Speech Lesson From a Networking Event
Recently I was attending a networking event. The facilitator announced a group activity, gave us three simple instructions, and divided us into groups of four.
As the activity began, two people in my group started a discussion about something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Five minutes into the 10-minute activity, nothing that was assigned had been completed.
Normally, I interject and attempt to get a group on task. However, this time, I said nothing because in the middle of the exercise, I had a hunch: “This happens most of the time. People who don’t succeed don’t listen. And this is the perfect example.”
I said nothing; this is usually what happens in these types of events. And it’s one reason most people don’t succeed. They either don’t listen, or are so desperate to be heard, they grab the first possible opportunity to talk about what’s on their minds.
As a speech coach, I’m blessed to work with individuals who take the tools and processes they learn and use them the way they’re taught. They follow the instructions given them. If you’re familiar with the old singing game where the ball bounces across the screen above the word you’re supposed to sing, you’re familiar with the phrase “follow the bouncing ball.”
Succeeding in any endeavor is really that simple. It’s not always easy, but if you follow the prescribed steps, you’ll succeed most of the time.
Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t applaud my clients because they implemented ideas I gave them. I’m simply passing on wisdom learned from the best speakers and storytellers.
They deserve applause because they’re taking the smartest, simplest route to improvement. They follow the instructions they’re given. They don’t reinvent the wheel, they follow the path that has worked for others.
Does this mean you give up your own style? Absolutely not. Learn the basics, then add your personality to create a unique perspective for your audience.
How does this apply to presenting a speech? There are foundational concepts which, if you follow, will enable you to connect with most audiences and have an impact:
- Create a one-sentence Foundational Phrase. This sentence is the essence of your message
- Develops stories, metaphors, activities or acronyms which support your foundational concept
- Open with a Bang – as a question, make a startling statement, or quote someone. Your best opening is typically to dive right into your story. Ensure that your opening is relevant to your foundational idea.
- Conclude in a way that reinforces your foundational concept. Remember that your last words linger, tie them around that one sentence you want the audience to remember.
- Use your face and voice to ‘sell’ the emotion of your stories. Nonverbal communication can be more impactful than your words
- Use silence to enable your audience to feel your key points and experience your humor.
That’s it. Easy? No. The greatest presenters in the world put in thousands of hours to be great. But the formula is simple.
If you’re willing to listen to instructions and follow the bouncing ball, you too, can Stand Up to speak and Stand OUT from the crowd.
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