Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oprah Winfrey - Success Story


  • Birthplace  Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA
  • Birthday :  January 29, 1954

A one-woman multi-media empire simultaneously embraced as a relatable "friend" figure by millions of loyal fans, Oprah Winfrey's business acumen and personal accessibility made her one of the most powerful and beloved figures in America. Winfrey's daytime television staple "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (syndicated, 1986-) was the number one daytime talk show for over 20 years, and positioned Winfrey as a powerful, inspiring, voice unafraid to be candid about her own personal hurdles to encourage women to rise above setbacks and reach their own potential. Winfrey's heartfelt agenda spilled over into her film career; both as a producer of inspirational stories of women courageously rising from adversity, and with her own Academy Award-nominated performance in the screen adaptation of Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" (1985). Through her many philanthropic efforts, including Oprah's Angel Network and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Winfrey generated millions of dollars to improve the lives of women, children and minorities. Meanwhile, the cultural tastemaker's stamp of approval or disapproval could turn the classic John Steinbeck novel East of Eden into a bestseller or elicit fear from the critiqued beef industry. Exposure on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" helped launch the careers of several lucky recipients, including counselor Dr. Phil McGraw, financial guru Suze Orman and no-frills chef Rachael Ray. With Winfrey's O: The Oprah Magazine , her television and film production studios, her multiple Emmys and NAACP Image Awards, she expanded commonly held notions of how far both women and African-Americans could go in the entertainment arena, and was deemed one of the most influential women in the world.

Winfrey was born Orpah Gail on Jan. 19, 1954 in Kosciusko, MS, and named after the Biblical character, Orpah. When people could not pronounce her name correctly, it was eventually changed to Oprah. Her birth parents were unmarried and her conception was the result of a one-night fling between teenaged mother Vernita Lee, a housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, who was in the armed forces at the time. Winfrey spent her early years raised by her paternal grandparents on a Mississippi farm with no indoor plumbing, but while the living was hard, Winfrey credited her strict but fair grandmother Hattie Mae for giving her a positive image of herself and ultimately being the strongest influence in her life. Winfrey first began to dream big when she learned to read at age three, discovering a whole world outside the farm. She was reciting sermons in church by age three and a half, and throughout her youth, remained active as an orator at local churches wherever she lived. At age six, Winfrey's mother called for her daughter to join her in a poor inner city neighborhood in Milwaukee, WI, where from age nine onwards, Winfrey endured molestation and rape from a cousin, an uncle and a family friend. The abuse would inform her life; not only in her personal relationships and behavior, but also in her later quest to channel her empathy to help the have-nots, the abused and the forgotten.
Her home life was extraordinarily difficult, but the avid reader excelled in school, though her mother was not encouraging and was, in fact, threatened by her daughter's constant reading. Winfrey skipped several early grades and through the help of a teacher who recognized the budding orator's potential, she landed a scholarship to a better suburban school in Glendale, WI at the age of 13. But her restless, rebellious side threatened to squelch her chances of success. The child of a single mother who desperately craved a "normal" family life ran away from home and became pregnant; her premature baby dying only weeks after birth. Unable to control or provide for her daughter, mother Lee sent Winfrey to live in Nashville with her father, who owned a barbershop and grocery store and was a respected member of the city council. The new environment proved life-changing for Winfrey, and under the strict guidance of Vernon and his wife, Winfrey was earning academic honors, competing in oratory competitions, speaking at local churches, and working part time reading the news on-air at local radio station WVOL. When she graduated from East Nashville High in 1971, she was named "Most Popular," and won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
