Everything listed under: Rhonda Morton

  • Your Power Tools of Presenting

    Maybe you are an entrepreneur crafting your pitch, a leader inspiring a team to manifest your vision, or a changemaker encouraging people to take action. You may think that to be persuasive, you need plenty of data to support your ideas, and a slick slide deck with all the bells and whistles. Think again.

    In 2015, I had the honor of coaching the seven speakers at Corning Incorporated’s UP2 Women’s Conference. Those talks were videotaped and can be viewed by Corning employees at this link. I also gave a talk at the conference, and it is viewable by the public:


    What I think you will see, in whichever videos you can access, is that it is actually your voice, your body, and your story that are the power tools of presenting.

    Let me share with you the reasons that's true with another example.

    In April 2016, I facilitated an all-day workshop for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier designed to help their whole staff craft memorable elevator speeches capturing the essence of the Food Bank’s mission. After learning how to access the power of their voices, bodies, and stories, several employees were nominated by their peers to share their elevator speeches with the rest of us.

    I remember one guy telling about a little boy willing to wait in line with only a thin coat to protect him from the freezing temperatures at a mobile food pantry site, because he wanted a birthday cake, not for himself, but for his dad.

    I remember another employee describing an older gentleman in a suit who stopped at the Food Bank administrative building because he had lost his job and couldn’t afford to buy food. The employee told the gentleman where the nearest pantry was, and as she watched him walk back to his car, his shoulders shook with silent sobs.

    I remember hearing about an employee’s first bone-jarring ride in a delivery truck with old springs, and how the employee’s discomfort didn’t seem as important on the way home after seeing how much the people at the food pantry appreciated the help.

    Why do I remember these stories seven months later? Because stories are remembered up to 22 times more often than facts alone. Stories are the way we relate to one another. They activate our limbic/emotional systems, not just our cognitive/intellectual systems…and when we FEEL, we remember better.

    By creating pictures in our minds, stories are easier to recall than facts and figures. Plus, these Food Bank elevator speeches revealed what was important to the speakers, and reminded me of what’s important to me—human dignity, generosity, the power to overcome adversity, light in the dark.

    None of the people telling stories that day were marketing people. None of them were professional speakers. None of them were poets or authors or actors. None of them had fancy slides or high tech tools. But by the end of that workshop, they were incredibly effective persuaders.

    That’s because in addition to telling stories, they had learned to focus on details, drawing audiences in via all five senses. They used their whole bodies—gestures, facial expressions, movement—so that they engaged the mirror neurons of their listeners, driving their elevator speech deep into the listeners’ nervous systems. They learned to use dialogue, questions, and metaphors to make their talks compelling and memorable. And most importantly, they were genuine, and told stories that were important to them.

    Intrigued? Ready to amp up your next presentation with the power tools of presenting—your voice, body and story? Read about my speaker coaching process, or just contact me and we can get started!

  • Start with...

    On most Fridays for the past few summers, a jazz quartet played on the patio at the Canandaigua Wegmans.  Because it's a beautifully inspiring setting, I would go and take my journal to see what words wanted to be born.  This came out, pretty much as printed below, one evening in August 2012.  I offer it as a gift to any creative spirit looking for inspiration.

    Start With

    Start with bits of bread flicked to the birds.
    Start with a nine-string bass and the heart behind it.
    Start with 31 days after her 26th birthday.
    Start with a drawing of the plate and what foods will go where.
    Start with tastes of red and decide on white anyway.
    Start with dreams of the ocean and end up in a cottage at the lake.
    Start with a wheelchair underwater propelled past schools of orange fish.
    Start with a 23-inch waist.
    Start with three broken noses he does/doesn’t want to explain.
    Start with an invitation to play All Blues.
    Start with a bulldog panting in the car.
    Start with olives, a crusty bread, soft cheese at sunset.
    Start with attentive listeners, a girl in a chignon.
    Start with a stack of journals, next to a bonfire.
    Start with train doors closing on your one true love who has your passport.
    Start with vegetables, skewers, and marimba music.
    Start with a man wearing socks pulled halfway to shorts.
    Start with two kayaks, sunrise, and a dog left behind on the shore.
    Start with cloud-colored linen pants, shades of the ocean shirts.
    Start with pink toenail polish, chipped.
    Start with a playground slide in the rain, wet sand at the landing.
    Start with halfhearted applause.
    Start with large goblets filled to the horizon line.
    Start with the drummer’s spastic solo.
    Start with sun glinting off water, blinding.
    Start with white cotton curtains, billowing.
    Start with a cat, eyes closed, inside a cage.
    Start with a wobbly table, coffee splashing into saucers.
    Start with hunger, an aversion to flesh.
    Start with a song you know by heart.
    Start with the wall of chlorine you hit in the locker room.
    Start with the stranger’s eyes every time your glance sweeps his table.
    Start with crickets, a tent in the yard, cold feet.
    Start with missing your father, jitterbug music on the radio.
    Start with singing at the top of your lungs, legs pumping the swing.
    Start with remembering the smoothness of his skin and how long it’s been.
    Start with music swelling, credits rolling.
    Start with a swan dive into a forward bend.
    Start with an old woman, a rolled up newspaper and a fly.
    Start with dusk, grass, damp shorts.
    Start with getting locked out, naked.
    Start with not knowing the secret handshake.
    Start with a few drops left in the bottle.
    Start with dentures soaking next to the bed.
    Start with coconut oil melting at body temperature.
    Start with an empty gas tank in Wyoming at night.
    Start with jazz musicians laughing, “Yiiiiiiiiii!”
    Start with the folded bills in a blind woman’s wallet.
    Start with a chocolate éclair, slightly sweating on a hot day.
    Start with a mint toothpick, cognac, the ship’s deck in the moonlight.
    Start with a jacket wadded up in your father’s canned goods cabinet.
    Start with someone a year dead.
    Start with the corner bar, an hour past closing.
    Start with fireflies in a jar, the wind picking up.
    Start with headlights running the perimeter of the dark room.
    Start with bubble bath turning the suds pink.
    Start with a Dorothy Hamill cut, an 80-year-old Swede.
    Start with a persistent cough.
    Start with a ceiling fan pressing its hot breath down your neck.
    Start with windows rolled up to hold the speaker at the drive-in.
    Start with lights flashing in the rear-view mirror, everyone else asleep.
    Start with an empty marriage and a half-eaten package of pinwheel cookies.
    Start with voices floating across the lawn.
    Start with a membrane of light, penetrated.
    Start with buckets of ice thrown over the fence.
    Start with quicksand, the whites of a tiger’s eyes.
    Start with a battery running low.
    Start with a seven-year-old girl up a tree, a rooster below.
    Start with flip-flops slapping down the stairs.
    Start with “Start with….”