Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Great Speaker - er...Leader - Retires.

Steve Jobs, the iconic CEO of Apple, the financial engine behind the success of Pixar, and oft-described fantastic speaker has retired. Jobs' speaking was peppered with stories, humor, and dream-building. His magic from the stage, however, came less from what he would say and how he would say it, and more from who he was, and what he had done. More than a 'celebrity' speaker, he is a 'celebrated' speaker'. An innovator, natural marketer, and pioneer, his audiences wait with expectancy each time he opens his mouth, waiting for the next iMac, iPhone, and iPad.

Jobs is a prime example of the power that can be achieved when communication meets leadership and creativity. When a leaders message can be clearly understood and adopted. We are all in leadership positions to some degree. We may be 'bosses' at work, parents at home, deacons at church, officers in service clubs, or even just unknowing examples to those around us wanting to achieve what we've achieved.

Imagine what will happen when you learn to effectively speak as a Leader. Imagine making a real difference. Imagine changing the world around you, and the people who hear you. Imagine what it can be like to Speak & Deliver.

This Stanford Graduaation speech is not brilliant oratory, at least in terms of presentation and transitions. But the impact he is making on his audience is obvious.

This appearance shortly after his transplant shows us how emotionally invested this CEO is in his company, and how emotionally invested his company and fans are in him. He builds a dream of expectation as he talks about Apple's upcoming technological releases.

Stories. Dreams. Humor. Inspiring Change. That's what Speak & Deliver is all about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coach? Why, Yes I Am...

No, Not THAT kind of Coach...
An interesting question has come up over the last few weeks, as I've been making the rounds at Toastmaster clubs and attending the Toastmasters International Convention: "So, Rich, what do you do for a living?"

It's my fault, I suppose. I don't like to 'compete' with Toastmasters, or make it look like I'm using TM clubs drum up business. I haven't talked about clients in my blog. Other than a small pitch to coach speaking contestants in the spring, I don't talk rates, programs, or coaching on Facebook or Twitter. One of my favorite phrases is "Physician, heal thyself" - in this case, I guess it is "Coach, coach yourself"!

Presentations Coach? Why YES, I AM! 

Individual coaching, group coaching, seminar-style coaching. By the hour, by the project. In-person or long distance. Writing, delivery, and marketing. Props, PowerPoint, and whatever else you might need along the way.

I specialize in working with sales-oriented professionals, looking to use their speaking to spread their message and build clientele. With 20 years of sales, presentation, acting, and writing skills behind me, these individuals and groups are a perfect fit. Specialization doesn't require limitation, however. Customer service communication, motivational speaking, training programs - I work with people in all these areas. In the end, all communication goes back to sales and persuasion of some type, it's simply a matter of degree.

A crucial aspect of sales is asking for the sale. Have a presentation coming up? Call me - 720-235-8714 or email We'll come up with your success plan to Speak....& Deliver!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Toastmasters Monday: The 2011 Convention

I'm baaa-aaack....!

A delay in my flight brought me home in the wee hours of today, vs. last night. After 5 days in Vegas, or at least inside of the Bally's hotel, I'm glad to be home. I have so much to talk about - I could write a post a day on the convention. Since most of my readers are NOT Toastmasters, however, I will refrain, and simply do a quick run-down on everything from the politics to the pomp and circumstance to the contests.

2011 World Champion
Jock Elliott

I didn't place in my semi-final. Other than my disqualification in 2005 for time, I had always taken 1st or 2nd in the semi round, so this is a new feeling. The person I thought had won took second, Michael Desiderio. Kwong Yue Yang won the contest, and finished 2nd in the finals, to Jock Elliott. I did not attend the finals - but I give all credit to Jock, who has competed for 27 years, and been to the Finals 6 times. Jock - you're finally done, and on top after all this time! (Jock and I shared the Finals stage in 2006 and 2008 - technically I 'beat' him in 2006 by taking 3rd....hmm, does that, not really!)

I learned a lot this year, and saw a lot of differences in the new format of semis vs. Regions. A difference in judging, in speech quality, in energy. Still, I think the new format is fair to all involved. Results are always debatable in such a subjective contest.


 2011 Int'l President
Michael Notaro
Our organization has a LOT of politics - and I've been vocal in the past about my likes and dislikes. Still, my overall feel after the business meeting is that we are being served as best as possible by our fellow Toastmasters on the Board of Directors. Their intent is in our best interests, even as they are unable to please everyone all the time.

The more I hear about Dan Rex, our organization head, the more I am convinced he is a calm and reasonable man with a love for the organization, as opposed to the megalomaniac he is occasionally portrayed as on LinkedIn by dissatisfied members. Our new President, Michael Notaro, is a good man, and a friend - I'm sure we'll continue to make progress over the next 12 months toward the betterment of TI.


