Michelle Barry Franco http://www.michellebarryfranco.com Speaking Coach | Presentation Skills Training and Facilitation| Business Coach Tue, 05 Jul 2016 21:01:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cropped-MBF_logo_favicon_Nov_2015-32x32.png Michelle Barry Franco http://www.michellebarryfranco.com 32 32 How to tell your story when you’re afraid of being judged http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/11/14/how-to-tell-your-story-when-youre-afraid-of-being-judged/ Sat, 14 Nov 2015 11:21:49 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2773 heart_hands_smallerI held my sweating hands together for fear someone would see the shaking. I kept my gaze low because looking at their faces made me feel light headed. I was terrified that if I said a word out loud, I might throw up.

“Anyone else want to read their story?,” asked the facilitator in her velvety voice. The sound was so soothing that I lifted my eyes just enough to meet hers. She smiled gently.

“I feel like I’m going to throw up, so it must be my turn to share,” I said.

“Wonderful,” she cooed.

As I began to read this story that I had never shared with anyone except my husband, my jaw tightened with fear. My teeth were nearly chattering and my heart was racing.

I just kept reading, avoiding all of the eyes and the almost certain disapproval – or worse, disregard – of the women’s faces.

Then about one third of the way into my story, something happened. I felt this gentle opening, a release that began at my heart and radiated out in all directions. My voice thickened and I began to feel a deep groundedness. As if coming out of a sound-proof room, I began to hear my own story for the first time.

By the time I finished reading my story, I felt… free. I felt this strength and openness – even a compassion for myself and this difficult story that I had previously held solely so heavily in my heart and memory. I could see how lost I had been back then – and I felt a lot of love for that woman who struggled so valiantly, if but messily.

I looked up at the silent room full of women. I saw smiles and gentle nods of understanding – tears in their eyes. To my surprise, I saw no signs of pity or disgust. I could feel their care and connection. I heard their gasps and other sounds of surprise as I read. Now I could see that they were with me all along, feeling my pain as I shared and rooting for me, too.

I felt really connected with the women in that room. This hadn’t happened to me very often, so careful was I not to share too much and risk being judged negatively.

The truth is, there probably were moments of judgement as they listened. My story was full of situations where I wasn’t, shall we say, at my best.

We don’t control the judgement of others. Judging, thinking, assessing and drawing conclusions are what the human brain is designed to do.

This is precisely how we survive dangerous situations – assessing the danger, judging the level of risk, deciding what to do about it all. To try to stop this from happening is like trying to hold back the ocean – impossible and frankly, silly when you think about it.

So this leads me to the promise jn the title of this article:

How in the world do we move through the fear that stops us from sharing the stories that matter when we know there is a very real chance we will be judged?

Here’s how: We let go of trying to control what others think of us and we focus on how our stories will serve the people in our audience.

Simply said, difficultly done, right?

Here’s the thing: I still get scared when I am going to share a personal story that matters to me. The only difference now is that I have shared enough of these vulnerable stories at this point – and survived! – that I am clear how powerful it is on the other side of sharing the story. Not only do I feel more connected and free within myself but after you have countless women tell you just how much your story has inspired them in their own transformations, it’s hard to not want to keep taking this worthy risk. (You will love this beautiful side effect, trust me.)

So, the first step is simply deciding to share the story that scares us.

Then, these are the important pieces to making a story powerful for the audience – and as safe as possible for ourselves as the storyteller, too:

  1. Get crystal clear on the point of the story. Why am I telling this story? What outcome do I want from it – for them, for me?
  2. Understand deeply who will be hearing/needs to hear this story. What does my audience or listener need and want for themselves that this story will help them realize in their life?
  3. Craft and practice telling this story with an emphasis on the details and parts that serve the audience. I remind myself continually that even my own stories, in the context of speaking to help others, are not about me alone. I want to tell them in the way the stories will best serve this audience (while staying true to the real story, of course).
  4. State the point of the story clearly and with conviction, reinforcing the learning that came of the experience for me. This makes it very easy to transfer the learning over to the audience as well.
  5. This one is so essential => Spend at least five minutes before I share actively caring for my heart around whatever may come of sharing. Remind myself that I have no control over the reactions of my audience but I do have control over the ways I take in and respond to their reactions. Promise to be radically loving and kind to myself throughout the process, regardless of what happens. I am my heart’s keeper.

