“We are in an age of unprecedented change, it’s a ‘revolutionary’ time to be alive! The question we need to be asking ourselves is - ‘Am I leading that change?’ I believe we all have a choice to step up into personal, professional and social leadership. We have a choice to become agents for change, amplifiers, thought leaders to upgrade our thinking and lead our very own revolutions.”

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Read books, not speeches

When giving a presentation, you should not read your speech to your audience.

Only those whose words get scrutinised, translated or pulled apart should read their speech; even then it is a communication compromise. We can read your speech online or in an abstract.

If the speech is for those in the room (as opposed to some audience outside of the environment) then you are better off talking from knowledge and adjusting the content to suit the audience dynamics.

Some tips:

1. Write your first draft in long hand form then chunk it down into changeable segments.

2. Learn the 5 segments of your speech, not the words.

3. Summarise the whole speech into one sheet of paper.

4. Memorise your key points, but not necessarily their order of delivery

5. Create a visual that summarises your whole speech, and if you get lost, refer back to it

Reading is a solo activity for adults.



Stuff happens - it's OK

Acknowledge interference. When something goes wrong and it's not your fault, be cool enough to acknowledge it. Continuing robotically with your message highlights your desire to deliver and get off the stage. Be cool with stuff going wrong, and bring it out into the open.

Here are some examples:

1. If someone walks across your stage, you may have a one-liner like, "Don't worry, it's just a stage you're going through."

2. Playfully pose for the photographer as they try to catch you in an action shot.

3. If you stuff up a word, laugh and say something like "Ha! There goes my brain running faster than my mouth, but that's nice - it's usually the other way around."

4. If the AV technician needs to adjust your wireless microphone mid-flight, you may want to say something like, "Look, I don't have time to dance with you."

Stay cool. It's not about perfection; it's live. Make it real.



Develop an Idea Bank

World class presenters develop a bank of thoughts or ideas that can be accessed in a moment and can be instantly customised to any audience or situation. For this to work though, you need to capture the essence of an idea quickly and have a system for depositing ideas, reviewing them and withdrawing them as required.

I believe that you should never speak about something unless you have given it considerable thought. Even when faced with a spontaneous request to speak, you can still speak from a well considered space, assuming you have done some prep work on your Idea Bank.

An Idea Bank is constantly being enhanced, re-worked and customised. It is a well organised, chunked down catalogue of mini presentations. The IP snapshot system we teach in the Million Dollar Expert Program allows for different people to deliver the same message and adjust it for their style and environment.

Seven benefits of an Idea Bank

1. You can speedily prepare a great speech
2. You are free to customise content whilst preparing
3. The message can be picked up and effectively delivered by others
4. You don't have to rehearse speeches word perfect
5. You demonstrate your knowledge impressively when asked to speak
6. A team of people can present the same message and adjust the content to suit their personal style
7. You can extend or shorten the speech duration as required

In short, it's about creating a set of key ideas and messages that you draw upon at different times and present in a different sequence depending on the outcome you are looking to achieve. The ideas in your bank are all valued differently, some are big ideas, some lesser. A presentation may need a few smaller ideas to make the big ones work.

The more ideas you have in your bank the better, but only if you can access them easily.



Lightning talks and the power of the short speech

I have been watching for a while now the evolution of a concept around the discipline of preparing short talks. It goes by a bunch of names like Ignite, Pecha Kucha and Speed Talking. My favourite is the IT industries adoption of the term 'Lightning Talks'. The metaphor works for me.

They all operate with slight variations in duration of sessions and number of slides.

This is my favourite format so far:

* 5 minute presentation
* 20 slides only
* 15 second automatic transitions

I encourage you to create a presentation using this format, as it forces you to get to the point and lifts your energy as a presenter.

Go on, give it a go!



Don't let the turkeys get you down

Most of the time when you are presenting to a difficult or hostile audience you will get questioned on content, so don't use examples… create frameworks for discussion instead.

A well-designed context will help you make your point without creating too much dissent.
Once you get agreement on the big picture you can begin to present your stuff so it supports the established framework.

Here are five tips:

  1. Seek to agree on context, strategy and themes.
  2. When you do present detail, align it to the agreed context.
  3. Be careful of the assumptions you make about your topic.
  4. Name the problem before you address the issue.
  5. Find out in advance the ultimate solution the audience is seeking and connect to that often.
Don't get bogged down in content; get agreement in context.


Matt Church


Omm not Umm; The Power of a Mantra

A great idea can be expressed as a short statement. A slogan if you will. The word mantra has Hindu origins and means, a word or formula, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer. Now, I am not suggesting you get people chanting your key ideas, but it is the effect we are going for.

A great speaker creates memorable phrasing. It's almost as if they are suggesting a language people can then use to express how they feel, what they need to do next or perhaps even simply to show they belong. It happens in conferences from time to time. A speaker leaves such an indelible impression that for days afterwards people are using phrases from the speech. This is not just a self rewarding goal, it's indicative that your speech, your words have touched and influenced the audience in a positive way. You have made sense of their world. You have provided a frame of reference that is so agreeable the individuals in the room choose to carry it forward for you. They become Thought Repeaters and in each utterance and use of language from your speech you increase your audience beyond those who were in the room when you spoke.

The question is… How can you do this?

Here are three ways you might increase the likelihood that your points are carried on by the audience into the rest of their life.

1. Use the phrase in a story.
One way to increase the memorability of the speech is to wrap your language in a story. People then use a sentence, point or object from the story as a label to explain in short hand the essence of the idea expressed in the story.

2. Use the phrase repeatedly.
Use the phrase repeatedly. Use the phrase repeatedly. But...it's actually got be a meaningful phrase, not just any old words said again.

