Four Ways to Be a Better Listener

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

As I was prepping the stuffing for my Thanksgiving turkey, I happened to catch Joshua Johnson’s great interview show, 1 A on NPR.  The topic of the program —How Not to Fight with Your Family on Thanksgiving—seemed quite fitting for these politically polarized times. Mr. Johnson kicked off the show with a lively conversation with communication expert, Celeste Headlee—she’s the host of On Second Thought on Georgia Public Radio and the author of a book now queued in my Kindle reader, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter.  Her TED talk, “10 Ways to Have a Better …

A Lesson in Pitching and Presentation Skills from Mr. Rogers

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

As a presentations skills trainer and coach, I often work with entrepreneurs who pitch their products and services to audiences of investors.  They are often so heavily focused on putting together the perfect slide presentation– chock full of numbers, graphs zippy videos—they forget to bring a powerful, somewhat intangible element to their pitches: Their relatable, human selves. Which is why I always gently (and sometimes vehemently) steer my coaching clients towards the following five principles for pitching and presentations skills mastery: Tell a good story. And tell it well. Move your audience into feeling. Help your audience see and feel …

Get Out of the Basement and Dare to Be of Influence

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

I’ve recently enjoyed reading Austin Kleon’s two, wonderful books Steal Like an Artist, and Show Your Work. The latter reinforces something I’ve always believed: When it comes to creating something—like writing a book, crafting a presentation; developing a new idea or product; painting a picture; or finessing a new app—there is a time to hole up in the basement and massage it into being, and a time to climb up the basement stairs, open the door, and share your creation with others. I learned this lesson deeply when my dear friend, Lisa Michelson, was killed in a freak car accident …

Embrace a Growth Mindset

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

In the first quarter of my freshman year at Brown University, I decided to take Psychology 101. When the first exam rolled around, I was pretty sure I knew the material well and that I would, as usual, get a high grade. Which is why I was shocked when my professor handed me back my exam marked with a big, red D+. As a self-avowed, perfectionistic “grade grubber” whose entire identity was dependent on being “smart” and “an A student,” this D+ threw me for a complete loop. My initial reaction was that the Psych professor had made some sort …

“Help! I’ve Lost My Voice!”: When a Speaker Gets Laryngitis

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

Recently, my biggest nightmare as a speaker, coach and trainer came to pass:  I lost my voice. I mean, entirely. I couldn’t even muster up a pathetic, hoarse little whisper. It was utterly terrifying. And, of course, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time: Having just finished giving a Friday workshop out of state, I was poised to deliver four more trainings over three consecutive days, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Trying not to panic, I spent the weekend on total vocal rest, drinking as many fluids as I could manage. This paid off, somewhat: On Monday morning, my …

To Be a More Compelling Speaker, Heighten Your Concentration

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

As a young actor, I spent many happy hours watching plays so I could learn acting techniques from my talented colleagues. One night, I went to see a performance of a big, splashy new musical. The stage was filled with at least a dozen actors singing, dancing and acting up a storm, all working hard to be noticed. But only one of them commanded my full attention: Alittle girl sitting on a set of stairs in the middle of the action, reading a book. She was relaxed and fully present, unafraid to simply be her genuine self in front of an …

To Speak at Your Peak, Steer Clear of the Comparison Trap!

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

At six feet tall, with a long, loping stride, I was a very good high-school runner. Which is why I felt pretty darn cocky as I strode up to the starting line on track and field day to compete in a sprinting match with several other girls from my school. I was positioned next to my friend Brenda, who was at least six inches shorter than me.  Brenda was nimble and athletic. We’d played basketball, kickball and other team sports together; but we’d never run side-by-side. And so, when the whistle blew and we exploded onto the track, I was …

Public Speaking Tip: Don’t Speak to a Demographic, Speak to a Person

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

In preparation for writing a book about the art and craft of public speaking, I’ve been reading some great books on the subject. It’s always interesting to see where and how I differ or concur with my colleagues when it comes to public speaking best practices. I nodded my head in vehement agreement while reading Chris Anderson’s terrific book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, when I came across the following nugget:  Elizabeth Gilbert, the best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love– who is herself a talented speaker—believes that you should plan your talk not for a …

Presentation Tip: To Engage Your Audience, Ask the Right Questions, in the Right Way, for the Right Reasons

Eleni Kelakos public speaking training

  Whether you use them to open your presentation, or drive a point home, questions are a great way to engage your audience.   The right question at the right time can take a presentation to a whole new level of feeling, understanding or insight. Which is why it’s essential to ask the right question, in the right way, for the right reason. There are, essentially, two types of questions 1.Questions to elicit a response. I use this type of question when I want to find out specific information and encourage active audience engagement: “How many of you are over six …