• Home
  • DIY Post-Grad Institute of the Communication Arts
  • The Blog
  • Speaking with Bill
  • Coaching with Bill
  • Writing with Bill
  • My Pricing and Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • About
  • Contact
160GB Black iPod

40,000 Songs in Your Pocket!

“Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes improvement.”
Les Brown

“Steve Jobs believed so strongly in Apple’s products that he was not Steve when he took the stage at a product introduction. He was the product.”
Jay Elliot (Former Apple Executive and author of The Steve Jobs Way

(The video for—The Speaking Husky Teaches Video Series, How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking—Part Two, is at the bottom of the post.)

I’m Back in the Saddle Again! How About You?

(Yes, I am quoting Aerosmith and probably 17,393,717 cowboys. My opinion—Rocks is Aerosmith’s best album.)

Wow! Its’s great to write a new post! I wish this wasn’t my first post this year, but it is.

Why haven’t I posted since December? There are at least three reasons why. (I hope nothing has kept those of you who love to write away from your writing.) Here are my three reasons for not posting: 1. Since July 5, 2011, I’ve had many minor to moderate Ulcerative Colitis flare ups. 2. My ADHD effects my career both positively and negatively. Specifically, I have Entrepreneurial ADHD! Because I have entrepreneurial ADHD, I relaunched my eBay Store, Rock, Read, And Roam! 3. My top priority in life is physical and emotional health, and I was as lost from that priority as someone dropped from a plane naked into the middle of Denali National Park with no food, water, or compass!

So, how’s everyone else been? (Great, I hope!) Here’s what I’ve learned—This business and this blog play a major role in my staying healthy!

I Haven’t Given a Perfect Speech. Have You?

Public speaking friends, has the perfect speech ever been given? Plain “no,” won’t suffice here. The proper answer is, “hell no!”

Why the use of the minor obscenity? Because in over 11 years of speaking in Toastmasters, hanging out with other speakers, and studying public speaking, I have learned that believing in the perfect speech generates massive procrastination and fear. How do I know this? Therapist Janet Esposito discusses perfectionism generated public speaking fear in her excellent book, In the Spotlight Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing, and I know this because I’ve experienced it myself!

The main reason I have completed my Toastmasters Advanced Communicator Silver award but haven’t completed my Accomplished Communicator Gold Award is that I have postponed numerous speeches, because they “just weren’t good enough yet.”

You Can Prove Anything With YouTube

Here’s what I suggest you do right now—Leave this post open in your browser and open another tab. Now, faster than a politician changing positions based on the latest opinion poll, go to YouTube. Are you on YouTube now? Great! Please search for your favorite speaker and watch one entire video of your favorite presenter giving a speech. As you watch, jot down any flaws you see in the speech no matter how minor they are. (Examples: Said, “and uh,” overused his or her notes, moved around the stage to the point of distraction, lacked energy, lost eye contact for two seconds, etc.)

What did you notice was wrong? If you came up with one thing, that means the speech wasn’t perfect! (If you couldn’t find one thing, please let me know. I want to watch that speech! 🙂 )

The Greatest Business Speaker of the Last 100 Years was Flawed

For a few years, I read many cool, interesting, and groovy quotes from Steve Jobs Commencement Address to the Stanford University Class of 2005. (Yes, I was a little kid in the hippie era. 🙂 ) I found Steve’s speech amazing and inspiring, but never bothered to watch it. When I finally watched the speech, I felt like some bizarre character in an X-Files episode had transported me to an alternate universe. No, way! That’s, Steve Jobs, one of my favorite speakers reading a speech? Based on what I thought a great speech was at the time, Steve’s, awesome, amazing, cool, and inspiring speech was flawed! This meant that everything I believed about reality was a lie…

Jobs 2005 speech at Stanford is one of my favorite speeches. The speech motivated and inspired me. The speech also showed me that a presentation didn’t have to meet my definition of perfection to be a great speech and change many lives for the better! I believe that speech will be the catalyst that causes many of us to live the life we were created for instead of the life that the neighborhood we grew up in, our parents, our friends, etc. believe we were created for!

Why would the awesome speaker Jobs read his speech? Maybe, he was as horrified as Jamie Leigh Curtis being chased by Michael Myers in the first Halloween movie! Is it possible that the ultra cool Steve Jobs felt fear in front of an audience?

