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Distracted Audience Improving Your Presentations Podcast Professional Speaker Public Speaking Goals Public Speaking Tips Speaking at Conferences Virtual Presentations

Episode 9: The A-Ha! Method Podcast

Fighting Distractions and Giving Quality Presentations with Robert Tercek

Robert Tercek, an experienced and innovative keynote speaker, shares his advice and tips for fighting off distractions and giving quality presentations that public speakers of all levels can apply during their own presentations. Audience members are very distracted these days, and it can be difficult to look out into a room and see all of your audience looking down at their phones or computers. The key is to frame your talk in a unique way so that it keeps their attention and also not be phased if it seems your audience is not looking at you anymore — just assume they are tweeting and making notes of all the great points you are saying! 

Robert is a dynamic and engaging presenter, and his passion for public speaking shines in this episode when he talks about needing to practice and know your material to make your presentation worth the audience’s time. He even had Dayna clapping and applauding at one point because he was so compelling and in his element! It was a privilege and a pleasure to speak with Robert. He left us feeling motivated and inspired to be better speakers and give quality presentations for our audience, and we hope you will feel that way as well after listening!

Find out more about Robert Tercek: 

Ways to listen to The A-Ha! Method Podcast:

More About Our Guest Robert Tercek:

Robert Tercek is an award-winning author, entrepreneur, and educator focused on the process of dematerialization and innovation.

In his professional capacity, Mr. Tercek is a seasoned business executive with deep expertise in digital media and internet services. He is a prolific creator of interactive programs and products. He has designed and launched successful consumer experiences on every digital platform, including digital television, game consoles, broadband Internet, and mobile networks.

In 2021, Mr. Tercek was recognized as the Humanitarian of the Year by the Media Excellence Awards for his leadership in designing and launching COVID SMART™, an interactive training program designed to keep workers safe on the job during the pandemic.

Tercek’s book “VAPORIZED: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World” was selected as the 2016 International Book of the Year at the Frankfurt Book Fair by the editors of GetAbstract from a field of 10,000 business books.

As a keynote speaker, Robert shares his vision of collaborative innovation at conferences, private corporate retreats, university symposia, and workshops around the world. 

He has participated as a featured speaker at many industry events including the CMPA PrimeTime, GSMA Mobile World Congress, E3 Expo, The Game Developer Conference, Billboard’s Digital Media and Entertainment Expo, the Consumer Electronics Show, the National Association of Broadcasters NAB Show, National Association of Television Producers, MIPTV, Tokyo Game Fair, Digital Hollywood and many more.   He served as  Chairman of the Future of Television Summit and the Mobile Game Symposium at GDC.

He has lived and worked throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas.  He currently lives in Los Angeles.

For more in-depth biography and information, please check out Robert’s website – https://roberttercek.com/.

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Big presentation at work Practice Sessions Public Speaking Practice Virtual Presentations Work Presentations

September Public Speaking Practice Sessions

It’s important to practice your speech before the big day or event. Speakers Alliance can be your test audience and give you crucial feedback before you get in front of your real audience!

Each month the Speakers Alliance runs two FREE Public Speaking Practice Sessions for participants looking to improve their public speaking skills. Anyone who wants to practice a presentation, speech, sales pitch, social occasion speech, etc. is welcome to join and participate! If you do not have a speech or pitch prepared, you can still attend and listen to others practice and ask questions during the Q&A period.

Talks can be up to 5-6 minutes long. If you have a longer speech, just pick a portion you want to practice. The panel will provide up to 3-5 minutes of feedback after your talk.

Here are our scheduled September public speaking practice sessions:

Tuesday, September 14 from 2-3pm PT

Thursday, September 30 from 3-4pm PT


We will be adding more public speaking practice sessions in October. Follow us on social media for the most up to date announcements.

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Building Confidence Improving Your Presentations Practice Sessions Public Speaking Practice

August Public Speaking Practice Sessions

Practice your next speech at our August practice sessions!

Each week the Speakers Alliance runs a FREE Public Speaking and Pitching Practice Sessions for people looking to improve their public speaking skills. Anyone who wants to practice a presentation, speech, sales pitch, social occasion speech, etc. is welcome to join and participate! If you do not have a speech or pitch prepared, you can still attend and listen to others practice and ask questions during the Q&A period.

