Speech Tip From a Memorable TV Show
How can a TV show about a flawed super-agent help your speech? The TV show ’24’ was suspenseful and filled with plot twists. You could never really guess what was coming next.
I had a love/hate relationship with one part of the show – the clock. ‘24’ was a ‘real-time’ show, with the time occasionally displayed on the screen. It counted off the seconds as the episode progressed. I hated that clock when it reached 59:59 every week because the episode was over, and I was left to say “Wait! I don’t want it to be over. Give me more!”
When you give a speech, are you creating this response from your audience? Are they saying “Not yet! We want more!”
If not, here are three tips to help you.
- Don’t give all of your ideas in one speech. A common problem for speakers is that they’re so excited about their subject, they give too much information. This leads to confusion and an inability of the audience to take away your key point. To avoid overloading your audience, remember the 10:1 Rule of Thumb. This rule states that for every 10 minutes of speaking time, give no more than 1 supporting point. In a 60-minute talk, give no more than 6 key points. You should also leave room for your opening and conclusion.
If you’d like more insight into this idea, read the article Drop a Rock on Your Audience.
- Tease the audience about future events. When you structure your speech, drop in suggestions for other topics you offer. For example, imagine you’ve been given 30 minutes to speak. Your topic is The Keys to Long-Term Financial Security – and you have seven points. Offer 3 of your points, and in the presentation, say “These are 3 of the 7 keys to long-term security. Time doesn’t permit me to go into all seven. However, next time I’m here…..” This assumption plants the idea in the minds of your audience to get you back. If you’re good, they’ll ask for you to be brought back. If you don’t do well, they weren’t going to ask you back anyway.
- Discuss and debrief. This is an exercise that gains audience buy-in early in your speech, and at the conclusion, reinforces what they’ve learned from you. This exercise consists of you asking the audience to pair up and – in 60 seconds – talk about what they’d like to receive from your talk. Then open up the floor to a group discussion of their expectations of the program. This gets them involved early, and gives them the sense that they’re helping to develop the content. People buy-in to what they help create.
Discuss and debrief at the conclusion works the same way. After pairing off for 60 seconds, open the floor for a discussion of what take-aways the audience has received. The benefit of this is that they’re telling you what was most impactful (this helps you craft better material for your next talk). They’re also sending a message to the meeting planner about all of the benefits they’ve gotten. Coming from the audience, it’s much more powerful than you telling them the benefits they’ve received. To quote an old selling maxim, “If you say it, they can doubt you. If they say it, it’s true.
Unlike Jack Bauer, you probably aren’t charged with saving the world every week. However, you can create your own ‘24’ moments when you give your audience great content, but not too much. Instead, tease them so they can’t wait until your next talk.
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
‘The Wright Brothers’ by David McCullough
Most people know the story of two bicycle shop owners from Dayton, Ohio who ushered in the age of mechanized flight. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough (John Adams, 1776) offers a superb insight into these two brothers, who, in the face of ridicule, adversity and public doubt, pushed forward until they not only invented the airplane, but tested it until it was a viable product for the masses. This terrific book is a testament to the power of focus and perseverance.
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