How could the legendary great presenter Jobs be afraid of making a speech at Stanford? Maybe, because he was out of his element. Maybe, his level of fear wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but his busy schedule had kept him from rehearsing the speech. Maybe, he felt that each word of that inspiring speech was so important that his best option was to read the speech. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why he read the speech… Now, here’s what’s most important—
Jay Elliot, former Apple executive and author of the Steve Jobs way, says that when Steve made a speech, he wasn’t Steve, he transformed from being Steve into being an iPod, iPhone, or an iPad. Mr. Elliot says that Mr. Jobs believed so strongly in Apple’s products that he was not Steve when he took the stage at his legendary product introductions. He was the product. I believe this is another way of saying what Janet Esposito says in her most awesome book In The Spotlight Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking. Ms. Esposito believes that one of the best things we can do to overcome speech anxiety is to focus 100% on the needs of the audience during our presentations.

A Few More Things…

Here’s a few other things in The Speaking Husky Teaches Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking Part Two:

  • The story of Leonardo DiCaprio getting slapped hundreds of times by Cameron Diaz to please Gangs of New York Director Martin Scorsese.

  • The day that Ernest Hemingway edited his son’s writing.

  • And…there’s at least one more thing, but probably more than one more thing! 🙂
  • I hope that Part Two of The Speaking Husky Teaches Series, How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking, helps you alleviate some of the fear and anxiety you feel before you make a presentation. If you’ve benefited from this post or this video, please consider sharing them with someone else. I’d love your feedback. I know I’m a video amateur! (Your thoughts about my presentation(s), my writing, my videos, and my blog will be very welcome.)

    Thanks for your support! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


    Janet Espostito's In The SpotLight Book Cover

    If you dropped in on this blog and get the reference in the title of the post, where did you get your PHD in Communication —The University of Toronto, or The Marshall McLuhan Global Research Network? 🙂

    McLuhan, the 20th Century prophet of 21st Century communication said that, “ ‘Our Age of Anxiety’ is, in part, the result of trying to do today’s jobs with yesterday’s tools—with yesterday’s concepts.” My suggestion—Until you saw this post, you might have been unaware of Janet Esposito’s book, In The Spotlight Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing. Now, that you know that Janet’s book exists, it has entered the today of your life. If you fear public speaking, please don’t try to do today’s work with yesterday’s tools and concepts. Please consider using Janet’s book. It’s one of the best resources on overcoming the fear of public speaking that I’ve found.

    Janet’s Excellent Book in Three Points

    Attempting to summarize Janet’s book in three points is a bit like describing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by talking about three trees, but I will give a micro-summary of her book by highlighting three points anyway:
    1. Avoiding the issue of fear of public speaking makes it worse, so—
    2. Why not face the fear and improve the quality of our lives? No guts no glory, so stand up to the fear!
    3. Here’s great news— There are tools we can use to overcome the fear of public speaking.

    One Great Speech Without Anxiety, Does Not Mean That Presentation Anxiety Has Been Banished

    When I was in college, I gave an outstanding speech in an Economic Development class. My professor said, “Mr. Boulton’s speech is an example of genius not being revealed until it’s forced on itself.” Several of my classmates asked me if I wanted to become a professional speaker. My head swelled to a size larger than a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon. That speech is one of the happiest moments of my life!

    On the day I gave the speech, my public speaking anxiety was on vacation in Vegas or Big Sur or something. I’m glad that my speech anxiety was on vacation, because I needed a healthy boost in self esteem, and I got it. Since that presentation was so charmed though, my ego managed to hide my public speaking anxiety from me for a few decades.

    After close to two decades of procrastinating, in 2001 I decided to pursue becoming a professional speaker. My first step was joining Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Although I hadn’t sharpened my public speaking skills much since college, my public speaking ego was smaller, but it was still the size of a mini Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Speech anxiety…not me!

    Gee—I wish I’d read Janet’s book before these two things happened to me:
    1. I got lost in the middle of a speech, while representing my Toastmasters club in the Toastmasters International speech contest!
    2. I gave a speech at a conference for aspiring professional speakers with the calmness of a parachuter whose emergency chute has failed.

    The great news—These incidents allowed me to realize that the strong speech I gave in my Economic Development class in college did not give me a lifetime vaccination from presentation anxiety. With the denial gone, I’ve learned to use any anxiety I feel before and during my presentations as energy for performing. Janet Esposito’s thoughts on fear and public speaking have helped me much.