Talks can be 5-6 minutes long. The panel will provide up to 3-5 minutes of feedback after your talk.

Here are our scheduled August practice sessions:

Wednesday, August 4 from 3-4pm PT

Tuesday, August 17 from 3-4pm PT


We will be adding more public speaking practice sessions in September. Follow us on social media for the most up to date announcements.

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Building Confidence Improving Your Presentations Professional Speaker Public Speaking Course Public Speaking Tips Virtual Presentations

What I learned from The A-Ha! Method Public Speaking Course

I completed The A-Ha! Method: Public Speaking in a Time of Distraction course on Udemy in April. It took me about 6 weeks to get through the course at a leisurely pace, and I was very happy and excited about what I learned. 

Full transparency: Gabe sent me this public speaking course to review before I started working with Speakers Alliance. I was a bit skeptical, thinking I already know a lot about general public speaking tips after 7 years in Toastmasters (Overconfident much?). What I learned from taking the course is: I still have so much to learn if I want to take my speaking game to the next level! 

I’ve asked Gabe why he calls it the A-Ha! Method. Is the A-Ha! Method mostly about the way to organize presentations with the different A-Ha! moments per talk, or is it about his public speaking techniques and advice? He said it refers to BOTH. The A-Ha! Method was developed with the A-Ha! moments per talk in mind, but it is also refers to what he has learned in his career as a speaker—the many A-Ha! lightbulb moments he has experienced throughout his professional public speaking journey.

His advice and lessons learned can help us as speakers too, no matter where we are on our own speaking journeys. I appreciate the tips and lessons learned, so that I don’t have to make all those mistakes on my own. While I will certainly make plenty of mistakes, I can limit my “newbie” mistakes at least by listening to and learning from professionals who have done this plenty of times before me.

Here are some of the key tips and lessons I learned from this public speaking course: 

Most Helpful Tips: Organizing and Editing

  • Organizing your speech using the A-Ha! moments
    • One way to organize your speech is think about your speech in Acts 1, 2, and 3 and then organize each act effectively with an A-Ha! moment, if applicable.  
    • The A-Ha! moments are strategically placed in your speech and have a recovery period afterwards. The A-Ha! moments are those parts in your speech that make your audience get chills or the hairs rise up on their necks and/or they are 100% focused on what you are saying. 
    • You have to be strategic about your A-Ha! moments though. If you place them one after the other in a bulleted list, they will get lost. You have to place them perfectly in your speech so the audience feels the effect. Then you can have a recovery period— not where you stop talking but where you keep reinforcing that idea without letting them lose focus on that idea. Then, you will ramp up to the next A-Ha! moment. 
    • I have probably done something similar to this without even thinking about it, however I probably did not do it well or effectively by using the recovery periods. Lots of improvement to be made there! 
  • The Speaking Event Checklist Resource
    • This was very helpful in understanding the amount of information you need to collect when scheduling your speeches with the event organizers. This is a great way to keep everything organized and make sure you have all the details needed before, during and after the event.
    • This checklist can be used for both paid and unpaid speaking events that you schedule and also for online and on-site presentations.
    • I plan to use this spreadsheet as I start booking more presentations! 😃

Most Relevant Tips: Slides and Virtual Talk Resources

  • Slides, Tech and Tactics Section 
    • There are over 2 hours of content about slides, tech and tactics that Gabe uses to take his presentations and pitches to the next level. 
    • Gabe suggests a general rule of 1 slide per minute and 1 idea per slide and explains this more in depth. I have worked on implementing this rule in my corporate presentations recently, and it has helped! 
    • Watching this section, I realized how much work my slides need. I like to do a long list of bullets sometimes, and the main thing to remember with slides is to keep it simple. 
    • I don’t put a ton of effort or thought into my slides. I know there is quite a debate about Powerpoint vs other presentation software. I feel comfortable using Powerpoint, but Gabe makes a good case to look into other presentation software and improve your slides with better images/graphics and less words and text. 
  • Virtual Talk Supplements 
    • There are 30 minutes of bonus content on this subject, which is very relevant right now of course.
    • Gabe has an excellent tip of restarting your computer and having a presentations user on your computer and using that for when you have presentations. This is such a simple yet powerful suggestion to help decrease the chances of computer freezes or hiccups. I have implemented this for my big presentations, and it has helped me feel more at ease!
    • Also, I always need a reminder about the eyelines and focus. I have a tendency to look at the gallery view. I know better, but that doesn’t mean I am always perfect at this.  