Winfrey further gained confidence for a promising future when she won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant at age 18. Meanwhile, she studied speech and performing arts at TSU and began working at WTVF-TV, where at age 19, Winfrey found herself Nashville's first female black evening news anchor, in addition to being its youngest. Having beaten the considerable odds of growing up as a black, Southern female in abject poverty, the former teenage delinquent was unmistakably on the path to success. In 1976 she was offered a job in Baltimore, MD, as co-anchor of the evening news at WJZ-TV. Smart, charming and personable, Winfrey was a natural onscreen, and the network leveraged her particular talent by making her the host of their morning magazine show, "People are Talking." After years spent gaining valuable experience in Baltimore, Winfrey made the jump to the Chicago market in 1984, where she was hired to host the half-hour morning show, "A.M. Chicago" on WLS-TV. Within a year, the show's positive response led to its expansion to a one-hour format, and it was renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Among the Chicago audience of the enormously popular program that eclipsed talk show veteran Phil Donahue in the ratings was music producer Quincy Jones, who was serving as the executive producer on an adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning historical epic, "The Color Purple" (1985).
The untrained screen actress caught Jones' attention and went on to fulfill a lifelong dream when she was cast in one of her favorite stories as Sofia, a gutsy, outspoken survivor of abuse in the turn-of-the-century South who struggles with lifelong humiliation at the hands of her white employers. The Steven Spielberg-directed success starring seasoned fellow film newcomer Whoopi Goldberg and screen veteran Danny Glover was a box office success, jettisoning the local Chicago television figure into the national spotlight with her Oscar-nominated performance. In September of 1986, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" was syndicated nationally and quickly became the highest-rated talk show in television history. As in the local Chicago market, Winfrey offered an appealing alternative to daytime dominator Phil Donahue with her woman-to-woman empathy and flair for self-revelation. Unlike any television figure that had come before her, Winfrey examined social issues with intelligence and candor, engaging the heart. In 1987, Winfrey earned her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host, while her show was named Outstanding Talk Show. That same year, Winfrey created the Oprah Winfrey Foundation to support, empower and educate women, children and their families all over the world. Over the next decades, the Foundation donated millions of dollars to everything from academic scholarships, to university endowments, to Boys and Girls Clubs, to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
In 1988, the rising media mogul took control of the show from WLS, established Harpo Productions, Inc., and built her own production facility, making her only the third woman in American history to own a studio, after Mary Pickford and Lucille Ball. In recognition of her accomplishments, the International Television and Radio Society named her Broadcaster of the Year. The same year, the host, who was open with audiences about her ongoing struggle to control her weight, went on a diet and worked with a personal trainer to lose 60 pounds. In keeping with the sensationalist tone of the era's growing glut of competitive "tell-all" talk shows, Winfrey memorably brought a wheelbarrow filled with 60 pounds of animal fat onstage to illustrate her achievement. While Winfrey continued to dominate daytime ratings she also ventured into primetime, executive producing and starring in the highly acclaimed TV miniseries, "The Women of Brewster Place" (ABC, 1989), based on the novel by Gloria Naylor. A subsequent weekly TV series spin-off, "Brewster Place" (ABC, 1990), starring Winfrey was cancelled after only a handful of episodes. In 1990, during an interview with an abuse survivor on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Winfrey made the startling on-air revelation that she had been sexually abused as a child. Proving that her candid admissions were about more than just getting ratings, Winfrey became an outspoken advocate of children's issues, initiating the National Child Protection Act and testifying before Congress. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, and established a national database of convicted child abusers.