    Five Plus Key Points From Janet’s Book That Will Help Massage Away Your Presentation Anxiety

    1. Accepting any fear is not easy, but it is the only way to overcome it.
    2. We should focus on how we can help our audience, not on how our audience views us.
    3. We must always work to live completely in the moment, focus on the needs of our audience, and constantly think positive thoughts. This lessens the odds of the fight or flight response being triggered when there is no need for it.
    4. Each of us should prepare as much psychologically and physically for our presentations as we do on the material that we will present.
    5. Two awesome affirmations Janet uses: a. “I will no longer accept being less than I can be.” b. “I do not serve the world by playing small.”

    Are you ready for more public speaking wisdom from Janet Esposito? Great! 🙂 In Part III of my Speaking Husky Teaches Video Series, “Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking,” I will use a few more references from Janet’s book.

    Do You Have Any Public Speaking Anxiety?

    If you do, here’s my suggestion—Please read and apply the principles in Janet’s book before your get lost while representing your Toastmasters Club in The International Speech Competition! 🙂

    Here are a few places that you can learn more from Janet Esposito:

    Facebook—Janet Esposito: In the Spotlight



    What do you think? Please share your comments below.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Photograph, Katya Horner, Slight Clutter Photography. (2011)

    “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is—infinite.”
    William Blake

    “If the doors of perception were cleansed, audiences would appear as they are—humans not snarling wolves.”
    Bill Boulton

    (The video for—The Speaking Husky Teaches Video Series, How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking—Part One, is at the bottom of the post.)

    The Marathon Woman Who Cried Wolf

    A few years ago, my wife Emily had just returned from her normal 37 mile morning run, wearing her normal $893.00 running clothes. (Yes—that’s humor. Emily doesn’t run a distance greater than a marathon everyday, and thank goodness her running clothes don’t cost $893.00. Close to $893.00, maybe… 🙂 ) She was ready to open our front door, when she heard not The Deathly Hallows (Part I or II), but the Deathly Howling!

    Emily saw a wolf, and began screaming for help! (For a more detailed version of this story, please go to the middle of this page right here.) The “wolf” was actually a Siberian Husky, and I loved the “wolf” the first time I met him! Emily liked “the wolf” the third of fourth time she met him… We adopted the Siberian Husky, named him Kodiak or Cody for short, and he sleeps at the foot of our bed each night.

    When many of us stand up to make a presentation, we are like my wife Emily was the first time she met our beloved dog Cody. We see snarling wolves when what we are looking at are human beings who want to play! Play in this context, means receiving a useful message that’s easy to understand. (It’s a bonus if it’s entertaining too, but it doesn’t have to be.)

    The Foundation of a Public Speaking Dream House

    Here’s what we have been conditioned to think about when we hear the phrase public speaking:
    1. Researching our audience. 2. Researching our topic. 3. Rehearsing our speech. 4. Making eye contact, etc. when we deliver our speech. All these things are great! They also will not help us if our anxiety level is higher than all the hippies living in Haight-Ashbury in 1967 combined. If we are that afraid, we won’t give our speech anyway, so all those niceties like researching our audience are meaningless. This is why I started The Speaking Husky Teaches Series with Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.

    Most of us have some anxiety about making presentations, and some of us have fears of making speeches that are strong enough to make our lives uncomfortable. When our favorite cup of takeout tea or coffee is tipped over without a lid, the spilled liquid rapidly flows over everything in its path. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful this makes me frustrated and miserable fast! Like spilled tea, coffee, or spilled anything, unchecked public speaking anxiety can rapidly spread throughout our lives. Some of us will turn down speaking for community groups, speaking for church groups, or even consider changing jobs if our current job requires us to make a speech!

    For those of us who have public speaking anxiety, learning to use our anxiety as fuel to make awesome presentations is the solid foundation that we can use to build our public speaking dream homes on.

    This business was founded by our dog Kodiak. It was! No Cody, no The Speaking Husky SM. Want to hear me give some tips on overcoming the fear of speaking and speak about how Cody came into our lives? Watch the video then! 🙂
    (If you only want to watch the part of the video about Cody, please watch from about 5:40 to about 7:30.)

