The 2012 Entrepreneurial Champion is Zack Miller

Founder of Start Norfolk

Start Norfolk is an entrepreneurial movement bringing together individuals of different mind and skill sets – entrepreneurs, engineers, developers, designers and businesspeople – with the goal of building a viable startup.

By Teresa Talerico

At 28, Zack Miller is a youthful godfather to startups in Hampton Roads. His strategy? He puts a bunch of talented, creative people in a room together.
And then he stands back.

Miller’s Start Norfolk events unite fledgling entrepreneurs with professionals in marketing, technology, finance and other industries. Once introduced, they pitch ideas, collaborate and ultimately launch companies.

Increasingly popular, the local events reflect a national trend, as grassroots startup communities host similar gatherings across the country. The goal of these events, typically held over a weekend, is to not only brainstorm businesses but actually birth them on the spot.

So far, Miller has organized two Start Norfolk weekends. The first, in November 2011, attracted 175 people and 37 ideas. Participation nearly doubled for the next one, held April 27-29, with 300 people and 73 ideas. The initiative, which also includes monthly Startup Nights, has spawned companies such as:

• PodiumPro: Founder Sean Evangelista of Virginia Beach designed an iPad application that helps public speakers keep their cool at the microphone.

• Created by Byron Morgan, an entertainment executive and adjunct professor at Tidewater Community College, the website allows musicians to collaborate and record music in real time.

• Bored with dinner and a movie? This site offers creative date ideas. Brittany Hoffman, winner of April’s Start Norfolk, raved about the technical team that helped bring her concept to life:

“We had two coders, a databaser, a designer, a user interface, a business guy, an SEO guy,” she said in a May 4 video on Start Norfolk’s YouTube channel. “I am blown away by how much we were able to accomplish.”

“It’s a catalyst, getting these people together,” said Miller, project and marketing director at Norfolk technology firm We Are Titans. “But it’s more about what are you going to do after the weekend, and how are you going to take your concept and actually build that out? To see several of these companies do that is tremendous.”

Joe Hill of Chesapeake is one of those success stories. He unveiled Aeir Talk, an educational app for the iPad, at the first Start Norfolk. Modeled after flash cards, the app helps children read and communicate. Hill originally envisioned it as a way to connect with his two autistic sons.

Today, Aeir Talk has been downloaded in more than 20 countries, said Hill, who was recently featured on

We Are Titans designed the app for Hill, who approached the techie team with his idea last year. Miller’s startup events connected him with likeminded entrepreneurs and business consultants.

“It forges a group of people who are just starting out,” Hill said. “That wouldn’t be possible without Zack getting us all together in a room.”

Like his Start Norfolk participants, Miller began with the kernel of an idea. He first heard of Startup weekends in March 2011 at a financial conference in Atlanta.

Another attendee, Jesse Maddox, had just won an award at Start Atlanta for TripLingo, his company that designs language guides for international travelers.

“Since then, TripLingo has had 40,000 downloads and they’ve been featured on the app store twice,” Miller said. “I said, you know what? I think we have the talent in this area, the resources in this area to really establish our own startup community.”

Miller researched other startup hotbeds – Austin, Texas; Bloomington, Ind.; North Carolina’s Research Triangle – and figured out the common denominator. They were all university towns.

“They weren’t big metropolitan media markets,” he said. “Some of these cities, no one knows about, really. And no one really knows about the Norfolk area. And then getting the resources from the universities; obviously we have seven here. So I thought how can we connect all these universities, how can we take all this talent and get them to start companies together? It’s tying the universities with the talent together, and really just pushing people to be active and take risks.”

So far, Miller has connected with Old Dominion University, Regent University, Tidewater Community College and other local institutions. ODU hosted the first Start Norfolk weekend.

“It brings a sense of community, a sense of purpose and, in some cases, a trial by fire,” said Tom Osha, president and CEO of ODU’s Innovation Research Park. “Chambers and other civic and business organizations are very useful parts of the fabric of a business community. But they are mainly for networking. What Start Norfolk did is it created a goal, and that goal was to start a company in roughly 72 hours. It’s a very important opportunity for these people to come together in a way they might not otherwise.”

Miller hopes Norfolk will become another startup hotbed. It recently attracted the attention of TechCrunch, a San Francisco-based blog about technology startups. In April the city’s vocal startup community convinced East Coast Editor John Biggs to pay a visit. Biggs, who was hosting TechCrunch meetups along the Eastern seaboard, added a stop in Norfolk. He later gave it a thumbs-up.