Yes, dues went up, and people are ticked. The Board admitted up front they could have announced it in a better way than they did. That horse is out of the barn. If you're a member of one club, and can't save an extra $1.50/month for Toastmasters, frankly, it's not important enough to you, or you probably should be spending your money elsewhere. I know what it's like to be broke - so this doesn't come from a viewpoint of wealthy entitlement. If you're a member of multiple clubs, and can afford them now, you can probably save that 1.50 a week to stay in your four clubs. One less coffee, 6 less cigarettes, one less fast food burger. Or drop a club and just attend - they'll probably be happy to have you be a part of their group anyway, if you are providing value and have another group (or four) that you regularly attend.

TI membership may see a lull this year - hopefully the board took those risk factors into account.


Honestly - I'm not a fan. The logo is growing on me a bit, but I am a traditionalist, and the gavels and such on the old logo were great. But I'm not exactly in their target audience anymore, and the new colors and graphics will likely work just fine.

The Leadership push, however, leaves me frustrated in three ways.

1. We are no more a leadership organization today than we were a week ago. The rebrand to 'Where Leaders are Made' was not accompanied by a new program, manual set, etc.

2. Speaking seems to be secondary now, a component of leadership, instead of an end in itself. We used to be a speaking organization. Then we became a Communication and Leadership group. Now we're a Leadership Training Professional Organization, where speaking is but a cog in a bigger machine.

3. Our marketing will be a bait and switch. Come be a leader, we say. But once you enter a meeting, it's 85% speaking, 15% leading. The focus of the club, the format, the activities, are all centered on speeches and speaking, with leadership facilitating the speaking. Now our branding implies the opposite. What will companies and individuals think after finding out the reality behind the brand?

For me, I'd like to see our leadership component strengthened, certainly, and sit side-by-side with speaking. Equal parts to a bigger cause - Changing the World Through Leadership and Communication. But that's too long for a business card, I suppose.

The Convention Itself...

Well put together, strong ed sessions, and, for the most part, uplifting. Dr. Dave Logan was wonderful as a speaker in the Opening Ceremony - good message on the Invention of Ideas as a Speaker being a lost art. Toastmasters gave each of us a copy of his book, Tribal Leadership, as part of the rebranding push toward leadership.

The other major speaker, Robin Sharma, our Golden Gavel recipient, left me cold. Full of platitudes and cliches, it seemed like he was trying to get in and out of the event as quickly as possible. Equally disappointing was the applause he received in the middle of his speech for the use of a particularly hackneyed story about putting a puzzle together from a torn up magazine page, where the little kids say "put the person together on the other side of the page, and the world comes together on the other side". Groan. We as Toastmasters should be a bit more discerning....

Still, a tremendous experience over 4 days. Eye-opening in many ways. For first-timers, they were able to truly appreciate the breadth of our organization, both geographically and educationally.

In Closing...

Toastmasters is a wonderful organization that does a tremendous amount of good for over 200,000 people around the globe each day. It has its shortcomings, its detractors, and its 'haters'. Any organization made of people, and making a difference, WILL. It means that you're doing something right. It may not be perfect - but I know of no other organization that does more for less than Toastmasters - and I'm proud to be a member.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Speaking of Airtime....

A year ago I was flying all over the place, 2-3 times a week. So far in 2011, this is my first time flying out of Colorado, as I head to the Toastmasters International Convention in Las Vegas. Even so, it feels like yesterday I was last sitting around waiting for my flight.

We've all heard the term Automobile University - using your drive time to listen to tapes, er...CDs with information you want to absorb. And most of us are smart enough to use our time at the airport to at least read a book, even if it's just the latest potboiler or romance paperback.

Ten Fun and/or Productive Ways to Spend Airtime

1. Write Letters. Remember those? Not emails, Facebook messages, or Tweets. Letters. Use your program of choice and actually take some time to write your mom, your sister, your kids, or those Thank You notes you've been putting off. You can even (gasp) use a pen and paper, or buy a postcard at a giftshop to make someone's day. Written communication can still change lives!

2. Personal calls. While it lacks the permanence and thoughtfulness of a Letter, your friends and relatives will still likely appreciate the time you give them - and you'll actually get to hear what's up in their life at the same time.

2. Spontaneous Conversing. Start an actual conversation with someone you don't know. Find out as much about them as you can - see how much you can find out about them and how little you tell about yourself. Not out of secrecy, but out of a desire to learn about someone new. You never know when you'll find inspiration for a speech, or even a potential client. If nothing else, you make a momentary friend.

3. Blog. Like I'm doing right now, sitting in the McDonald's at Denver International. Catch up or get ahead, but use the 'private' time to your advantage!

4. Research. Always wanted to learn something about clogging? Look it up, and spend a little time expanding your horizons. Better yet, get some up to the minute news about the company you are about to speak to, check the local news for the city you are headed to, or find a restaurant you want to try upon arrival that isn't Applebee's for the umpteenth time.

5. People StoryNotes. A variation of people watching - take it a step further and create stories in your head - where they are going, why, etc. Take some notes about them, clothes, hairstyle, mannerisms. They can become great characters in your speaking arsenal. Be careful not to be too obvious, or this exercise of creativity will turn into an exercise of creepiness...