There is simply no more powerful medium of connection, engagement and learning than a well-told, relevant story.

Your commitment to pushing the edges of your own storytelling will serve your speaking (and all of your communication) like nothing else. This is beautiful, important work you are doing, becoming the storyteller of your own life lessons. Be loving, kind and generous with your self-compassion.

And soak up the freedom and joy of self-expression that comes as a gorgeous side effect of becoming a teller of real, human, life-enhancing stories.

How to organize your speech so your audience stays with you the whole time http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/11/11/how-to-organize-your-speech-so-your-audience-stays-with-you-the-whole-time/ Wed, 11 Nov 2015 18:03:03 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2809 I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like, “I’m a much better speaker when I just speak off the cuff. Preparation makes me more boring.” 

postits-organizingMaybe you’ve even said this yourself. No shame in that – I get where it comes from. Sometimes the anxiety during preparation makes us feel like we are less natural and easy going when it comes presentation time. (Especially if we don’t know how to prepare in a way that makes our talk awesome.) 

Fact is, for the vast majority of us, it simply is not true that we are better presenters when we skip the preparation process (Sorry).

The only people who do really well presenting “off the cuff” are people who have been presenting for years and have become masters of speaking structure and of their own message. This is people like the late Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins and some excellent pastors and ministers who use the same speech structure every time and gather stories to share as a practice in their daily life.

The rest of us must prepare in order to deliver a fabulous, engaging talk. This is true of our best speakers today. First let me show you the structure you should use for every presentation and then I’ll share with you examples of awesome, popular speeches that use this same structure. (You’ll be amazed to see how clear it is once we pull the curtain back on this.)

The Simple Speech Structure Most Likely to Keep Attention (and help them remember what you said).

It’s so simple, it’s going to astound you. In fact, it will likely look very familiar to you from 5th grade writing class. Here it is:


Captivating introduction (a relevant story, real questions for the audience, a powerful quote or statistic)

Tell them why they should care (How will their life be better because they pay attention to you now?)

Establish your credibility (why should they listen to you specifically?)

Preview of main points

(3 main points is ideal. Shoot for this every time.)





Body of Speech

Main Point 1. 

support a Story

support b Research/data

support c Example, practice exercise, direct application


Main Point 2. 

support a Story

support b Research/data

support c Example, practice exercise, direct application


Main Point 3. 

support a Story

support b Research/data

support c Example, practice exercise, direct application




Powerful Close (quote, direct action request, quick story or question to take with them for consideration)


Since I want you to feel the simplicity in this, I don’t want to go on about all of the ways you can play within this structure. I do want you to note that within each main point there is a place for different types of content. It doesn’t matter what order they come in (it depends on the topic and content you have) but it does matter that you have a mix of emotional content:

  • Stories (simple powerful images can evoke a lot of emotion too)
  • Facts/data and more left-brain information (statistics, research findings)
  • Help them apply it to their own lives through activities (even just visualizing a scenario is great), examples that resonate with this audience and somatic experiences where they actually connect with their bodies as they engage with the material. 

And if you’d like to see this outline played out in a couple of the most engaging, fascinating talks online, check these out:

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are (Her three main points essentially: 1. what is nonverbal power and dominance, 2. an overview of her research study on nonverbal power and dominance, and 3. how this applies to real life using her own personal story of transformation – and how you can use it too starting today/)

Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability (Her three main points: 1. Connection is why we are here, 2. Shame as the fear of disconnection, 2. the power of vulnerability in connection.)