Biggest A-Ha! moment when taking the course: The editing process!

  • Iterative and editing process
    • Learning about Gabe’s editing and iterative process blew my mind! Good speakers make it look so effortless that I forget how much time and effort they put into each talk. I know speakers spend a ton of time practicing their content, but this course made me realize I have some major improvements to make in this area.
    • Gabe recommends his iterative process over straight memorizing because it will make you come off more natural and authentic. However, just because it’s not memorized, doesn’t mean he is just winging it. He practices over and over and over again until he knows his material so well that he could do it with his prepared slides or without them. That’s impressive! 
    • Recognizing the amount of organization and preparation it takes to do this job was very influential and helpful to me as I continue to grow in my career as a professional speaker. Even if you don’t want to be a professional speaker though, these tips are still helpful as you may have to give big presentations at work and conferences. 

There are so many tips and tricks in the course, and it would be a really long article to write up everything I liked about it. I found the course so helpful in thinking about my professional career, and I realized I have so much to learn, which is a good thing! There are always ways you can improve your speeches and grow your craft, and that is very exciting to me! 


Next Steps

I plan to go through the class again and take better notes and go through all the resources. The good part about the course is that it never expires or goes away once you purchase it. 

The course is great for being able to organize your speeches better and effectively. However, you need to also practice these new lessons learned. Each month the Speakers Alliance runs a few FREE Public Speaking Practice Clinics for people looking to improve their public speaking skills and practice their material. We will discuss different public speaking topics, answer questions, and provide feedback for as many 5-6 minute presentations and pitches as possible. Your speech or pitch doesn’t have to be fully prepped or memorized. The practice sessions are a safe place for you to practice, get your ideas out there and learn.

We will be adding practice sessions each month. Follow us on social media for the most up to date announcements.

Check out the public speaking course on Udemy and join us for a practice session or two or three (as many as you would like!). Practice makes great progress, and Speakers Alliance is here to help you with all your public speaking needs and practice resources. 

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Boosting Your Confidence Building Confidence Improving Your Presentations Public Speaking Goals Public Speaking Tips

Public Speaking Goals Restart

We are halfway through 2021 now. How are you doing with your 2021 personal and professional goals? What about your public speaking goals?
Could you use a mid-year goals restart? Time to check-in and see what you can still accomplish in the second half of the year!

I may not be a trend setter (yet), but I am absolutely a goal setter. I am very big into setting personal and professional goals, and I talk about this A LOT on The A-Ha! Method Podcast. Sometimes I am more talk than action though. 😞

I am constantly trying to improve myself, my routine, my skills, etc., which can be a blessing and a curse—blessing because I am all about self improvement, curse because it can become a bit like striving for perfection, which is an unattainable goal…even for me.

In the past few years, I have started making year-long mantras instead of goals. The mantras give me a simple, easy to remember phrase that I can repeat to myself when times are tough. My friend Susan, who I talk about in Podcast Episode 6, also makes yearly mantras with me, and we just so happened to have the same mantra this year—”I Am Here.”

We had different reasons for this mantra, but it’s still fun that we had the same one for the same year. My “I am Here” mantra has two meanings:

  1. I tend to have a lot of imposter syndrome, and 2021 has pushed me out of my comfort zone a good bit so far. The “I am Here” saying reminds me that I am supposed to be at this meeting, give this presentation, talk about this subject, etc. Whether I feel ready or not, I am here, and I am going to do the best I can.
  2. I have taken on the unfortunate habit of multi-tasking—both at work and in my personal life. I want to be more present in life with my family and friends and not be on my phone all the time. I am here, I am focused, I am listening!
Picture of my 2021 Mantra Board that my friend Susan made me. Yes, we are in our 30’s and 40’s, and yes, I love every aspect of this special board!

