CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – JANUARY 5, 2021
How to be an inspiring speaker (PT.1)
Most of us hate public speaking, but for managers, it’s obviously an important skill to have. When you’re an inspiring speaker, it’s easier to sell your ideas internally, rally your team around a plan, talk to customers, present at external conferences, or simply give your team a status update without being super boring.
So how can you brush up on your presentation skills and be an inspiring speaker? Here are five public speaking tips to think about:
1. Defining your goal
Before you create your presentation, it’s important to define a goal. You want to do this up front so that you can cut out any information that doesn’t directly support your goal. Removing unnecessary distractions keeps your talk focused and intentional.
A good starting point for defining your goal is to think about your audience. What is the change in mindset and behavior you want to instill? Consider how you’ll take them from where they are now to where you want them to be. Once you’ve defined the before-and-after change you want to see, build your presentation outline around that journey.
In the book, Resonate, communications expert Nancy Duarte breaks down John F. Kennedy’s moon speech to Congress in 1961 as a famous example of this. At the time, members of Congress felt that the plan to land a man on the moon was too ambitious and risky. The speech was Kennedy’s attempt to persuade Congress to approve his total budget by instilling a sense of urgency.
2. Telling a story
The most effective presentations weave facts and information into a compelling story that moves the audience. The story you tell should be mapped to a narrative structure that best meets the goals of your presentation.
For example, if you’re giving a project update and want to make it interesting, a mountain structure works well. The interesting thing about this structure is that you spend about two-thirds of your time framing the problem you’re solving. Take the time to explain the context behind your plan to build tension, and then resolve that tension. Many presenters only share the plan, and it falls flat because the audience doesn’t know why they should care about the problem in the first place.
If you’re sharing an ambitious plan for the future and want to get your audience excited about it, a what is… and what could be structure works better. Start by framing the current reality, then alternate between “what is” and “what could be” throughout your presentation. At the end, you make your call to action, and conclude by establishing what Nancy Duarte calls a “new bliss.” In other words, how will your audience personally benefit if your ambitious vision is realized? Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech follows this structure.
For a big announcement (like a product launch), there’s the classic three-act story that explains why, how, and what. In act one, make a case for why your audience should care, and explain what they should expect from your talk. In act two, sketch out the “conflict” of your story, as well as your solution. In the concluding act, focus on the action you want the audience to take. As HubSpot points out, “master communicators like Steve Jobs prefer [this] format because they recognize that the first thing they need to do when standing in front of an audience is get them to care.” Once you do that, it’s much easier to introduce the “how” and the “what” of your new idea.
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