What Can a Puppy Teach You About Speaking?
The little girl to the right is Sky – a twelve-week old teacup chihuahua. She is the newest member of our family. I’m normally a fan of bigger dogs, but this one has captured the hearts of each member of our family. She is one pound of love and joy.
She is a typical puppy – meaning she is a ball of nuclear energy (when not sleeping), bouncing all around the house and yard, chasing her tail, nibbling everything is sight, and… highly distractible. After 30 minutes of play, she’s exhausted, and needs a nap. Also, she hasn’t yet learned how to consistently control her bladder.
As I watched her play in our backyard this week, she reminded me of myself when I began my public speaking career. I was highly energetic, bounced around all over the speaking area, chased whatever thought came into my head while I spoke, nibble every bit of free food at the venue I spoke at, and… I was highly distractible (meaning, I could never settle on one idea). After 30 minutes of speaking, I wasn’t exhausted, but I’m sure my audiences were.
At least I was able to control my bladder, so I had that going for me.
Can you relate to this?
Because of all the nerves associated with public speaking, most people are like Sky. Boundless, unfocused enthusiasm. They want to provide a message that improves the lives of others. Because they haven’t learned how, they’re often all over the place – with both their words and their movement onstage.
That’s OK. Raising a puppy involves creating habits in order to create an enjoyable experience for the entire family. The same is true with speaking. To craft a memorable and meaningful experience for the audience, it’s vital that you create good habits.
The next few blog posts will touch upon habits you can create in order to become a Stand OUT! speaker.
How to Craft Your Meaningful Message
The first habit is to use a repeatable process in order to craft your meaningful message. The following formula has worked for me and my clients:
Step 1 – Start with the end result – how do you want people to think, feel or act differently when you conclude your talk?
Step 2 – Create a foundational concept. One sentence that summarizes your main point. This is the guidepost you’ll use to determine which parts of your speech stay in and which need to be removed.
Stop 3 – Add your supporting points. These can be stories, research or activities. Make sure they relate to your foundational concept.
Step 4 – Craft your Opening. This can be a story, quote, question, or dramatic statement. Be sure that it sets the stage for your foundational concept.
Step 5 – Develop your Conclusion. Ideally, this summarizes your talk and leaves the audience uplifted, or inspired to take action. The key to the conclusion is that it represents your main point. This is not the time to introduce new ideas.
It should remind the audience of your foundational concept. And, it should be memorable. As the great speaker Patricia Fripp says, “Last words linger.”
Step 6 – Use transitions that enable you to seamlessly move from point-to-point throughout your presentation. This will make for a more enjoyable experience for the audience.
Being a speaker does not have to feel like being a puppy. A properly trained puppy can grow into a wonderful dog that provides a lifetime of joy. Properly trained speakers can do the same for their audiences.
All it takes is a few good habits.
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