    I hope that Part One of The Speaking Husky Teaches Series, How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking, helps you begin building the foundation of your public speaking dream home. If you’ve benefited from this post or this video, please consider sharing them with someone else.

    Thanks for your support! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


    Bono, Edge, Adam, and Larry onstage in Nashville

    Photograph, Jon Erickson/BlueShoe Nashville. (2011)
    Image source—http://www.blueshoenashville.com/u2nashville.html

    “It’s not about guitar, bass, drums, or voice, it’s about you, me, and what we do here.”
    Bono, June 25, 1983 during U2’s performance at The Atlanta Civic Center

    Why I went to See U2

    I went to see U2 in Nashville on July 2, 2011 for at least five reasons: 1. My wife gave me this as a birthday present! 2. My second favorite concert ever is U2, June 25, 1983 at the Atlanta Civic Center. (Note—I was only three years old when I saw U2 in 1983. Well, maybe I acted like a three-year old when I saw them in 1983. 🙂 I do know that it was a great concert!) 3. I wanted to rock! 4. I wanted a peak experience. (I had one at the U2 show in 1983, why not have another peak experience at a U2 concert in 2011?) 5. I wanted to become a better public speaker. U2 lead singer, Bono, is a master communicator and I was there to study public speaking. (Am I this big of a public speaking nerd? Lucky you, I am.)

    Since The Speaking Husky Blog doesn’t focus on concert reviews, I’m going to resist the urge to review on a scale of 1-10 how much each song rocked! Those of you who can’t stand Bono/U2, please hang in there. If you want to learn more about being a more effective communicator, this post is still for you. Watching the band perform, I was both learning and remembering what I already knew about Bono the great communicator.


    Four Public Speaking Lessons From U2’s July 2, 2011 Show

    1. You have public speaking anxiety? I have public speaking anxiety? So what! Let’s focus on channeling that anxiety into helping us deliver our valuable messages to our audiences.
    2. We should be aware of and utilize our gestures.
    3. Let’s make our speeches personal! Let’s name check, and build rapport with our audiences. Include everyone. Don’t distinguish between the famous or non-famous.
    4. Be willing to improvise. Improvisation can create magic when we make presentations.

    I. Speech Anxiety—Let’s Use it for Energy!

    In speaker Scott Berkun’s excellent book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, Berkun says this about Bono—”Bono, of U2, claims to get nervous the morning of every one of the thousands of shows he’s performed.” Bono is anxious in front of an audience? He doesn’t appear anxious. So, if he’s nervous the morning of the show, how does he take the stage that evening? I think he believes in the power of the band’s music and the power of the band’s message. At an early age, Bono said he “was greatly influenced by Christianity and Punk Rock.” I think, I could see both influences still at work in Nashville. From my seat in Vanderbilt Stadium, it looked like Bono’s desire to make the world a better place for everyone and to help the poorest of the poor turned the morning nerves into raw energy!

    Speaking of helping the world’s most destitute people, Bono and his wife, Ali, use social entrepreneurship to help those who are most in need. Here’s a little about their company Edun.  If you contact me with your thoughts on social entrepreneurship, I might speak as much as Bono! Please comment below this post, or contact me right here. Want more? Here’s a Google search for social entrepreneur.

    II. Gestures—Let’s be Aware of Them and Use Them for Impact

    Bono’s gestures were very natural. He varied his gestures from wide sweeping motions that took in the entire audience, to minute gestures to make a point. Since I don’t have thousands of people posting videos of me on YouTube yet, I video record all my speeches to see what my gestures look like. Video has helped me improve my presentations, and I am confident that video will help you improve your speeches too.

    III. Build Rapport With the Audience

    I’ve seen U2 live five times in four cities. Wherever U2 is playing, Bono focuses on that city. He talks about what’s going on in that city, he speaks about his own experiences in that city, and he name checks people he knows in that city. In Nashville, he mentioned that former Tennessee Republican U.S. Senator and One.org supporter, Dr. Bill Frist, was in the audience. He also spoke about the late Johnny and June Cash and his friendship with them. Bono didn’t say anything about this from the stage in Nashville, but he was friends with both the late conservative icon Jesse Helms and the late liberal icon Ted Kennedy. What I witnessed at the concert though was the rapport building skills that made those diverse friendships possible.

