Audience Confused? You Lose, Part II

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May 272015

web Marsha_FreedmanIf you haven’t already read Part I, I suggest you do so first.

Another reason for confusion is that you may be presenting too much information at one time. Think in terms of making three points. If the information is new and complex, consider stopping after each point to take questions, rather than waiting for the end.

Are the various elements of the presentation congruent? As an example, if you’re expressing a positive outcome, yet your facial expression and tone don’t match up, you may confuse the audience. Chances are they’ll believe what they see, not what they hear.

By avoiding confusion, you’ll be in a better position to gain the respect and recognition of your peers, upper management, and clients, win over your audiences, achieve greater buy-in for your ideas, and close more sales. In addition, think about how great you’ll feel!

Young adults

Audience Confused? You Lose! Part I

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Apr 162015

web Marsha_FreedmanYou think you’re delivering the speech of a lifetime. You look around, expecting to see smiles and nods, but, instead, you see people with confused looks on their faces, elbowing the person next to them, as if to say “Do you get it? I don’t!”

Not a good scenario, especially if you’re there to convince people to buy your product, service, or idea. What went wrong?

If the audience appears to be confused, it’s possible your information is too complex for them to comprehend. The solution? If it’s an external audience to which you’ll be presenting, do a bit of research on the group first. This way, you can find out how much they already know. If you assume, you may be way off target. If it’s an internal audience, keep in mind that not all areas of an organization have equal needs or interests.

As an example, if you have a detailed presentation full of numbers, tables and graphs for the folks in finance and present the same one for the human resources department, they may not be engaged or even understand the information. Do a bit of audience analysis first to learn what your audience’s needs, fears, level of knowledge and expectations are before you start writing your presentation.

Enjoy Part I? Click here for Part II.

Marsha Freedman

“Changing the world, one presentation at a time”



 Posted by at 10:52 pm

Music: A Powerful Communication Tool

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Feb 052015

Musical noteEver find yourself singing and grooving to a tune on the radio while driving? Remember a time on the dance floor when you felt transported to another place and time? Music is a powerful tool we can use to change our mental and physical state without having to resort to pharmaceuticals.

In her book, The Power of Music, Elena Mannes states “Science all but confirms that humans are hard-wired to respond to music.” She also says scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.

The “Recovery Unplugged” program in Ft. Lauderdale uses music to reach the participants. One participant stated that the music touched her on an emotional level and led to her eventual recovery.

Music can help you in your communication and public speaking situations in the following ways:

1. Before entering the room in which you’ll be delivering a presentation, meeting a new client, or giving a sales pitch, listen to upbeat music, such as “The Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor,  “Dare to Be” by Jana Stanfield or “I Feel Good” by James Brown.

2. For motivation or inspiration, try  “Let it Go” by Idina Menzel, “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis or “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly.

3. To put yourself in a fun mood, try “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift or “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

We know that music is the universal language.  I suggest we start “speaking” it more often!

 Posted by at 2:51 pm

Suze Orman recoups beautifully!

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Jan 232015

Marsha FreedmanAs a presentation skills coach and trainer, I have always admired Suze Orman’s oratory skills. In my speeches and workshops, when I talk about the qualities a credible speaker should have, Suze’s photo is displayed on my PowerPoint slide.

I was so excited to hear her speak this week at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton. No, she wasn’t speaking about finances, but about equal rights for gays.

Suze definitely lived up to my expectations. She was dynamic, personable, and engaging. Unexpectedly, she moved us with a letter she read that had been written to her late mother. It turns out that her mother had a hard time at first accepting that her daughter was a lesbian.

When Suze started reading this emotional note, she realized that the pages were not in the proper order. The seasoned pro that she is, she kept her cool, looked up and smiled, making light of it.  Who couldn’t relate? After all, stuff happens, even if you’re an experienced speaker.  Suze turned, what could have been an embarrassment,  into a plus. I love you even more now, Suze!

As many of you reading this may not be seasoned pros, I strongly suggest that you do number your cards or pages. This way, you won’t get flustered or thrown off if this same situation should ever occur. By the way, President Gerald Ford once read his speech out of order because his note cards weren’t numbered!

 Posted by at 5:07 pm

Can you really determine your own happiness?

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Jun 192014

Marshaimage2011A documentary that aired on public television this past weekend caught my attention. I consider myself to be a happy person and often wonder why many others walk around with frowns on their faces, grumbling about how horribly life has been treating them. In my public speaking workshops, I encourage participants to smile more in order to release endorphins, one of the feel-good chemicals. In addition, I speak about making  choices that will lead to greater success and reframing situations in order to see them in a more positive light.

According to an extensive study that was conducted with people all over the world, 50% of our happiness is genetic—meaning we can’t change it. Ten percent results from our circumstances—meaning we may or may not be able to change it, at least not immediately—but a whopping 40% of happiness is controlled by us—our intentions and our attitude.

