Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Memorize a Speech Effectively

To deliver an effective talk, speech or presentation by far the best way is to memorize the content and not read from a written script. This is because reading a script makes it impossible for the speaker to connect to the audience with eye contact, making the delivery flat and ineffective. It also makes the speaker superfluous, because if someone is just reading a script they may as well just give the script to the audience and let them read it in their own time.

But how exactly do you memorize a script? There are many different methods but this is the approach I use and the one that I use to teach other people in workshops and coaching.

Most important of all you should not try to memorize and entire script and deliver it exactly a written. Unless you are a talented actor reading a script written by a talented writer it will always sound stiff and heartless. People can recognize very easily when you are effectively playing back a recorded announcement because the rhythm is usually wrong and the emphasis is rarely where it should be. A recital like this will have less impact and instead of inspiring people you might bore them. Memorizing the exact wording also has the disadvantage that if you have a temporary blackout it is hard to recover.

What works most effectively is to write a complete script and read it out loud a few times, correcting anything that doesn't sound natural.  Once this script is ready read it through a few more times to learn the ideas and some phrases then reduce the script to a list of key words and phrases. Group these phrases into sections and then highlight the first key phrase of each section. All of these key phrases should fit onto a single page of paper.
Start to learn the content by speaking out loud with the help of the key phrase list. Each key phrase should be enough to remind you of the point you planned to make but each time it will come with different words, but always from the heart. Because it comes from conscious thought it will have all the right emphasis and intonation, making it sound stronger and more persuasive.
Gradually transition from using the key phrase list all the time to looking when you forget what is next and finally try to deliver the entire speech without looking once at the notes.  Make a special effort to memorize the sequence of the sections because this is what will help you to recover if you are distracted for a moment. The order will quickly become familiar, just like the order of songs in an album are easy to remember unless you always listen in shuffle mode.
If you have trouble remembering the order of the ideas you should revise the structure of the speech and cut the less essential parts. A well structured speech is easier to remember, to deliver and to understand. 
When you are able to deliver the speech without looking at your notes you are ready to go. Always keep a copy of your key phrase list in your pocket just in case of blackouts.  Some people also leave a copy on the table next to the laptop, so that when they need to check what is next they can "forget" they have a clicker and use the down button on the laptop instead, sneaking a peek at the list.

During the performance you can also put the key phrases in the speaker notes and display those on a monitor at the edge of the stage, but only look at that when you need it. Memorizing always makes the speech more persuasive and prompts should be only for when you get stuck.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For workshops and one-to-one coaching about speaking and influencing you can contact Andrew Hennigan by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or by email at

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monetizing Impatience: the DeepArt Case

In my digital marketing courses one of the most popular topics is always the case studies showing the many ways in which a startup can monetize a product or service. Now I have a new case to add to my collection: the Deep Art painting tool site.

Created by five researchers at the the University of Tübingen in Germany, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, Deep Art is a neural network based tool that takes any photo plus a style sample image then creates a painting based on the photo in the style of the sample.

My first attempt -- a self portrait in the style of Edvard Munch, was better than I expected but hardly a great success. The second attempt was more satisfying, reworking the same profile photo in the style of a Roman mosaic.

Two samples of the work of DeepArt's robot artists: one based on a Roman mosaic -- a DeepArt standard style -- and the other based on a self-portrait of Edvard Munch.

There are just two samples in the first test because the waiting time for free images is measured in days. And this is where DeepArt becomes more interesting. After uploading images you can monitor the status of the neural rendering process on a page of the website. Last time I tried the wait time for free images was around 8000 minutes -- that's about a week of real time. Just underneath the estimated time, though, is a button to reduce that time to 15 minutes for a fee of €1.99.

Monetizing impatience: reduce the render time from thousands of minutes to 15 minutes for a small fee.

So DeepArt is monetizing the otherwise free app by taking advantage of our natural impatience to see the result, a technique often used in theme parks where customers paying the standard fee stand in line for an hour while other people who pay extra walk straight to the front of the line. The downside of this approach from the consumers' point of view is that there is no incentive to speed up the render time. In fact there is a positive disincentive to speed up the process beyond the point where people give up.