For Winfrey's next television production, she starred in "There Are No Children Here" (ABC, 1993) as a Chicago housing project resident determined for her children to receive an education and a chance at a better life. The film rated well, but nothing could compete with a primetime special that year in which Winfrey was granted access to a live interview with Michael Jackson at home at his Neverland Ranch. The television landmark reached an audience of 100 million, and showcased Jackson, still in fine form, but only months before child molestation charges began tarnishing the image of the beloved performer. Two years later, Winfrey became the first woman to head the Forbes Top 40 Entertainers list, making her the only entertainer and the only African-American person on Forbes' list of 400 richest Americans. But despite her runaway success, Winfrey decided to reconstruct the format and focus of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which had occasionally strayed into the trashier realms of her dubious competitors, like Geraldo Rivera and Jenny Jones. "I won't have people yelling and screaming and trying to humiliate one another," Winfrey confirmed. Her new commitment was to focus on the positive - lifting the spirit, stimulating the mind, and exhorting viewers to improve their lives and the world around them. Among those goals was to get America reading again - a surprising move from someone whose career was largely owed to the TV medium, until she explained how reading had changed her life. Winfrey championed literacy via "Oprah's Book Club," a once-a-month segment that was an unexpected success, guaranteeing any Winfrey-endorsed title increased sales of up to a million copies.
This eye-opening evidence of the power of Winfrey's word unfortunately worked against her when, during a segment about mad cow disease in 1996, Winfrey responded to a report from expert Howard Lyman by commenting that she had stopped eating hamburgers over fears of mad cow disease. Beef industry representatives went on the defensive, claiming Winfrey's remarks were false and her all-powerful opinion was costing them millions of dollars in sales. They sued Winfrey for libel in a Texas court and after a two-month courtroom trial, in which Winfrey defended herself - the jury decided Winfrey and Lyman were not liable for damages. Winfrey was back in the headlines again when she made a guest appearance as a therapist on "Ellen" (ABC, 1994-98), in the famous episode where DeGeneres' character comes out as a lesbian. Winfrey had long been a champion of gay rights, having been a pioneer during the 1980s for addressing issues affecting homosexuals - from the AIDS crisis to teens who struggled with coming out of the closet. Her appearance in one of the most talked-about TV events of the year ignited the rumor mill over her own love life. Winfrey had been in a relationship with Steadman Graham, a teacher and entrepreneur, since 1986, with the pair engaged to be married in 1992. That marriage did not happen, and over the years, Graham became less and less visible, with Winfrey often attending events with her best friend - and editor of Winfrey's O: The Oprah Magazine - Gayle King. King and Winfrey had met in Baltimore in the 1970s, and stayed close over the years as both friends and co-workers. Amid swirling speculations, Winfrey pointed out that she had shared every intimate detail about her life with the world - did they really think she would be embarrassed or ashamed if she were gay? The point was taken, but the rumors would continue to swirl.
Meanwhile, Winfrey expanded on her personal mission to inspire self-improvement and showcase success stories of people rising above adversity, with the creation of Harpo Films. The shingle's first offering was "Before Women Had Wings" (ABC, 1997), a well-received TV movie starring Winfrey as a woman who gives refuge to a child fleeing an alcoholic home. The following year, she produced the miniseries "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998), starring Halle Berry and based on Dorothy West's novel about an affluent black family living on Martha's Vineyard. Winfrey executive produced "David and Lisa" (ABC, 1998) featuring one of her idols, Sidney Poitier, and finally realized a long-held dream of acting in an adaptation of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer-winning novel, "Beloved" (1998) with her own Harpo Films production. Under the sensitive guidance of director Jonathan Demme, Winfrey portrayed an escaped slave haunted by the ghost of the child she murdered. As if Winfrey's output in 1998 had not exceeded most people's lifetime achievements, that same year she launched Oxygen media and created Oprah's Angel Network, a charity enabling viewers to make a difference by helping to fund projects like building schools, youth centers and women's shelters. Over the years, loyal Oprah fans consistently rose to the challenge and donated over $60 million dollars to make impactful, lasting improvements in communities around the world. Winfrey was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that year, and following another slew of Emmy nominations, had herself removed from future Emmy consideration to make way for those who had long been looked over.
In 1999, Harpo Films produced "Tuesdays with Morrie," (ABC, 1999), based on the acclaimed memoir by Mitch Albom, and the television queen expanded into publishing when she teamed with Hearst Magazines to launch O: The Oprah Magazine , a "women's personal growth guide for the new century." In September 2002, Harpo Productions created the self-help "spin-off" "Dr. Phil" (syndicated, 2002- ), featuring Oprah's frequent self-help guru, Dr. Phil McGraw. The show was consistently rated the No. 2 daytime offering right behind its originator. Winfrey remained untouched in the daytime ratings, especially when she launched the immensely popular "Oprah's Favorite Things" special in 2002; an annual event often aired around Thanksgiving that always garnered the show's best ratings. Once a year, Winfrey gifted an unsuspecting audience with her preferred appliances, computers, jewelry, luxury items, books, and trendy must-haves that not only thrilled surprised audience members but boosted sales and brand recognition for the companies whose wares had been publicized by the tastemaker. But the woman with unending kindness who could seemingly do no wrong incited backlash the following year during a series of episodes dedicated to the discussion of America's involvement in the Middle East crisis, when Winfrey posed the question "Is war the only answer?" The woman who for many years was deemed by many as a viable U.S. presidential candidate was instantly labeled "un-American" and inundated with angry letters simply for asking to explore a complicated issue.

