Ed Tate, CSP (and 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking) is a terrific speaker and mentor. He is not afraid to cut to the chase when working with speakers. While sitting in on one of his live coaching sessions, I saw him stop a speaker 30 seconds into her talk and ask the following questions:
What’s in it for me?
My first response to these questions was, “That’s kinda harsh, isn’t?”
Ed went on the explain that harsh or not, it’s the reality of the audience’s mindset. The quicker we grasp this, the sooner we’ll craft and deliver presentations that provide real benefit (and that meeting planners will pay for).
To simplify the speech creation process, let’s boil Ed’s three questions into one:
Why should I care?
This question is the most important one you can ask when crafting your speech. It’s delivered from the point-of-view of the audience.
It’s not an easy perspective to take because when you’re editing your own material, it’s tough to cut and remove ideas that you thought up.
I’m currently experiencing this process as I edit my audition talk for TED x Cincinnati. My speaker coaches are helping me see the speech through the eyes of the audience. It needs to be cut ruthlessly because there is a 2-1/2 minute time limit.
The goal of my talk is to encourage the audience to better understand others by listening to their stories. This point is backed up by scientific research. Every word has to run through the ‘Why should I care?’ filter. I must immediately pique their interest, offer teaching points, then satisfy their curiosity enough to encourage them to go out and share their stories.
Without this powerful question – Why should I care? – I’d be all over the map, and would waste the time of the audience.
As you prepare your next presentation, put yourself in the minds of the audience. Ask the question “Why should I care?” as you review each sentence, each story and each point. It’s not easy, and it might even cause pain when you remove some of your favorite parts, but in the end, you’ll have a talk that appeals to the people that matter the most – your audience.
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