But DeepArt has other monetizing plans, too. Free images are just 500x500 pixel which is just big enough for a test and to make an original profile picture for Facebook. Larger images, big enough for printing and framing, are available for a fee. A simple high-definition download is 19€, a poster with a watermark is 69€ and a gallery print with no watermark is €299. Eventually rival web sites will compete with DeepArt, forcing the prices down, but meantime the creators of the site are applying for a patent so they might be able to generate revenue through that, too.

Building amazing apps, products and services is a challenge, but finding effective ways to monetize innovations is often much more difficult, especially in the online world where people have grown up with freemium models and are reluctant to pay for basic service. DeepArt looks like they found an answer to this problem -- provided that the wait for 500x500 images doesn't get much worse. 

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about digital marketing and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone on 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or 0046 730 894 475.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Making Effective New Connections Online

Growing your network with people you have only met online is very useful because it gives you access to people you might never meet face to face. Since it is available 24 hours a day it also allows you to do some useful networking during downtime slots while you are waiting to board a plane, in the back of a taxi or just waiting for a conference call to start.

You could just send and accept random connections, but to build fruitful relationships online you will have to take a different approach. There are many ways to approach this problem but here are three practical methods.

Engage in Online Interactions. One simple way to start to build a relationships online is to engage in interactions with other people in online spaces like discussion forums, professional groups and in comment threads where like-minded people meet to discuss their business. Finding the right groups can be a challenge. On LinkedIn alone there are thousands of groups. Some are overloaded with spam and some are completely inactive but there are a few that are well moderated and have a the critical mass of active users who can engage with other users. You will have to try many groups to find the right one, but once you have found it you have already made progress because the active users in good groups are more likely to want to engage with you and to become valued members of your network. Once you have identified a suitable group first follow the discussions without contributing until you have understood the etiquette of the group and also to avoid restarting a discussion that has just finished. When you think you understand the tone of the group and the unwritten rules of engagement you can start to join in the conversation. Be helpful, polite and respectful. Never waste time and be extremely cautious with anything that could look spammy, so dial down the self promotion until you are sure it will be acceptable. By engaging with other users in this way you will build a solid reputation in the forum and soon make some interesting connections.

Develop Your Inbound Marketing. At the same time it can be useful to work on developing a robust online footprint so that like-minded people can find you with a Google search or the built-in search tools on networking sites. This is important because sometimes people are actively searching for interesting new people to connect with. If you come up in Google searches people are more likely to become aware you exist and perhaps try to engage you in conversation themselves. You should have clear and well-maintained profiles on at least Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn plus any specific sites that are relevant for your business.

Monitor Social Media for Leads. Check sometimes on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from time to time to see if anyone is looking for someone like you. For articles I am writing and lectures I am preparing I sometimes tweet a question. Sometimes a complete stranger will respond because they are interested and after some conversation they usually become good connections. Right now there might be someone who is searching for someone exactly like you. Scanning social sites from time to time might uncover one of these leads. Every day there is someone tweeting that that they would like to get to know someone just like you. Every day there is probably someone posting on Facebook that they are looking for someone with your skills to help on a pro-bono project. Every day on LinkedIn there is someone searching for someone with your expertise to ask advice. Don't miss these opportunities.

There are many other opportunities to make good connections entirely online. All you have to do is go to places where you meet new people, build trust with these people and then make sure that they understand what you do. There are also many online opportunities to identify face-to-face events that will help you to find good connections but that is a story for another post.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing.

Andrew Hennigan designs and delivers lectures, interactive workshops and one-to-one coaching for networking, influencing and other communication topics. For more information call 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or email

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Tell if Your Speaking is Effective

Most of the time people ask me how to become a good, great or awesome speaker. But you can be a technically excellent speaker and still be ineffective. So what's the difference?

The difference is that an effective speaking has to result in some change. It could be that this change is inside the heads of the audience -- maybe the goal was to raise awareness of something. Sometimes the goal is to change the behavior of people, maybe convincing them to buy a new product, adopt a new technology or simply do something in a new way.

How can you tell if your speaking is effective? In real world speaking situations sometimes the change is very obvious and no special metrics are needed. If you are trying to convince your colleagues to use less email and you notice a clear change in the email volume after the meeting you have probably been effective. Or if you are trying to convince the management of your company to support a new project and they agree just after your presentation then your speaking was certainly effective.

