Business Leader Michael Coles Tells How to Prepare and Deliver Speeches

More than twenty years ago I heard Michael Coles–known then as the founder of the Great American Cookie Company–speak at a Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner. His speech made such a superb impression that people were talking about it weeks later throughout the community.

I had no idea then that I would eventually meet Michael Coles. I followed his progress as he became the CEO of Caribou Coffee, and then Chairman of Brand Bank. Yet we did meet months ago when I interviewed him for the first time, after reading his inspiring book, Time to Get Tough–a book especially suited for the demanding times we live in.

Recently Michael made a second guest appearance on my weekly “Biz Communication Show.” This time he discussed, at my request, his method of speech preparation and delivery. Because Michael remains in high demand as a speaker for conferences and conventions you will benefit greatly from hearing his formula for dynamic speaking.

Watch the video now:

Not only do I agree with Michael’s approach to preparing and presenting speeches, that’s the identical approach I have used in my corporate speaking career. Also, this is exactly the method I teach my Speech Coaching clients.


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7 Speech Opening Sentences That Could Annoy Your Audience

Your first sentence in your next speech will either offend your listeners or attract them. To make sure you stay away from the worst opening statements I have heard, I’m sharing seven of them–words that would have audience members thinking silently, “Oh no, not that corny stuff again.”

ONE: “I’m not an expert on this topic.”
Then why should you listen to this person? If he or she downgrades credibility so brazenly, why should you grant a half-hour of your time to hear the message?

TWO: “Please bear with me, because I’m really nervous when it comes to giving speeches.”
Just imagine: What if a surgeon said “I hope my hands don’t shake too much. Haven’t done this operation before.” Or a mechanic: “Man, you’ve got me really shook up with this unusual engine problem.”
We want our speakers and every other person providing a service to display confidence. Only then will we trust them to perform effectively.

THREE: “Can those of you sitting in the back of the room hear me OK?”
Two big problems with this opener. One is that if they can’t hear you then logically they can’t respond to what you said. Second, asking that question reflects that you didn’t check out the acoustics or microphone ahead of time, which polished presenters do.

FOUR: “I appreciate that kind introduction. Wish my spouse would have been here to learn what a good guy (or lady) I am.”
What audience hasn’t heard that before? Instantly, your listeners would expect a speech packed with unoriginal thoughts and copied phrases.

FIVE: “I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to learn anything about your group.”
Reaction: Why not? Don’t you use the Internet? Couldn’t you have visited our Web site?

SIX: “Barely got here on time, I was being interviewed by the TV station downtown.”
Braggarts will not get attention after starting with ego-centered remarks.

SEVEN: “The print is pretty small on my PowerPoint slides, so raise your hand if you need me to read some of it aloud during my presentation.”
The print should not be too small. The skilled presenter gets the size right weeks before facing an audience.

In recent weeks “Clubhouse” has gained remarkable popularity as an online set of “rooms” you can visit to hear discussions about various business topics–and sometimes even participate in the discussions. On YouTube I watched a how-to video about Clubhouse. These instructions helped me get started. I believe you’ll find them useful too.


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