Posts tagged ‘communication’

May 3, 2011

Say “I Do” to Public Speaking

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

In spirit of the Royal Wedding, let’s talk about delivering meaningful words in front of large audiences. Let us vow, “I take you, Public Speaking, from this day forward, to love and to honor, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” These words may scare people because apparently Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking,  is greater than fear of death. I recently presented to Kelli Matthew’s Intro to PR class of 150 students, and afterward, I was asked for advice on how to calm nerves when speaking to a large audience. Here are a few techniques “I Do” to help stay poised and deliver the message effectively:

1.  You have to be familiar with the content you are going to deliver, which means take the time beforehand to prepare and practice what you’ll be saying. Also, arrive early (but not too early!) so you aren’t frantic before it’s your time to go on.

2.  Practice, Practice, Practice. Take every opportunity you can to speak in front of groups. Even if that’s just your family or friends.  Monitor how you speak one-on-one with people. Practice making eye contact and speaking clearly. This will help you when speaking to a large crowd.

3.  Even if you aren’t confident, “Fake it ’til you make it.” I can’t remember who told me this, but someone else deserves the credit. If you appear confident, the audience will respond positively which should make you calm down and actually feel more confident.

4.  Remember that you’re human and everyone you’re speaking to are humans as well (unless you’re flying to the moon to speak to aliens, in which case, I can’t help you!). We all make mistakes and forgive, so relax. You want to be there to share information and the audience wants to hear it – they’re on your side!

5.  S-L-O-W down — and accept the fact that pausing is OK. Instead of using filler words like “um,” “like,” and “uh” (yuck!), pause, collect your thoughts or that word you’re looking for and then move on.

Side note on reducing filler words: I’ve learned there are three phases to ridding your speech of filler words.* 1) Filler word oblivion: you have no idea that you use them. 2) Filler word recognition: you realize (usually after you say them) that you use them. 3) Filler word replacement: you stop yourself before you say them and pause instead. What phase are you at? Have a friend remind you every time you say one and soon you’ll be at phase three!

*Dr. Tiffany Gallicano taught me the phases of filler word reduction. If you choose the PR sequence, I highly recommend taking her J452 class because she instructs a public speaking activity in class each week.

6.  Breathe. Deliver oxygen to your brain.

7.  When you aren’t the one presenting, be a good audience member – engage and observe. A good audience helps the speaker relax, and think how you would feel if you were up front! Pay attention when you’re in the audience to observe what the speaker does well and model your own speaking after that.

8.  Smile and have fun! It’s not everyday that you have a captive audience for what you have to say. Live it up!

I hope these suggestions help you say “I Do” to public speaking. Remember, it’s a life-long commitment and you’ll get better with time. For additional advice, here are 10 tips from Toastmasters, an international organization that offers public speaking guidance. University of Oregon has a Toastmasters club that meets weekly. I’ve never been, but I encourage you to check it out.

The crowd of 1 million stands in front of Buckingham Palace to watch a kiss between Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, during the Royal Wedding. (AP Photo/APTN)

Prince William speaks to his bride Kate as she holds her father's hand at the altar. (Getty Images)

Wedding day jitters heightened by billions of gawking viewers — can you imagine? Prince William and Kate stay cool and collected even on their big day — what PR pros!

February 7, 2011

Communicating Nutrition: More Than Just a “leafy logo”

In a recent post in The Buzz Bin, Emily Valentine addressed the role of marketing in health communication. Valentine attended the Child Nutrition Industry Conference, sponsored by the School Nutrition Association, where she networked with professionals responsible for school food production and standards. Aside from the hot topics of debate about what food should be served in school cafeterias, conference attendees came to the consensus that nutrition education was paramount for improving the health of American children.

A panel of school nutrition directors said that branded food products play a role in nutrition education because they help students and parents recognize which products are smart choices. According to the panelists, “The average American might not take the time to read nutrition labels before making a food purchase, but a strong brand icon (like Kashi’s green emblem or Whole Foods’ leafy logo) can instantly communicate all the information consumers need (and want) to know.”


Lunch line options are colorful. What message does Goldfish brand send?

The role of branding in communicating healthy choices is valid; however, nutrition education cannot start there. Children and their caregivers have to understand what those symbols represent and that they are beneficial before they will choose them. This is where public relations comes into play: Education usually provides new information that influences the way learners think or behave (sounds like PR to me!). Health communication, as an avenue of public relations, involves informing a public about a health risk and suggests a recommended response to avert the risk.

The following are a list of concepts pertaining to health risk messages that I derived from Witte, Meyer and Martell’s book “Effective Health Risk Messages: A Step-by-Step Guide.” I give examples in italics of components from the extended parallel processing model  based on the child nutrition topic.

1. Problem recognition: The public may or may not be aware of a risk. It will not accept a health message unless it is aware there is a problem or need for change.

Poor health results from eating non-nutritious food.

2. Perceived susceptibility: The public believes it is at risk of the health threat.

My child is at risk of poor health because he or she eats non-nutritious food.

3. Perceived severity: The public believes the risk is significant.

Malnutrition could lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

4. Fear: The emotional reaction comprised of psychological and physiological dimensions that may be caused when a potential threat is perceived. Fear instigates protection motivation or defensive motivation to avert risk.

I’m afraid that my child is at risk of these health issues, or

I do not want my child to be susceptible to these health risks.

5. Efficacy: The effectiveness, feasibility and ease of a recommended response to the threat.

  • Response efficacy – belief that the recommended response is effective in preventing the health risk.

Choosing to eat more nutritious food will decrease my child’s risk of poor health.

  • Self-efficacy – a person’s belief that he or she can perform the recommended response.

I can help my child make healthy food choices.

Students appraise their fruit and veggie options at a cafeteria salad bar.

Healthy-looking logos are like a cake topper for nutrition education; they are not effective message communicators without the layers of public relations efforts beneath – such as government action like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, nutrition lessons in the classroom, doctors informing parents about their children’s nutrition, and gardening experiences at home, school or in the community. Government protocol, school staff members, parents and other role models must work together to educate children about proper nutrition; once they know the importance of “5 A Day” then food marketing will signify and confirm healthy choices.


Fruits & Veggies More Matter new logo from Produce for Better Health Foundation, partner with CDC.