So far, I have done okay with my 2021 mantra. I still want to be more present in everything I do, but that will take some time and more dedication. I have put myself out there more, and I am learning to be confident and continue to grow and learn from my mistakes. I will continue to work on this “I am Here” mantra, but now I also have some public speaking goals I want to add to the mix as well.


In the spirit of Quarter 3 just starting and us reaching the halfway mark in the year, I want to encourage you to sit down and review how you are doing with your goals so far. If things are going well, keep going and growing and glowing (this was my 2020 mantra)! If things could be improved, let’s do a mid-year goals restart and see if we can finish this year stronger physically and mentally than how we started. And if you don’t have any public speaking goals on your list yet, maybe it’s a good time to add some as well.

Here are my 3 public speaking goals/mantras for the second half of 2021 (I am putting it out on the internet, so no going back now!):  

  1. Quality over quantity
    • I have mentioned this on the A-Ha! Method Podcast and in other articles, but I really want this to be my big focus for the rest of this year. I want to work on crafting and developing my stories instead of just throwing out a bunch of stories and never telling them again. 
    • I set the goal to give 30 speeches this year, but I don’t have to give 30 different speeches. I would like to challenge myself by giving one speech topic five different times and truly experience the iterative and editing process. I’ll let you know how that goes. 
  1. Keep it simple
    • I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, like cramming lots of messages, takeaways, and lessons learned into a 5-7 minute Toastmasters speech and usually going over time.
    • In my sketches and improv classes, I tend to muddle the idea or forget the point of view to where you aren’t quite sure where it’s going or what I am trying to say. I want to be a better scene partner and writer and a simple way to do that is…keep it simple! 
    • I can get really wordy in my writing and also when I am facilitating meetings. Lots of run-on and long sentences back to back that really lose my audience. Keep it short, keep it simple! 
    • Keep it easy for my audience. Make sure my message and my meaning are easy to understand, and that will go a long way in my professional career and life!
  1. Embrace myself! 
    • This goes back to the imposter syndrome. I listen to some of my speeches and podcasts and think, “Why did I say that? Do I really sound like that? I really flubbed that sentence there.” I am definitely my own worst critic! I want to learn how to embrace myself—all the things I do well, all the mistakes I make, all my passions, all my quirks, all my silliness. Embrace it and stop wishing that I were someone else or as good as someone else, and just be me. 
    • I can keep striving to grow and fix some of these mistakes. However, if I can take the self-critic out of the situation, embrace myself, and be present, then I will take my speaking, my self-esteem, and my self-compassion to a new level. If I am constantly criticizing myself, I will forever limit myself!

I know all the SMART Goals advocates are pulling their hair out right now reading this. You have your way of making goals, and I have mine. These are my second half 2021 goals, and I am sticking to them! I will let you know how I fare at the end of the year!


There’s no magic time or age to wait to achieve your goals, and that includes public speaking goals. While I am using this half year mark as a chance to pause and reflect and also make more mantra goals for myself (all the mantras!), I want to remind you that you don’t have to wait until next week, next month, next birthday, next year to achieve your goals. You can challenge yourself now. You can go for your goals now! 

Want to conquer your fear of public speaking? Sign up for a course or training now! (Check out the A-Ha! Method: Public Speaking in a Time of Distraction course on Udemy.)

Want to give a big speech at work? Practice it now! (Come to one of our Speakers Alliance Public Speaking Practice Sessions.)

Want to give a Ted Talk? Can’t wait to hear it! Start working on your message now and practice it at our free sessions!

Want to step out of your comfort zone? Great! Get out of your own way and take one small step right NOW to start doing that.   

Cheers to the second half of 2021! Hope this mid-year goals restart helps you. Let’s check back in December 2021 and see how we did. 😀

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Improving Your Presentations Podcast Professional Speaker Speaking at Conferences Speaking Hygiene

Episode 6: The A-Ha! Method Podcast

Speaking Hygiene

Most public speakers focus only on the time they’re up on stage, presenting. But the 24 hours before your speech are just as – if not more – important than the 20 minutes itself. Find out what you can do to keep your speaking hygiene 💯 and maximize your chances of getting invited back to speak again and again. 