“Zack is really passionate about the city and the talent there,” said Biggs, who featured several local companies on TechCrunch. “It’s exciting to see things popping in Norfolk and, as evidenced by Vinylmint, some great things are happening. The community is small but growing. It’s nice to see.”

That growth includes, a three-month accelerator program that will provide capital, rent and mentors for eligible startups.

Norfolk is also one of eight cities in the network, a site that connects entrepreneurs with potential co-founders. We Are Titans will organize a FounderDating event on July 10.

Meanwhile, Miller continues with his Startup Nights, which he describes as a “peer-to-peer mentorship program” with a different topic each month. A recent topic: keeping personal relationships intact while running a business.

“We all work 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 hours a week, and we’re passionate and we have this great thing going on,” he said. “But we don’t want to forget about our loved ones. That’s something that a lot of people are shy to talk about, but it’s very important and needs to be addressed. You know, work is work; your job is your job, it’s your life, but the people at home are the people you can’t forget about. They’re your true passion.”

Miller, a West Virginia University grad, actually moved to Norfolk in 2007 as a photojournalist for WTKR-TV. Since then, he has turned a passion for storytelling into a passion for startup-jelling.

“I wanted to help people by telling their stories,” he said of his original career goal. “Now I think I’m doing that by helping them achieve their dreams and their companies.”

When did you start the program and what gave you the idea for it?
I started researching startup ecosystems in March 2011 after meeting Jesse Maddox of TripLingo from Atlanta, who at the time had recently won Start Atlanta, which is a similar event to Start Norfolk.

What was the hardest part of launching it?
The promotion and adoption of the event by the public, although every event we’ve organized, whether it’s Start Norfolk, Startup Night or Drinks Downtown, has been a success with quality participation.

What lesson did you learn that you wish you’d known back before you started?
I learned to not forget about your family and your loved ones. You become so passionate about what you are planning and creating that it’s easy to neglect those who support you from other areas of your life.

What risks did you take?
I don’t think there were any real risks. Each event has led into the next and evolved into Start Norfolk’s weekend-long event. We’re focused on continuing to build off of what the participants want from these events.

What was the biggest obstacle you overcame?
Trying to create the entrepreneurial ecosystem, reaching out to those entrepreneurs in the area and trying to get them to join in. Hustle and never quitting, long days and being honest.

What or who has helped you the most in establishing the program?
Marty Kaszubowski, Larry Lombardi, Tom Osha, Bob Fenning, Greater Norfolk Corp., Drew Unvarsky, Paul Dinardo and Joel Nied, to name a few.

What do you consider your greatest innovation?
This area has always had entrepreneurs, but there’s never been an ecosystem of past, present and future entrepreneurs who could learn from each other. Being a part of creating that is an awesome feeling.

How has the program grown, both in terms of participants and funding?
Start Norfolk started with 175 participants and over 30 ideas pitched and grew to 300 participants and over 70 pitches in a short time frame of only six months. Funding and in-kind services went from $20,000 to over $150,000.

Has the program earned a profit? If so, how long did it take to get there?
No, Start Norfolk does not earn a profit, and never was planned to make money on the program. The goals for Start Norfolk are to educate and accelerate local startups.

Discuss future plans for Start Norfolk.
There will be another Start Norfolk, but we have not announced a date yet. After organizing two successful events, we’re taking what we learned from these events to make them better; that’s our current focus.

What is your biggest challenge for the future and how do you plan to handle it?
Keeping the energy and momentum going. The idea is to keep new and fresh ideas coming and putting a twist on them to keep up the excitement.

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Startup Infographic

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Debate team essentials include effective argument outlines

Whether your debate team is on the positive defense or the negative attack of an argument proposition, debate team essentials include a well-structured approach to your argument. Structure is achieved through planning, organization and cohesion of your ideas that will stand up to your opponents’ attacks. Likewise, such structure will be your foundation against the natural stress and pressure of having to present those ideas in a coherent way during the debate.
Debaters need to have an outline and notes ready.

Written outlines are essentially idea cues that keep your argument together in some logical way. Your outline consists of short, pithy notes and, if necessary, supporting detail that underpins the general propositions presented in shorter outline form. Whether you outline on a piece of notepaper or use a computer application like PowerPoint, the out line approach will, as that old aphorism about the purpose of time says, “keep everything from happening at once.”