Winfrey outdid her generous track record when she kicked off her 2004 season by giving each audience member a new car donated by Pontiac. Her newsmaker status enabled her to continue snagging the most sought-after interviewees in entertainment. The same year, she landed another coup when she hosted the entire cast of "Friends" (NBC, 1995-2004) on the eve of the beloved series' finale. She made history again with the "Legends Weekend" TV special (ABC, 2005). Held at her estate in Montecito, CA, the TV icon invited 25 notable African-American guests to celebrate and honor great figures in African-American literature and the arts, including writers Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King. Meanwhile, Forbes ' international list of the world's wealthiest people identified Winfrey as the world's only black billionaire, Business Week named her one of America's top 50 most generous philanthropists, and Time magazine hailed her as one of the 100 people who had most influenced the 20th century.
Always on top of (in addition to creating) current events, Winfrey was a significant force following 2005's devastating Hurricane Katrina, donating $10 million of her own money to the victims, raising millions more through the Angel Network, and filling her annual "Oprah's Favorite Things" audience with Hurricane Katrina relief volunteers. But despite Winfrey's international acclaim, she was unrecognized during a 2005 trip to Paris when the billionaire was denied entry to the flagship store of designer Hermès. Winfrey was not shy about sharing her story about arriving 15 minutes past closing to find the store still doing business, but management unwilling to unlock the door for another shopper, in an incident that was flagged for its stinging overtones of racial profiling. The story prompted much public debate over lingering racial tensions, and led to Hermès USA chief executive appearing as a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to apologize. For the first time, however, some of the faithful and the press questioned Winfrey's cries of racism, believing the incident was more about hurt pride and denied star treatment than anything. That year Winfrey received a timely induction into the NAACP Hall of Fame and was given the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum. In her continuing efforts to highlight the works of great African American novelists, Winfrey's Harpo Films produced a lavish TV movie production of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (ABC, 2005), based on the novel by Zora Neale Hurston and starring Academy Award winner Halle Berry.
Winfrey added a new twist to her "Favorite Things" in 2006, offering a "Pay It Forward" challenge in the form of $1,000 worth of gift cards for recipients to donate to their charity of choice. Meanwhile the Harpo empire grew with "The Rachael Ray Show" (syndicated, 2006- ), based around the charismatic cooking personality who had been a frequent guest on "Oprah." The same year, Winfrey became a Broadway producer when she brought a stage version of the film "The Color Purple" to New York. The multi-media empress next signed a contract with XM Satellite Radio to form a new radio channel, "Oprah & Friends," which featured daily programming from known "Oprah" and O Magazine contributors as well as its busy founder's own spiritual offering, "Oprah's Soul Series." Winfrey found herself in a moral predicament later that year when her heartily endorsed "Book Club" selection of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces , a supposed memoir about his life of addiction and recovery, was exposed as a work of fiction. An angered and embarrassed Winfrey brought Frey on to the show where she leveled him with admonishments of betrayal and encouraged him to apologize to the American public for his deception. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" endured further controversy that year at the hands of several members of the hip-hop industry, including Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ice Cube, who accused Winfrey of an anti hip-hop bias after Ludacris' air time promoting the movie "Crash" (2004) was edited because the host was not a fan of his misogynistic lyrics. Winfrey responded that she was opposed to rap that marginalized women but enjoyed hip-hop as an art form.
In perhaps her show's most iconic moment seen 'round the world, the usually composed A-list actor Tom Cruise professed his love for girlfriend Katie Holmes by hopping on and off the sofa in what became one of the most viral and heavily mocked show business incidents of the year. Winfrey returned to performing after a long absence in 2006, lending her voice to the charming animated family film "Charlotte's Web" (2006) , and recruited by Jerry Seinfeld to appear in his animated "Bee Movie" (2007). For her first feature film production in several years, Winfrey's Harpo Films backed the historic drama "The Great Debaters" (2007), starring Denzel Washington as a professor at a Southern black college during the 1930s who leads the school debate team to a success record that pits them against the all-white team at Harvard University. In her own effort to inspire a new generation of great thinkers, Winfrey invested $40 million to build The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, a boarding school providing top-notch educational opportunities to impoverished girls wanting to develop leadership skills. World-renowned leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela praised Winfrey for rising above the difficulties of her youth and investing in the future of others, while there was expected criticism over the school's "luxury" amenities. Winfrey came to refer to the students of the Leadership Academy as "her daughters," and when a staffer was accused of abusing a number of students, Winfrey immediately went to the facility where the alleged abuser was arrested and the victims were counseled. Her swift handling of the issue and her public statements that abuse would not be tolerated sent a powerful message throughout a nation with one of the highest rates of child sexual abuse in the world.
Winfrey, often referred to in the media as the "most powerful woman" in America; even the world, had never made any official political endorsements in her high profile career until 2007, when she expressed her support for presidential candidate Barack Obama. She had interviewed the then-Senator on her show in 2006, upon the release of his memoir, The Audacity of Hope , helping elevate the book to a No. 1 bestseller. When Obama became the official Democratic party candidate, Winfrey held a number of fundraisers, hit the campaign trail on his behalf, and in the end, and was credited with helping bring in over a million votes towards the victory of America's first African-American president. In the wake of Obama's election, Winfrey made a return to primetime in a memorable guest starring spot on the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom, "30 Rock" (2006- ), playing herself in what turns out to be a hallucination of main character Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), who believes Winfrey to be her advice-dispensing seatmate on a cross-country flight. In 2009, Winfrey unveiled her third "spin-off," "The Dr. Oz Show" (syndicated, 2009- ), featuring health expert Dr. Mehmet Oz whom she had often had on her show. Around the same time, Winfrey teamed with filmmaker and fellow media tycoon Tyler Perry as co-producers of "Precious" (2009), director Lee Daniels' raw and disturbing story of an abused Harlem teenager based on the novel Push by Sapphire. Released at the same time was "The Princess and the Frog" (2009), Disney's first animated fairy tale in over 70 years to feature an African-American princess, voiced by Anika Noni Rose. Winfrey voiced Eudora, Princess Tiana's mother.
With concurrent releases in movie theaters, Winfrey dominated headlines when she announced plans to retire the highly rated "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2011, after 25 years on the air. Though the announcement was met with emotional reactions from fans and astonishment from the world's press, Winfrey's television presence was hardly poised to fade away. In early 2010, the one-woman media empire unveiled OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, where, it was rumored, she might host another self-titled show.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bhopanna and Qureshi - A True Success Story

