Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Private Thinking

"All good public speaking is based on good private thinking."
Scott Berkun (from his new book Confessions of a Public Speaker)

Get it today to get your 2010 reading started right. Caution: it is a complicated, layered, opinionated, clearly written work. If you are not interested in growing or being challenged as a speaker, do not read it. However, I have given at least 100 public speeches each year for the past 18 years and I have found a ton of value in it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You are an Agent of Change

It is said that the amount of energy in the universe is constant. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. It is only changed from one form to another. The fat in your body is potential energy waiting to be turned into kinetic energy. A lump of coal is waiting to be burned and turned into fire. Your audience has energy waiting to be turned into excitement, sadness, laughter, surprise, etc.

All presentations change energy from one form to another. A waiting or bored audience member is just a lump of potential energy waiting to be turned into another form of energy. The experience of your presentation should be built around these three questions:

1. What form of energy are you wanting to tap into?
2. How do you plan on making this change happen?
3. What are you going to do with your audience after you've altered their energy?

The next time you are faced with an audience that aren't responding the way you had planned, don't blame it on them - blame your strategies. They are either not changing their potential energy into kinetic (i.e. they are doing nothing) or they are changing it into a different kinetic form than you'd hoped. Your job is to figure out how to get that energy focused on your presentation's needs.

The seeds of that change are in connecting the audience members' needs with your presentation's needs. These needs include:

- Safety
- Entertainment
- Intellectual stimulation
- Social interaction
- New and fresh content
- Fun
- Comfort
- Relaxation
- New solutions
- Encouragement
- Motivation
- Inspiration

My speaking associate, Kelly Barnes, sums up how we get the potential energy of our audience turned into kinetic energy in a big way:

The MOVE formula
(Making Optimal VAK Environments)

Move my feet... get music going
Move my eyes... get visuals up
Move my ears.... get me up to speed on what we are going to do
Move my mouth... get me talking to others
Move my brain... get me thinking
Move me... get me physically moving on purpose
Move on.... get to the point

Saturday, December 19, 2009

One Way to Help People Believe You (And Believe In You)

"If you don't have confidence in your take, then we don't want to hear it."
Jim Rome, Professional Sports Talk Guy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fab Five Formula for Your Next Speech's Outline

Five questions to answer as you are preparing your next speech's outline:

Who (are you?)
Don't spend much time on this, but quickly let me know who you are:
Why are you qualified to talk on this topic?
What is your style (serious, fun, interactive, etc.)?
What is something about you I can personally relate with?

What (is in it for me?)
Why should I give you two of my most valuable assets - my time and attention? This question is not about future results, this is about immediate results. Which of my needs are you going to satisfy right now? My need to be entertained, informed, safe, social, thrilled, comfortable, challenged, etc.?

When (will I need to take action?)
How can I tell if I need to live your message or not? How do I know if I am already living your message? Help me understand when I need to take out this tool (your message) and put it to use.

Why (should I take action?)
This is probably the most important in terms of helping your audience want to take action. Help them see the benefits of your message, not just the features.

How (do I take action?)
What are a handful of concrete steps (3 - 5) I can take in my life to live your message?

This isn't an all inclusive list and everything on this list might not fit your topic, but take a look at it the next time you are preparing for a speech and it just might spark a thought or two.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Be Clear About and Enforce Expectations

Your audience members need help knowing how you expect them to act. Give them clear expectations early in your presentation and then help them know how they are doing throughout.