I am often asked if using a speech outline like the one above makes for a boring speech. You tell me, after listening to both of these speakers. Both Brené Brown and Amy Cuddy are master storytellers and highly engaging speakers. You don’t even hear their outlines as they speak, but you can see them if you study their transcripts (available below their TED talks). This is the art of great speaking – building a beautiful, engaging message through a time-tested essential structure.

Speaking Anxiety – Why It Happens & How to Release It http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/08/07/speaking-anxiety-why-it-happens-how-to-release-it/ Fri, 07 Aug 2015 21:36:43 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2676

In the speaking world we often say,

“You don’t ever get rid of the butterflies. You simply learn to put them into formation.”

Some highlights on speaking anxiety (the video clip above, which is part of Speak So It Matters – The Online Speaking Course, has more for you):

Speaking anxiety often arrives on scene early. It is stealth.

We may not even realize that it is sabotaging us from the beginning – from the moment we learn we have a speaking opportunity. It’s a mean cycle, really, because early preparation is the very thing that helps us be most successful in our speaking. Successful speaking experiences are one of the fastest paths to decreased speaking anxiety over time. If we sabotage ourselves from the beginning, we not only affect this upcoming speaking event – but also the others that will come after it. See how this can snowball?

The key is to recognize and understand your speaking anxiety so you can address it from the moment it arrives on scene.

How do you address this speaking anxiety?

  1. Recognize that feeling heightened energy in your body about speaking is normal (in fact, it can be beneficial to your speaking). It is believed that speaking anxiety is actually a natural part of our biology (watch the video to hear more about this as well as the benefits of what some call “speaking anxiety” and others call “anticipation.”)
  2. Make a plan for releasing some of that extra energy in your body the day of your speaking. You can do this through moderate exercise such as through a brisk walk, a not-too-strenuous run, or yoga.
  3. Use positive imagery to put yourself in the right mindset for success. Imagine yourself in front of the room, delivering your presentation with confidence and clarity. Feel the satisfaction and thrill of a job beautifully done as though it is real and happening in the moment. You will carry some of this energy into your preparation and your delivery if you do this often enough.
  4. Practice many, many times. Nothing beats practice for supporting your own successful speaking.

Also know this: that extra energy in your body actually fuels a far more exciting speaking delivery, if it is channelled well. We will talk more about how to use your body when speaking so that it “dances” with that extra energy (usually not literally… but maybe sometimes 🙂 ).

My favorite anxiety-reduction strategy is this:

I remind myself often that this is not about me.

It isn’t about me being perfect or amazing as a speaker. It’s about THEM – my audience. It’s about how I can serve them with what I know. From this place of service, my heart opens and my fears fade as I focus on making a difference for them. 


The thing about our stories http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/06/30/the-thing-about-stories/ Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:21:59 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2631

For the last ten years, I had this story that I wasn’t capable of quitting alcohol.Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

I knew my life would be better without it. I knew it wasn’t serving my most beautiful vision for my life – the one where I am vibrant when I wake in the morning, completely present when I talk with my husband in the evening after the girls are tucked in bed. I knew I was using it to numb out – to take the edge off of what often felt like too many little (and big) things to do.

And yet, even with crystal clarity about the ways in which using alcohol was keeping me at distance from my vision for my life, I had this powerful story that I simply couldn’t give it up. That the edge-softening experience my evening wine brought me – the permission (and physical assistance) it gave me to relax – would always overpower my desire to live this cleaner, more present life.

I tumbled around with this struggle for a while. About three years, at the peak of it. Waking up angry at myself for making choices that I absolutely knew weren’t in service of my vision for my life.
Then, one day, in spite of this persistent story that I wasn’t capable of quitting –  I decided to “not drink for a little while.” I called it my alcohol sabbatical. That night, instead of pouring a glass of wine after work, I made myself some tea.

I went that whole night without having my ritual evening glass(es) of wine. To my absolute astonishment, I did it again the next day. And the next.

Pretty soon, that story about me not being capable of living my evenings without alcohol changed. I had this new story – the one where I wasn’t drinking for a bit, where I was “taking a break” from alcohol.

