A Hairy Story

Let your face shine

Some people may see stars in their eyes, but others only see hair. That’s because it’s in their face and distracting the audience. Women with long hair, in particular, run the risk of hair-in-the-eyes.

Jessica Biel hair
Long tresses might be stylish, but they can distract and take away from your message.

Have you ever noticed how someone will continue to push the hair away from their face? Often they’re not even conscious of this movement, but it’s a distraction for the audience.

Don't be like Caroline
Hair in the face gets in the way. Wear long hair away from the face.

The audience wants to see your face and your expressions. Bangs covering your eye may look sexy in a picture, but on a platform or stage bangs that hang over your eyebrow only hide your eyes.

Good hair: Facial expressions and eye contact are easier when hair is styled away from the face or pulled back.

If your hair is long, be sure it’s pulled behind your ears or in a pony tail.  So, let your hair frame your face, not cover it.

 

What the Academy Awards can teach us

Academy Awards Oscar statueThis year’s Academy Awards was about glamour, glitz, political statements, and the craft of movie making.  But beyond that, it was a great opportunity to see a multitude of speaking styles in action.

Perhaps one of  the best speeches of the night was Leonardo Di Caprio’s acceptance as best actor.  He gave an impassioned, articulate speech that ranged from thanking his screen collaborators to bridging into the case for global warming when he noted that the film, “Revenant” had to go far south on location to find snow.

Other notable presenters included Eddie Redmayne, whose timing and delivery were impeccable.  And then there was Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke with more energy and passion than I’ve ever seen him deliver, when he talked about sexual abuse.  Louis Gossett Jr. presented a dignified introduction to the “In Memoriam” tribute, while Louis C.K. delivered a wry standup routine (albeit with a little too much hand movement) praising producers of short documentaries.

Some, such as Patricia Arquette, recited in an uninterested-sounding, dull monotone. while others rushed through their presentation, nervously rattling off names of people they wanted to thank.

Reading from a teleprompter, as the presenters did, provides challenges.  They get one run-through rehearsal, and that’s it.

So, what tips can we apply from the Academy Awards when we deliver a presentation?

  •  Whether delivering your presentation from a teleprompter, a script, or notes, always be sure the font size is large enough and legible. You don’t want to squint, trip over your words, or look like you’re reading.
  • Ladies, if you’re wearing new shoes or high heels for any presentation, rehearse in them. Walk in front of a mirror, and notice your stance.  And – this goes for men and women – if you’re wearing a new outfit that you’re not used to, do a dry run-through.  Practice walking at home, look in the mirror and notice how you look.  You want to get used to the way you feel.
  • If using a script, teleprompter, or  notes that you or someone else have written, always familiarize yourself with the text in advance. Practice makes perfect.  When you’re nervous you’re more apt to flub lines, especially if you haven’t studied them.
  • No matter what you’re saying or reading to an audience, find the meaning, and put the passion in it.

You can find many more examples of good – and not so good presentations and acceptances – from the Oscars online.  Use them as a learning tool for your next presentation.  And you, too, may shine like a star!

Skiing and Public Speaking

Skiing
I recently returned from my last ski trip of the season, and realized that skiing and public speaking have a lot in common.

Since most of my friends don’t ski, I ski by myself and I tend to be a chicken.  I stick to the green, or easy slopes, unless I’m with an instructor who can coach me as I wend my way down an intermediate slope.

On my last trip I had been skiing for three consecutive days, lugging  my heavy ski boots in a backpack to the slopes, a bit of a walk at over 9,000 ft. elevation.  While I generally walk a lot, lately I haven’t been getting much exercise, other than a couple of other ski trips.

On the third day of my trip, I decided to ski more than usual.  I was getting a little stiff, but wanted to tackle a small, steeper hill that I had done in previous years.  I made a turn and leaned backward (a defensive stance that says “I’m afraid.”)  I wiped out – skier terminology for falling.  My confidence was badly shaken.

The following day, still reeling from my fall (which was a minor one at that) I went to another peak which required far more walking at a higher elevation.  I headed for the easy slope, which had a “Magic Carpet,” a conveyor belt designed to ease kids onto the ski lift.  Well, I nearly fell before I could get on the lift.  Arriving at the top of the lift, I felt fear and was stiff from overdoing the skiing the previous three days. I was falling into all my bad habits, I had a negative attitude, was not skiing well, and knew it was time to call it quits.  I was deeply disappointed in myself.

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Upon my return home, I realized that I had forgotten to take my own public speaking advice which could have helped me out.  So here are some hints that I learned from my ski trip:

• I do much better with an instructor or a coach who can guide me and give me confidence.  So too do many speakers.  A coach can help you be your best and give you confidence.

• I hadn’t prepared myself adequately for the amount of skiing I wanted to do.  Just like skiers, public speakers have to develop stamina and confidence through a regular practice routine.

• When I got tired, I reverted to old bad habits.  So too, it’s easy for speakers to go back to old habits that are comfortable, such as mumbling or speaking too fast out of nervousness.

• I let my fall spook me out instead of realizing that falling and making a mistake is part of the learning process.  Public speakers too make mistakes.  It’s part of being human, and you have to dust yourself off and go on undeterred.

• After my fall, my body was stiff and tense.  When you’re nervous everything closes up and your muscles tighten.  Had I taken a minute for some deep breaths, I would have relaxed my body and improved my mental attitude.  When speakers get nervous they often tighten up.  Deep breathing helps relax both muscles and mind.

Will I let this experience deter me from skiing next year?  No way!  I have almost a whole year to think more positively, to practice and prepare, to remember to take deep breaths when I ski, and to develop more confidence.

As a public speaker, it’s important to know that you too will make mistakes,.  Don’t focus on them.  Just dust yourself off, and go on.  Who knows how many heights you may conquer if you persevere!

Body Part I: Hair, hair

Some people may see stars in their eyes, but others only see hair. That’s because it’s in their face and distracting the audience. Women with long hair in particular run the risk of hair-in-the-eyes. Have you ever noticed how someone will continue to push the hair away from their face? Often they’re not even conscious of this movement, but it’s a distraction for the audience.

The audience wants to see your face and your expressions. Bangs covering your eye may look sexy in a picture, but on a platform or stage bangs that hang over your eyebrow only hide your eyes. So, let your hair frame your face, not cover it.

See our examples, below.

Hair in the face gets in the way. Wear long hair away from the face
Hair in the face gets in the way. Wear long hair away from the face
Good hair: out of the face, not a distraction from the message
Good hair: out of the face, not a distraction from the message