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Situational characteristic of a presentation

by admin

Situational Characteristics: Factors in a specific speech setting that you can observe or discover before you give the speech. They include audience size, time of the speech, location and audience mobility.

Size: The number of people that could hear your speech will affect how you will design your speech and how you will deliver it. For example Q & A sessions. With small audiences, you can communicate in a more intimate way. Conversely, if you have a larger audience of 100 or more people you can’t have that same interaction and it’s harder to anticipate their questions.

Speaking of questions, decide in the beginning how you’re going to take questions. In smaller groups you can take questions as they arise, but you might want to reserve any comments/questions till the end in larger group settings.

Also, be sure to repeat the question that’s asked, so that everyone is on the same page.

Time: You need to consider “Time” both in terms of the length of your speech and the audience clock.

First, consider the topic in terms of main points and subpoints. This will give you a sense of how long your speech should be, ( i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes, etc.). It’s up to you to make some tough choices on you you’ll include and not include, especially if you’re only given a set number of minutes to deliver your speech.

If you have more time, that obviously allows you to expand on your main points, but it also means you’ll likely get distracted with questions or be able to share anecdotes. So, keep your focus and the focus of the audience by sticking to the main points.

Some of the most powerful TV and Radio ads are only :30 seconds to :60 seconds, but can give use lots of information and strongly influence our decisions.

Body Clock: It’s important to consider the time of day, your speech will be delivered. Avoid Monday mornings, lunch time or late afternoon or early evening. People can be easily distracted, so the least number of mental distractions, the better. Also, you can’t always count on your speech time going off on schedule. That can be a definite road block for an afternoon speech.

Scope out the location of your speech as far in advance as possible. Determine the size of the room in terms of how it will affect delivery. Will it be a structured delivery or more informal. Will you need A/V support and if so, what will you need and will you need someone to assist you. If so, don’t wait till the last minute.

Mobility: Audience is on the move. They may be attending a convention and pass through an exhibit area where salespeople must make their speeches/pitches compelling enough to make people stop and listen. Someone selling a product or service in this environment must focus on the main points quickly. Making key points in this environment can also be greatly enhanced by getting the audience involved (i.e. sampling products, taking part in a demonstration, etc.).

  • Stationary: Audience is sitting in a classroom or auditorium setting with all eyes focused toward the front of the room. Typically, there is less effort to get and keep audience attention because there are few if any distractions.
  • Mobile : Audience may be listening for only a few minutes as they pass through an exhibit hall, carnival or other outdoor setting. This is more challenging, so you need to offer incentives to stop and listen for a few minutes. (i.e. Auto Show, Ginsu knife pitch, Flower Show, etc.)

Demographics: Age, gender, socioeconomic status, religious orientation, sex orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity. It’s always important to determine what age group(s) you will be addressing because there will be distinct areas of interest for younger audiences vs. older audiences.

Prior Exposure : Have they heard your message before and if so, what might be the degree of message acceptance. If the audience is negative, you’ll need to spend more time making the case to persuade your audience to accept your viewpoints.

Example: The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare) and resistance: Economy changed: Crash of 2008. Voters became skeptical because they worried about cost. As a result the Obama Administration needed to adjust message to show accessibility.

Disposition: Attitude toward message : 3 groups, sympathetic, hostile and neutral. Neutral audience : Are they apathetic, disinterested or do they need persuading to come to your side.

  • Sympathetic Audience: They already agree with your message or they hold you, the speaker, in high regard and will therefore respond favorably.
  • Hostile Audience: Opposes your message or they don’t accept you as a credible public speaker. Hostile audiences are resistant to your views and/or message.
  • Neutral Audience: These people have no opinion either pro or con on issues. They are simply apathetic or just disinterested!

Audience Surveys: A set of questions asked of audience members to determine their views on the topic(s) being presented

  • Fixed Questions: True/False, Multiple Choice, or select all that apply gives the respondent a set of specific answers from which to choose. Good for gaining insights on what is known vs. unknown
  • Scaled Questions: Indicate intensity of feelings on a scale of 1:5, 1:10, etc. where the range could be from strongly agree to strongly disagree and anywhere in between
  • Open Ended Questions: Allows an audience to express their views in an open way. These questions can help you anticipate what you might have otherwise overlooked, because your not confining your answers to a list.
  • Situational Analysis: Reading the mood of the Audience

Goal of a Persuasive Speech:
To affect audience attitudes, beliefs or actions, while advocating a fact, value or policy claim.

Strengthen or weaken their commitment ( Banning food on Campus example)

Influencing audiences might mean that your goal is to strengthen commitment, weaken commitment or cause your audience to take action.

  • Strengthening Commitment: If an audience already agrees with your point of view, then you want to strengthen their existing
  • Weakening Commitment: If you advocate removing all fast food outlets on campus, you could easily encounter some resistance. A good strategy might be to convince people that eating fast food is hazardous to your health..too many calories, salt, sodium, etc. To promote action, you could ask people to drink fewer soft drinks, fewer burgers and fries, etc. in favor of salads, yogurt, etc.