How to outline

There are several reliable “how-to” guides for outlining. “How to Write an Outline” at is a 9-step approach that covers everything from choosing the topic, determining the larger purpose of the outline, gathering supporting materials, as well as all including the steps that bring everything together.  It may not be necessary for the purposes of your debate or speech to worry much about outline form (I.A.1.a., for example). The important thing is the ordering, cohesion, support, and subordination of your points. An outline, in sum, is brainstorming, grouping of ideas and their supporting elements “writ small.”

Using Microsoft PowerPoint for your outline

Micros oft PowerPoint is a handy resource for getting an outline shaped into an audience-friendly presentation or for just a personal argument outline. PowerPoint works on both Mac and Windows platforms. You can either work “on-the-fly” or key in (or import) an already prepared outline into instant slide presentations.

Here are some steps:

  • Choose the View/Normal option and enter your outline title text. Format your slides so that the text is left-justified. Enter the first slide title as your first main element.
  • Use thekey and then the tab key to position a subordinate item.  PowerPoint’s default format is the traditional outlining numbering beginning with Roman numeral one, followed by a capital A, etc.
  • Use the New Slide command on the Home/Slides tab to add additional slides. When you finish the first draft of your outline, right click inside your outline text to “promote” or “demote” an outline item.

Use the “six-item rule.”

One suggested method for preparing outline items for your slide is to have no more than six items on the slide with no more than six words to each item. This can be challenging, but following this rule forces economy of wording and clarity in presentation. It is also much easier for the speaker and the audience to follow.

Fleshing in the detail

While your outline notes should be short, you can add detail as comments only you can read. In the “Normal” view of the PowerPoint slide there is a window below the slide that says, “Click to add notes.” This area is not projected to your audience and you can add notes or reminders to support any of your six items on the slide.

Having a “hard copy” of your presentation

PowerPoint has an array of printing options. Select File/Print to decide on the range of your slides, whether or not to include your notes, the orientation and color of your handouts, and other options.  Also, in the File/Save and Send menu, export your saved slides and supporting notes to a Microsoft Word document that you can use during the debate or presentation.

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Team Podium Pro Unmasked


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The “Other” NFL rules for using the iPad for debates

English: Isaac Cruikshank, Debating Society (S...

English: Isaac Cruikshank, Debating Society (Substitute for Hair Powder). London: Published by Laurie & Whittle, May 5, 1795. Etching and engraving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using the iPad for debates saves toting a bunch of papers and books to the debate site and, among other obvious benefits, helps the debating team travel light. However, before you consider toting that iPad – or any other electronic gizmo to the debating site, consult the governing body rules. For example, one national debating organization that goes by the initials NFL – stands for National Forensic League – has some rather demanding rules on using iPads and laptops.

According to their Spring 2010-2011 Competition Events Guide, NFL rules on bringing and using electronic devices in debating events are rather specific. To wit:

  • It is strictly up to the district debate sponsor to decide whether or not iPads or other electronic devices will be allowed. Their decision is autonomous and cannot be appealed.
  • Any computer (includes iPad) equipped with a removable wireless card must have its card taken out and disengaged before the competition begins. (Note: Cell phones and Smart phones are banned in the debate preparation area and the debate room.)
  • Any computer that has built-in wireless capability must have the wireless connection disabled. It is the debaters’ responsibility to do that. Expect to have your computer looked at to make sure the wireless capability has been shut down.
  • No wired connections (phone or computer) are permitted during each round of the debate. (Get caught fudging on this rule, and you could get thrown out of the debate.)
  • You can’t use the web, e-mail, an instant message, or any other means of getting information electronically from outside the debating room.
  • If you are asked to produce a copy of the evidence used during a debate for the inspection by a judge or an opponent, you can use your printer. Your evidence may be printed during the debating round or it must be produced in some manner that is easily read by the judge or someone on the opposing team.
  • If you choose to use a computer or iPad, all the supporting gear (batteries, extension cords, etc.) are your responsibility. Don’t expect any logistical support (paper, printers, etc.)  from the debating site.
  • You are responsible for safeguarding your computer equipment from theft or tampering. (Note: No power outlets can be used in the debating room. Your iPad or laptop must be on battery power. Make sure they’re charged!)
  • No computer game playing is allowed at any time during the tournament.
  •  Don’t expect sympathy or help if your equipment fails. You will not get any “special consideration or accommodation,” i.e., extra time if your iPad or computer crashes or runs out of power.
  • You may share your computer with a contestant from your own school, but you may not communicate with other contestants during debate prep time.
  • If you choose to bring an iPad or a laptop to an NFL-sponsored debate, you must allow tournament judges access to your files.
  •  If you print electronically retrieved evidence for use in the competition, it must be cited using MLA style.