My alcohol sabbatical is coming up on three years in September. I really like the way I feel. I like not drinking. My life is more vibrant and peaceful. I get along with my amazing husband way better than I did before. I am peaceful and present for my daughters in the evening because I’m no longer hurrying to get to my glass of wine. I am living in congruence with my vision for my life and I love that.

Here’s the thing: alcohol may not be your issue. I know lots of people who have a glass of wine or a beer at night and all is well in their world. They are happy with that. Alcohol is not the problem for them. Instead, maybe…

  • You have a story that says you aren’t capable of getting up on stage and delivering a speech that moves people.
  • You tell yourself you aren’t ready to offer your services at rates that will sustain your business.
  • You believe that you can’t handle all that it takes to have a full and lucrative career and care for your family or your health.
  • You can’t imagine ever figuring out how to fit exercise into your life given the overwhelming list of  things you really must do to be successful in your work and family life.

Or maybe your stories and the beliefs those stories feed are different than these.

Of this I’m sure, though:

There IS a story at the base of whatever is happening in our lives. There is always a story.

Stories are powerful engines. They drive behavior. They energize and they deflate us. This is why, if we want to make a real difference in the world and feel peaceful inside while we do it, we MUST shine a light on the stories that are driving our lives.

We must look clearly and openly at them, the ones toward the surface (“I’ve got way too much to do, I’m not organized enough for this life I lead.”) and the deeper ones (“I’ll never be good enough to make a living doing this work.”)

As you may know, I have created some clear, actionable frameworks for doing great work in the world and crafting and delivering awesome presentations (Speak So It Matters™ and Soul Power to Your Message (my book) are both expressions of these frameworks). I’m proud of those frameworks and know that, when applied full-heartedly, they are excellent guides for brilliant speaking and contribution.

Yet – here’s the secret underneath these frameworks – and all other “frameworks” and “programs” and “systems” you see out there in the world: None of these programs work if we aren’t doing the foundational story and beliefs work to support them. Our stories and beliefs are the underlying, fundamental drivers of all of our behaviors and choices. Which means, they are the wings upon which our future success soars. So, what does it take to turn these stories around?

Turns out, it’s really quite simple:

  1. Shine a light on the stories that drive our behavior
  2. Look at how those stories are serving our vision for our life (or not)
  3. Actively question those stories – play with them, reframe them, hold them lightly, try-on their opposites – and allow the most peaceful and powerful stories to lead

No, I didn’t say “easy.”

The truth is, though, we really do get to decide what stories we buy into.

We decide which ones we play over and over in our mind. We also decide which ones we want to release – both in our minds’ movie-playing experience – and in our day to day action choices. (In the case of alcohol, I had to both begin a story that said I could live without alcohol and I had to create a daily action story that included tea and quiet-time as my end-of-day treat.)

I’m not going to pretend that this stuff is easy. While it is simple in process, our stories become habitual movies in our brain. We’ve got whole deep neural pathways built to keep them in motion. We need support and reminding sometimes to help us build those new pathways for the more-empowering stories in our brain.

Here is what I know for sure, after almost three years of increased peace and freedom from changing just one of my stories: It’s so worth it. Ridiculously, unbelievably awesomely worth it.


My whole life really did change when I changed that story about alcohol – and then took daily action on a new story.

If you are ready to release the stories that are blocking you from getting out there powerfully as a speaker and thought leader, your stories beliefs are the most powerful place to start.

In future posts, I’ll share with you many of my favorite tools for revealing and transforming our beliefs and stories. Stay tuned!


What if they ask me a question I don’t know how to answer? http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/06/27/what-if-they-ask-me-a-question-i-dont-know-how-to-answer/ Sat, 27 Jun 2015 16:27:51 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2625 How to respond to a question to which you don't know the answer - http://www.michellebarryfranco.comYou are in the home stretch of delivering a presentation you have spent the last many weeks preparing. The thrill of “game day” is in full play and you are soaking up the glory of a no-hitch, engaging experience for your audience (and you!).

Then you remember: the Q & A is coming up.

