3 Quick Ways to Kill a Perfectly Fine Speech


In my adventures as a Keynote Coach, and having observed thousands of Keynote Speakers over the years, I have noticed a pattern. There are 3 main things untrained or unaware speakers tend to do, which unless corrected, have the potential to kill their performance.

#1: The first of these is the temptation to tell your audience EVERYTHING you know about your subject.  I have found that when I work with Trainers who want to start keynoting, the first thing we have to do is cull about 80% of their content.  Repeat after me: A KEYNOTE AND A TRAINING ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ANIMALS! Think of it this way, a Keynote is the Why and a Training is the How.  A Keynote should appeal to us on an emotional level, then the training can fill in the tactical details. Amateurs try to combine both. This is a mistake!

#2: The second deadly mistake is: Never make it about them. Wanna kill a perfectly fine speech? By all means, talk about yourself for the full hour.  The most fascinating of personalities bring their audience along for the ride.  Nothing will shut your listeners down faster and send them scurrying to their smart phones, than an egotistical blowhard with a microphone.

#3: The third quickest way to kill a perfectly fine speech is to use inappropriate, irrelevant and inauthentic humor.  Remember: If you use a funny video you found on the internet, chances are at least half of your audience has already seen it, and you run the risk that another speaker has used the same video in their talk.  Gratuitous use of videos of dancing babies is not the professional standard we want to set.  USE ORIGINAL HUMOR…that way you stand out and there is no chance that your audience has “heard/seen that one before.” This is why we invest the time to craft “Signature Stories”, because no one else has yours!

If you have a great message to share with the world, then you owe it to us, and to yourself, to share it well.  We want to hear what you have to say. If you need help crafting your message, hire a professional speaking coach.  Make sure they are someone who “gets” you and what you are trying to accomplish, and that they honor your original voice and don’t try to mold you to their style.  A great coach is a success partner and their guidance and expertise can make all the difference on the impact you make with your spoken word.

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Professional Speaking Coach. She works with leaders who want to up-level their impact with a professionally crafted message, and she helps professional speakers who want to tighten their existing talk or re-work their branding with a new Keynote. She loves helping speakers craft their original voice with their original humor. She is the First Place National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition and delivers Funny Keynotes across the U.S., helping business to thrive and have fun doing it! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

Detecting Your Personal Style

detective-1424831_1280I have been immersing myself in watching mysteries, including the series of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Hercule Poirot by Dame Agatha Christie. I love the London settings; Doyle’s dark and daunting streets of 1900’s London, and I can’t get enough of the fabulous art deco furnishings and architecture of 1930’s England in Christie’s Poirot series. The sets become a character, in and of themselves.

Fun stuff, whodunnits. The more I watch, the better I am at detecting patterns and solving the mystery right along with the sleuth. Detecting patterns…I figure that’s a good life skill to keep sharpened.

Several things have struck me while I was watching these series for pleasure.

#1: I love the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of humor in the midst of a murder investigation. Doing humor well in that context is no easy feat, it is a skillful tool, as it serves to humanize the characters and provide relief in the midst of tension. (Just like in real life.)

#2: I am struck by the vivid difference in the two detective’s personal operating styles. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is no nonsense in his pursuit of the task at hand.  He is laser-focused and has no time for the niceties and social graces. People only factor into the equation for him if he thinks they can be of use.

Whereas, Christie’s Monsieur Poirot, played brilliantly for 25 years by David Suchet, is the height of grace.  His manners are impeccable, always…even when encountering a less than desirable sort…and yet he still manages to succeed at his goal.

I found myself fascinated by this difference in approach. I realized that these are the same choices we make each day as individuals, whilst navigating our way through this mystery called life.

Our personal approach is our personal choice. So…ask yourself… “Do I choose to see people as an obstacle or as a resource to my mission?” Is the way I deal with others situational, or am I consistent in my approach toward people regardless of circumstance?”

In your daily dealings, both personally and professionally, do you tend to dismiss people unless they can be of immediate use to you, or are you gracious to all, always?

Venture a guess as to which one of these styles garners better overall long term results?

Detecting (and perhaps adjusting) your personal style might be the best mystery you ever solve.

P.S. And let’s not forget Detective Columbo, played by the incomparable Peter Falk, who simply annoys people to death until he gets his way.  This of course, is always another option when choosing your personal style.

Karyn Ruth White is a “thought-laugher” in the exciting field of Human Potential.  She calls herself a Success Humorist (a job title she made up.) She energizes Conferences around the U.S. with her hilariously poignant Keynote talks. She is an Author, a Comedian and the proud owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people unravel the mystery of happiness and live and work from their greatness. Visit her on-line at karynruth.com or email her at info@karynruth.com

The Age of Non-Information

The Age of Non-Information

As I taxi down yet another runway en route to a Keynote gig, the flight attendant says, “Please keep your seat belts fastened until we’ve come to a complete stop. Enjoy your stay in Tucson, where the local time is APPROXIMATELY 10 o’clock.

I am traveling in a world where I need to connect to other flights which take off at EXACTLY their designated departure time, not approximately. I have never been able to figure out why a crew with access to enough instrumentation to land a 747 are baffled by the prospect of getting me the EXACT local time.

I would like to tell the airlines that I will be paying approximately the airfare they require and see how long that conversation lasts.

It’s not just the airlines, non-information is rampant.

Pardon me what are your store hours? “I wanna say…9-6.” I WANNA SAY???? Well congratulations, you wanted to say it and now you have. I find no confidence in this answer.

Here are some of my favorite non-information responses: “I wanna say, I’m thinkin’, I’m pretty sure…, It’s around…and my all time favorite “It should…”

Remember when you could get real, solid, reliable information? Not anymore. It seems that the information age has overwhelmed us to the point where we don’t even strive for exactitude anymore. Here’s the deal, all the information in the world is not a cure for a lazy mind. People don’t have the answers because they don’t bother to get them.

On one of my journeys, I asked the hostess of a local restaurant the history the restaurant. She said: ‘I don’t know.” I asked her how long she had worked there. “Twelve years.” Twelve years and she hadn’t bothered to find out anything about the place she worked every day. How very very sad.

Sometimes when I’m bored in the airport, I like to walk up to the information counter and ask: “Pardon me is this the information counter?” “Yes.” Then I smile and say “Thank you, that was some great information,” and walk away.