• Thomas A. Wilson

TASER—How to Give a Stunning Presentation, Part 1

Are you glossophobic? Psychology Today indicates that one in four are. Wikipedia is even more pessimistic, suggesting that 75% of us may suffer from the malady. Either way, the fear of public speaking affects a lot of people. Besides personal angst, researchers suggest that the phobia also negatively impacts earning potential and promotability by as much as 10 to 15 percent.

Glossophobia contributes to underliving, and that’s why this blog is taking aim at the beast. According to Dr. Neil T. Anderson, there’s only one legitimate fear object in the world, and public speaking isn’t it. So, for many readers, it’s time to slay the illegitimate dragon. Even if apprehension regarding public speaking doesn’t rise to the level of a personal phobia, these tips will help anyone give a better presentation.

Preparation and practice are the two pillars of public speaking success. The first step in preparation is to lay a strong foundation for your speech. We’ll use the acronym taser to identify the five parts of a strong foundation.

The term taser, of course, is not unique to this article. Almost everybody knows that a TASER is a less-lethal electric-shock self-defense tool. What many may not know is how the tool got its name. In 1911, a young adult novel was published with the title: Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. The book is one volume in a long series of books (they’re still being written and published) that focus on science and technology in a heroic way. So, Jack Cover, the inventor of the TASER, drew inspiration from the book title when he named his device. TASER is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. An amusing aside is that the “A” in Swift’s name doesn’t appear in the book. The TASER-namer used a little poetic license and added the middle initial to make the acronym more pronounceable. So, since Cover used two-thirds of my name (Thomas A.) in his endeavor, I think it’s only right that I get to use taser in mine.

The first foundation point for a good speech is the speech’s title. A title is a rubric that helps to give the presentation personality. Since your talk is a thing, a thing should have a name. A well thought-out title helps to captivate and focus both you and your audience. It narrows the area of emphasis because once you indicate what a talk is, you imply what it is not.

One of the best titles that I ever heard was from a talk on how to modify counterproductive behaviors. The speaker referred to unhelpful paradigms or negative mindsets as one’s old nature or man. So, the title of his speech was: How to Kill Your Old Man and Get Away with It. After 30 years, I still remember the message’s title and content.

The next foundation point is authority. Generally, audiences want more than a strong opinion before they accept a speaker’s hypothesis. Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote that people are influenced by legitimate authority. Lou Tice added that people ask, “Are you like me or have you helped anyone like me?” So, a qualified speaker with a track record of success gives hearers a reason to believe. Finding an appropriate source for your topic, then, gives you confidence, and it gives them a place to hang their hat, so to speak.

The next foundation piece is subject. A subject-statement is one sentence. It answers the question, “What is your talk about?” So, to illustrate, the subject of this blog is public speaking. While this point seems simple enough, it’s important to maintain good situational awareness so as to be crystal clear on what the presentation is about.

Kodak is a case study in not knowing what a business is about. They were late to the digital photography game because they were comfortable clinging to the film photography paradigm. Speakers should take note. Are you giving a talk based on your comfort zone, or are you stretching to ensure that you accomplish the mission?

The fourth foundation point is effect or end. What is the expected effect of the speech? What do you want the end-result to be? What do you want your hearers to do? Do you want to convince, entertain, enlist, inspire? Spell it out, then measure your content against that objective.

The objective of this blog is three-fold. First, I want to incubate skills and confidence in my readers. Next, I hope to increase my network as people like and follow my website. Finally, I hope readers buy my book, Authentic Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-level Living. I have evidence that the book is life-changing, and I’m internally motivated to bear fruit. Fruit, in this instance, means to enjoy a fair economic reward, and to develop, promote, and distribute something that helps the human condition.

The final foundation point is rationale. The rationale answers the question, “What gives you the moral authority to ask for the end-result defined in the fourth foundation point?” Usually a few sentences long, the rationale states your case in a paragraph or so. If you were only allowed a few sentences for your speech, what would you say? That’s the rationale.

Establishing foundations prepares speech writers to tackle the particulars of form that follow. We’ll explore form next week. In the meantime, if you’ve got an upcoming talk, remember title, authority, subject, effect, and rationale. You’re bound to give a stunning presentation.


“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” If so, then he who has the right words, wins. We can take this impromptu proverb to the bank because everything in life is a presenta­tion. No matter if we’re trying to get a job, or a wife, or a kid to do some homework, how we say it matters.

Affirmation of the week: Knowing the power of the spoken work, I undergird my communications with strong foundations. I don’t waste a syllable.

Did you find this blog helpful? If so, you'll love my book, Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-Level Living. Check it out! :)

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