Chatting With A Purpose

by Shonali Burke on November 24, 2010

carnival chat picIt was fast, furious, fun, and a great conversation.

Image: Carnival Chat by R. Duran, Creative Commons

It was the first time the #wgBiz hashtag trended in the DC region!

“It” was this month’s #wgBiz regular Twitter chat where, for one hour, many from the Women Grow Business community talked shop on public speaking tips — all at warp-twitterchat-speed (full transcript here).

Energy from all the chatters could fuel Chicago for a week!

And below is a handful of questions and ideas that helped drive the discussion (with the full transcript per above link providing a strong road map to the entire conversation too).

Question 1:

What are the top 3 challenges presenters face when preparing for presentations/speaking engagements?

Answer 1: A few things come to mind — misunderstanding the audience; avoiding that nervous speech energy; pursuing perfectionism; and over emphasizing slides (vs really crafting a story for the speech narrative).

Question 2:

What are some favorite ways to help prepare for presentations?

Answer 2: Really hone in on knowing your audience and then construct a clear, brief, purposeful key message that addresses the audience’s need.

There’s a favorite way that mobilizes this process: imagine you had just 60 seconds to impart value to an audience. What would that 60 seconds look like?

Would you relate immediately with energized, precise content — or spend 45 seconds thanking the audience and expressing how glad you were to be there?

Hint: Convey gratitude through valuable content and authentic, natural delivery. A list of thank yous inspires an audience’s brain to disengage.

Quick footnote:

Storyboard on a whiteboard answers to this question: what’s one story that exemplfies your key message and leads into key points?

Question 3:

What really influences a persuasive delivery, especially for women?

Answer 3: Speaking with vocal strength/versatility and good posture increases persuasiveness a lot, especially for female speakers.

Question 4 – from a chat participant:

Where do I put my hands while speaking? What are ways to control gestures overall while on stage?

Answer 4: The most authentic suggestion to this I find is to step back briefly and consider your one-on-one conversation style.

As an example: when explaining a point of emphasis when the audience is just one or a few, how would you naturally underscore the point?

Would you naturally clasp hands together? or would you actually use silent pauses to frame the specific point and draw more attention to the statement? Or would your voice slow and deepen, excluding hand gestures completely?


Even though the energy exchange is much more aggressive and accelerated when speaking to a group, re-connecting with natural conversational gestures can be more natural than “forcing” a particular gesture or approach to emphasize key points. Let gesturing unfold along with the story’s build in the speech.

One huge factor brought up in the chat was relating to audiences authentically and with sincerity. Many folks shared great wisdom about audiences and how they can quickly detect an insincere speaker.

Bottom line: If presenters don’t convey authenticity or sense of care, then why should an audience care or be convinced?

Question for you: What experiences or favorite tips do you have that have shaped your public speaking strength?

Thanks for a fantastic time and brainstorm at last week’s chat!

More resources:

And a reminder to save the date: the next @wgbiz chat: Dec. 13, 12-1 pm ET with featured guest and Chief Troublemaker Joanna Pineda with Matrix Group International.

TEDxP 2010 Jill self head shot jimmy (1)Cited by ForbesWoman as one of 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter, Jill Foster is principal of Live Your Talk and founding editor of Women Grow Business. Believing strong communities come from strong conversations (and thus public speaking skill), she specializes in speechcraft and speech coaching for women in technology and entrepreneurship. A social tech enthusiast, she co-founded DC Media Makers, a peer learning community that teaches digital technology. In 2009, Jill won the Apps for Democracy Social Citizen Award for a co-produced project on how technology could help Washington, DC neighborhoods.

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