Diplomatic Doubles Team Is a Contender, Too

TORONTO — One recent morning in Los Angeles, a taxi driver turned to the professional tennis doubles team in his back seat. The driver asked where they were from. Pakistan, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi answered. India, Rohan Bopanna replied.

Even thousands of miles from home, the driver knew their story: that they wore outfits at Wimbledon that read Stop War, Start Tennis; that some called them the Indo-Pakistan Express; and that they were trying to stage an exhibition on the border between their countries, which have a long history of conflict.

“It was overwhelming,” Qureshi said in a phone interview last week. “Someone in America heard and cared about our story and knew we were on the right path, doing the right thing.”

Unable to obtain a visa, Qureshi did not travel here for the Rogers Cup. It felt strange without him, Bopanna said, because the pair have climbed the rankings together in 2010, their first season dedicated mostly to playing doubles. They plan to play in Cincinnati, in New Haven and at the United States Open in New York this month.

At each stop, they will surely answer the same questions journalists have posed since they first played together in 2003. But this year their story is shifting, especially on the court.

Now these partners who set out to become elite players, not international ambassadors of peace, have found that the better they play, the more of a difference they can make. Because of that, they have further embraced their role as doubles diplomats.

“The older they get, the more they can see the significance of what they’re doing,” said Robert Davis, Qureshi’s longtime coach. “They’re more aware of what they can accomplish.”

Not just in sport, but through it.

In 1947, when British rule ended, India and Pakistan became separate countries. They have waged three official wars since. Qureshi studied the split in history classes as a child, but neither player said the conflict had influenced his thinking. Both try to stay out of politics.

They prefer to tell stories of the Pakistani and Indian fans who come to their matches and sit together, not separated into sides. These fans send them e-mails and Facebook messages. One group recently drove hours to watch them play in Washington.

“I’m telling you, it’s the only time you see fans from India and Pakistan cheering for the same team,” Davis said. “They’ve shown that partition doesn’t equal division.”

The first time they realized their potential for change came in 2007, at a tournament in Mumbai, India. The pair had advanced to the final, but before it started, they watched India and Pakistan play in the cricket World Cup from the players’ lounge.

Qureshi and his father, joined by dozens of Indian players, looked on as Pakistan lost the match. Qureshi said his disappointment faded when he stepped onto the court, looked into the stands and spied hundreds of fans with India’s flag on one cheek and Pakistan’s on the other.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I never expected that we would be able to create such a high.”

Nor had they intended to. Their partnership started the way most doubles pairings begin on the ATP World Tour: because they were best friends and because it seemed convenient.

Both remained focused on singles. Even when they won a Challenger tournament in Denver in 2003, they did not play doubles again together for three years, mainly because the gap in their singles rankings — Qureshi’s was considerably higher — meant they rarely played the same tournaments.

Still, each seemed the perfect complement for the other. An officer in India’s Navy and a businessman (his family owns a coffee plantation; he owns a bar), Bopanna possesses a dominating, aggressive personality. Qureshi, a rare Muslim on the tour, came from tennis stock. His mother once won Pakistan’s national championship, and his grandfather reached No. 1 for both countries before the separation. Qureshi attracted offers to star in Bollywood films, but he always struck Davis more as a future diplomat.

They are point, counterpoint. Indian and Pakistani. Aggressive and diplomatic. Even their games — Bopanna, schooled on hardcourts, excels from the baseline; Qureshi, raised on grass courts, employs the serve-and-volley style — bring balance.

The attention, at least initially, surprised them. Qureshi had partnered with Amir Hadad, a Jewish player, in 2002, and the Pakistan sports authority had barred Qureshi from Davis Cup play as a result. That only strengthened his belief that politics and religion should be kept separate from sport.

Davis has noticed recently that both players are reading more about geopolitical events, studying world crisis to better answer the questions their higher profile has prompted. They feel more responsibility than they did before.

“If Aisam and I can get along, people in our countries can, too,” Bopanna said. “Even if 5 percent change their minds, it’s worth it.”

This coincided with their decision to concentrate on doubles — and their partnership — this year. They trained in doubles-specific drills for the first time. They made a commitment to play more tournaments together.

They reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, and they beat the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, the men’s doubles team with the most career wins, in Washington. Davis said they could crack the top 10 by year’s end. The Bryans said it was good anytime a doubles team could get attention.
“They’re great for doubles, tennis,” Mike Bryan said, then paused. “And world peace.”

Bopanna and Qureshi have become less of a mere curiosity and more of a legitimate tournament contender. And as that happened, they came to care more about the difference they could make.

“We want to be remembered as good players,” Qureshi said. “So far, we’ve done well. But the bigger tournaments we play, the more tournaments we win, it will create a bigger hype to spread our message.”

The two hope to play an exhibition match on the Wagah Border, with Bopanna serving from Pakistan and Qureshi serving from India. They have reached out to both governments, but so far, largely because of security concerns, the idea has not advanced.

Perhaps it will, eventually, if the doubles diplomats continue their evolution.

August 14, 2010


How to Pack a Lot of Punch in 60 Seconds Or Less

By Lily C Iatridis

When you only have a minute for public speaking, every sentence counts, especially the first one.

Yes, The Influencer Project event took place over a month ago. All the same, an analysis of the sixty 60-second interviews on influence is worthwhile for anybody who's ever asked to give a 60-second statement.

The truth is, while all of the speakers gave great advice, some of them discreetly marketed themselves brilliantly with their introduction, while others didn't.

First of all, it's an interesting event structure. Sixty very successful businesspeople give one-minute tips on how to best influence others. Listeners get 60 expert's advice in only an hour, and if you download the free transcript, it only takes 15-20 minutes to skim through. Love it!

I got some great new tips and reinforcement of ideas I've heard from others in the past on influence, including:
  • Figure out ways to get people talking
  • Deliver value always
  • Increase the size of your buttons
  • Be transparent
  • Publish consistently
  • Know where you're going
  • Follow better people (not clear what was meant by "better," but I took a guess)
  • Don't be afraid to repeat your tweets.
Surprisingly, while all sixty interviewees included valuable content in their 60 seconds of public speaking, not all of them introduced the primary benefit of their work very clearly, or what their work even was. 

I would have had to open up a new page and look up many of the speakers on the internet to find out this information.

I realize that the Influencer Project isn't at all about giving business leaders an opportunity to market themselves. However, it is to everyone's benefit to know what these successful businesspeople deliver. When I download these types of things, I am looking for content, but I'm also always looking for resources in certain areas of expertise. When public speaking about your business, it's always important to introduce your work clearly.

Nevertheless, I felt a few of them gave a brilliant one sentence introduction that explained all within 10 seconds. Their statement included their name, exactly how they help others, and their contact information.

Here's an example of one of the best opening statements, by Michael Port. It went like this:

"Hi. This is Michael Port of, and I'm the author of Book Yourself Solid." I think that took me less than 5 seconds to say aloud.

In one simple sentence, I know that if I want to book myself solid, all I have to do is go to Michael Port's site or Amazon and buy his book. I'll bet he's very good speaker, as well as teaching me how to book myself solid. I'm going to listen in the next time I hear he's giving a talk somewhere.

Can you do the same with your business?

Lily Iatridis of Fearless Delivery, has a proven track record and knows the key elements in effective and engaging presentation. Her expertise is in supporting professionals to get their message expressed clearly to deliver the biggest results in their live and online presentations. Secrets and strategies such as "how-to" shortcuts, personalized instruction and even packaging the presentation are just some of the skill sets that Lily brings to her audience to create a fearless and effective delivery.

If you've ever been nervous in front of an audience, please visit and download Lily's free ebook, "5 Steps to Neutralize Difficult Audience Members- Without A Power Struggle!" In this ebook, Lily shares simple strategies that will put your mind at ease, arm you with useful strategies, and entertain you with some stories of her own bumps along the path to public speaking success.


Public Speaking - Level of Involvement

Sometimes, people even get disgusted and think of the presenter as 'spitting' more than speaking!

The audience is captured, only if the story you deliver, is 'emotive' and will receive the response desired. Sometimes, an audience may remain silent, not because they are asleep, but are thinking hard, and involving themselves in the example they have been given!

So, as a reference: 

• The speaker talks about a story
• Talks to the audience 

• Engages the audience 

• Makes the audience think

That is how the audience feel about the Level of Involvement they are in.
By now, you probably have some unanswered questions.


Mostly an audience is at a seminar, or attending a talking session due to the existence of 'unanswered questions', they have and are hoping that the presenter will disseminate information; which lead to their desired answers!
For example: 

* In a fast paced modern society, people want to be 'Information Technology' literate 

* Parents, who want their children to excel at any subject in school, will be on the lookout for tuition classes for excellence!