Join hosts Dayna Gowan and Gabe Zichermann of the Speakers Alliance for another in-depth conversation about public speaking.

For more details and tips, check out our blog post about Speaking Hygiene.

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Boosting Your Confidence Improving Your Presentations Podcast Public Speaking Tips Special Occasion Speeches Wedding Speeches

Episode 4: The A-Ha! Method Podcast

Social Speeches: How to Give the Best Toast of Your Life

Social speeches are often our first – and most important – moments for public speaking. Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, funerals – they all require good speeches and often are what prompts us to improve our speaking in the first place. Join Gabe Zichermann and Dayna Gowan for an exciting episode in which we discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of the social speech, and how to master it on your first go around.

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Improving Your Presentations Professional Speaker Public Speaking Tips Speaking at Conferences Speaking Hygiene

Speaking Hygiene – More than showering and looking good!

You’ve been preparing for this speech or pitch for weeks, maybe months. You’ve followed the lessons of the A-Ha! Method and developed a talk that’s going to get you that promotion, land you that funding, or raise your profile among your peers. The night before your talk you’re probably filled with excitement, nervousness and dread. You practice, practice, practice and go to sleep, ready for whatever comes tomorrow – the big day. 

Professional public speakers know something very critical: your “big day” actually starts the night before. The entire 18-24 hours before your talk, pitch or keynote requires special care and planning, in an effort we describe broadly as “speaking hygiene.”

No, speaking hygiene is not about showering and smelling good (though that’s also important and the subject of another article), but it is about ensuring that your time before the talk is carefully curated to ensure you’ve got the right energy level, the right focus, and the right amount of good stress. In short, you need to think like a rockstar, and put everything into the big moment. Here are some of the most important considerations:

Sleep

Make sure you know when your talk is, and ensure you’ve got enough sleep to maximize your alertness and calm. Time changes can wreak havoc on your body, so these must be factored in as well. If your talk is late in the day or you have an immovable scheduling issue, take a nap several hours beforehand. You’d be surprised how many major performers nap shortly before taking the stage – the key is to make sure your rhythms are in sync and you can do your best.

Eat

Eating is probably a major part of your day, and it can be tempting to just treat the day of your talk as any other day for food. But because too little food can leave you jittery and your stomach growling, and too much can leave you tired and sluggish, it’s crucial to time your meals appropriately. Eat well, but not too much and leave enough time to digest. Don’t eat anything heavy or carby right before, and definitely don’t walk out on stage with stuff stuck in your teeth (e.g. from a really recent bite). But do have something sweet nearby for after your talk: cognitively challenging activities deplete the energy in our brains and glucose is the cure. 

Caffeinate

Caffeine may or may not be part of your daily routine, but you’ll definitely be tempted to slam some back an hour or two before your talk as your energy flags and you worry about being at your best. Just as with food and water, make sure your caffeine intake is optimized for the talk you’re about to give. You want to make sure you don’t go overboard and end up jittery, or go under and laconic. If you want the caffeine to kick in right before your talk, plan to consume it approximately 20 minutes prior. Similarly, if you’re giving a really long talk, you might want to have some right before getting up on stage. Regardless, don’t overdo it. I’ve been there and it’s not cute. 

Investigate

I’m sure you think you know where to find the venue, your specific speaking location, and what time to be there. But don’t assume: it’s happened to me plenty of times where I get lost or the meeting point is non-specific, and I’m rushing to make it to my call time, out of breath and anxious. Whenever you can, do a walkthrough of the precise locations you need to be at and when. If you’re at an away event, you can do this the night before. If you’re somewhere local, do it the day of. Make sure you always leave yourself an additional 30 minutes to account for any hiccups, and don’t plan your flights or drives such that you’ll arrive right before your start time. Even celebrities build in contingencies. You should too. 

Isolate

You should do as little as possible before your talk begins. If your talk is first thing in the morning, you’ll have all day afterwards to socialize, network and the like. But if your talk is later in the day, you should focus on conserving energy for your performance. Wherever possible, don’t make significant intellectually-challenging plans for the time before your talk, and keep your socializing to a minimum. Again, think like a rockstar: the performance is the priority – and the point. Focus everything you’ve got on that one goal.

