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October 2023
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Advice From the Experts—In 6 Words

One of the creative exercises I do with clients when helping them find and express their big idea is the six-word story game. I ask them to clarify their idea in six words. While not easy, it is valuable for them to distill their idea into a simple, digestible concept. I asked some of my favorite clients and colleagues to try that exercise to emphasize their biggest presentation no-no’s. I hope their stories inspire you.

Speak with more heart. Less information.
—Xiomara Torres, Multnomah County (Oregon) circuit court judge and TEDxPortland speaker

No inauthentic gestures. Sincerely express emotion.
—Darren LaCroix, 2001 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking

Reciting every scripted word sounds disingenuous.
—Marc Williams, 2014 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking™ finalist

Talk to them, not at them.
—Allison Clarke, Certified Speaking Professional/past president of National Speakers Association, Oregon

The stage is sacred, act accordingly.
—Lou Radja, TEDxSalem (Oregon) international speaker, trainer, coach

Transcend Ego. Deepen heart. Cultivate spirit.
—Mary Cheyne, 2009 World Championship of Public Speaking second-place winner

Don’t impress them, impress UPON them.
—Mark Brown, 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking

Be brave and forget the script.
—Emma McIlroy, CEO of Wildfang/TEDxPortland, speaker

Perform for them not for you.
—Ben Kenyon, speaker and National Basketball Association performance coach for Portland Trail Blazers

Be brilliant. Your audience has Google.
—Courtney McEachern, brand director, NA Nike Direct Stores


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