6. Personal Review. Are you on track with your life? Have you planned the next few days, weeks, or months, or do you keep putting it off? Airtime is the perfect time for self-reflection and short and long-range planning.

7. The Big Idea. The Personal Review with focus -- come up with your next book, speech, product -- and focus solely on what it will take to make it happen from steps A to Z.

8. Read. But not something you normally would - either material that is new too you (genre or subject-wise), or a book you've been putting off for years (I owned Stephen King's The Stand for years before finally reading it during 'Bustime' a slightly less glamorous version of 'Airtime')

8B. Read. Catch up on email, blogfeeds, and Twitter if you must. But must you, REALLY? Other than Speak & Deliver, of course....

9. Practice. If you've got a presentation the minute you touch down, run through it in your head - visualize it going perfectly, with the precise results you want to receive. Use the theatre of your mind though, as opposed to subjecting all the other fliers to your material. People get a little fussy about that...

10. Sleep. Yeah, sometimes 'Airtime' is the perfect time for 'Naptime'. Arrive refreshed and awake, and avoid all the turbulence along the way.

Your next flight will likely take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours out of your day - most of which will be sitting time, in the terminal or in the plane. How are you going to spend it to help you Speak & Deliver? These are but 10 ideas - what ideas can you add?

Yikes! Gotta Fly - Literally!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Toastmasters Friday: It's Almost Time...

I know, I haven't been around much the last month. Ironically, it's not because I haven't been thinking about speaking, but because I've been doing almost nothing BUT speaking, writing, editing, and speaking again all summer.

Because It's Almost Time...for the Toastmaster's International Convention, and my part in it, the World Championships of Public Speaking, to start.

I'll be flying in Wednesday morning, and likely attending the Board of Director's Briefing at 1:00, then Johnny Campbells session at 3:00 which covers “Accredited Speakers’ Secrets Revealed: Strategies for Earning the Highest Communication Designation in Toastmasters”, then at 7:00 the Opening Ceremonies.

Thursday will be dicey - I'll be mentally focusing on my contest that night, which is Semi-Final #4, at 5:00. I may still check in on the Hall of Fame awards that morning, and Byron Embry's Leadership session at 1:00. Still debating on attending the Semi before my own. I probably will, but no guarantees. After my contest, I'll likely stick around for the next Semi, just to decompress a bit.

Friday, win or lose on Thursday, I'll be at Darren LaCroix's session, possibly the Accredited Speaker's tryouts, and definitely the Golden Gavel. If I lose Thursday (shudder), I'll make it a point to hit as much as possible throughout the day.

Saturday, of course, is the World Championship itself - and I'll either be in the audience or on the stage. If I compete, I won't be at the business meeting, most likely, but if I don't compete, I will definitely be there. That night, of course, is the President's Dinner Dance, and I'll definitely be in attendance.

I'm looking forward to running into a lot of old friends, and even more new ones next week. If you see me before I see you, come say hi - and maybe put a frame around your head and smile like your facebook picture to help me out a bit!

It's also Almost Time for something else...but for that, I'll wait, just a little while longer...

Doesn't mean you have to wait though. Go out today and Speak...& Deliver!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Find Your Roar! Week: Laura Stack

When I began considering an audio series aimed at helping women break through the supposed sexist barriers of the speaking industry, Laura Stack was top on my list to interview. She graciously volunteered her time with me to answer questions about her journey to the top of the professionals speaking industry, and what women, and frankly ANY of us, need to do to succeed.

Laura has been speaking in front of audiences all over the world for the last 20 years, has four published books, and is currently the president of the National Speakers Association.

Below are a couple excerpts from her presentations. Laura, Maureen Zappala, Felicia Slattery, and Sheryl Roush all shared great insights in Speakers: Find Your Roar. Click here to start learning from the pros to Speak & Deliver today!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Speakers: Find Your Roar

Ever since I got involved in speaking, as a speaker and a coach, I've heard variations of the following:

- Speaking is a male-dominated industry
- Women aren't as good at speaking as men
- Women don't carry the same credibility as men
- Women don't dress professionally enough on stage
- Women should only speak to women audiences
- Women should only speak on female-oriented subjects
- Women can't charge as much as men

Of course, this is all a giant load of Horse Puckey.

Still, the more people believe it and perpetuate it, the longer the supposed barriers of sexism into the speaking industry will continue to block bright and talented women speakers.

In June, I interviewed four Top Women Professional Speakers representing all aspects of speaking, and all areas of the country. Felicia Slattery, Maureen Zappala, Sheryl Roush, and Laura Stack all made themselves available to me to talk about the state of the speaking industry, and how women can and should be successful as professional speakers.

Today, those interviews are finally available for download - click here - over 2 hours of insight from these diverse speakers for only $17!

Whether you are just beginning your journey, know someone who should be, or are ready to take your speaking to the next level, you'll benefit from the wisdom and experiences of these four professionals.

Bonus point - Men - you will learn something as well - when was the last time you got the opportunity to overhear four powerful women talk about their success?


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