    Bono and U2 don’t limit themselves to the rich and famous though. During the song “One,” several members of the Nashville chapter of Amnesty International joined the group onstage. Before Saturday 7-2-2011, who had heard of Tattoo Dan or Adam Bevell? (Tattoo Dan joined U2 onstage for “I Will Follow.” Adam Bevell was on stage for “All I Want Is You.” There’s more about Adam in point IV.)

    This didn’t happen in Nashville, but the example is so strong, that I wanted to include it. Thanks to Olgierd Swida’s communication firm, Presentation Coaching, I discovered the video below of Bono building rapport with a crowd in Poland.

    IV. Be Willing to Improvise

    I’ve seen Bono ask crowds to pass flags to the stage, and I’ve seen him bring numerous audience members onstage in an impromptu or at least semi-impromptu way before. On July 2, 2011, Bono made one of the greatest improvisational decisions I’ve ever witnessed from a performer though!

    The band had played “Moment of Surrender,” the song that most of their recent shows had closed with. It looked like the concert was over. Seconds later though, Bono looked into the crowd near the stage and said, “Okay what do you want to play man?”

    Unknown to me and 99.9% of the crowd at the concert, throughout the show, a blind man named Adam Bevell had been standing near the stage. Adam had been holding a sign that said, “Blind Guitar Player Wants to Play a Song for His Wife.” He got his chance! Despite his admitted nervousness, Adam did an excellent job playing with U2 on his requested song, “All I Want Is You.” Bono’s inviting Adam Bevell onstage to play an unplanned song with U2, may be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen happen at a concert! The Huffington Post describes what happened in detail, right here.

    If a picture paints 1,000 words, a video may paint 77,000 words about what witnessing what this was like! Below, is one of the many other videos of U2 playing with Adam Bevell available online.

    Now, it’s your turn. What have you learned about public speaking from a rock star? Are you a U2 fan, and just want to chat about U2? Have any tips for me as a writer? Please post your comments below.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    On March 31, 2011, I gave a speech called Meet The Beatles in Speech 01. My primary goal with the speech was to give the audience some entertaining and useful information about public speaking by discussing one of the first speeches I made in High School. But… I also wanted to impress the judges enough to advance to the Division A finals of the Toastmasters International Speech Competition. I didn’t win the contest on March 31st, but I did learn several things that will improve my speaking. My goal for this post, is to help you learn more about how to make an effective speech either through the video of my speech at the competition, or from what I write about participating in the competition. I hope you learn from both!

    This post is about four things:

    1. Toastmasters Competitions
    2. A specific Toastmasters Competition
    3. What you can learn from what I believe I did right in my presentation, and what you can learn from what I might have done better in my speech. ( You don’t have to be a Toastmasters member to learn from this. 🙂 )
    4. This post is also a request for constructive suggestions from you about how I can improve my presentations. (I seek ways to improve my communication skills 95% of the time that I am awake. My wife, Emily, says that I do this when I am asleep too.)

    Toastmasters Competitions—What’s the Deal?

    Who’s better, The Beatles, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, or U2? Jay Z or Public Enemy? Lady Gaga or Madonna? Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock, or Jeff Foxworthy? Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers? You get the idea…Toastmasters competitions can be subjective. I believe our Area Two winner, Wayne Goode, would have won the competition that day whether the judges were from Huntsville, Al., USA, Manchester, England, or Shanghai China. Wayne did a very good job delivering a very memorable and unique speech.

    Is it possible that another panel of judges might have considered Alycia Harris, Tim Vander Veer, or me the winner? Sure! Again, whose better The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Led Zeppelin, or U2? (Am I as good as The Beatles? Well no, but analogies using famous people are much easier to understand. 🙂 )

    If you are a member of Toastmasters, please consider entering your club’s next competition! A competition is a great opportunity to grow as a speaker in the same supportive environment that you are used to in Toastmasters. If you aren’t in Toastmasters, and want to be a better speaker, why haven’t you joined? For most people, Toastmasters Clubs are the best places to work on becoming excellent speakers.

    If you have questions about Toastmasters, please leave a comment below, or contact me through my contact page.

    Oops! These are things I Might Have Done Better at the Area 2 Toastmasters International Speech Competition

    1. Arrive early. (Very early!) I arrived two minutes before the competition was scheduled to begin. Was this a good idea? No! On our planet, there is no theory of gravity, there is a law of gravity. When making a presentation, there is no theory that arriving early helps you make an excellent presentation, there is a law that arriving early helps you make a better presentation.

