Book Review: “I Can See You Naked,” Part 1

““Ivry gr-reat orator ought to be accompanied by an orchesthry or, at worst, a pianist who wud play trills while th’ artist was refreshin’ himself with a glass iv ice wather.”” – Finley Peter Dunne

Today (and tomorrow), let’’s take a look at “I Can See You Naked,” Ron Hoff’’s book about speaking in public – something every successful person has to do all the time. Remember that public speaking is not just about seminars and conferences. It refers to any presentation where there are three or more people present.

One of the best things about “I Can See You Naked” is that you can read it in a single sitting. Hoff has plenty of good ideas –and he presents them in a way that makes them easy to find and use. I’’ve taken the liberty to summarize some of his best ideas here – and to throw in (randomly and without attribution) some of my own. Since it shouldn’’t matter where good ideas come from, I didn’’t think you’’d mind if I mixed them together. Bottom line is this: These are all good ideas for making your next public presentation better.

* Every presentation begins in the same way. The audience needs something – usually help. And the presenter needs something too – approval.

* In every brilliant presentation, there is what Spalding Gray calls “the perfect moment.” That’’s when you are able to convey a unique insight in a powerful way– and the audience gets it.

* Don’’t memorize your presentation (but do memorize the first and last lines). Don’’t use scripts. Notes on cards are best. (What you put on index cards . . . and what you put on visual aids . . . are reminders. The idea is to put down a short phrase that will remind you of a story or an idea about which you can speak confidently.

* To warm up your audience, start by focusing on someone you know. Make eye contact. Try to get a reaction. Then move on to someone else. You build rapport with an audience one person at a time.

* To warm yourself up before you speak, start by taking a little walk before hand. Then check yourself in the mirror. (You don’’t want shaving cream in your ear.) Ask yourself what the main idea of your presentation is and promise yourself you will make that clear. Say a few words to somebody before you get up there to make sure your vocal chords are working. Take a few deep breaths and then smile. It only hurts for a second.

* If you speak a lot, you might want to develop a stronger speaking voice by taping yourself and analyzing what you hear. Is this a voice you’’d want to listen to? Describe the voice you hear and make three resolutions for improvement. Use them to monitor your voice as you practice and improve.

Hoff also provides plenty of practical advice for making presentations, such as the following “checklist for a strange hotel”:

* Make sure the chandelier in the middle of the ballroom doesn’’t overhang your screen.

* Before you start, turn on your slide projector and test for bobbing heads.

* Be absolutely certain the local Boy Scout group isn’’t going to have a bugle concert in the room next door.

* Get the feel of your room at least two hours before your presentation.

* Make sure any presentation boards can be seen from the entire room.

* Decide where you will place your timepiece.

* Critical: Make sure you have the extension number of the hotel A/V specialist.

* Check the lighting system. Make sure you understand how it works.

* Watch out for cords that snake along the carpet. Have them taped.

* If you are using a lavaliere mike, make sure you know where the hot spots in the room are.

* If you have bar service before your presentation, make sure it gets shut down before you begin speaking.

* Expect things to get lost unless you keep your eye on them.

* Trust no one.

One more piece of advice: Turn thumbs down on these common speechmaking “rules”:

* Don’’t be nervous. (Telling someone not to be nervous is just plain dumb.)

* Use a podium. (Big mistake. Makes your presentation static and boring.)

* State your objective. (It’’s not the speaker’s objective that matters. It’’s the audience’s needs.)

* Speak slowly. (Slow speakers drive an audience nuts.)

* Tell a joke to get started. (This is a surefire way to screw things up.)

* Turn the lights down for your slides. (Do that and watch your audience fall asleep.)

* Cover all bases. (And your audience will remember none of them.)

* Summarize at the end. (No. Summarize all the way through.)

* Make it flow. (Not in the TV age. Make it pop and sizzle.)

* Keep control at all times. (Wrong! It’s not about you. It’s about the audience. Serve them. Forget about yourself.)

That’’s enough for today. Tomorrow, more insights on how to be an effective speaker – with the emphasis on the importance of understanding your audience.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]