts.

  1. Actor – who is involved
  2. Purpose – the motivation
  3. Agency –  the means – the how
  4. Scene – where did this take place
  5. Act – what happened

The second step is to identify these elements in your particular situation. To do this, make a list of all the components down the side of a paper.  Then, assign each element to a piece of a story or text.

Example:  You are an accountant. It is tax season. This isn’t sexy stuff. Yet, you’ll want to find the drama in the situation – that which is motivation for your audience to take action. Let’s see what we can come up with.

Step 2: Analyze the Situation

Actor: The small business owner.

Note:  There are always multiple actors. Let’s just analyze one for now and you’ll get the idea.

Purpose: to adhere to all tax laws while still paying as little as possible and saving time in the process.

Agency: An annual event

Scene:  Quickbooks, Freshbooks, the internet.

Act: Searching for information to help.

Step 3: Find the Tension

Now that you have used the pentad to analyze the situation, you can now begin to look for tension between these elements.

The purpose of the pentad is to identify the drama. By finding the drama, you will locate the emotion behind any situation. It always exists. As you begin to analyze each element, try pairing each up. For instance, pair the actor with the purpose. Does the actor carry some sort of fear that is motivating the act? What about the agency and the scenario? Did the situation elicit some sort of special circumstance that made this event possible when it otherwise wouldn’t have been?

In this situation, perhaps there is tension between the actor and the purpose. For instance, if we identify a small business owner as the actor, s/he might fear adhering to all laws. Or, might fear the amount of fees involved with the entire process. Could you capitalize on this emotion while telling your own story? Could you create a blog post or presentation that specifically highlights a small business owner who is experiencing this fear and confusion? Can you brainstorm any other content ideas by looking at other possible areas of tension?

The fun, the excitement and the interest lies within the tension. Find the combination that your audience can best identify with and that is where your focus lies. This will serve as a way to brainstorm content for your audience and allow you to use drama and narrative to convey your points. For more information about the effect of story in your message, see this article that summarizes a study from Ohio State University.

You’re now able to brainstorm content that captivates using these 3 easy steps.

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How to bore your audience

How to bore your audience

Every semester, I assign my students a task: present an informative speech on anything you’d like, as long as it is between 5-7 minutes.

The groans that follow are a bit overly dramatic considering the complexity of the task.

Yet, this is my favorite part of the semester. Why? It is the time that students realize that information, and the act of informing and being informed, are not boring in and of themselves. It is all up to the person presenting and the way the information is presented.

Unfortunately, we have come to associate that term – information – with long lists of bulleted points, complex technical jargon that we don’t understand and a never ending deck of blue Power Point slides that do little more than waste our time.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. And it shouldn’t be like that. Stories are much more interesting. Stories are also much more persuasive. You should use them in all of your presentations – whether you are presenting to the board or your biggest client, humans relate to narrative.

It is neither my students’ inexperience, age nor skill level that has led them to misunderstand this concept. Ask someone 20 years their senior and he or she will likely have the same thought. Rather, the problem is the inexperience and skill level of those that speak.

In order for your listeners to stop associating your presentations (and therefore, you) with boredom, you must begin to use narrative in your presentation. This is the case whether your topic is technical or common. Following is a comparison of the traditional, fact based presentation to the use of narrative.

Option 1: rely on a fact based presentation.

Fact based presentations rely mostly on statistics, facts and definitions to relay information.  Speakers often rely on this type of evidence to support their point because they are unsure how to best get their point across. The idea is further confused when people believe their topic is unique: too technical, too complex, too serious, etc. to utilize anything but statistics and facts.

The problem with relying solely on this type of supporting material is that the speaker essentially removes all trace of emotion. The topic becomes cold and distant. There is rarely a connection to the speaker in this scenario either.

So what can you do? How do you successfully convey complex, technical issues to an audience without heavily relying on statistics and facts?

Rely on a narrative

Examples and narratives are two types of supporting material that are available to you, as a speaker. It is true that you can not rely 100% on a story or an example to prove your point. It will be a weak argument. However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid these entirely.  Examples and stories focus on human characteristics and activate human emotion. If your audience can identify with the story, the character and the situation, they will feel an emotional connection that will drive them to change their attitudes, beliefs and ultimately actions.

For the narrative to successfully impact the audience, the audience must identify with the characters in the story. A study from the Ohio State University compared the effectiveness of a news report vs. an episode of the O.C. in persuading college students to practice safe sex. As you can probably guess after reading the  first half of this post, the episode of the O.C. was more persuasive, at least for part of the audience.

As it turns out, a news report (one actually used in high schools) that outlines the struggles that teenage moms might encounter, made no impact on the attitude of the audience two weeks post viewing. However, the episode of the O.C. that told a story about a character that experienced a tough time because of a pregnancy had a significant effect on the college women that viewed it, even two weeks after the viewing. The effect was stronger when the young women felt that they could identify with the characters in the story. Those who did not identify with the characters (such as males) were not likely to change their attitude about safe sex.