    My schtick is more casual than formal. The competition was held in a very formal environment, the SAIC boardroom in Huntsville, Al. (The vibe I got, was that Donald Trump or the CEO of SAIC would walk in the room and begin firing people at any second!) My fellow Hi-Noon Toastmasters club members Nancy Hershey, and Debi Trumbull, told me that they had never seen me so nervous before making a speech. (I don’t know what they saw, but I felt like The Energizer Bunny on 3 cups of Starbucks Espresso flushed down with Red Bull.) Once I started giving my speech, I was fine. I was fine for the same reason that a bear released from the Appalachian Bear Rescue Center feels fine once it is released back into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While sitting in a corporate boardroom or being introduced to an audience in a corporate boardroom may seem foreign to me, giving a speech seems natural to me. (I’m weird like that!)

    So, would I rather speak for an audience in a non-smoking bar, for a community group, or for a church group than speak in a corporate boardroom? Yes! (My ideal speaking locale is a church group with an open bar. I’m kidding, but that ambiance might suit me more easily than the ambiance of a corporate boardroom.) Does this mean I should never speak in a boardroom? No! Here’s what it does mean for me though—

    1. I should always arrive thirty minutes before any presentation that I am making. If I am speaking in a very formal corporate environment, I should show up an hour early, deliver my speech to the empty room, and settle into the terrain. Like Marley’s Ghost, the challenges that arriving late caused me developed into a ponderous chain of challenges to overcome. Chains can be broken though, and I have done much better arriving places on time since the day I gave this speech!
    2. When I deliver a line that gets a laugh(s), I should pause a few seconds and allow the audience to enjoy the laugh(s).
    3. My presentation might have been better if I amped up my energy level a bit.
    4. I should have gone to Florida and lied on the beach for a week before my speech. (Seriously, the lights in that room made everyone look like an apparition.)

    Yay for Me! Things I Believe I Did Right Before and During the Area 2 Toastmasters International Speech Competition

    1. I rehearsed my speech numerous times before the contest.
    2. I videotaped myself practicing my speech frequently before I gave it at the competition.
    3. My Toastmasters club chose me to represent them in the contest, and I spoke at the contest. The only way to become a better speaker is to give speeches!
    4. During the speech, I smiled. This is a very underrated element of speech making. For more information about the importance of the smile please see my review of Bert Decker’s book You’ve Got to be Believed to be Heard. (I think I could have smiled even more than I did during this speech though.)
    5. I involved the audience in the speech by asking them questions.
    6. The statements in my presentation were backed by public speaking experts including: Janet Esposito, Lee Glickstein, and Bert Decker. These folks know their stuff!
    7. I told a story. Stories have been one of the most effective forms of communication since our ancestors began telling them around the campfire or cave, or wherever in the world they told them first. My story was about a High School speech where I spoke about The Beatles. 100% of my audience attended High School and knew who The Beatles are.
    8. I let the audience know what my speech was about at the beginning and reviewed the three points of my speech at the end.

    Fellow DIY Postgraduate Students of the Communication Arts, Toastmasters, Beginning Speakers, or People Who Randomly Surfed Onto This Page, Now It’s Your Turn

    After watching, or scanning my video, what suggestions do you have for me? (Other than getting a tan before my next speech? 🙂 ) Please post your comments, ideas, and suggestions below.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Ray Bradbury Zen in the Art of Writing

    “Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come.”
    “There is no failure unless one stops.”
    Ray Bradbury

    Tuesday, 6 PM, May 10th 2011, I am having a minor colitis flare-up and am feeling a bit drained. The light on the green ridge that I look at through my office window each day is grinning like the ever present smiley face icons of my childhood. The ridge, unlike me, does not suffer from the PTSD and survivor’s guilt that were left in my body by the hell hound tornados of April 27, 2011.

    Was the last Melvillian? Was the last paragraph Conradian? Was the last paragraph Tolkienesque? No, no, and no! The last paragraph was me applying some of the principals of Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing— Sit down at your desk and write each day with no judgement. In time, your fingers will develop brains that write the words for you. I hope that my fingers guide this summary of Bradbury’s book as smoothly as Jimi Hendrix’s fingers guided him as he played The Star Spangled banner as the sun rose at Woodstock.