The “NFL Penalty Flag”

Contestants who are discovered violating the rules on wireless cards and connections or to have received outside electronically generated information from any source, according to the NFL, “will be ranked last in the round and receive zero NFL points.  Likewise, if a contestant (or coach) is caught using an electronic device inside the debate room the debating team “will be disqualified from the tournament and will forfeit all round credits and NFL points.”(Go to the NFL website to download complete debating rules.)

So for NFL-sponsored debates, you can bring along your iPad, but it can only be used as a storage resource. Connectivity will have to be disabled, which is easy.

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Collegiate Debate Do’s and Dont’s

A college debate event in some respects can be just as exciting an experience as a football game. Like football, college debates have some secret plays. If college debate secrets  could be encapsulated into a cheerleading routine where the cheerleaders shout to the crowd, “Gimme a….” and the crowd yells back it might go like this:

Gimme a D!

D stands for “don’t dis your opponents.” Be respectful at all times and only attack their position. By all means lay off the smarmy condescension and go after debate content, rather than character. Also recognize that when the opponent starts using personal jibes, it is most likely that you are winning.

Gimme an E!

E is for evidence, and evidence must always be real. You cannot do anything worse in a debate than to distort (or fabricate) your evidence. The biggest debating mistake is not so much distortion or making stuff up, it is either lack of understanding or misinterpreting the evidence you present in your argument.

Gimme a B!

B goes to a very important secret of college debates: Be big enough to cede a point well stated and presented by the other side. If the other side makes an intelligent assertion on one side of the argument, it is best to remember that most contentious issues have good arguments on both sides: This is precisely why the issues are contentious and remain the subject of constant debate. Skilled debaters graciously concede good arguments, but they use them as a launching point to argue that their side of the argument is better.

Gimme an A!

A means this: “Always remember that the affirmative argument has to do more to win and the negative only has to avoid losing.” This is analogous to our jury system where the defendant is considered innocent (not guilty) until the prosecution proves the affirmative. So that all means that a negative argument tha t defends the status quo will prevail over a weak affirmative argument. The status quo is always more tangible than some unknown alaternative.

Gimme a T!

This one is kind of a stretch, but the T stands for tabla rusa, which means “blank slate.” (The 17th century philosopher John Locke believed that everyone is born as “blank slates” and we all go on from there.) The “blank slate” in debating refers to the debate judge, who by tradition is supposed to weigh all the evidence present by both sides of the debate without regard to his or her own life’s experiences and opinions. Good college debaters present their arguments as if their judge will believe anything they purport, so long as their evidence is good and their arguments are solid.

Gimme another E!

E is for experience. College debate winners who have practiced and drilled and d rilled and practiced and read every piece of evidence and read the evidence again know this: It is only in the dictionary that success only comes before hard work.

What does it spell?!

Debate! And while we have everyone excited, our PodiumPro iPad app is coming soon! We’re looking for beta testers, read more on our thread at Beta Test and visit our main web site.

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The Art of Persuasion and other High School debate secrets

Debate club

High school debate secrets aren’t really secrets; they are skills that, if honed and nurtured, can result in winning. A debate is essentially an argument that is won or lost according to the rules and something that requires presentation and rebuttal skills. The aforementioned skils are, in turn, the application of the art of persuasion and developing the knack of public speaking.

Developing persuasive skills

To win a high school debate, one team has to do a more credible job in rebutting the other team’s argument (either pro or con) and present a stronger one. Three elements are involved in that persuasive rebuttal:

1. An appeal to the listener based on logic. Otherwise known as logosthis appeal is based on the garnering of logic, facts, as well as commonly-accepted intuitive “statistics.” (Since high school debate topics are not known in advance, debating teams must be very careful when purporting that something is statistically correct.)

2. A reliance on trustworthy sources. This approach relies on another Greek-sounding term, ethos. In other words, whatever hard facts a debating team uses, the facts must be generally trustworthy and come from credible sources. For example, an argument against smoking would be better supported by referring to a report the American Lung Association, rather than a comment posted on a pop-culture web site.

