5 Speechwriting Lessons From President Obama’s First Inaugural Speech

What I like about this article is the paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of President Obama’s message and the useful techniques he’s used.

The actual text is reprinted here and you can see the video of his speech.


Source: Six Minutes by Andrew Dlugan

giving a speech







Learn to use the same techniques as President Obama! http://tinyurl.com/87deavv


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Intern’s Presentation Nightmare Turns Out OK


arguing with a presenter






This scenario had all the makings of a disaster in the first 5 minutes but ultimately worked out in that the deal wasn’t lost.  There are lots of lessons to be learned from this experience, and a solid justification for doing a thorough audience analysis – and more, if you have a lot to lose. It also reinforces the fact that you have to do your homework on your material and not think you can wing a presentation. In addition, when presenting as a team, you all have to be in sync, on the same page, and prepared to step in to cover for each other (or be able to turn the presentation over to someone more credible or senior if you can’t handle the ensuing discussion.)

Here were the warning signs:

1. an unexpected individual at the presentation

2. a derogatory comment made by that individual at the onset

Here were the red flags that continued to surface:

3. the presenter didn’t conform to the style of the slides his colleagues used (Why? This is a team presentation.)

4. at the conclusion, the individual was dismissive and blew off the presenter

5. by the speaker’s admission, “turned the tables” on the audience (potentially a very dangerous strategy if you don’t absolutely know your stuff, the risks, and the ability to think very quickly on your feet)

6. getting into a battle of egos and trying to be right (although the speaker was able to defend his data)

7. adding fuel to the fire with sarcastic movie references

Here are the best ways to handle these (if you don’t have the credibility and the guts to stand up like this guy did):

#1: Find out everything you can about your audience, reason for their attendance, and biases about the topic. Inquire about other “possible” attendees or secondary audiences that may see your information. Ask about the business climate, company performance, and information “in the news” about a company or individual.

#2: If a negative comment is made, do not become defensive. Try to understand what the individual is really trying to communicate. Do not lose your cool.



#3: If presenting with a team, do a “dress rehearsal” and be sure that your slide decks are seamless and compatibly “branded.”

#4: Don’t make your presentation a platform to show off. Demonstrate your credibility, but ask yourself what your audience really needs to know about you. Showing off, arrogance, character attacks and demeaning others will create more problems. In diverse audiences, these can be especially misunderstood and be the kiss of death for you or your company.

#5: Seek help from other team members or the audience, if possible. Be willing to take a break to make a phone call for support. If appropriate, suggest a follow up conversation to address really sticky issues.

#6: Consider taking a break if tempers need to be cooled off.

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How Is Ending A Relationship Like Ending A Speech?

When you think about it, writing a speech parallels a lot of the other actions in our lives. For example, let’s compare ending a relationship to ending a speech.

ending a speech






In a relationship, you start to get some signals that it’s not working out and may be coming to an end. In a speech, you start to give some indicators that you’re concluding your talk.

When you end a relationship, you typically review (either with the other person or in your head) all the things that didn’t work. You might address them in general terms, such as “you’re unreliable, you don’t help with housework, and it’s difficult to communicate with you.” You’ve given a summary statement. In essence, you are summarizing the relationship.

After that you might say something like “so I’m breaking up with you,” “I want you to move out,” or “Let’s go to couples counseling.” You’ve made an action statement.

In a speech you would tell your audience “Let me summarize,” “In conclusion,” or “So to review…” You touch on your key points, reflect on something you said in your introduction to tie it all together, and state your call to action (what you want your audience to do) if it’s a persuasive speech.

Of course in a relationship, telling your partner what to do might not be the best way to improve the situation. Opening up the discussion would be a much better approach to take.

ending a speech




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3 Ways To Be Authentic And Connect With Your Audience

My friend Bill told me “you have to share yourself to be really authentic.”  I think this has many applications in life. When it comes to giving a presentation, sharing a personal experience about yourself will create a bond with your audience, help them see you “like them,” and make them more open to what you have to say. (It will also relax you and put you in a more conversational state.)

So I asked Bill, “What does being authentic really mean?”

“Sharing personal experiences,” he said. So I asked just how personal. I mean, after all, are we talking about spilling our guts?

“Whatever is necessary to connect with the audience,” he told me.

audience analysis






“Be really sincere,” he went on.

OK bub, cough it up. Exactly what are you telling me?

“To connect with a speaker, what would you want to hear from them?” I probed further.

1. “A personal example I can relate to.”

2. “Sincere emotion.”

3. “Showing how you made an awful mistake but learned from it.”

Good thinking, Bill. You’re right on.

“Well it’s sincere. It’s how I deal with people.” And he’s a fabulously effective speaker who gets people to act.






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How To Become A Speaker On TED

Are you a great speaker with a compelling message? It’s not impossible but it is competitive! Read how here:



giving a speech


Get coached to be a powerful speaker! http://tinyurl.com/87deavv

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The Simplest Way To Get Ideas For Your Presentation

When someone told me the simplest way to get ideas for my presentation, I didn’t want to believe it,

but I discovered she was right: get out of your house or office and go for a walk. Seem dumb?  It’s really not, and according to research, it actually helps you see new connections, break up narrow thinking, encourage new ideas and expand the box you may be thinking  in.