    Chattanooga Charlie Meets Dirty Harry
    The Fourth of July that the Unicorns Left the Castle
    Jesus, Buddha, and Newman’s Green Tea
    Cam Newton Meets the Cigarette Smoking Man

    Those titles are meaningless gibberish? Maybe, but they’re also me practicing a Bradbury writing technique. Here’s what the great RB said,

    “…I began to make lists of titles, to put down long lines of nouns. These lists were the provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface. I was feeling my way toward being honest, hidden under the trapdoor on the top of my skull.”

    Practice Makes Ray Bradbury (and you and me too!)

    My favorite practice quote is not “practice makes perfect.” My favorite quote about practice is “practice makes improvement.” (Les Brown) Ray Bradbury made improvement by writing a thousand words a day. He developed this method of improvement when he was only 12 years old! (A thousand words is roughly equivalent to four double spaced pages using a 12 point font.)

    Mr. Bradbury, may I count undergraduate school term papers toward my thousand words a day? Do graduate school papers count? Do emails, Facebook posts, and tweets count? They don’t count? Then, I need to keep studying and writing.

    Ray stresses a very specific form of writing practice. To paraphrase Mr. Bradbury, our goal as writers is to practice writing as the only person we can be—Ourselves! Ray discusses writing with our true voice throughout Zen in the Art of Writing, and I believe this quote gives a decent summary of his thought on working with our unique genius, “He must ask himself, ‘What do I really think of the world, what do I love, fear, hate?’ and begin to write it on paper.”

    You want to improve your writing skills, and you don’t want to read this book? Wow! Well, if you don’t get anything else out of Mr. Bradbury’s book, it will give you at least three years of awesome quotes to tweet on Twitter. You still aren’t convinced? Below, are four great thoughts from the book that may change you mind.

    Four great thoughts from Zen in the Art of Writing

    “Find a character, like yourself, who will want something, with all his heart. Give him running orders. Shoot him off. Then follow as fast as you can go. The character, in his great love, or hate, will rush you through to the end of the story.”

    “Who are your friends? Do they believe in you? Or do they stunt your growth with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.”

    “Read those authors who write the way you hope to write, those who think the way you would like to think. But also read those who do not think as you think or write as you want to write, and so be stimulated in directions you might not take for many years. Here again, don’t let the snobbery of others prevent you from reading Kipling, say, while no one else is reading him.”

    “There is only one type of story in the world. Your story. If you write your story it could possibly sell to any magazine.”

    What do you think? Please comment below.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    You've Got to Be Believed to Be Heard

    If you are a spiritual person, this book is the public speaking equivalent of the book that started your spiritual tradition. If you are a movie fan, this book is Citizen Kane or whatever your favorite movie is. If you are a baseball fan, this book is the original Yankee Stadium or Fenway, or… if you are a Beatles fan, this book is whatever album you like best from Rubber Soul to Let It Be!

    Gee Bill, isn’t that last paragraph a bit overblown? Well, what I know is my experience, and in my experience the last paragraph is spot on! I was fortunate enough to read Bert’s original version of this excellent book in 1992 and his updated version of the book in 2008. Maybe I am biased because this is the first public speaking book that I ever read.

    If a presentation that I make is off, I know that I have gotten away from the principles in this book.

    The Most Important Concepts in This Book in a Few Paragraphs

    “The truth is, if you want to reach, persuade, or motivate people, you have to make emotional contact with them” – Bert Decker

    Reptile Brain

    (Diagram from page 72 You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard by Bert Decker)

    Take your pick, either the creator of the universe or blind random chance created us with two distinct partitions in our brain. Decker calls these sections of our brain the first brain and the new brain. Our first brain, sometimes called the reptilian brain, consists of the brain stem and the limbic system. This part of our brain has one primary purpose, too keep us alive. The first brain is unconscious, instinctive, and primitive. The first brain is the source of our emotions, and houses our survival instincts of hunger, thirst, danger, etc. Have you ever been angry? No? Wow! How are you walking around without a functioning brain stem and limbic system?