Your heart beats faster again and the anxiety rises. “What if they ask me a question I don’t know how to answer?,” and you lose yourself in your anxious thoughts.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, you can make your Q & A one of the highlight experiences of your presentation – no matter what they ask you.

Your Q & A session in your presentation is a beautiful opportunity to increase trust, deepen your connection and show just how confident you are in your expertise.

Yes – even if you do not know the answer to a question you are asked.

In fact, I have come to find that these questions to which I don’t know the answer spark some of the coolest, most audience-engaging conversations of all.

Here’s why:

  • People love authenticity, honesty and respect. When a speaker takes off her “I’m the expert” hat and easily moves into “hmmm… I wonder what we could learn here together” mode, the audience is often endeared and intrigued. Your confidence in your ability to explore the topic real-time is better than any “guessing” answer you might dig up in the moment. You also show respect for the importance of high-quality, accurate information and a desire to make sure that is what they get in your presentation.
  • People love to share what they know. When you draw on the experience in the crowd to explore the question and search for an answer, you give others the opportunity to shine. Being willing to let others share their expertise shows your commitment to the best learning for everyone. It is also indicative of your own confidence.
  • Trust is the essential element of every presentation. Your audience is looking for evidence that they can trust you all the time. This is about both expertise credibility and character credibility. When you answer each question honestly, including saying “I don’t know the answer”, you deepen that trust. They now know that you won’t try to “B.S.” your way through answers to save your ego. This allows your audience to set aside any uncertainties about the accuracy of your information, leaving them open to even more learning and growth.

Being willing to say, “I don’t know” in appropriate ways shows that you care about your audience and the information you share with them. It shows that you put them and their needs before your ego’s desire to be “perfect.”

All of that said, there are ways to frame your response to make the most of the situation.

As a baseline, here’s my advice about all questions you are asked during a presentation: Be completely honest, stay connected and be as helpful as possible.

This means you really never just say, “I don’t know.” That would be honest, but it’s not that helpful and it doesn’t do much to keep the connection.

Instead, depending on what is true, start with something like:

“Great question… ”

“Hmmm, interesting question…”

“Well – that’s the first time I’ve heard that question… I love it!”

All of these phrases affirm the person asking the question. This is important because, if you think about it, they just took a significant risk themselves. Asking a question is a sort of “public speaking” of its own. As the presenter, you are the steward of the experience for that room full of people. This kind of affirmation helps everyone feel safe joining in on the discussion.

What you say next depends on a couple of things, such as:

Is the question within the scope of the presentation?

It’s not uncommon to get questions that are outside the scope of your topic. If the question falls outside of the agreed upon goals for your current presentation, it is not only appropriate but really your responsibility to keep the conversation focused. You’ve got a whole room full of people who are counting on you to do that. In this case, you might say: “Well, that’s an interesting question. I’m not the expert in that – it falls outside of our topic area – but I know that someone in here can help you find out who can answer that for you.” Then you ask the audience for suggestions.

Of course, this only works if your audience is likely able to help. If that is not the case, you might say something more like, “Interesting question. It falls outside of our topic today, but I know I’ve run across information about that [state where you saw that information]. I bet if you went there you would have no trouble finding it.”

If the question does fall within your area of expertise but you just don’t have the answer, you might choose to say something like, “What a great question! I’ve never had that one come up. I don’t know the answer off-hand, but I do know where I can find the the answer. Will you send me a quick email when you leave here today so I have a way to get back to you with the answer by early next week?”

Are there other experts in the room who might know the answer to the question?

I can’t say this enough: your willingness to do whatever it takes to get the very best information to your audience is the most valuable approach you can take as a speaker. Sometimes this will mean turning the spotlight onto another person in the room with similar expertise to yours and inviting them to share their wisdom with the audience. Assuming you have given the audience a high-quality, content rich presentation experience full of your expertise so far, this choice to point them to the best source for the answer to their question serves to actually increase your credibility.

