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Ask Fred Questions

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"No Sweat Public Speaking!" FAQ Keyboard

Question: If you had one piece of advice to give to improve my speaking, what would it be?

Answer: SPEAK! – SPEAK! – SPEAK!  If you want to be a great Baker – Bake! If you want to be a great Swimmer – Swim!  If you want to be a great Speaker – SPEAK!  You can do all the intellectualizing about the subject you want, read books, listen to CDs, watch videos and go to speaking events.  The Learning is in the Doing! Each time you speak, if you practice beforehand, you will become better.  Get a good friend to critique your speeches, then work on what needs improvement, then – SPEAK! – SPEAK! – SPEAK!

Question: What about Toastmasters?  Worth my time? Answer:  ABSOLUTELY!  I was in Toastmasters for many years and learned most of what I now know about speaking from that great organization.  One piece of advice: Each club has their own “flavor.”  Some are very regimented, and others are pretty loose.  Visit three or four to see how they “fit” you before deciding on a club to join.

Question: How do you develop your presentations?

Answer: Mind Mapping!  Mind Mapping is a non-linear, visual brain storming tool and is perfect for not only developing a speech, but also practicing and delivering presentations.  It was developed in England in the ’70s by Tony Buzan.  The premise is that it works the way our brain works by bringing together the left, linear side, with the right, creative side.  See more at

Question: How about some advice on the use of props?

Answer: I like using props!  They cue me about what I’m to talk about next and can take the place of notes or a Mind Map.  People have three styles of learning: Watching, Listening, and Doing.  If a speaker can use more than one of these, it increases the odds the audience will GET IT! Seeing a prop and hearing your words, that are in sync with the prop, will work!  A few rules:

  1. The prop must be appropriate to your message.

  2. When you’ve finished the message appropriate to the prop, put it away else it becomes a distraction.  (This is the same concept for using the “B” – Blank Screen Button – in a slide presentation.  It takes the attention of the audience off the screen or prop and puts it on you, the presenter, and where the focus should be.

  3. Sometimes the best prop is none.  Paint a Word Picture in the mind of each audience member and you’ll personalize your message.

  4. Example: Rather than use a coffee cup and talk about coffee (which would be a good physical prop) say, “Picture your Favorite Coffee Cup! It might be the one your son or daughter made in kindergarten or it might be the one you bought on that special vacation.”

  5. Now, you’ve personalized that coffee cup.  Nothing can replace that!

Question: What’s your advice on handling Questions and Answers?

Answer: Set aside time, before your Closing, for questions.  Tell attendees, in your Opening, that you’ll be taking questions at that time.  Here are some reasons to handle questions like this:

  1. The Closing is the Closing! – Period!  The last thing you say will be the first thing they will remember.  (That’s why you want a Strong Closing.)

  2. If you have a great ‘Call to Action” Closing, then take questions, the impact of the Closing will be lessened.

  3. Sometimes the Q&A can go south with someone questioning your expertise or parts of your presentation.  The time for the event comes to an end, and the difference of opinions is the last thing they heard – and the first thing they remember.

  4. Taking questions throughout a presentation requires exceptional time management.

  5. Think of how many presentations you’ve attended where half the slides and presentation had to be rushed into the final few minutes because the presenter took questions throughout their talk.

  6. Often, it’s a good idea for you, the presenter, to Repeat the Question.

  7. Repeat the Question if there’s a chance the audience didn’t hear it well.

  8. Many venues require a mic and amp for all to hear and some people, even in a small room, are soft spoken.

  9. Repeat the question for clarification, to be sure you and the audience have the same understanding.

  10. Phrase it in your own words, and get confirmation, before answering.

  11. Don’t say, “Good question!”

  12. What will you say to the next person and the person after them?

  13. Better to say, “Thanks for asking!” or “Let me answer that like. . .”

  14. Sometimes, when asking for questions, no one raises their hand.

  15. Be prepared to “prime the pump,” and say, “One of the questions I typically asked is. . . “

  16. “Plant” a question with an audience member.  Be certain they don’t say, “I was asked to ask. . .”

  17. When answering a question, look directly at the person who asked, finish a thought and move on to give eye contact to a different individual and finish the next thought.

  18. Continuing to look at the same person leaves out others and could “invite” a followup question, which could lead to a conversation with one person.  You don’t want that.

Thanks for visiting my Post! For reading, and/or listening, this far I’d like to give you a FREE Gift. Go to: to receive it!

About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and author of the book, “No Sweat Public Speaking!” Businesses and individuals hire him because they want to improve their Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. They do this because we perceive really great speakers to be Experts. Perception is reality and we rather deal with Experts. They also know: Speaking Opportunities are Business Opportunities. Speaking Opportunities are Career Opportunities. He shows them how to Develop, Practice and Deliver Knock Your Socks Off Presentations! with – No Sweat!

Fred E. Miller

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