Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stuff happens - it's OK

Acknowledge interference. When something goes wrong and it's not your fault, be cool enough to acknowledge it. Continuing robotically with your message highlights your desire to deliver and get off the stage. Be cool with stuff going wrong, and bring it out into the open.

Here are some examples:

1. If someone walks across your stage, you may have a one-liner like, "Don't worry, it's just a stage you're going through."

2. Playfully pose for the photographer as they try to catch you in an action shot.

3. If you stuff up a word, laugh and say something like "Ha! There goes my brain running faster than my mouth, but that's nice - it's usually the other way around."

4. If the AV technician needs to adjust your wireless microphone mid-flight, you may want to say something like, "Look, I don't have time to dance with you."

Stay cool. It's not about perfection; it's live. Make it real.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Amplifying Authenticity

When you get up to speak in public, the fact that everyone is staring at you with great expectation creates a game of hide and seek . You are seeking to engage with the audience, and yet you tend to hide the parts of yourself that are the most interesting.

There are a few obvious factors that contribute to this:

  1. You are only on stage for a short while.
  2. All the attention is on you, so the give/take of normal conversation is missing.
  3. You don't think you are that interesting; a basic confidence issue.
  4. Humility teaches us to focus less on ourselves than on others.
  5. You are trying to be something you imagine the audience wants you to be, rather than being who you are.

Because speaking in public is an atypical mode of communication, you have to work harder at being natural within yourself. Paradoxically, you can't just be yourself ; you need to amplify yourself .


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So, any questions?

When presenting to an audience, a deadly silence often follows these three words. Or worse, you ask the question and get the super personal, interesting only to the person asking it kind of question. You know the "ummm my Uncle Luigi has gout, what can I do about that?"

Here are some ideas to help you get better at managing the question and answer segments in your speeches, and maybe even create some magical improvisation moments.

Be careful what you ask for.
Don't ask for questions unless you're okay with having people question what you say. Be prepared for detractors, challengers and those who want to drill down (interrogation style) to see what lies behind your claim to authority.

Don't ask for questions only.
Instead, invite interaction through a three tiered approach: which is "does anyone have any questions (new content), any clarifications (previous content) or simply want to make a statement (shares the expertise)?"

Don't cold call for questions.
Give the people in the room a chance to discuss their questions with the person next to them before you ask them to ask it in front of 1500 people. Just imagine, you were nervous and you knew you would speak, how must they be feeling?

Poll the room.
Hand out question cards that the audience can fill in ahead of time, or during your presentation. You deal with the questions live without having to single out the person asking.

Don't wait till it's all over.
Set up a question and answer session about three quarters of the way through your talk. It's hard to finish on a high when you have to answer questions.

Listen slow and answer fast.
When someone is asking a question slow the pace a little. Restate what they said, listen harder than you normally do. Often the peak adrenaline state while speaking can cause you to appear impatient. Remember, you are on and working at the speed of thought, the audience may not be.

Don't answer the question.
Sometimes the specific answer to a question is not what the audience member was actually looking for. Answer the better question that is behind the one asked. The content, or the detail of almost any question is always part of something bigger and possibly more generically interesting to the room.

Get better at managing the question and answer segments in your speeches.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Develop an Idea Bank

World class presenters develop a bank of thoughts or ideas that can be accessed in a moment and can be instantly customised to any audience or situation. For this to work though, you need to capture the essence of an idea quickly and have a system for depositing ideas, reviewing them and withdrawing them as required.

I believe that you should never speak about something unless you have given it considerable thought. Even when faced with a spontaneous request to speak, you can still speak from a well considered space, assuming you have done some prep work on your Idea Bank.

An Idea Bank is constantly being enhanced, re-worked and customised. It is a well organised, chunked down catalogue of mini presentations. The IP snapshot system we teach in the Million Dollar Expert Program allows for different people to deliver the same message and adjust it for their style and environment.

Seven benefits of an Idea Bank

1. You can speedily prepare a great speech
2. You are free to customise content whilst preparing
3. The message can be picked up and effectively delivered by others
4. You don't have to rehearse speeches word perfect
5. You demonstrate your knowledge impressively when asked to speak
6. A team of people can present the same message and adjust the content to suit their personal style
7. You can extend or shorten the speech duration as required

In short, it's about creating a set of key ideas and messages that you draw upon at different times and present in a different sequence depending on the outcome you are looking to achieve. The ideas in your bank are all valued differently, some are big ideas, some lesser. A presentation may need a few smaller ideas to make the big ones work.

The more ideas you have in your bank the better, but only if you can access them easily.