3. Use poetic phrases.
When there is a certain rhythm and rhyme to your language, a Hip Hop esque feel, people will dig it and be down with that. Yo know what I mean? (I am so uncool… I can hear my eventually teenage kids cringing at my middle age attempt to be relevant and in touch). Martin Luther King had a rhythm and a poetic coupling of words.

We are all so busy it's hard to remember to pick up the milk on the way home! Your key ideas and messages need to be easy to remember, they need to be chant-able. Mantra's are good for the memory and key to the message.

Ommmm.ommmm.ommmm… not um, um, um….



In the unlikely event of an emergency

I was on a plane again last night... The joys of travel! It struck me again how common the phrase of ‘in the unlikely event of an emergency' was. I was on 3 different airlines and each used the same phrase in their emergency procedures safety presentation. They are not afraid to consider what might go wrong and yet many leaders and certainly Thought Leaders who present, are often loathed to prepare for unlikely events.

World class presenters head off disaster before it happens. They anticipate what might go right or wrong and build in key concepts or frames to manage the possible fall out.
A word of caution goes with this idea. Often in anticipating a situation, we actually create the situation. If you are coming from a lack of confidence or even some flawed assumptions about your audience, you can make things worse using this idea. If I could repeat this paragraph several times through this idea I would. So every few paragraphs, read this one again.

I recently stumbled onto a recurring problem in my Inspiration series. The keynotes, workshops and full day programs unpack what it takes to be inspired and be inspiring. I had not anticipated (perhaps naively) that there would be a few people who want to throw a wet blanket on anything at all, either up or hopeful. It was not every program, but I started to notice that certain people might white ant the message of hope and self-accountability in the breaks between sessions. I had to fix it and fast! So I started to build a key message about the difference between a Cynic and a Sceptic. I encouraged scepticism and communicated a zero tolerance for cynicism. I defined a cynic as someone who had hope and now ‘urinates in the attitude pond we all drink from' (the ‘p' in pisses adds nice alliteration). A sceptic on the other hand is someone who suspends good or bad judgement until they're convinced. This frame is very powerful as it makes thinking OK and negative whiney judgement as not. It doesn't fix the problem completely, but it does set the tone.

Start with writing a list of what might go wrong when you speak. It's not negative thinking to prepare for all eventualities. This is the intellectual challenge that scenario planning has an idea. People who are particularly superstitious don't like discussing the downside of any idea. It's as if for them, the considering of the idea makes it more likely to happen. It is something you have to think through as a speaker.

So what might go wrong?

Not logistically wrong, but conceptually or culturally wrong. Here are some examples…

  • There may be cynicism to your key ideas. A negative undercurrent might be running through the audience that you have seemingly no control of.
  • A major disaster happens just before you go on stage. 9/11 is a good example for this for many of us who were working that day.
  • The Speaker before you may deliver some bad news that leaves a lot of unanswered questions in the minds of the audience members.
  • You might have an accent that the audience stereotypes to mean a certain mindset. E.g. Australians in New Zealand. Americans in Canada.
So, what would you do in each situation?

Here are four approaches that help deal with situations like those listed above.

1. Name the elephant.
One of the quickest ways to shut down a problem is to name it plainly and accurately. You state what's on peoples minds and you have better chance of getting onto something productive or possibly managing the issue. "I know what I might be thinking in your position, another Australian telling Kiwis how to do it better..." "I just want to say from the outset, I have learned so much at this conference seeing the innovative ideas many of your local awards winners have used to increase sales. My notebook is full and I can't wait to get back and try some of them in my office."

2. Give up control to gain it.
In tough situations I like to list the 7 points I planned to speak about and ask the audience if we only had time for 3, which 3 would they choose? Then go around the room asking them to vote. You then mix up your sequence so it serves the request of the room. Of course you need to know your presentation in idea chunks or modules to do this. The audience feels like they designed their own speech, you of course are delivering what you planned to but doing so in a flexible way. I heard it said once that a person's degree of happiness is directly proportional to their degree of control. In this case you can turn tough crowds around as they get to exert a little more influence on the agenda. This is particularly useful when something has just been taken away from the audience or they are used to making decisions.

3. Respond with a story.
Developing a bank of stories you can draw on at a moments notice is definitely a skill of world class presenters. A perfectly placed story that responds artfully to what has just happened or the prevailing mood of the room is an antidote to negative situations.

4. Plan to be spontaneous.
Anticipate what might go wrong and prepare in advance for these situations with off the cuff one-liners. A waiter walks in front of you while your speaking and you might say ‘don't worry it's just a stage your going through' (direct and yet satisfying), you fall off the stage onto the floor you might say ‘OK I will now take questions from the floor', a mobile phone goes off you might say ‘If that's my mum tell her I am working damn it.' You may of course find better humour than these seemingly lame ‘o' punch lines. It's not the size of the laugh that counts it's the sense of cool you bring to a potentially tricky situation.

There is nothing wrong with focusing on the potentially hazardous stuff that could come up. Some people seem to be superstitious about even considering what might go wrong, it's as if by doing so they make it possible. So, grab your rabbits foot, cross your fingers and start to hope for the best while you prepare for the worst. You may never need it...but if you do, you'll be glad you spent some time building in a plan for evacuation in 'the unlikely event of emergency.'



Living Hope, analysis of a great speech

What a great day to be alive - living in history.

I have nothing to say today but I second what he said...

The following is the prepared text of Barack Obama's election night address. I have added (humbly I might add) some contextual cues for the linguists, meta-gurus and Thought Leaders who might find it useful.


If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Significance (2)
It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Local Unity
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

Global Unity
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

Momentous moments (linked to Personalisation)
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

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