    Do you like The Beatles, Miles Davis, or Johnny Cash? How about Bach, Vivaldi, Lady Gaga, or Jay Z? If not, do you like any music, art, or writing in the history of the human race? No? Well, do you like any of the thoughts that you or anyone else has ever had? Yes! That’s great, because every conscious thought in the history of the human race has come from what Bert Decker calls the new brain! The new brain is rational, conscious, intellectual, and is the source of thought and creativity. Oh, you want to be scientific about this? Then, the “official” scientific name of the new brain is the cerebral cortex.

    According to Decker, most speakers prepare to reach the new brains of an audience, but do little to prepare to reach the first brains of an audience. Unfortunately, the first brain is the gatekeeper of the new brain and our messages will not reach the new brains of our audience if they don’t get past the gatekeeper. Decker’s entire book is designed to help us get past the gatekeeper so that we can reach the new brain’s of our listeners!

    From what he has learned in his 32 plus years of speaking and coaching speakers, Bert believes that there are six skill areas that we should develop to reach first the brains of our audience:


    1. Eye Communication
    2. Posture and Movement
    3. Dress and Appearance
    4. Gestures and Smile
    5. Voice and Vocal Variety
    6. Words and Nonwords (the Pause)

    Bert gives detailed action steps that we can take to develop as speakers in all six skill areas.

    In the final portion of his book, Bert details his methods for helping speakers create focused messages; The Decker Grid System and SHARPs.

    The Decker Grid System has four steps for preparing a powerful message:


    1. Lay the cornerstones
    2. Create ideas
    3. Cluster the ideas into themes
    4. Compose a message that motivates

    SHARP stands for:

    S — Stories and Examples
    H — Humor
    A — Analogies
    R — References and Quotations
    P — Pictures and Visual Aids

    Four Reasons That This Book Rocks! (There are many others)

    1. Massive amounts of interesting, common sense, easy to apply information.

    Here’s a few quotes that I believe demonstrate this:

    “People don’t want facts and figures. They want someone to listen to, someone to like.”

    On why eye communication is extremely important — “The nerve pathways from the eyes to the brain are 25 times larger than those from the ear to the brain. The eye is the only sensory organ that contains brain cells.”

    “For effective eye communication count to five. A feeling of involvement involves about five seconds of steady eye contact.”

    “Replacing filler words with a pregnant pause has the second biggest immediate payoff in communication effectiveness.”

    “The fear of public speaking is actually many fears bundled together… the first thing to understand about this anxiety is that it is actually the fear of making ourselves vulnerable before others (exposure). Added to this is the fear of failure (ridicule).”

    On overcoming the fear of public speaking — “All the First Brain cares about is survival…We can teach our thinking, reasoning New Brains to stop shouting danger at our First Brains. We can teach our New Brains the difference between real and imagined threats.”

    2. Lessons from many outstanding household name speakers

    Including: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, John Madden, and U2’s Bono.

    3. You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard states the obvious but often overlooked.

    An example is Bert’s explaining in detail why it is vital that we learn to smile at our audiences.

    4. Beatles fanatic that I am, I now know why The Beatles were great. They smiled more than any other rock group in history!

    While I am mostly kidding, this book, without ever mentioning The Beatles, convinced me that those smiling Beatle faces had something to do with their mass appeal. Think about it, name a sullen punk rock band that sold millions of albums. (I know that would be selling out. Yes, I like The Ramones a lot, but they didn’t sell a billion albums worldwide or have the overall impact of The Beatles. No, I don’t believe that Green Day is a punk rock band or that they have had the overall influence of The Beatles. If Green Day is a punk rock group, they smile a lot for a punk band. I don’t believe that Nirvana was a punk group either. Thanks for checking in!)

    Are There Reasons That This Book Doesn’t Rock?

    Well, I don’t believe this means that the book doesn’t rock, but I don’t use The Decker Grid System. I jot down ideas and gather information in my notebook(s) and on my computer, use the information that I’ve gathered to stimulate my thinking, and then write a rough draft of a speech in my notebook. After that, I type the speech out to solidify my thoughts. (I don’t memorize my speech though. Please believe me, it is not a good idea to memorize a speech!)

    Want to be a better speaker?

    My recommendation is, buy this book, read it, study it, and it use it!

    Here are a few places that you can learn more from Bert Decker:

    Facebook—Decker Communications

    Twitter— @BertDecker



    What do you think? Please post your comments below.

    Thanks for stopping by!