I had this happen with me at a recent meeting. One of my colleagues who is an executive coach – an experienced speaker in her own right – was facilitating a presentation on Executive Presence for a group of professionals. I was in the audience. When the Q & A conversation turned to presentation skills, she shared her initial thoughts with the group then turned to me and asked me to add my thoughts to the conversation. Afterward, one of my clients who was in the room remarked to me how nice it was to have two experts share their ideas in that section of the presentation.

Does the answer to their question really matter in the whole scheme of things?

This one could be misunderstood so let me be clear: this isn’t about deciding whether a person’s question is a dumb question. It’s about helping your audience walk away with what they really need to be more successful around whatever they came to you to learn.

If you get a question to which you don’t know the answer and it is clear to you that knowing the answer to that question really won’t help make life better for your audience anyway, it is best to gracefully shift the conversation. This could be a sign that something from earlier in your presentation caused confusion, so it’s a good time to reiterate some important points.

You might say, “Oh I see where you’re coming from with that question. I think I may have moved through that section too quickly. Let me reiterate the parts you really need to know… “ Or whatever is true for how you can make the important elements clear to the audience.

It’s all about trust.

Your confident, clear response to a question you don’t know the answer to can make or break the trust and connection that you’ve created with the audience. If you stumble around with a half-answer or give an answer that you aren’t sure is accurate, your audience will feel this shift in energy. Things like our micro-expressions (very quick facial expressions that give away what we really think before we even have a chance to mask them) and voice fluctuation and pitch shift when we are uncertain. That last thing you want, after delivering such a great presentation full of excellent content, is for your audience to think: “Uh-oh. What just happened there?” or “Huh… I know that’s not quite true. I wonder why she’s saying that.” This can leave them lacking trust in everything you’ve shared. This is the last thing you want.

So, embrace the Q & A as the extraordinary opportunity that it is to build connection and trust – and to offer the most customized experience possible for your audience. Release any fear of losing credibility by not knowing the answer to a question and instead, invite the gift of being able to help your audience get exactly the information they need to resolve whatever drew them to your presentation, wherever that accurate information can be found. This makes you not just an expert on your topic, but a trusted adviser overall, which goes much further than one successful presentation.


How to Plan Your Presentation Slides (while sitting poolside, if you like) http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/06/11/how-to-plan-your-presentation-slides-while-sitting-poolside-if-you-like/ Fri, 12 Jun 2015 01:46:04 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2600 PowerPoint gets a bad rap.

The truth is, slides can be a really awesome addition to your speech. IF they are used effectively, as the assistant they are meant to be in your presentation.

The first and most fundamental rule of creating presentation slides is this: Step AWAY from the computer! 

No software gets opened until you have completed your speaking outline. Only then do you want to begin to think about what amplifying aids will best illustrate the point you are making. This is the process I use myself – and with private clients – to map out our slides and other amplifying aids. 

I love this way of planning slides because I can easily move them around, remove them and slide in another one when I get a new idea. 

It’s a simple process, really. 

1. Grab these items: 
        – your completed speech outline

        – a sharpie (I love sharpies, can you tell?)

        – a stack of small sticky notes (mix of 4 colors is ideal, maybe more if you will have more types of engagement and amplifying aids)

        – and a folder 
2. Go somewhere spacious and lovely. Somewhere you feel creative and open to new ideas. (Poolside will work. So will your backyard, your favorite chair in your house or office. A favorite nature area.)

3. Choose which sticky notes will represent which type of amplifying aid or slide. Here is an example of my sticky note “legend”


4. Lay out your slide ideas. Use these as prompts to help you search for images that will create those slides. 


One of the many great things about planning your slides this way is you also get a very clear visual of the variety built into their experience. Because of your color coding, you have a powerful visual representation of the experience you are bringing to your audience – the spacing of activities, the signpost slides that help them know where you are in the presentation. Plus, you have simple prompts to help you find the best images and other media to support the ideas you present.

I find this part of planning my presentations so much fun. Something about this process always invites new ideas for engagement – images, yes, but also activities and music and other creative ideas, too!

Have fun with this!