My advice is to focus on the 40%—the portion which we can control—and quit harping on the 10%! Make a list of all the positive things you have in your favor. In my case, I have two wonderful, grown sons, three grandchildren, a profession I love, and many wonderful friends. In my work, I get the satisfaction of empowering clients to move past their fears so their voices can be heard. Next, make a list of goals for the next year and find photos that represent those goals. Post these in your home and place of business. Focus on the future and stop dwelling on the past. As the song from Frozen says,” Let it Go!”

Remember, 40% of your happiness is determined by your attitude and intention. What are you going to do today to be happy?

woman thumbs upMarsha Freedman

Express Yourself Communications, Inc.

"Changing the world one presentation at a time"

“Changing the world one presentation at a time”

 Posted by at 9:37 am

Delivery or content? Which is more important for charisma?

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May 212014

frontfacewksp MarkA study published in The Leadership Quarterly in 2011 of  leading management gurus who speak on the international circuit were studied to see which was perceived by audiences to be more important in determining charisma: content or delivery. Findings?  Delivery outweighs content for  charisma. An interesting finding was that no one delivery style can be defined as charismatic. Gary Hamel was the top-rated charismatic speaker in this study that  included  Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Tom Peters, Daniel Goleman, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and Peter Senge.gary hamel

The winner: Gary Hamel, who speaks on change, leadership, and innovation.

If you’d like to develop a  more charismatic delivery, feel free to contact me for a complimentary coaching session.

Presentation Pitfalls

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May 082014

frontfacewksp MarkWhen was the last time someone gave you an honest evaluation of your speech or business presentation? What you don’t know may be hurting you. While others may be afraid to tell you the truth— especially if you’re their boss— it’s better to find out earlier than later. You don’t want to lose a potential sale or the respect of an audience member by making one of the errors below:

1. Coming off  as arrogant

2. Treating the audience as if they are stupid and don’t know any better

3. Making a joke at someone else’s expense

4. Bragging about oneself or one’s firm

5. Saying something offensive (e.g. cursing, off-color jokes, putting down a particular gender, race, or sexual orientation)

6. Speaking too long,  in a monotone, or mumbling

7. Reading off notes or slides

If you’d like an honest evaluation by a presentation skills pro, send me an e-mail at



Are Poor Writing Skills Holding You Back?

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May 062014

frontfacewksp MarkHave you noticed that few people write properly these days? Public enemy #1? Texting. With all the shortcuts used  (Can you even remember a time pre-texting?), people’s writing skills have deteriorated. Some of my college students forget that, yes, there is a difference between formal writing and texting. I often see i instead of I and u instead of you.  Spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors run rampant. Here’s a funny writing error from one of my students: soda should be band from school. I replied: rock or hip-hop?

If you want to be taken seriously among your peers, superiors, and customers, it’s important to proofread your work before sending anything out. Read it from the bottom up; it’s easier to catch errors that way.

I suggest you sign up for free weekly writing tips at my other site, Basic Learning Systems, and consider purchasing the Bull’s Eye Business Writing Workbook. The electronic version is only $19.99 and it’s 115 pages long. It has sections on confusing word pairs, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, and lots of exercises (with answers), so you can test your skills.

front cover color






 Posted by at 5:22 pm

3 Critical C’s in Communication, Part III

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Apr 082014

Business seminarWhether you’re speaking to just a few people in a relatively informal setting or to a hundred people at a formal luncheon, certain principles apply. I call them the Three C’s of Communication: Create. Connect. Convince. The two previous blogs discussed Create and Connect,


Did you include a healthy dose of facts plus emotion? You’ve probably heard the expression: “People justify on facts, but buy on emotion.” Too many presentations rely on facts alone, but that’s rarely enough to convince people to buy. How does your product, service, or idea make them feel?

How will the audience know you’re a credible source of information? Include your title, years of experience, stories from happy customers, and cite your sources for statistics.

Was your delivery smooth and well-rehearsed?

Does your PowerPoint, or other materials, match up closely to what you’re saying (not too many words, though) so you maintain their attention? Did you include engaging photos or charts to make or reinforce your points?

Did you plan to get the audience to nod in agreement several times, so that, when you close and ask for the sale or agreement, you have made it easier for them to say “yes” once more?

In closing, remember the Three Critical Cs to Communication: Create a message or presentation that fits your audience and its needs. Connect with them by fulfilling their expectations and needs and by involving them in a two-way conversation vs a lecture. Convince them to buy your product, service or idea by utilizing not just facts, but emotion, and come off as credible. If you follow my suggestions, you’ll hopefully end up with more of another C—CASH!

 Posted by at 8:55 pm