3. An appeal to emotions. Again, the Greeks gave us this one: pathos. This persuasive approach is the strategy of evoking feelings and empathy through the listener’s own imagination. Be careful with this one, however. While any debate argument must include logic and reliable resources, it might not always be appropriate to “go for the gut.” For example, using an excessive appeal to emotions could quickly get into the realm of unprofessional schmaltz.

The Knack of Public Speaking

One of the best-kept secrets in high school debating is how, through just doing it, it leads to developing the important academic and life skill of public speaking. Everyone gets nervous at the very thought of standing up in public, and actually standing up in public can be a true act of personal bravery. Here are a few pointers for the public speaking aspect of debating:

1. Practice presenting arguments out loud. Speak in front of a friendly audience and go slowly. Rushing a presentation causes slurring and stumbling. Enunciate!

2. Avoid drinking carbonated and caffeinated beverages on the day of the debate. Soda causes dry mouth; caffein is a diuretic (makes you want to run to the bathroom).

3. Pause and gather your thoughts before speaking. It looks professional and avoids the appearance of rambling and groping for ideas.

4. If your voice becomes shaky, pause for a moment. Take a drink of water or clear your throat.

5. Focus on someone towards the back of the room. This feels weird at first, but it works.

6. Concentrate on the microphone and speak to it. This has a calming effect of many speakers.

7. Look for a good “escape” or ending line. Perhaps a summary of your most important points will help, but avoid the hackneyed “in summary…” phrase.

8. Remember that the biggest confidence builder is a thorough grasp of your subject matter. Being “110 percent” prepared will pay dividends during the stress of the speaking.

Read more about tips for public speaking on the Toastmasters International web site.

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Using PowerPoint or Keynote? Use wisely!

Computers have definitely helped public speakers with the most essential parts of the process for any event — preparation and presentation.

Presentation software, most notably PowerPoint and Keynote, has enabled anyone with a little patience and work to prepare slide presentations and handouts that cover the highlights of any speech. The more adventurous and computer savvy presenters are even using video software to add some zip to their programs.

The use of these presentation tools has gotten much debate and there has even been some backlash against the PowerPoint/Keynote technique. Still, as Dr. Patti Shank wrote in a post for Faculty Focus:

“Yeah, it’s easy to produce mind-numbing PowerPoint slides, and unfortunately, mind-numbing uses of PowerPoint are all around us—in online information and instruction, classroom-based instruction, training courses, and in the boardroom. But PowerPoint is just a tool. And like most tools, it can be used well or horribly or anywhere in between.”

That last sentence should be taken by all as a warning.

If you are going to use presentation software, make sure that you use it wisely

So what makes using PowerPoint or Keynote for a presentation work? There are many differing opinions on that, but the emerging thought is that simple and visual is the key. Slides that use images and graphics work best when they are used to highlight the speaker’s points. 

Another good bit of advice is to avoid putting your speech or an outline of your speech on the slides. The slides should enhance or expound on what you are saying.

Using computer programs to help prepare for presentations helps build confidence for any speaker. The work of preparing slides can help you focus on the essential points of the speech and add interesting information in easy to grasp forms.

A novice public speaker can easily slip into overusing presentation software. If you are one of those people, here’s a two-step solution. Do your presentation loaded with all the text, pictures and charts. Now make a copy of it and use that for your own purposes. Now go through your slides and edit them down to a few that you want to share with the audience, carefully selecting those that deal with the key facts of what you are saying.

Taking that second step will make your presentation sparkle and keep your audience engaged.

Using the right tools appropriately can help you make public speaking easy and stress free. The Podium Pro app will be one more tool that you can use to make your public speaking engagements more successful.

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Improved Performance and Stress Inoculations

in·oc·u·late – To introduce an idea or attitude into the mind of (

Our perception of what is “scary” or even “terrifying” can be purposefully changed, forever.
Jumping out of an airplane could generally be described as such for the vast majority of us. Terrifying would likely be the most used term by first time skydivers if they were being totally honest. This experience is often times compared to other traumatic events the person may have experienced in the past, such as a car accident, or being in a fistfight. The adrenaline dump in the body can be intense and intimidating.

BASE Jumpers (People that jump off Buildings, Antennaes, Spans/bridges and Earth/cliffs with a parachute) describe experiences and fear levels that make skydiving seem like riding a bike through the park. A close friend told me about the dramatic change in the way he felt during skydives after he experienced BASE Jumping (a lot of BASE Jumpers are also avid skydivers). His fear level dropped off significantly when skydiving. Taking himself to another level of fear “re-calibrated” what he considered “scary”.