It’s a pleasure to go for a walk where I live. Colorful Victorians, steep streets and dramatic city views are visible from nearly everywhere. At the top of my favorite street is a bench carved from a tree. It’s smooth and cozy, in the shade of stunning natural foliage and with a breathtaking view of San Francisco. Just sitting here for 5 minutes transports me away to another mental space. When I come back home, my mind feels uncluttered and ideas flow more easily.


giving a presentation

I get a lot of ideas for my presentations when I come up here. And of course my heart is happy for the exercise.

Today I took great pleasure in watching my dog make friends with a towering 1 year old German Shepard; I loved watching kids squeal on the slide in the park. A group of Native Americans was dressed in traditional clothing and singing softly; nearby, a family party centered around a BBQ. I noticed a new garden, lovers holding hands, a boy flying a kite… None of this would have been part of my day had I not left the house.


I came back with a different perspective about what I was going to be presenting this week.

Next time you have to prepare a presentation, get out of your secure chair and take a short walk. Grab a notebook and a recording device, or just talk into your phone. Take pictures of what you see. Everything your mind captures can be an example, or spark a memory that leads to a story, a lesson or a metaphor.

It really is such a simple way to get ideas for your presentation.

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Are Stories Really Necessary?

In my recent university public speaking class, I asked my students to give a “reflective” speech; a story about a powerful experience they had. I didn’t expect every one of us to have tears in our eyes all night. Looking back at each one of them, what I remember are images, emotions, and deep messages. Many of the details have faded away, but my impression of each one of my students is still crystal clear. As I sat, like the others, riveted to my chair, anticipating but in some cases, almost afraid to hear what was coming next, I know I had shut out every other sensation around me. Each speaker owned my attention. Had they been selling something, I could not have said no. Now, weeks later, I’m still left with a distinct visual image and an impression that is undeniable.

telling stories







What they shared in this very breast-baring presentation showed the capacity of their emotions, the ability to show their vulnerability, teach a life lesson, and ultimately, to connect with the audience.

There is an art to storytelling and there are many ways to do it well. These are learning experiences. What matters is that storytelling is a powerful way to share your information that will remain in the minds of your audience much longer than miles of procedures and buckets of statistics.

And the end result: you will more successfully accomplish your purpose.


Learn to use powerful storytelling techniques! http://tinyurl.com/87deavv

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What Makes A Mind Blowing Speech?

It’s only fitting that today, Martin Luther King Day, we recognize not only a great man but a speech that has continued to impact millions around the world.  It’s what I call a mind blowing speech because there has never been anything like it, and almost everyone can remember at least a line or two from it. His use of vivid language – his ability to make you feel as if you could see every scene he described, hear every sound and feel every emotion – this is what made Dr. King’s speech so powerful.

Click here to read the text: http://tinyurl.com/arzpqho

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My 5 Most Popular Public Speaking Tips in 2012

#1: This is a public speaking tip for women (and some men), and often younger speakers. Often you (they) use a different kind of language. They come across as being more tentative, hedging, and using heresay. Instead, take ownership! Be direct! Be straightforward about expressing what you know.

#2: Conclude your presentation by leaving your audience with a final thought, action or appeal. Don’t end with “that’s it” or just drifting away.


presentation tips

#3 SMILE! No matter how rotten your day has been, how nervous or unprepared you feel, SMILE. It will relax you and make your audience more receptive. Don’t let anyone think you don’t want to be there.

#4 Smile. It seems so simple, but it shows sincerity, openness, likeability and humility. It warms you audience up to you.

#5 If you get pulled off track in your presentation, and especially if you start running out of time, ask yourself: What do I really, absolutely need my audience to know at this point? It’s a good trigger to get you to focus on what matters most, and to separate it from all the things you think would be nice to cover and you wish you could talk about.


Get coaching to build your confidence! http://tinyurl.com/87deavv

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How To Make New Year’s Resolutions For Giving A Speech

The Mayan calendar might have ended but the world did not, so the likelihood that you’re going to have to give a speech at some point is still pretty high. Here’s an easy way to make your New Year’s Resolutions for giving a speech.

On your each monthly page (or screen if you’re digital) of your calendar, write down your focus for that month. Work on that one technique all month so you get really good and it becomes automatic. The next month you add in the next technique.

Based on the fantastic response to my facebook page, Secrets For Writing Powerful Presentations, these are the most popular tips, which I’ve simplified for you. They include delivery and writing techniques, and are in no particular order.

#1: Give sustained eye contact.

giving a speech





#2: Tell stories.

#3: If you get lost, ask yourself “what do I really, absolutely need my audience to know?”

#4: Smile!!!

#5: Speak from your heart.

giving a speech





#6: Conclude your presentation by leaving your audience with a final thought, action or appeal.

#7: (This is mostly for women because they tend to be tentative and hedge more.) Take ownership, and be direct and straightforward about expressing what you know.

#8: Use the technique of repetition to drive home a point.

giving a speech





#9: Use graphical images, not bullets, on your PowerPoint slides.

#10: Do an audience analysis so you know who you’re talking to and can meet their expectations.

#11: Pause!

#12: Organize your presentation in 7 EASY steps. Buy my ebook here and find out how:


 writing a speech


There you have it. Your list of New Year’s Resolutions For Giving A Speech!

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