In this fast paced society, nobody awaits for an answer that takes long to be revealed to them. The truth is, the "pace" is fast, and 'so' is the level of expectation.

To add, the way things are done is made easier with technology, and not human practices. Keeping up with this 'speed of progress' requires a broad, yet well utilized, skill, Public Speaking.

Consider this fact; I noticed that people do spend HUGE amounts of money on education, not on ornaments or accessories. So, the audiences want to hear the story they are interested in, not some random choice of chatting!

I am Stanley Lai, a cancer survivor who achieved in an awkward way and lived on; to learn more


Shrink the Fear of Speaking - 3 Smaller Tips That Give Big Results

By Pamela Haack

Trembling hands, dry mouth, cold sweat... have you ever felt this way when speaking to a group of strangers? If so, than you've probably looked for ways to overcome your fear. While some tips and suggestions are helpful, others, such as, "image a happy place", are just plain corny. How about a "smaller" approach to kicking your speaking fear that can actually produce big results?.

Are you ready? Here it is.

Practice with a smaller audience. No, I don't mean an audience of fewer people, I mean a smaller audience, as in children! If you are a teacher now, speaking to groups of adults outside of your classroom is just one step away. But if you've never taught, here are 3 ways you can hone your speaking skills on an audience of youngsters:

* Read aloud to children at a public library or elementary school. Reading aloud is an excellent way to get used to many sets of eyes focused on you, and it's also a ideal setting in which to practice voice intonation and inflection!

* Teach a project, game or activity to children in your own child's classroom. Schools are eager to sign up parent volunteers, and learning how to be clear and specific when you are explaining something is one of the most important (and apparently best kept secrets!) of being an effective speaker.

* Volunteer to assist with a children's theater production. This provides a double benefit for you as a speaker. You might coordinate and direct the children involved (good practice with lots of sets of eyes on you), plus you'll learn drama tips that are, in my opinion, the frosting on the cake of a great speaker!

A common reason people feel fear when they speak to a group of strangers is that they are overly self conscious. Children (particularly young children!) tend to be naturally forgiving and often openly supportive of you. You will quickly find yourself focusing more on them, and less on yourself, and that's the first huge step into burying the fear of speaking for good!

Pamela Haack
Founder and Creative Director
Dream Academy
for Women


How to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

By Leeanne Crowe

No matter what scenario you are to deliver your speech in, it is important to prepare and rehearse, and keep yourself well rested and dressed to deliver an effective speech.

The very thought of speaking in public can be quite difficult for most of us. The ability to maintain steady a steady pace in the rhythm of your voice is quite crucial in delivering an effective speech.  The ability to express yourself effectively is an important criterion no matter which field or scenario you are dealing with. If you are a team leader, if you are appearing for an interview or if you are selling a product to a new customer, you can only achieve success if you can express yourself in a bold and confident manner.

Before delivering your final speech, there are a few things you need to work on beforehand to make sure you convey your speech effectively. Firstly, you need to prepare for your speech by knowing the material you are to talk about. If you are selling a product, you need to know and understand each and everything about the product from scratch. As you audience will definitely have questions to ask, you need to know all your material to provide them with satisfactory answers.  Memorizing is not the key but to understanding it completely is.

You need to rehearse your speech beforehand several times. This helps you build up on confidence, which automatically decreases anxiety levels and can, help you maintain a steady tone. Make sure to keep yourself well rested and hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during your speech. This helps you focus and gather your thoughts much easier and can also help you control your voice as your mouth does not end drying up. This situation can lead to your speech being a disaster and rather quite embarrassing.

Your audience will definitely pay more attention to you if you are dressed well. It emits a sign of professionalism and will show that you are serious and can help you articulate your speech in an effective manner. It is very likely that your audience will pay attention to you if you are dressed shabby and you speak in a soft voice. It will only make them disinterested in what you have to say.

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PUBLIC SPEAKING - Presentation Skills

Three Steps to Good Presentation Skills and Public Speaking

By Dr. Diane Hoffmann

Good presentation skills and public speaking begin with preparation. Like any other written or visual communication the key here is to prepare, prepare, prepare.

There are a lot of good books available. It is a good idea to join a public speaking practice group like the International Toastmasters for example. Doing it is the best way to learn.

Here are three keys to preparing your presentations and public speeches which I find have worked best for me.

1. Identify and organize what you will be presenting on a sheet of paper.

2. Break it down into 3 major headings with 3 sub-headings under each.

3. Write the content of your sub-headings then edit to fit on 3x5 or 4x6 cards as needed.

1. Identify and organize what you are presenting on a sheet of paper:
Identify your topic and give it a name, a title, ex.: Four Steps to Good Presentation Skills and public Speaking.