And therein lies the rub: the sooner you think of yourself as “performing” when you’re up on stage giving a talk, the better. Many speakers get caught in the loop of thinking they are Marketing Director first and speaker second, but on the day of a major and significant talk, embrace your inner diva. Prioritize your hygiene and watch your performance improve.

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Fear of Public Speaking Improving Your Presentations Public Speaking Nerves Public Speaking Practice Special Occasion Speeches

A Toast to Social Speeches and How to Make Them Great

Weddings, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Holiday Gatherings and Funerals are all situations in which we may find ourselves needing (or wanting) to give a speech. For many people, this is the first time they are prompted to improve their public speaking skills. For others, it is merely a nail-biting event at which we desperately want to succeed. 

Speaking professionals refer to these kinds of talks as “Social Speeches,” or Special Occasion Speeches, to differentiate them from business or political ones. The important distinction is in the name: speeches in this milieu are meant to evoke a particular kind of closeness or connection. Generally if you’re asked to speak at these events, the organizer will be less concerned with your polish and perfection, and more with your delivery of appropriately funny and/or touching anecdotes in a good spirited way. 

Whether this is the one and only time you’ll get up in front of people to speak, or just another step in your journey to become a better communicator, there are several key lessons you should observe when planning and executing a social speech.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yes, social speeches are somewhat lower stress than professional keynotes. They are usually unpaid, often unsupervised, and – because the organizer is not usually an event professional – they are given minimal attention until the big day. Don’t let this lackadaisical and freewheeling environment fool you: to do a great job at public speaking – regardless of the context – you need to practice your heart out. If you use the approach described in the A-Ha! Method, you can save significant time and may find it easier to memorize and nail those points.

You Don’t Have to Be Funny

Film and TV tend to represent these social speeches as comedic moments. But if you don’t have the halcyon delivery of Owen Wilson or the hipster gravitas of Vince Vaughn, you may not be perfectly suited to hitting those jokes repeatedly. This is not to say that you couldn’t or shouldn’t be funny, but the suggestion is to know your voice and to embrace it. If you’re more serious, be more serious and heartfelt. If you’ve got a light touch, do that. Either way, you’ll be more successful if you embrace your own POV than trying to fit into someone else’s mold.

Shorter is Better

Most social speeches should be kept under 5 minutes. Just think about the typical wedding: if 6 people/groups need to speak, and each takes 10 minutes, you’ll be sitting there for a solid hour listening to family members and friends drone on. Take a cue from what you would enjoy and keep it to a nice tight 2-3 minutes. The shorter timeframe will help you focus and give you clarity. After all, it’s better to say one thing really well than 5 things poorly.

Grab The A-Ha! Moment

In every social speech there is typically one line: an anecdote, observation, expression of love or broader social issue, that is the memorable moment from the speaker. Much as we do when giving a keynote or conference talk using the A-Ha! Method, our process begins by thinking about those moments of connection with the audience, and then building a talk around it. This emotional high-point is the thing that will have the biggest impact, so it needs to be strong. In most social speeches, there is time for one A-Ha! Moment in the middle, and a strong tag at the end that wraps everything up and brings it together.

Strong Openings and Closings

There is a tendency for most speakers to “fill” time as the stage or mic is being transitioned to them. “Hi everyone, how’s it going?” is a great example, or mentioning the previous speaker(s) to then ease into your speech. It makes the speaker feel better, but increases the time from the switch over until your first point of brilliance is expressed. If you can, take a deep breath and launch directly into your speech without any transitional phrases. The same goes for the end: as you create the last line of the talk, make sure to clearly differentiate between the end of your talk and the start of a toast (for example). Toasts or blessings are not endings, and should be treated as separate from your core talk. 

Many professional speakers, when asked to talk about their most important talks, refer to these social speeches. You may spend your life on a keynote stage, traveling around the world – but perhaps the most important memories you’ll make will be much closer to home. So no matter where you are in your journey of improving your communications skills, now’s the right time to lean in. 

Here’s a toast to your upcoming social speeches – may you give them and give them well, and may you regale all your family and friends with your stories and talks at your next special occasion event. Cheers!

Picture credit: Canva.com