Fact Claim: Asserts something is True or False. Fact Claims make strong Example : Do energy drinks cause more health problems that drinking coffee?? Have Charter Schools affected positive change?? Do violent video games promote crime??

Value Claim: Attaches a judgement to the topic being discussed (i.e. good, bad, ethical vs. unethical )

Policy Claim: Advocates actions by organizations, groups, government agencies, etc.)

Two Paths to Persuasion:

Central Routing: This process involves a high degree of elaboration and explanation in terms of accessing a speakers. Audience members tend to process the message through the prism of their preexisting ideas or perceptions about an issue. Central Routing listeners are more likely to develop a positive attitude when the speakers arguments are strong. This method implies more serious evaluation by the audience and therefore means action on a particular issue is more likely to happen.

Peripheral Routing: This method implies a low level of elaboration. Audience members are swayed more due to a flashy presentation, colorful visual aids, the speakers appearance, etc. vs. factual information.

Ethical questions are often raised with the Peripheral Routing process because much of the persuasion is not based on fact, but rather emotional appeal!

In either case, keeping your message well organized and easy to follow is the key to getting your point across.

Strategic Discourse: The process of selecting supporting argumentsthat will best persuade the audience in an ethical manner

Adapting to Audience Disposition: Any audience has attitudes about a particular topic, so your job as a speaker is to adjust your thesis statement in accordance with the audience type you’re addressing (i.e. sympathetic, hostile or neutral)

Latitudes of Acceptance or Rejection: Audiences tend to have a wide range of positions regarding acceptance or rejection of an issue.

Those who are concerned about your issue will tend to have a more narrow level of acceptance, whereas those who are unaffected by an issue will likely be more open to a broader range of positions.

Therefore, listeners will generally accept your views if what you say falls within their latitude of acceptance. They will generally tend to reject your views ifthose ideas/notions, etc. fall within their latitude of rejection.

Boomerang Effect: Pushing your listeners to oppose an idea even more vigorously than they already do.

Hierarchy of Needs: Once our basic survival needs such as food, water, health and shelter are met, we move on to our need to be safe, socially accepted, like love and friendship. After those needs are met, self esteem needs and self actualization needs (i.e. personal growth, creativity and self fulfillment.

Methods of Persuasion:

Credibility or “Ethos” has to do with the speaker being knowledgeable, honest and genuinely interested in doing the right thing for his/her audience. They will basically embrace your point of view if they feel you are competent and trustworthy. In Greek times Competence was referred to as practical wisdom and trustworthiness with virtue.

A couple of other related terms to know:

Logos: The reasoning that supports a speakers claims and makes an argument more persuasive

Pathos : Appealing to an audiences emotions

Goodwill is a notion that implies doing the right thing for the audience and wanting what’s best vs. doing or saying what is in the best interest of the speaker.

Goodwill can be expressed by doing the following:

Understanding Listener needs and feelings

Empathizing with the audiences views even if you don’t share them

Responding quickly to others communication.

Building Credibility:

Sharing any formal education or first hand experiences with regard to your topic

Presenting strong evidence from reputable sources. This shows the audience that you have researched your topic well and have referenced third party sources to support the claims you are or have made.

Highlighting Common Ground or letting the audience know about a shared experience with them can put them at ease and at the same time, bolster your credibility.

Building credibility also implies choosing any words you use very carefully and don’t talk over the audiences head. Keep language simple and non:offensive.

Loss of credibility can occur if you get your facts wrong or if you don’t pronounce words, phrases or terms correctly.

Loss of Credibility

Failing to acknowledge a potential conflict of interest ( Advocating a position that you have a personal stake in!)

Stretching a Connection with the Audience : Pretending that you’ve experienced the same interests, feelings, etc. that they have when you really haven’t!

Mindsets by Carol Dweck

Mindsets by Carol Dweck –Changed my life the book I ever read (listened to)

How many people feel that some people are born with a talent and that talent makes them different?
How many people feel that passion and effort can be someone’s success stories?

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success discovered a simple idea that makes all the difference. Your “Mindset”

There are 2 minds sets out there a Fixed or Talent mindset and a Growth mindset, We are going to learn to identify both of them so you can utilize them.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Here are some simple steps to get the idea and to start to make your mindset work for you.

Step1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
As you approach a challenge, that voice might say to you
“Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
“What if you fail—you’ll be a failure”
“People will laugh at you for thinking you had talent.”
“If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”

As you hit a setback, the voice might say,
“This would have been a snap if you really had talent.”
“You see, I told you it was a risk. Now you’ve gone and shown the world how limited you are.”
“It’s not too late to back out, make excuses, and try to regain your dignity.”