Identify the time frame you will have for your presentation or speech -- let's use 45 minutes for easy sub-dividing.

2. Break it down into 3 major headings with 3 sub-headings under each:
Your 45 minutes will give you 15 minutes for each of your 3 major topic headings.

So under each of the 3 major headings and 3 sub-headings write what you want to tell your audience to fit within the 15 minutes for each major headings.

For example, your three major headings will be sub-titles and will only take a few seconds to mention as you move to your sub-headings content.

Then your 3 sub-headings will have the actual content that you want to deliver to your audience. Time these to be about 4-5 minutes each (3 x 5=15 minutes).

3. Write the content of your sub-headings, then edit to fit on 3x5 or 4x6 cards as needed:

Once you have this organized, re-write them on your cards. You might have 1 card per 3 sub-headings if you only use key words that you will elaborate verbally.

Or you might need 3 cards, 1 for each sub-headings, if you write more information to guide your verbal delivery. Do what works best for you.

Personally, I usually write everything down that I will be saying, and highlight the key points I want to make sure not to miss, with a yellow highlighter; then I just glance at the overall content as I move from one sub-headings to the next. So I end up with 1 card for each of my 3 sub-headings.

Do not read from your card. Highlight the important words that will trigger your memory to speak to your audience.

Then practice your delivery beforehand as many times as you need to, timing the whole to fit within your 45 minutes (or whatever the case may be). If you are going to use transparencies or power-point, make sure to use them in your practice run also. You might need to trade a couple of minutes of your verbal content for the handling of the equipment.

When you do the real thing, simply follow your cards, moving each one to the back as you deliver your material. Don't focus only on the cards, use the cards to keep you on track. Look at your audience, scanning through every one from left to right, front to back. Don't stare in one area longer than in another, unless you are answering a specific person's question.

There are many good books on presentations, with samples. A good one is Leading Workshops, Seminars, and Training Sessions; by Helen Angus, Self-Counsel Press, which includes models of room arrangements and other technical information on equipment, etc.

Often our competition can be a good source of the latest examples of what's in at the time. Check out what the top companies are doing, and better it! For example financial institutions who give free seminars on their service offerings are a good place to get ideas on presentation skills, while getting some education on financial investment!

Give free seminars to friends, co-workers and family members to sharpen your presentation skills and public speaking. Tape yourself and listen or watch yourself back, making notes of habits you might want to omit or change, etc.
Always be prepared, you never know when you might be asked to do a presentation at work, at church or in a community group!/dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site which is the home of her e-books "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as her 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". You may reprint this article making sure to include this bio with no changes.


Follow These 2 Steps to Discover Your Richer, Deeper Speaking Voice

By Nancy Daniels

We all have one - a voice that has resonance and depth. It sounds more mature but not old. It is ageless. In fact, it will continue to improve as you age. Unfortunately, 99% of the population is unaware that they have a better voice inside; and, that same percentage is unaware that their 'real' voice will be a vast improvement over their habitual one.

Actors and a handful of politicians have learned good voice training techniques but it is not a prerequisite for Hollywood or Washington, DC. Before the advent of the microphone, however, those addressing an audience had to be able to project their voice (without yelling or shouting) to be able to be heard in theaters, auditoriums, or even the steps of City Hall. And, that is only possible if you are using your 'real' voice.

If you would like to discover the marvelous voice inside of you just waiting to come out, you will need to do 2 things:

1. Learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm.

Presently you are probably breathing using the upper portion of your chest. This is known as shallow or lazy breathing. In order for your voice to resonate in your chest, however, like that of Kathleen Turner, George Clooney, Sean Connery, or Cher, you will need your chest cavity to power your sound. Lazy or shallow breathing makes that impossible. Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, allows for your entire mid-torso region to become your primary sounding board, thereby alleviating much of the 'wear and tear' on your throat and vocal folds.

2. Find the optimum pitch of your voice.

Pitch refers to the highness or lowness of sound, not the volume, which deals with loudness and softness. Most people will find that their optimum pitch is lower than their 'habitual' pitch; thus, your voice will be deeper than it is currently, no matter how you hear it on your voicemail or in your head. In addition, it will have a warm, rich, resonant quality, again, only possible if you are breathing with the support of your diaphragm.

One of the tremendous benefits of this approach to voice training is that whatever problems you may have been experiencing in the past; i.e. gravel, hoarseness, weak, breathy, loud, soft, fast or slow, they will automatically be resolved once you make the change.

You have a better inside. All it takes is the desire to break you old breathing and vocal habits and instill the correct ones.

The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice Dynamic and discover the best means of sounding more mature.