But how do you measure effectiveness while you are still learning to become an effective speaker and how do you measure the effectiveness of presentations you are still developing? One very simple method I have used in speaking workshops is to ask someone in the audience to explain to the speaker the main points of the speech they have just heard. Very often the first time you try this the result will be disappointing, but this is an essential step in developing more powerful speaking skills. You need to understand that it is more difficult than most people expect to communicate messages and you need to learn how to test ideas so that you can refine them.

Another method that is even more helpful is to try your speech or presentation on a test audience -- this could be fellow speaking students in a workshop, a group of colleagues or members of some professional group you belong to.  After the test run give everyone in the audience a piece of paper and ask them to write in bullet points the key messages that they can recall. 

In most cases the results of these tests will be disappointing, but they help to identify weaknesses in the content and the delivery. If people are missing important points these need to be emphasized more, and if people are misunderstanding key points they need to be explained in a different way. Ideally you should repeat the test with a revised version of the talk but with a new test listener or audience. After the first revision you will already notice an improvement. With every cycle of testing the speech will usually get better. It will never be perfect but you should at least be able to ensure that everyone in the audience knows what your main message was supposed to be.

This assumes that you know yourself what the main message was supposed to be. One of the simplest ways to make speaking more effective is to start by defining a very clear idea of what this main message is supposed to be. To deliver an effective speech or presentation it is not enough to master the techniques of delivery, you also need to define and structure the content effectively. A clearly defined and structured speech might take more time to design, but it is easier to learn, easier to deliver and much more effective.

But to achieve any kind of change the speech or presentation itself is only part of the story. Effective influencing begins long before a formal presentation of your message and involves lobbying all of the stakeholders, evangelizing your ideas, identifying problems and addressing them, but all of this is something for another post. 

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about effective speaking, influencing and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why Choosing Brand Names is so Risky

When George Mason University rebranded their law school to honor former supreme court justice Antonin Scalia they were perhaps too hasty. As soon as the Antonin Scalia School of Law was announced social media users were quick to point out what the university had apparently not noticed: that the two most obvious acronyms were ASSLAW and ASSOL. The rebranded school was quickly re-rebranded Antonin Scalia Law School, which becomes a much more acceptable ASLS, though I suspect rival schools will continue to call them "Asslaw" for a long time.

George Mason University is certainly not the first to make this mistake, though it is strange that they did not recognize the problem in their own language. Many other organizations are initially oblivious to the problem, as when the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China initially used the acronym CACC but wisely changed it to COMAC when informed by speakers of romance languages of the unfortunate association of the first idea.

Very often it is not the acronym that causes problems but the name itself. The now defunct search engine Cuil made the branding mistake of choosing a name nobody could pronounce, but in addition it had the added downside of sounding too much like "cul" to French speakers. Occasionally the problem is a combination of acronyms and the way they are pronounced in other languages, as when the acronym APT was dropped because to French readers it sounded too much like "a pété".

Most of the time unfortunate brands are simply the result of the name having an unsuspected meaning in other languages. Swedish furnishing store Granit used to have a lamp called Prick -- the word just means "dot" in Swedish -- and IKEA, a company I suspect does this on purpose, offered a box called "Nobb". Many of these could have been identified simply by looking in a dictionary, though the pronunciation and slang usage make this complicated. Sometimes, too, the problem lies in a combination of elements, like when Unilever introduced a new version of their Nogger brand ice cream that was black and, for the short time it was on the market, was called "Nogger Black".

Probably the only safe way to filter candidate brand names is to ask people familiar with all of the languages and culture of target markets to review ideas, making sure that you check also with younger people who might be familiar with emergent slang and older people who might have a better memory of history. Do this before you announce a new brand and spare yourself some embarassment.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing on branding and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Using a Mobile Device for Skype Interviews

Job interviews through Skype, Facetime and other Internet-based video call services have become very common for first meetings so that people can be screened quickly without the inconvenience of travel. This means that anyone who knows how to look better in a Skype call has an advantage over the candidates who don't realize that this is even possible or do not take the trouble to prepare.

In an earlier post I described Ten Ways to Impress People in a Skype Interview, covering all the basic techniques. Today people are increasingly using smartphones and tablets for these interviews, so in these cases which tips are the most useful? Here are five that will make a visible difference.

