Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Timeless High-Impact Verbal Techniques: In the 3rd Obama-Romney Debate, Each Candidate’s Most Talked-about Rebuttal or Parry Employed One Such Skill

Immediately after the last presidential debate between Obama and Romney--the one on Monday, Oct. 22, in Florida--one rebuttal from each candidate instantly became airborne. And that was no surprise to me because each of those two parries employed one of the simple but powerful verbal techniques that are standard fare among highly effective communicators. Nor should the cogency of those two rebuttals have been a surprise to anyone who has attended my flagship seminar “Power of the Spoken Word & Techniques to Communicate with Impact and Sway.”

  • Obama’s highly effective line: Responding to Romney’s contention that our navy is weak because the number of ships is fewer than what it was a hundred years ago, the president said: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets!” In other words, he used an analogy--one of the half dozen or so most effective verbal techniques to emphasize a point--to assert that the strike power of a single modern-day weapon can easily overwhelm a sea of 100-year-old weaponry.

  • Romney’s highly effective line: More than once, when responding to Obama’s criticism of the Republican nominee’s stand (or flip-flops) on an issue, the latter began: “There is no point attacking me…” Why was this choice of words so effective in parrying Obama’s criticism, why did it resonate so wildly with Romney supporters? Because “attack” is a negative word, and telling someone to their face that they are “attacking” you immediately disarms that person, puts them on the defensive. Users of my book The Articulate Professional (3rd Edition) know that I have a whole chapter (Category V) featuring words employed by smart communicators to disarm and neutralize their critics and detractors (words such as denigrate, aspersion, reflexive, foist, puffery, apologist, nostrum, meretricious.).

© Copyright 2012  V. J. Singal

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to Introduce a Speaker: A Sample of an Under-Two-Minute Intro that Stirs the Audience by Embodying the Five Attributes Cited in the Previous Post

Reference the previous post listing my five “critical ingredients” of a speaker introduction that is impactful and productive, one that instantly builds anticipation and enthusiasm in the audience. Here is an introduction I drafted two weeks ago for one of my executive coaching clients who was to deliver the keynote to an audience of about a thousand people at a transportation industry conference. Notice that my draft below pretty much embodies the five items listed in the post of last Sunday.

[Note 1: Names, numbers, and other facts cited in the intro have been changed to preserve anonymity.]
[Note 2: Words that should be emphasized--by the use of appropriate nonverbals--are in bold.]

“Our speaker today, Jim Smith, is the owner of a freight services firm, The ABC Co., based in Houston. Since acquiring ABC six years ago, he has expanded (or grown) it over 400%, dramatically boosting the sales volume from $10 million in 2006 to over $50 million today. And he has done this despite the Great Recession of the intervening years, and despite the painfully high fuel prices.

Jim has accomplished this extraordinary feat by transforming The ABC Co. -- by instituting an entirely new culture! After settling on "a sharply enhanced customer experience" as his #1 goal, Jim went about assembling an all new regimen at ABC--a regimen that incorporates... (list of five or six business parameters most pertinent to freight services).

Not surprisingly, Jim has won numerous awards in the last couple of years. Among the more notable ones: Texas Business Journal’s “Houston-Galveston's Fastest 100 Growing Companies” for 2011 and 2012; Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 finalist; and ....

A bit about Jim's background: he hails from the great state of Minnesota, and began his professional career as an attorney after receiving a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Columbia. He is married and has two children, both of whom are school teachers. While talking to Jim, I've gathered that he owes a big part of his leadership and management qualities to the skills and perspectives he honed during his top executive positions in corporate America, most recently as the Exec VP for one of the largest supermarket chains in the Southwest.

Well, we all want our respective businesses to flourish, to fly high, to soar, just like Jim’s ABC Co. is, and I am sure you all are as eager as I am to learn the ingredients of his secret sauce. So, please join me in welcoming Jim Smith to the lectern.”

© Copyright 2012  V. J. Singal


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Introducing a Speaker: The Five Ingredients of a High Impact and Productive Speaker Introduction, One that Instantly Builds Anticipation and Enthusiasm in the Audience

  • Length: not too long, because of the risk of the introduction becoming flat and soporific, thus losing audience interest; not too short (such as a mere 2 or 3 sentences) because in all likelihood it will then be superficial and perfunctory.

  • Delivery: Best for the introducer to present his or her piece with passion and enthusiasm because such show of emotion is often infectious and will help rouse and galvanize the audience.

  • Drama; attention-getting: An introduction is like a mini-speech, and so, just as is highly desirable for any speech, the opening words of an introduction should be attention-getting; the speaker should attempt to inject a bit of drama to make the audience sit up instantly.

  • Personalizing / Humanizing the speaker; endearing him or her to the audience: Say something personal (and, if possible, humorous) about the speaker so that the audience can “connect” with the speaker even before he or she ascends to the lectern.

  • Compelling everyone in the audience to divorce their minds of any distractions and focus sharply on the presentation: The introducer must say at least a couple of well-formulated sentences (or, at the minimum, give a hint) on why it is in the audience’s self-interest to listen intently to the upcoming speech. This will compel everyone to instantly disconnect their brains to the electronic devices in their possession and to any other distractions in the room.

A speaker introduction sample that embodies the above five ingredients: By Tuesday night of this week, I will post an actual introduction I wrote a few days ago for one of my public speaking coaching clients who is to deliver a keynote later this week to an audience comprising over a thousand people.

© Copyright 2012  V. J. Singal

Saturday, October 13, 2012

High Impact Presentations: Last Week’s Obama-Romney Debate was Proof that Speaking Forcefully is a Key Ingredient of Successful Public Speaking

By now, everyone who does not live in a cave knows that a preponderant majority of the nation regards Romney to have been the hands-down winner of the first presidential debate, the one that was held in Colorado last week. But what may not be so universally known is that because of the two antagonists’ different speaking styles that evening, Romney’s standing surged at the cost of Obama’s on every major issue that surfaced during the debate--even those issues on which Obama has had a shinier record! This according to a Gallup poll conducted 3 or 4 days after the debate.

While discussing those Gallup results earlier this week, PBS’s “Newshour” pointed out that specific areas in which Romney’s image moved substantially ahead of Obama’s included “candidate of new ideas,” “strong leader,” “willingness to work with others,” and “honest and truthful.”

The foregoing is perfect testimony to the power of forcefulness during a presentation or other public speaking activity. In other words, chances of your presentation being successful are sharply enhanced if you use some of the verbal and nonverbal techniques that help inject force into your words.

For instance, the antonym technique--a key verbal skill to project vitality and conviction, and which was employed liberally by Romney that night--is the defining trait of famed communicators such as former H-P CEO Carly Fiorina and Morgan Stanley's David Darst, as well as the others whom I have honored on the homepage of my website.

© Copyright 2012  V. J. Singal