Friday, May 31, 2013

20 tips from Darren La Croix's Workshop at Ovation 2013

Darren La Croix, the World Champion of Public Speaking (2001) started his workshop titled "OWN THE STAGE" with a question "Why do some speakers take the stage & some OWN IT?". He shared a number of useful tips on public speaking and speech crafting.

This post captures the lessons learned from Darren La Croix educational session at Ovation 2013, an annual District 82 toastmasters conference.

(Also read: 25 tips from Craig Valentine's workshop at Ovation 2011)
  1. Don't try to be perfect, try to be PRESENT
  2. Failure is a valuable negative information
  3. You don't know what you don't know
  4. Your mentor supplies the direction, you supply the energy and efforts
  5. Take any story and continuously try to improve it, to make it good
  6. If you want to be a master piece, you've to master the pieces
  7. When I'm done speaking, what do I want my audience to do, think and feel - Answer it in 10 words or few
  8. When you are delivering from your head, your emotions are dead. Don't memorize, but, internalize.
  9. When you are perfect without flaws, audience wouldn't like it. They want it to be real
  10. The most important part of a presentation is the thought process in your audience mind (not the introduction, and not the conclusion)
  11. Don't tell us, take us
  12. Use foundational phrases as a way to get into the audience subconscious mind (for ex., words such as "ouch!" that Darren used in his World Champion Speech)
  13. Don't quit when you get an offer to speak, commit.  Never turn-down stage time
  14. Record your speech every time
  15. Always be coachable and find the best coaches
  16. When telling stories, just touch the canvas, and let your audience paint the picture
  17. When you are delivering your speech, your audience is continuously asking "So what, Who cares, What is in it for me?" Keep that in mind when crafting speeches.
  18. Speak to one, look to all
  19. Avoid using "How many of you have been to Las Vegas?" type questions. You won't be asking such questions when you are talking to a friend in a coffee shop. Rather ask, "Have you been to Las Vegas?"
  20. Do things you know, know things you do
Reference to other speakers
  1. "What would you dare to dream, if you know you wouldn't fail" - Brian Tracy
  2. I/You ratio - use more "You"s when compared to "I"s - Patricia Fripp
  3. Use the VAKS technique (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Smell) when delivering speeches - Craig Valentine 
Useful websites (free audio programs) (to find rhyming words)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

CC Speech #1: Ice Breaker - My Journey so far

"You don't have to be GREAT to START, but you've to START to be GREAT!" powerful words from Zig
Ziglar. If there is something that fuels my passion to achieve my dreams, it is this quote.

(Also read: CC Speech #1: Ice Breaker - My college life)

I was born as a Virgo, in a poor family. My mother is a home maker. My father was employed in a grocery store. When I was a kid, I hardly saw my father at home. He leaves to work before I wake up and he comes back home only late in the night. My father used to work for nearly 16 hours a day carrying gunny bags, and packing groceries. I have a brother and a sister. My father's earnings were barely adequate to just feed the family and take care of our educational expenses. I still remember the days when I went to school with a bare foot because we cannot afford slippers... I still remember the days when I was wearing trousers torn at the back, because we cannot afford new uniforms every year. In fact, I never took a full new pencil to school. My mom buys a pencil, cuts it into two halves and gives a half each to my brother and myself.

Despite all the odds, my parents made the 3 of us study in a convent. While all my class mates attended tuitions for every subject, I studied on my own. My mother had studied up to 5th standard and my father had studied up to 8th standard. So, they cannot help us with studies. I used to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning for studying. My hard work paid off. Year after year, I scored well in studies. I became the Topper in +2 in my school. That was one of the proudest moments in my life. I still remember the day when my parents got a trophy on my behalf, at my school’s annual day celebration, the next year. That was the first time when I realized “You don't have to be GREAT to START, but you've to START to be GREAT!"

(Also read: Competent Communicator Manual Speeches)

I got admission into Government College of Technology, Coimbatore. I did my Bachelors in engineering Computer Science, there. One of my most memorable moments happened in my college. It was the year 1998 and the year of graduation for us. It is a tradition in my college to conduct Mr. & Miss. CSE contest for graduating students every year. I participated in the contest too. My fellow contestants were good looking and can talk fluent English. However, I was average looking and hardly able to talk in English.
During the contests, they asked me a question on “What do you think about Life after death?". My response was "A rose dies... when it is pluck out. However, it still makes all of us happy by staying in our hands. Similarly, leaders like Gandhi, Kamaraj etc., have died. However, they are still living in the hearts of millions of people in this country. To me, that is life after death". The whole auditorium roared and many got inspired by that response. Surprisingly, I was awarded the Mr. CSE title that year. An average looking guy, with half-baked English speaking skills became Mr. CSE that year. That was the second time when I realized “You don't have to be GREAT to START, but you've to START to be GREAT!"

I graduated in 1998 and joined HCL Technologies. My boss Ashok Kumar who is also a toastmaster now, introduced me to book reading habit. He recommended me to read "7 habits of highly effective people" by Stephen Covey. Very few books can transform you... very few books can inspire you… very few books can sow seeds for your future. 7 habits of highly effective people helped me to learn better time management, set personal goals, look at things from other's shoes and taught me to constantly invest time in improving my skills. The book made me to do an MBA, it made me to go to USA and get more exposure, and it made me to join toastmasters.

Life moved on, and I got married in the year 2005 to Divya. We have a beautiful 7 years old daughter.

My passion is to serve the society in a LARGE way. I know that I’m nowhere close to what I want to achieve in my life. But I know, “You don't have to be GREAT to START, but you've to START to be GREAT!"