Here’s another example of a speech I did last year:

(This post is just one of the many step-by-step lessons I teach in Speak So It Matters™ – The Online Speaking Course. This is the only online speaking course that guides you in a highly practical process for crafting and delivering a speech that truly matters – and helps you transform any beliefs that might get in the way of you actually delivering your speech with brilliance. Our next session will begin in late August 2015. Mark your calendar.)

What is a Thought Leadership Speech (and Why We Love TED Talks) http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/05/29/what-is-a-thought-leadership-speech-and-why-we-love-ted-talks/ Sat, 30 May 2015 02:13:52 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2567 We_love_ted_talks

I could spend hours on TED.com. In fact, I have spent hours watching TED Talks. Blissful, mesmerized, thrilling unplanned hours. Maybe you have, too.

Clearly we are not alone. The 20 Most Popular TED Talks of All Time each have many MILLIONS of views. Forgive me for stating the ridiculously obvious: That’s a whole lot of people captivated by these speeches.

What IS it about TED Talks that fascinate us so? What makes them so different – so much better – than the zillions of other things that we could be doing with those hours we spend watching them?

I know what it is. It’s that TED Talks are specifically designed and delivered to meet our greatest desires for rich experience in our lives, with a low investment of energy on our part. It’s a tropical island vacation in an intellectual wonderland.

See, we are desperately seeking delight and rich engagement.

We want to be moved. We want to be lit up and surprised. We want to feel the thrill of the unexpected. We want to believe that something else is possible – something we never imagined. Something totally mind-boggling – or maybe something so richly right and real that we literally feel the truth of it in our blood and breath. And we are absolutely blissed out to learn what we knew all along but didn’t know how to name. 

The best TED speakers remind us – in beautiful, simple, descriptive language – that there are still amazing new ideas. That every story has not been told – at least not like this.

And in this we see a glimmer of hope. Hope for our own ideas. Hope for inspiring that kind of thrill in others. Hope for seeing what maybe we, too, are capable of creating, saying, contributing to the Conversation.

Much like falling in love, we are infatuated by TED speakers and the ideas shared because they reflect back to us what we most want to see in ourselves.

The beauty in this is that possibility does exist for us. We really can be a part of this gorgeous, rich conversation.

All we need is an idea – one that we are committed to taking a stand for. An idea that changes things.

And the willingness to turn that idea into a message that captivates and inspires others.

So, what do you think? Do you have an idea that changes things?

Are you willing to take a bold, powerful Thought Leadership stand for that idea? This is what Thought Leadership looks like. Your Thought Leadership Speech is the one that makes a big impact with your idea. The one you craft using the perfectly chosen captivation, inspiration and motivation techniques to support your idea. The one that is committed to changing things.

So how do you turn your idea into a TED style Thought Leadership talk? These five things will transform your speech: 

  1. State your idea with incredible clarity. Make it so simple that you could teach it to third graders. (Even if you wouldn’t share this particular adult idea with kids that age.) 
  2. Make it impossible not to care about this idea. Give everything you’ve got to creating connection between your audience and your idea. Help them feel the idea in their belly. Light them up while you do it. To do this, you must understand why this idea matters so much – and to whom. And tell them why in the world this matters this much to you. 
  3. Tell stories everywhere. Tell simple stories that touch us in ways that matter to us. The relevant story about your grandfather. The one from when you first got an inkling of this idea. The one that broke everything before you figured out how to put it back together. Choose story over everything, wherever possible. 
  4. Surprise them with the Unexpected. DARE to say it – the thing your audience wonders, wishes and secretly desires. Visuals, experiences, shocking turns of events. Let them ride the roller coaster of your idea. 
  5. When the ride is over, tell them how they can carry this experience with them into their life beyond the room. Give them specific things they can do to apply this idea. Tell them how to make a new choice when they leave the room. Ask them to commit and remind them why this matters – for them and the world. 

TED presentations and talks have shown us what’s possible in the way of Thought Leadership presentations. We are incredibly lucky to have so many examples of how to share our ideas using all of the most captivating and inspiring speaking techniques. But we do not need a TED stage to step into Thought Leadership.

