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Profile In Leadership: Air Force Academy Superintendent’s Race Speech

On Monday, five black cadet candidates at the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School were targeted in message boards with ugly racist attacks.

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), addressed thousands of students yesterday about the attack. His five-minute speech is worth watching in full. As many commenters on the YouTube video remarked, “This is what leadership looks like.”

It’s easy to see why this speech went viral. To help other speakers use some of the same elements to improve their own talks, I’ve dissected six of the things General Silveria did so well.

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How To Practice For Your Presentations (Part 2)

In this post, you’ll learn three more great tips to help make sure your practice sessions are as effective as possible.

These tips emphasize quality of practice, not quantity — which will also save you time.

Among other things, you’ll learn what research says about the ideal location to practice, how to critique your own performance without being unnecessarily critical, and how to solicit feedback from others to ensure helpful rather than destructive input.

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When “What’s In It For Me?” Is The Wrong Question To Ask

For decades, public speaking experts have instructed presenters to put themselves in the minds of their audiences by answering this question: “What is their WIIFM?”

WIIFM (or “What’s In It For Me?”) suggests that audiences will only act on your ideas if they see a direct benefit to their own lives.

That’s true sometimes —but too often, it ignores a far more important question.

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Shrinking The Gap: How To Persuade A Skeptical Audience

When a wide chasm divides you and your audience, you must shrink the gap that exists between you. The wider the gap, the sooner you should seek to close it.

Imagine a rocky stream, with you on one side and the audience on the other. Begin your talk by walking toward their side, taking their hands, and leading them slowly to yours.

Before you can convince, you have to connect. Here’s one great way to forge a powerful connection.

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Your ABSO: Audience-Focused Bright Shiny Object

In my two previous posts, you learned how to develop your presentation’s headline and “diagnose” your audience.

Now that you’ve diagnosed your audience, you have a better sense of where they are now, what their concerns or challenges are, and what points you might need to address during your talk to persuade them to adopt a new behavior or way of thinking.

The audience is so fundamental to your speaking success that we should put it front and center. Here’s how to do it.

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Public Speaking: 10 Questions To Analyze Your Audience

What would you think of a dermatologist who offered you a diagnosis for an itchy red spot on your leg that’s been growing larger for weeks—without even bothering to look at it?

Not much, probably. No wonder it makes me nervous when I see presenters rushing into any audience without knowing anything about the people to whom they’re speaking. They’re making the same mistake as the dermatologist.

Here are 10 questions you should ask before speaking to any audience.

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The One Question To Ask Before Every Presentation

What is your bright shiny object?

If there’s just one headline, one idea, or one takeaway message that your audience remembers three months from now, what do you want that to be?

I’ve posed that seemingly simple question to thousands of speakers. Few are able to answer it directly, at least at first. Some can’t answer it even after they’ve finished putting their presentations together.

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13 Ways To Break The Pattern During A Speech

We humans acclimate rather quickly to unchanging stimuli. Just as we normally tune out the feel of our shirt, the gentle hum of a ceiling fan, and the comforting scent of our morning coffee, we tune out speakers who become too predictable.

But that offers us a vital clue about how to keep our audiences interested: do the opposite. Just as we evolved the capacity to tune out static, we developed a keen ability to detect change in the environment. We notice things that are different—or that “break a pattern.”

In this post, you’ll learn more about retaining the audience’s attention—and learn 13 ways to break the pattern.

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