Compared to BASE jumping, skydiving became a very relaxing event that barely raised his pulse. It simply wasn’t scary or intimidating anymore. BASE jumping was the “Stress Inoculation” that made things that used to be scary, just fun. His perception had been altered. Losing his fear of skydiving made him much better at it. He still has a healthy respect for it’s dangers, but now he is able to do so much more, see things he used to miss and spend his extra energy helping others excel and become safer skydivers. Not being consumed with fear frees up a ton of energy that you can pour into more productive areas of your chosen profession or life in general.

It’s no mystery that Public Speaking is one of the top fears we have as humans. The first step we must take to conquer and squash this fear becomes obvious.  We have to accept the fact that speaking in front of a bunch of judging eyes, noting every word, phrase and movement is going to be scary, even terrifying at times…at least for a little while. (I’m going to blast right past the importance of preparation and it’s direct effect on confidence etc.) At your next presentation or speech, take a mental note of what fear does to you. Do your legs get heavy? Do your hands get cold and shake a little? Does your fear spike too much if you fumble a word? Watch other speakers and look at their reactions that may be the result of fear, stress or adrenaline. What does fear look like and how does it come out in others? You get the point. We’re measuring for a baseline here that will come in handy after your opportunity for a “Stress Inoculation”.

Many of you are, very likely, comfortable presenting, teaching, preaching or speaking to a certain type of crowd. Maybe with the same beliefs? Maybe it’s a class you have taught for years and it’s basically an “autopilot” presentation for you? For others, you’re more comfortable talking in front of people than when you started, but you still get pretty nervous. It might be that you are still petrified every time and it doesn’t seem to be improving much at all? Whichever group you are in, you should seriously think about finding a “Stress Inoculation” sooner than later.Whatever your skill set, go find a more intimidating venue to speak or present at. Find a conference or workshop for example, approach the organizers and offer to speak on your niche for free (your likely going to get as much out of it as they are). If it makes you nervous, good. That may be the beginning of your move to the next level of your profession. Not, next level as in climbing the corporate ladder etc. More, the next level in developing a very high level of confidence that will dramatically improve your game at your current position.

What you will find by actively and purposefully pursuing that “Inoculation”, is that your fear and stress level will decrease a lot. After battling through and succeeding in an environment that was scary and intimidating, other things that used to scare you simply don’t have that effect anymore.

The awesome thing about stress inoculations is that they increase performance in many other seemingly unrelated areas of your life. Your baseline confidence will go up noticeably. You’ll have a little more teeth in life. You’ll start to own your profession.
What is your next stress inoculation?

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Following a plan and confidence building

Public speaking is a multifaceted art form. People take to the podium to preach, teach, influence, perform, entertain and sell. Each of those objectives has its own standards and practices and every speaker has their own style and identity. It’s no wonder so many of us feel that public speaking is beyond us.

If you are one of those who shies away from public speaking because you doubt your abilities, you might get some confidence building tips. There are plenty of them out there. What you look for will be guided mostly by the type of speech or presentation that you are planning. You can find ideas and tips and even video examples of speakers of all types. You never know where you might find the idea that’s right for you.

Content Marketing specialist Joe Puluzzi published a list of 15 tips on his blog recently that are clearly aimed at marketing and sales speakers, but within them there were these tidbits that are applicable for almost any type of speech or presentation.

Smile a lot; use lists; switch the flow and tell stories regularly; and have one main call to action.

Let’s look at each one briefly.

Smile a lot: As Puluzzi writes, “Smiling is contagious.” It also helps the speaker relax. If you smile and you look out at a smiling audience you will have more confidence.

Use lists: Lists are easy ways to organize your thoughts and force you to get to the point quickly and succinctly — both essential to good communication with an audience.

Switch the flow: While lists are great, they can be tedious. Tossing in stories related to some of your key points helps add punch to the speech and serves to reinforce what you are trying to say.

Have one main call to action: When you are speaking for any reason, you are trying to make a point with your audience. Urging your audience to take some action on that key point helps to make it valuable to them.

You might think that you are still going to have a difficult time ever giving a public presentation, but if you follow these tips, you have a better chance. If you don’t have an iPad, think about getting one if you are going to be giving talks regularly. It’s the best tool for preparing and delivering a speech.

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