As you face criticism, you might hear yourself say,
“It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”
You might feel yourself getting angry at the person who is giving you feedback.
“Who do they think they are? I’ll put them in their place.”
The other person might be giving you specific, constructive feedback, but you might be hearing them say “I’m really disappointed in you. I thought you were capable but now I see you’re not.”

 Step 2. Recognize that you have a choice.
How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is your choice. You can interpret them in a fixed mindset as signs that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Or you can interpret them in a growth mindset as signs that you need to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities. It’s up to you.

So as you face challenges, setbacks, and criticism, listen to the fixed mindset voice and… talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.

As you approach a challenge:
THE FIXED-MINDSET says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
THE GROWTH-MINDSET answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”
FIXED MINDSET: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure”
GROWTH MINDSET: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”
FIXED MINDSET: “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t try, I automatically fail. Where’s the dignity in that?”

As you hit a setback:
FIXED MINDSET: “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.

As you face criticism:
FIXED MINDSET: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.”

Step 3) Then…Take the growth mindset action.

Over time, which voice you head becomes pretty much your choice.
Whether you take on the challenge wholeheartedly, learn from your setbacks and try again,
Hearing the criticism and act on it is now in your hands.  Practice hearing both voices and practice acting on the growth mindset. See how you can make it work for you.

You can use a growth mindset in all aspects of your life.  So If you are ready to grow, get the book Mindsets by Carol Dweck.

Roller Coaster

by admin

Roller coaster exercise. One person is in front with their eyes closed (follower ). The other person has his hands on the person shoulders leading them through a crowd. The person leading will be weaving in and out of the rest of the people being lead. You start off slow working your way to a faster speed. (Do this a few times ask questions:
How did it feel being lead?
How did it feel leading?
What made you feel safe or out of control?

Then switch positions and repeat.

Next level when when you get used to this trust section you take it up a notch. Start off the same as step one but when the person who is being lead has no hands on their shoulders they stand still.  Another leader can then put their hands on their shoulders and start leading them. This is an exercise to figure out if you’re more comfortable as a leader or follower. When you’re done with your exercise ask more questions about:
How you felt being led?
How you felt as a leader?

This games gives insight on how people feel about being responsible for others or handing over full control.


How do you feel

How do you feel.

This is an 2 person at a time team building game.
This exercise is to help make a person more emotionally literate.
Emotional literacy is a great tool for a stronger more effective leader.

2 people sitting facing each other:
One person asked the question “How do you feel?”
They sit attentively listening to the other person without any interruptions.
There are 4 main questions to this,
The second person in one minute answers the following for questions
I feel physically. In general I feel. In a relationship I feel. Right now in this moment I feel.
Use positive and negative emotions other than happy and sad, try to be more specific and in touch with your feelings.

Here are some emotions.


Building the Letter H

by admin

This exercise uses teams of 2 people that use their bodies to build the letter “H/h”.
This is a team work exercise as well as a way to find out if you are one of 2 types of improv people.  It’s always good to know what your natural tendencies are so you can either embrace them or learn to make them work with the team. The extremes are you can be bossy and be a Dictator (DicProv) or you can be a total follower and not offer anything and just expect to be told what to do (WimpProv).

This is all about offers. An offer is only half the solution, one person can offer part of the H and it’s up to the other person to complete the offer. This is very important in the world of improv as well as in everyday life. You want to meet people half way. You should don’t want to be over bearing or controlling or on the other hand have no steak in the solution.  We all have our strengths some of us may be problem solvers and others may lean on the follower or flexible side.

Red Ball

by admin

Red Ball is a space work warm up exercise. It is a great tool for beginners and younger improvisers.


Players pantomime throwing objects around in a circle. They should be encouraged to use the object deliberately and demonstratively, showing it’s weight or value (or anything else) by the way they handle it. Additionally, this exercise should inspire agreement and acceptance, as an object shouldn’t change when it is thrown to another person. If one player is handling something incredibly hot, another player needs to maintain that reality when they receive it.


Players circle up with enough space to move comfortably. The improviser running the game pantomimes reaching into a large bag, and pulls out the Red Ball.

Like Zip Zap Zop, the Red Ball is passed around the group with deliberate focus and acceptance. The way to pass it is as follows:

Player One (as she is throwing, making eye contact with Player 2): “Red Ball”
Player Two (receiving): “Red Ball thank you.”
Player Two (to someone else): “Red Ball.”

This exchange is important, as it ensures that the improvisers send the objects clearly, and that the receiver acknowledges what she has just caught.

From here, the improviser running the game can pull anything she’d like out of the bag. It’s common to stay a little grounded before you pull out crazy stuff, and many people will go from “Red Ball” to “Green Ball” (no obvious difference from Red) to “Lead Ball” (very, very heavy). After that, consider pulling out “piano,” “puppy,” “fire,” or anything in the known or unknown universe.