COMING SOON: Speaking With Purpose : A guide to delivering impressive presentations!

This book expands on the ideas outlined in my December 2022 TEDxNelson talk (see below). Read also: My TEDx Talk Just Reached 100,000 Views | Pre-order Announcement Of New Book: ‘Speaking With Purpose’.

There are currently 30+ chapters and over 13k words detailing all that I know about public speaking, coaching this challenging skill-set plus tackling the biggest hurdles of nerves, emotional connection and storytelling models. And just as way of a teaser, here are three random un-proofed chapters:

Welcome—this book is for those who have to speak in public, present to small and large groups of people, and who want to master their nerves. It’s also for individuals looking to hone their physical and vocal nuances to deliver insightful content in a way which creates emotive action from their audiences. 

These monographs detail the three elements of effective public speaking and will outline practical advice you can start applying during your next talk; whether you be a student delivering your final thesis, a confident leader having to deliver a closing keynote to a large conference crowd or a Chief Executive pitching the next 20 year plan to the board.

I trust you as an adult to take what you need and dismiss what you don’t.

This is not a ‘you should’ but more like a ‘you could’ guide based on everything I’ve learned in this arena (although these are tried and tested approaches which achieve re

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Phillip Pullman

As detailed in my bio I was the licensee and producer of the TEDxWellington events for nearly ten years and one thing we provided was a five week coaching experience to aid the development of the talks. One year we had an individual we were failing in this sense as we were busy encouraging them (along with the other speakers) to stand in their story, project out and connect with the audience that way.

Well this person just wasn’t comfortable with this and as the weeks passed it became apparent it wasn’t going to work. I remember the conversation with them exploring other alternatives and the answer came from a comment she made about sitting in her office, across from her clients on two comfy sofas and how that was her most authentic self.

So, we put the speaker in a comfy chair and wow, instant success. The talk became intimate and focussed. Soft as well as powerful.

This was the best version of them to deliver their story in their way, not in our expected way of standing.

It also aligns with a favourite TED talk of mine which is a deeply moving, gentle and poignant, all delivered whilst sitting in a chair (please check out BJ Miller 2015’s talk: What really matters at the end of life). Another case of cultivating closeness through the simple act of sitting.

You’ll learn in a later chapter (DIVA) that understanding and stipulating the best environmental factors for you to deliver a great talk is paramount. And hoping the above story and examples give solid reasons to think differently in this area (albeit in rare cases).

One word of caution here for those hosting and ‘sitting’ on panels at events: this is a very different domain that what is described above in terms of a solo speaker in a chair. Unless you use clever lighting it’s very hard to create the same effect as what I’ve described in the other cases although much of the other stuff in the book can be applied in this scenario.

So lets get back to presenting and the body by focussing on the…

Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.”
Charles Mingus

Nobody likes the way they sound. That’s a given, therefore, get over it. I guarantee you sound just fine enough.

Accents rule. Lean into them with just a side consideration of clarity for those with thick regional ones. Over the years, due to my international work plus living overseas for over a decade, my Welsh accent has softened. Then again, I still roll my “r’s” heavily and when I get excited it comes out wonderfully. I just make sure I articulate correctly and it’s never been an issue.

Cadence is how you modulate your voice and add stresses to what’s being said. These inflections can assist the audience to consider the importance of certain aspects of the story.

Just like the cadence, the rhythm is another aspect to consider. Varying the speed throughout any talk can be an effective way to add some ‘colour’ to an orators style. Although, don’t have too much of a difference here as it will sound awful.

Play around with subtle shifts in both cadence and rhythm which match the emotional range, like a little faster when it’s an exciting element of the story with a higher register and then slowing down again to annunciate for the poignant aspects which allows for reflection.

By the way if you want to create tension or make the listeners understand of the important of a statement, just pause.

A pause is like an underline is writing. It emphasises what came before.

Now the other way to do this is to repeat something. However this can only be used sparingly, like cumin in cooking.

Repeating something, even twice in a talk, gets noticed and I would suggest using this trick just once. Focus it on your biggest point or statement or piece of information which is truly arresting. Like a statistic which generates a ‘wow’ from when you share it, or a summarising line or two to distill a big topic which you’ve been introducing, or a revealing insight from a lived experience or even report. Just be careful with this one beyond that one time use.

Zen And The Heart Of Social Media : a small publication offering clear and awakening insights into online practices and strategies.

Written by MediaSnackers (a company I founded in 2006), the go-to guys for companies and organisations who want to understand & effectively use social media :

“This book expands and explores the reasoning behind our approach as social media practitioners and zen adventurers.

Presented as a collection of mantras / insights / statements / principles / standards (via 33 chapters) which have evolved through our experience of working with a cross-sector group of clients and which have their roots in a decade of online activity plus roles in the public & private sector.”