If you know that your idea will change lives, it is worth spreading. What would happen if every single time you stepped in front of a room full of people you committed to changing lives and inspiring positive action? I love the idea of living in that kind of world.

Let’s do this.


Five Questions I Am Often Asked About Speaking – And Their Answers http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/05/15/five-questions-i-am-often-asked-about-speaking-and-their-answers/ Fri, 15 May 2015 05:09:09 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2537 When I share that I am a speaking coach, it usually surprises people. Many times the person I’m talking with has never actually met a speaking coach. The cool thing about this is that novelty seems to inspire rich conversations. I love to ask people what they would most want to say if they could influence a whole room full of people. It’s amazing how much passion this question can evoke.
And while the conversations are quite varied, the questions that I get asked about speaking tend to be quite similar. I created a video to address five of the most common questions I am asked during these conversations as well as from my coaching clients, audiences and workshop attendees. Maybe one of these questions is on your mind too. Click the video below to hear the questions and my answers.

We are going to talk more about every one of these topics, all while we craft your truly useful, client-attracting signature speech in Speak So It Matters™ for Coaches & Wellness Experts. It’s starting next week. You can learn more about the course and sign up here.

How to Move Past Imposter Syndrome http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/05/07/how-to-move-past-imposter-syndrome/ Thu, 07 May 2015 20:18:44 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2492 When I look back over the things that have stopped me from doing the real work I am on this Earth to do, it is blindingly clear to me that ONE thing has been in the way all along.

ONE thing.

I can also see clearly how this ONE thing is also the primary thing stopping every client with whom I work from getting out there in a big way with their message.

You know what this one thing is? It’s the stories we tell ourselves.

And the lead story for way too many of us (myself included for a very long time) is that we don’t know enough. We aren’t “expert” enough. We are, in essence, Imposters. In this video, I tell you exactly how to think about your expertise so that you can set aside that agonizing “imposter” story and actually get out there and change some lives with your important work.

If you want to spend some focused time getting imposter syndrome out of the way and instead focus on changing some lives with your life-changing Signature Speech, you might want to check out the beta (read: discounted price in exchange for your feedback on the course) of Speak So It Matters for Coaches & Wellness Experts which starts May 19th. Click here to check out the course.

If you’re not at that place yet, that’s perfect as well. I’ll be back next week with more goods to help you speak with clarity, conviction and confidence in front of any audience, anytime.

How to Make Money From Speaking http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/2015/04/30/how-to-make-money-from-speaking/ Thu, 30 Apr 2015 18:55:21 +0000 http://demo.michellebarryfranco.com/?p=2481 One of the most frequently asked questions I get is:

How do I make money from my speaking?

The person asking is almost always wanting to know how people get paid an actual fee specifically for delivering their speech.

This is a legitimate (or “legit”, as my daughter would say) question. People DO get paid to speak – sometimes big bucks. I get paid to speak sometimes, too.

But actually (except for corporate training type speaking) I do more “free” speaking than paid speaking. I talk about why I love speaking for free and why it can be the very best marketing strategy in this video:

Especially for those of us who want to truly serve others with our story and our life-changing wisdom, speaking is a beautiful way to remove the uncertainty that often gets in the way of clients making the decision to hire you.

To use speaking effectively in your business growth, you need to do two things really well:

  1. Choose your audiences strategically so you are most likely to connect with people who really need your services
  2. Craft your presentation in a particular way, with a magic mix of in-the-moment useful content (none of that “give them the why but not the how” stuff you’ve heard about!) and inspiring examples of real life stories that light them up and move them to action.

Important note: there is a way to do this without being salesy, manipulative or icky. That’s what I show you how to do in my new online speaking course Speak So It Matters™ for Coaches and Wellness Experts.

Speaking is a beautiful and generous way to attract clients who really need what you have to offer and make good money as a result. I’d love to show you how to do this so you can reach even more people with your life-changing work. Here’s a link to my new online speaking course one more time.