This study illustrates the point that narratives are effective. They are more effective than simply stating the facts. The audience is not likely to change their minds or behavior without feeling a connection to the topic.

Ok, so teenage pregnancy is one thing. What about those of you who talk about other, less relatable topics? Like website design? Or finances? The reality is, a speaker can and should address every topic with the question, “why should the audience care?” Find that emotional trigger. In both the examples above, money is the clear choice, but often there is more. After careful analysis of your audience, you’ll find it. And, if you can’t find it, it might not work as a topic for that particular audience.

For more information about using the pentad, see this article about using narrative in your communication. 

Research in this post

Ohio State University. (2010, February 11). TV drama can be more persuasive than news program, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2014 from


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Are you rambling?

Is your message unfocused?

Have you ever listened to a friend ramble, a boss complain, or even watched a movie and wondered…. what is the point??

Have you ever been that person who was rambling, complaining, or otherwise wasting others’ time because you didn’t have a clear idea of what exactly it was you wanted to get across?

A laser focused message is crucial when addressing a board room, speaking with your significant other, and everywhere in between. If you can’t clearly identify what it is you want the audience to know, believe or do at the end of your message, chances are, they won’t know either. There is also a pretty good chance they won’t even get to the end of your message because they won’t find it useful enough to pay attention.

Are you Rambling

Focus your message

Lucky for us, there are some ways that we can determine whether or not our message is focused, and therefore, if it will be well understood and ultimately, if it will persuade others. There are a few check points that you can use to determine if your message is clear and focused, or messy and confusing.

Clear Purpose

State the purpose of your message in one clear sentence without using the word “and”.

This is harder than it sounds. If you have a muddled message, you’ll have really tough time expressing your message in just one sentence, without making a list of things you want to discuss. However, you don’t want a list. You want a clear, declarative sentence. For example, I can tell you that the purpose of this blog post is to instruct the reader on how to check their message for clarity. If I still only had a vague idea of what I wanted to say, I might say something a little less organized and focused such as, “the purpose of this blog post is to talk about a purpose statement and properly dividing content and sticking to the purpose.” Notice the difference in the two. In both, I would have covered roughly the same material, however, in the second option, it wasn’t clear to me (the speaker or writer) nor the audience what the POINT of it all is. Rather, it was a list of main points. What your audience wants to know is, how do those main points come together for one key take-away?  

Check for Clearly Divided Content

Determine how many chunks of your message you have. It is is more than 5 for spoken word, or more than 7 for written word, you might need to revise and narrow your focus. You will receive a stronger response by focusing on just 3 or 4 aspects of a topic, rather than all. It is a common feeling to want to tell the other person every single thing there is to know about a topic. This is especially true when you are the expert, or when you are passionate about a topic, but it doesn’t serve the audience. They’ll likely come away knowing more about the topic after listening to just a few aspects rather than every one. Think about it this way, if you wanted to know about astro physics and you asked your friend who has a PhD in the subject, you wouldn’t expect that person to explain everything he or she knows about the subject, would you? It would likely take a very long time, and you wouldn’t have the concentration to experience it all in just one sitting. Instead, a better approach might be for your friend to give a brief overview, covering 3 or 4 major sub topics within astro physics and then schedule a time to dive deeper into one or more of those topics, depending on your need or interest level.

Check Details Against Purpose

The last thing to check is whether or not every piece of information fits within the scope of your purpose. For this reason, I always suggest creating an outline when delivering an important message. This is true for writing an email, a blog post, a report, a speech, or gathering your thoughts for a big conversation with your spouse. Keeping your ideas highly organized will not only help you stay focused through the course of the communication, but you’ll also have a better chance of your listener understanding the message and seeing the message from your point of view.

Check for Audience Response

Do listeners often miss the point of your message?

If you often feel that people just aren’t getting you or your message, you may not have focused the message enough. Overall, people aren’t listening to you. Your intended listeners are preoccupied with their own needs. They’re focused on getting what they want and need, not on your goal. Because of this (among other reasons), they are jumping back and forth between listening to you, and focusing on themselves. If your message is even slightly unorganized, they will fail to connect the dots. In the end, your listeners understanding and response is the best judge as to whether or not your message was efficient.

At the end of the day, you have specific goals for the messages you deliver. By taking some time to create a clear focus and keep all other information in line with that focus, you’ll keep your audience listening and have a better shot at meeting your communicative goals.


For more information about organizing a message, get the free download, How to Organize Any Presentation. It comes with 7 bonus templates.

Do you find it frustrating when people get off topic? How do you manage to stay focused? I’d love to hear in the comments below!