How To Be A Great Speaker In The Digital Age

by drjim on January 17, 2017

It turns out that we need to be able to communicate many different ways

It turns out that we need to be able to communicate many different ways

Image Credit: Michael Coghlan

Welcome to the digital age! I’m pretty sure that by now just about all of us have one of those fancy smartphones in our pocket or purse. The world around us has definably changed and as speakers, we need to change with it. When I’m working with speakers who are just starting out, I’m always surprised when I learn that they think that they can exist in just one world and be successful. It turns out that as speakers because of the importance of public speaking we now need to find ways to live in both the real world and the electronic world.

The Challenge Of Living In Two Worlds

What I have observed is that what world we feel the most comfortable living in seems to have a lot to do with how old we are. The younger we are, the more comfortable we are living in the digital world. The Millennials sure seem to have this down to a science. Whereas the older ones of us like the person-to-person contact of living in the real world.

I wish that I could tell you that one world was better than the other and that those of us who were not doing a good job of living there just needed to get over it and move on it. It turns out that the reality is a bit more complicated than that – isn’t it always? What all of us, no matter what our age is, need to do is to understand that both worlds offer us some great benefits and we need to find ways to spend time in each world in a way that will benefit us the most.

The problem that I am seeing more and more is that we all seem to gravitate to one of these worlds, the real world or the electronic world, and then that’s where we all want to spend the most of our time. It also assumes that our audiences will be spending their time in the world in which we feel the most comfortable and so we don’t have to spend time in the other world. It turns out that our audiences are not like this and it is us who need to change our behavior and lean how to occupy two different worlds.

How To Be Successful In The Real World

I’d like to think that how to be successful in the electronic world is something that is pretty easy to understand – you log in and start exchanging messages using any one of the dozen or so applications that have been created to allow you to do this. Being successful in the real world is a bit more tricky, especially for my Millennial students. Perhaps we should review what it takes to connect with people when you are dealing with them face-to-face.

You have to “be present” in order to connect with people in the real world. If you are whipping out your phone every 10 seconds to check on your status, then you are not present. Your focus needs to be on the person that you are talking with. This also means that you have to be responsive to the person that you are talking with. Your full participation in the discussion is required.

Some of us tend to be long-winded in the electronic world. We can type and type to our heart’s desire. However, in the real world we’re going to bore people if we do this. That’s why in the real world it’s very important that you be concise and be brief in what you say so that you show respect for the other person’s time. Finally, we need to be consistent in real life. Online we can adopt many different personalities in order to “build our brand”‘; however, in real life we need to make sure that the people that we are interacting with understand who we are and believe that we are real.

What All Of This Means For You

Probably for the first time in history, speakers now have multiple worlds that they can choose to live in. There is, of course, the real world in which we interact with real people in a face-to-face manner. However, there is now the electronic world that is best characterized by our smart phones and which requires no human contact. In order to be successful speakers and deliver the benefits of public speaking we need to learn to master both worlds. Today’s young people seem to have mastering the electronic world under control, it’s staying on top of the real world that presents them with a challenge.

We all have a preference for which world we’d like to spend most of our time in. However, the real world is critically important and so we all need develop our real world skills. This means ensuring that we are present in our conversations and that we are responsive to the people that we are talking with. We need to make sure that we are concise and that we don’t use too many words while at the same time we try to be consistent in the real world so that people will know who we are.

You would think that everyone’s real world skills would be top-notch because this is where we were all born. However, that is not the case – we could all use a little help remembering what it takes to be successful here. The next time you are interacting with your audience face-to-face, make sure that you switch your smartphone off and stay in the moment.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How do you think what you do in the electronic world could help what you are trying to do in the real world?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Imagine for just a moment that you are standing in front of a large audience. They fill the room completely and you can even see people standing way at the back up against the wall. However, something is different about this speech. You have no microphone, no PowerPoint slides, it’s just you up there on the stage. How do you feel about this speech now?

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Every speech must contain three parts that work together

Every speech must contain three parts that work together
Image Credit: Martin LaBar

When we are asked to give a speech, generally speaking our hearts start to beat just a little bit faster. We’re excited about being asked to share information that we know, and yet at the same time we dread the effort that is going to go into getting ready to give that speech because we understand the importance of public speaking. However, perhaps if we better understood what it takes to create a complete speech we would not have this feeling of dread.

