Having worked with speakers on Ted, G8 and other key talk platforms, I would like to share with my blog readers some of the key lessons that emerge from coaching people to develop their stories and talks when you aim to inspire, involve, attract and win support and funding.
Key things to consider for speakers when preparing your talk:
1. Your audience demographic and what it is that they really want, what interests them and how they might see your talk for real.
Being able to admit that people are attending an event simply to network, or put in an appearance for example is fundamental to admit on a conscious level so that you can develop a strategy to wow your audience and register as an interesting speaker that added value to their knowledge bank.
2. Being clear about the bottom line of your message.
Being able to boil down your story into 1-3 sentences means you will be able to convey key information quickly and effectively. In today’s world time is a precious commodity and the tolerance for people that go on and on is low.
3. Knowing what your goal is in delivering the presentation.
Without a clear goal and focus, your presentation will ramble and loose the punch. While pretty much every talk you will give is a sales pitch, the goal determines a lot of what is emphasized and how. If you don’t believe me record the same talk and evaluate how well you inspire, communicate, involve, inform, engage respectively.
4. Developing a logical and engaging structure for your talk.
Your talk is a story and all stories follow a logical structure. This helps the listener to follow you and makes your talk memorable. All good speakers aim for their words to stick. So note down your key ideas and play around with different arrangements and sequences until you end with something that hits the spot.
5. Being absolutely clear about the main points that each element of your story provides and what you want the listener to know and walk away with.
This is vital so that you don’t go off on tangents and confuse your audience. It also means that managing tight time slots from 2 to 7 min is far easier. It is surprising how many wonderful messages can be delivered in 2min.
6. Having the courage to put yourself into your talk 100% and let your audience see how deeply the words resonate with you.
To be believable, you must own your words and sound like an evangelist. Passion, authenticity and your belief in what you say goes a long way to help others develop strong belief as well. Don’t worry about specific words. Just say what comes from your heart.
7. Using your voice effectively.
No matter how long you speak for, your voice, tone, pitch, emphasis, pauses etc matter. They add interest to your talk and make the listen pay attention. Once you have your story and structure sorted and your talk begins to flow ensure you leave sufficient time to work on your voice.
Three challenges that people with important presentations and pitches can face and how to overcome them:
1. Vision clarity challenge – “I’m not sure what the vision really is so how can I talk about it to others”
Many people believe the vision has to be crystal clear before they can share it with others. This is not true. Often visions are hazy and develop organically as new information arises. If all was clear and set in stone things would be rather boring and there would be no need to communicate really. There is a necessary element of journeying and opportunity for others to influence, impact and get engaged with the vision when it is clear that the vision is evolving. This also ensures that people greater sense of engagement in what might be.
2. Resonance and congruence with the words the speaker says – “I’m not sure whether I really believe in what I’m saying”
Often leaders and change makers are tipped for talks or asked to headline events because others admire their stories and achievements. Being hard task-masters, these individuals often doubt their story really has as much impact or relevance as others would like to believe. This is turn makes them doubt whether they are really as unique, interesting, successful as the occasion or event might make them out to be. To me this is a leadership call. If you don’t absolutely believe your own words then ask yourself what your doubt and then set out to ensure you fix it! This way you will believe your message even more and also strengthen your leadership by taking meaningful action.
3. Nerves – “I am not sure I’ll be able to do it on the day”
Work with someone you trust and who’s good at preparing you so that on the day you feel ready, well prepared and excited. A bit of nerves are good to experience. They show you care! Trust that the words will flow from your heart as that’s where all the meaningful messages reside.