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5 Public Speaking Secrets You Can Learn From Kim Kardashian’s Media Coach

Bill McGowan's book provides tips and tricks to anyone who wants to improve their public speaking skills. Maybe an A-List celebrity. Maybe you.
by Sarah Moriarty | Sep 19 2017

As a member of one of the most scrutinized celebrity families in the US, who does reality TV star Kim Kardashian turn to for advice when she needs help dealing with the media? The answer: trusted advisor and two-time Emmy Award-winning correspondent Bill McGowan.

Kim Kardashian

From sex tapes to diamond heists, Kardashian is no stranger to scandal. Luckily, McGowan has over 20 years of experience teaching people how to effectively communicate when the going gets tough. His book teaches you how to say the right things under pressure and how to transform sticky moments into opportunities for success.

The fashion & beauty mogul took to Instagram last week to big up her favorite book on savvy communication — Pitch Perfect by McGowan.

Here are 5 top communication tips from Pitch Perfect to show you how to overcome common communication pitfalls and nail a presentation using simple principles of persuasion.

1. Start with a story

Attention spans are dwindling which means that you have less than 30 seconds to capture and enchant your audience. You need to hook them in right away so they feel compelled to stay with you for the duration of your speech. One really effective way to do this is to start strong. Tell a short, suspenseful story; ask a provocative question; or throw in a joke. In 1984, Steve Jobs began a presentation with “Hi, I’m Steve Jobs,” even though every person in the audience already knew who he was. By surprising the crowd, you have a better chance of grabbing the audience’s attention and keeping it.

2. Keep it short

Rambling is kryptonite to effective communication. Nevertheless, talking for way too long is one of the most common public speaking mistakes. One way to tackle this pitfall is to learn your introduction and your concluding remarks by heart. That way, you can start strong, stay clear, and be flexible about wrapping things up if time runs out. Also, avoid recapping your presentation at the end — no-one wants to hear you repeat yourself. Instead, try offering your audience pertinent advice that relates to the key point of your message.

3. If in doubt, slow down.

If you feel nervous or defensive, chances are that you’ll begin to talk at a rapid pace. Tearing through sentences is stressful for you and your audience. On top of that, there can be catastrophic consequences. Remember former BP chairman Tony Hayward’s final comment in the aftermath of the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? He said, “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back.” This reckless, egocentric comment resulted in him losing his job. So, when you’re under pressure or if you’re not sure what you should say next, slow down. Give yourself plenty of time to put your thoughts in order and conjure up an effective structure for your ideas. This will lead to greater focus and confidence.

4. Stand up straight

Your grandmother was right. Standing up straight is crucial when you’re speaking in public as studies have shown that standing lowers your stress levels by 25%. Further, when you stand with a straight back, you instantly assume an increased sense of self-confidence, which allows you to deliver your message more impactfully and persuasively.

5. Make your audience visualize things to illustrate your points

You’ve done a lot of research on your topic, so it’s tempting to prove this by placing lots of graphs, charts, and other data into your presentation. Don’t. Your audience is capable of digesting only small pieces of information in a short space of time. It’s counterproductive to overfeed them with an XXL portion of facts. Instead, use visual details and analogies to make your ideas come alive. For example: “We increased our sales 100% last year — that’s like Michael Jordan scoring twice the number of baskets!”

And finally, a bonus 6. Don’t imagine people in their underwear

This age-old chestnut is terrible advice. Imagining a sea of people in off-white undies will merely distract you from the task at hand. Abandon exercises that encourage your mind to wander and focus on the task at hand — i.e. conveying your message effectively.

Pitch Perfect is all about saying the right thing, to the right person, at the right time. The book is an invaluable guide for anyone who ever has to speak in front of a crowd, whether you’re a CEO, an intern, or Kim Kardashian herself.

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