Too Many Executives are Missing Opportunities to Influence Audiences
I routinely see high-level executives give presentations that have the potential to be highly impactful. They have the material, the wisdom, and a unique perspective on their topics.
But, they don’t have the influence they could. What their speeches need is fine-tuning. Here are three key insights to help your next speech or presentation…
Influential Speaking Insight #1 — You Must Grab ’em Early
I was recently watching a video of a speech from a CEO of a well-known technology company. He’s charismatic, speaks in a conversational style, and has fabulous insight.
However, he buried his main idea 2/3 of the way into a speech. It was compelling, unexpected, and goes against common belief. It made sense… to the people who watched the entire video.
He kept the attention of his audience at the live event. But I’m not sure people watching the video stayed for the entire 20 minutes.
The first half of the talk was good but was missing an opening hook that causes people to want to hear more and stay till the end.
One tip to Immediately Gain Audience Interest
There are four effective ways I use to open a presentation:
- Ask a question.
- Challenge a common belief.
- Share a startling fact.
- Jump into a story.
Two key ideas to keep in mind are:
- Your opening must orient the audience to your foundational idea
- When I suggest you open with one of the four techniques above, I mean those should be your first words. No pleasantries, thank you’s, or references to the weather. Immediately dive into your speech.
Influential Speaking Insight #2 — Stop Stuffing Your Audience
Are you familiar with the “Lunch Buffet Effect?”
Back when food buffets were common before the pandemic, people would stop by them to pick up a quick lunch or dinner. They’d grab a plate, fill said plate with a fair amount of food, sit down and start eating.
For many, this thought would then enter their heads, “$11.99 is a lot of money to pay for one plate of food. I’m going back!”
By the end of their “quick lunch,” these folks would stagger out of the restaurant over-stuffed. They’d be in a food coma the rest of the afternoon.
Too many speakers are creating the same effect on their audiences. They’re over-stuffing people with too much information.
I recently saw a speaker promoting, “22 Ideas to Succeed in 2022.”
It’s difficult to change one habit or adopt one idea. This is human nature.
Presenting a smorgasbord of ideas sounds good in theory, but the problem is, people aren’t going to adopt any of them. Research has proven the more choices we have the less likely we are to take action and make changes.
One Tip to Inspire Your Audience to Take Action
Center your presentation around one foundational concept.
For every ten minutes of speaking time, use one supporting point for your foundational idea. This gives your audience just enough to think about and increases the odds they’ll take new actions.
Influential Speaking Insight #3 — It Ain’t About the Polish
One positive attribute that jumped out at me about the technology CEO was his conversational style. I felt as if he was speaking on stage the way he would across the dinner table.
This is how people want you to communicate with them. No matter your title or position, it’s vital you talk with others the way you would in a one-on-one conversation.
A huge mistake I made the first seven years of my speaking journey was to adopt the attitude of “Speaker Man.” This means I was focused on how well-pressed my suit was, how shiny my shoes were, and making sure my hair was perfectly groomed, among many other concerns.
The effect was what I had hoped. People routinely told me, “Michael, you’re so polished!”
I carried this compliment as a badge of honor for seven years.
Then came the day I was dusting my office furniture. I looked at the can of furniture polish in my right hand, and this thought popped into my brain, “Nothing sticks to polish.”
And the next thought I had was, “My message isn’t sticking to my audience.” My ego was being fed because people remembered how I looked, not because of what I said.
In other words, I was forgettable.
Since that day, my focus as a speaker and speaking consultant has been…
The message! The message! The message!
Audiences today are too sophisticated, too distracted, and too busy to listen to presentations that don’t have clear and concise messages which benefit them.
One Tip to Help You Avoid Being Too Polished
Consistently focus on developing a crystal clear message which is supported by relevant points, stories, and information.
Once you’ve practiced and internalized your message, your conversational style will come through, your audience will want to listen to you from start to finish, and you’ll have a longer-lasting impact.
Digging Up the Gold in Your Stories is Hard. Why Do It Alone?
The biggest challenge to writing your speeches is you usually cannot see the power or the message because you’re too close to it. You lived your experiences and you can’t always best see how they can impact others.
Even world-class speakers have coaches to help them see the gold in their stories.
If you’d like to talk with me about your presentation, schedule a brief call to determine how I can best help you.
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