When we are asked to give a speech, we generally put a lot of time and effort into doing the best job that we can because we understand the importance of public speaking. We’ll create a speech that we think that our audience would like to hear. We’ll practice it until we think that we have it just right. And finally, we’ll get up in front of our audience and do our best job of giving a good delivery so that we can share the benefits of public speaking. However, is it possible that we’re missing something here? Shouldn’t our focus really be on what the impact of our speech is going to be? What’s the outcome of your next speech going to be?
It’s Not All About Packaging
In all honesty, when we talk about becoming better public speakers a lot of what we spend our time discussing has to do with “packaging”. We tend to start things out by asking questions. What is your intention? What do you want your audience to feel, to know, to do? How can you get them to do what you want them to?
Once we felt that we had the answers that we needed for this audience, we then moved on to how we were going to make this happen. This had to do with things like make eye contact, emphasize this word, this gesture is good, that one is bad. This was all good, I’m not going to take away from that, but I don’t think that it’s quite getting us to where we want to be.
The problem with what we have been doing when we’ve been creating our speeches is that we have hardly ever spent time thinking about the content of the talks we are developing. Additionally, all too often we only use one format for our business presentations: Tell ‘Em What You’re Gonna Tell ‘Em, Tell ‘Em, and then Tell ‘Em What You Told ‘Em.” It turns out that this really does not work all that well with today’s sophisticated audiences.
3 Skills That Create Great Outcomes
We’ve been going at this all wrong. It turns out that one’s skill as a speaker should probably not be judged on style, but rather on outcomes. What this means is that things like eye contact aren’t going to do it for you – it’s good to be able to do correctly, but it’s not going to create a better outcome. All of this packaging is important because it allows your audience to view you as a trustworthy source of information. However, it’s not enough.
This all leads to the big question. What presentation skills do you need to have in order to create outcomes that are good for your audience? The first one has to do with how your audience currently thinks about what you’ll be talking about. During your speech you need to take apart the thinking of your audience on the topic that you are speaking on and rearrange it so that it’s new, improved, and widely embraced by your audience. Not an easy thing to do.
Next, you need to move your audience out of a state of contemplation and into either a state of action or preparation for action. This is also hard. Your audience rather enjoys just sitting there listening to you. You need to poke them hard and get them to sit up and want to go out and change the world based on what you have just told them.
Finally, as long as you are going to the effort of creating and delivering this speech, you’d like your audience to understand what you have told them, remembered, and believe you. Your audience should be able to retain a certain amount of your messaging and the information that you’ve shared with them. It’s probably too much to ask that they remember everything that you’ve told them, but if they can at least remember some of it then that will be an outcome that you can live with.
What All Of This Means For You
When we agree to give a speech, we want to make the biggest impact on our audience that is possible. In the past, we have tended to try to focus on things that we think will matter to our audience: eye contact, what we are doing with our hands, where we are standing, etc. However, it turns out that we’ve been getting it all wrong.
The things that we tend to try to work on as we prepare a speech are often referred to as “packaging”. These are the things that while important, don’t really have a big impact on the outcome of our speech as far as how we’ll end up changing our audience. We’ve also been using the wrong format where we try to tell our audience the same thing over and over again. We need a better way. It turns out that the better way consists of having us do three things. The first is to change how our audience thinks about what we’ll be telling them by taking it apart and then reassembling it. Next, we need to find a way to motivate our audience to get up and take action based on what we have shared with them. Finally, we have to strive to make sure that our audience will remember what we have told them. That’s the outcome that we want from our next speech.
The reason that we give speeches is because, in our own way, we want to change the world. What this means is that we’ve got to find a way to connect with our audience and create the outcome that we want from our speech. The old ways of trying to make this happen have not been working. We need to start to use the new ways. Once we get good at this, every speech that we give will present us with an opportunity to get the outcome that we seek.
Question For You: What do you think is the best way to rearrange how your audience currently views a topic so that they can see it in a fresh way?
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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
Not every speech that we create will be delivered by us. As you get better and better at this speech writing thing, what you may discover is that other people start to reach out to you. They’ve heard your speeches and they like what you’ve said. These people may be important people who cause things to happen each time they give a speech and so they realize the importance of public speaking. They may ask you to create a speech for them to use. This request is both an honor and a challenge: just exactly how do you create an effective speech for an important person?