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Sixty Second Secrets by Susan Harrow Sell yourself without selling your soul

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SPEAK IN SOUND BITES

As I work with my clients I find that speaking in sound bites is a constant challenge. I'm continuing the sound bite series as a way to help you speak succinctly to hold your audience's ever shrinking attention span. Here is today's invitation.

Practice out loud.

A professor and author who was one day away from appearing on a major TV show came to my office for an emergency media coaching session. We had done a number of practice interviews by phone and had honed her sound bites down to three key points for every question she was going to be asked. I wrote each point out so she could practice at home before our in-person meeting. We even timed each sound bite to 10 seconds so she could be sure to get in all of her points. But she still had difficulty saying each one succinctly. When I asked her if she had practiced speaking her points out loud, she confessed she had only read them on the page.

Rehearsing in your head is good. But in order to sound natural and spontaneous, rehearse your talking points orally. The experience is akin to reading poetry, or lines from a play. Your stories must be practiced in the medium in which they will be expressed. And though you rehearse them, each time act as if you are saying them for the first time. Each moment is different from every other moment. Allow all the subtle new details to arise as you practice.

Someone said of Frank O'Hara, "He wrote poetry that was so conversational, casual, easy to like, colloquial, that it was very easy to fall in love with his poetry. He made poetry seem as natural as breathing." This is the goal of your sound bite delivery. To make it natural as breathing and to invite people to fall in love with you and whatever you are selling or offering. Your sound bites evolve as you do. Bring freshness to them with expression, enthusiasm, and delight.

Create fresh word flowers.
Buddhist Zen master, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, says, "There is a gatha (teaching) that says, 'Words can travel thousands of miles. They are to build up more mutual acceptance and understanding. I vow that my words will be like gems. I vow that my words will be fresh like flowers.'" if you can, use your gems and flowers to encourage justice and good in the world. Edmund Morel, considered the greatest British investigative reporter of his time, was largely responsible for putting an end to the slave trade in the Congo through his one man publicity campaign in the early 1900s. He almost single-handedly created a worldwide human rights movement with his efforts. He convinced Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington to go on a speaking tour to stop this African holocaust. In England he enlisted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the popular author of the Sherlock Holmes books. Their aid in protesting the U.S. as the first country to recognize the Congo as King Leopold's possession, helped incite international fervor and forced Leopold to turn the colony over to Belgium. Working with Morel, Mark Twain took his own intentions to heart when he acted on his words, "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

Wishing you fresh word flowers!

Warmly,
Susan

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