The Three Parts To Every Speech

When we are creating a speech, we tend to get caught up in the process. This is not a good thing. We know why we’ve been asked to give a speech. With a little luck we also know our stuff – we know what we’ll be talking about. However, what we tend to forget is that there is a very good chance that our audience will have no idea why we are standing on that stage. With a little luck, you will have received a great introduction for your speech by someone else. However, all too often this person simply stands there and says “let’s welcome our next speaker”.

What all of this means for you is that when you are creating your speech, you are going to have to start things out with a great introduction. Not only will you be introducing the topic of your speech, but you’ll also be introducing yourself. You can’t just start your speech by telling your audience why they should believe what you are going to be telling them. Instead, you need to build up to it. They need the background story of how you came to know what you’ll be telling them. This should not take that long to do, but it is a critical part of your speech in order to bring your audience up to speed.

Once you have them on board, you then need to transition to the body of your speech. This is where the majority of what you want to tell them will be delivered. I can tell you that this is where I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. What we need to remember here is that we are giving a speech. We’re not writing a report. This means that we don’t need to crush our audience with too much information. Instead, what we need to do is to pick and choose from the information that we could share with them to identify what parts would create a coherent story that they’ll be able to follow. Every speech has a goal: the information that you share in the body of your speech should only be information that will lead you to that goal.

Finally, we come to the conclusion of your speech. I sorta hate to tell you this, but this is the most important part of your speech. Let’s face it, with today’s distracted audiences who have very short attention spans, they are not going to be able to remember the details of everything that you have shared with them during your speech. What this means is that you’ve got to make the last words out of your mouth really count for something. The conclusion of your speech needs to be very carefully crafted to drive your main point home. You want to provide your audience with phrases and images that they will remember long after your speech is done.

How The Parts Work Together

Just having the three parts of a speech that you need is not enough to be able to deliver a speech that people are going to want to hear. Now comes the really challenging part: you are going to have to find ways to get your three parts to work together. What you don’t want to do is to leave your audience feeling that your speech was disjointed or that it appeared to fit together badly.

How you enter your introduction can lay the groundwork for how the rest of your speech goes. What you are going to have to do is to capture your audience’s attention and make them want to hear the rest of what you have to say. There are a number of different ways to go about doing this, but one of the most common is to start things off by asking your audience a question. Once you’ve launched into your introduction, it’s going to be time to start to prepare your audience for the body of your speech.

The body of your speech is where the real “meat” of your speech is located. Because you are going to be sharing a lot of information with them, you need to prepare them for what they are going to be hearing. By doing this you’ll allow them to have an understanding of what you’ll be saying before you say it. A good way to accomplish this is one you’ve wrapped up your introduction, start the body of your speech out by providing your audience with an outline of what you’ll be covering in the body of your speech. This prepares them for what will follow.

The conclusion of your speech is the final part and is often the shortest part of the entire process. However, because this is the part that your audience has the highest probability of remembering, you need to proceed carefully. What you are going to want to do is to pick out the key points that you made in the body of your speech and then show how they lead to the conclusion that you want your audience to walk away with. This is how you end your speech. If done well, your audience will “get your point” and that’s what they’ll be talking about when you are done.

What All Of This Means For You

Being asked to give a speech is a real honor. However, with that honor comes a great deal of responsibility. We now have to create a speech that is going to both capture and hold our audience’s attention so that we can provide them with the benefits of public speaking. In order to do that, we’re going to have to craft a speech that will allow us to communicate what we’ve been asked to speak on while at the same time getting our audience to keep listening to us.

This process starts with the creating of a great introduction for your speech. Since you can’t rely on others to introduce you correctly, you’ll need to make sure that the start of your speech clearly states what you’ll be talking about and who you are. The body of your speech is where you get to share the most important parts of your information. Be careful to not overdo it – just share enough to get your point across. Finally, you’ll reach your conclusion. This is where you need to pick your words carefully. You’ll want to touch on key points that you made in the body of your speech but you need to lead up to a clear conclusion.

Crafting a speech that works is not impossible. It does take time and effort and you need to know what you are doing. Create the three key parts of your next speech and then very carefully fit them together. The final product will be a speech that will allow you to communicate your information and ensure that your audience will remember what you told them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much time do you think that your introduction should take?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Welcome to the digital age! I’m pretty sure that by now just about all of us have one of those fancy smartphones in our pocket or purse. The world around us has definably changed and as speakers, we need to change with it. When I’m working with speakers who are just starting out, I’m always surprised when I learn that they think that they can exist in just one world and be successful. It turns out that as speakers because of the importance of public speaking we now need to find ways to live in both the real world and the electronic world.

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