HAVE THE CAMERA FIXED AT EYE LEVEL. Probably the single most useful tip when using any device is to place the camera at eye level and fix it in some way. Don't lean over the device and don't try to hold it in your hand, like a video selfie. You will look much more professional when the camera lens is at eye level so you are looking horizontally into the camera -- just like video professionals do it. You might have a selfie clamp, tripod or other device that can hold the phone still. Some people just use duct tape to fix it to a vertical surface and sometimes I make a pile of boxes and place a phone on top of the pile, using a cork that has been cut with a slot to hold the phone steady. Whatever you do, make this effort to position the camera correctly.

USE LANDSCAPE FORMAT. It's tempting when you use a smartphone to hold it upright in vertical format, but the result always looks more professional when you place the phone horizontally, in the standard TV/movie orientation. Probably just one in a 100 recruiters would ever notice consciously what you are doing, but the other 99 are more impressed, even if they don't know why.

USE THE HEADSET MICROPHONE. You will always get better sound quality with less background noise and echo if you have the microphone closer to your mouth. Without special hardware the only way to do that is to use the microphone in your phone's headset. I use the standard Apple headset and just have the earpiece with the microphone in one ear. Just be careful when you move not to pull the phone down onto the floor. That will not impress anyone.

CHECK LIGHTING AND BACKGROUND. Before you start the call check the lighting and background using the selfie camera mode. One of the neat things about using a mobile is that you can hold the phone up at eye level and turn slowly around, looking for the best combination of lighting and background. Avoid anything distracting and watch out for reflections on glasses.

CALL A FRIEND FIRST. This is the one tip that is the same for any device. Before you call a recruiter always call a friend first to check that everything works. Don't have to start the call by asking if the other person can hear you. Just start talking, confident that it works because you tested it. This is absurdly simple but will make you look smarter, more thoughtful and more confident. Never let the recruiter be the one to discover that you have muted the microphone, forgot to plug it in or set the microphone level wrong.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about this and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan at and by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Building Confidence as a Speaker

As a speaker coach one of the questions people ask most frequently is how to overcome shyness, nerves and fear to become a confident speaker. This is one of the first things to address because until you are confident speaking it will be difficult to speak effectively. 
There are many techniques for overcoming speaking nerves, but there are three that I have tested personally both on myself and also on people who I have coached. By applying these methods you can not only overcome your fear of speaking, you will also grow to like it so much that you look forward to speaking in front of a large audience.
Find some kind of space where you have to talk to people. There are many jobs, sports and hobbies that you can do entirely alone, and these do not help in any way to build confidence. You are more likely to become comfortable talking to strangers if you have a job or some other space where you speak regularly and often with other people. There are many customer-facing or employee-facing jobs like this and if your regular work doesn't offer any opportunities consider finding some voluntary work where you can have this opportunity. When you talk to strangers just once a week it will always be terrifying; when you talk to people every hour it becomes natural and relaxing. Any interaction will help, even if it is just telling people about the benefits of joining or supporting some non profit-
Look for public speaking opportunities. You could join organizations like Toastmasters which exist primarily to help people acquire speaking skills, but if you already have some experience and just need more practice you could find work or volunteer opportunities where you can or have to speak to groups of people. You will find that you get better results with spaces where you can speak often to smaller groups rather than once a year for a large audience. Pitching a non-profit to potential members, campaigning for some environmental association or presenting local startup events can all be useful ways to get this practice. Repeating the same presentation again and again might sound dull but it gives you both the opportunity to become confident and also to polish the content.
Learn to speak in another language. This is certainly the least intuitive advice, but if you try to speak to individuals and groups of people in a language that you do not know very well this will also boost your confidence when speaking in your own language. When you have been struggling to explain something using a limited vocabulary you will find that speaking a language you know very well suddenly feels very easy. I discovered this first when I learned to speak Italian and that have me more confidence speaking in English. Later the same happened when I learned to speak French and my Italian speaking became more confident. Language learning has this interesting side effect of boosting confidence.
Whatever approach you use, remember that there is no magical cure for shyness or lack of confidence. Ultimately you build confidence simply by building experience. In much the same way that student pilots need to build up hundreds of flying hours before they become confident, a speaker should speak hundreds of hours to acquire a basic level of confidence. The sooner you start the sooner you will build up these hours. If you can remember every time you have spoken you are not speaking enough. Don't wait for opportunities to come to you, reach out proactively to find them.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, interactive workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.