My number 1 mission as a speaker is to…
Take something that matters deeply to me and to rebuild it inside the minds of the listeners.
A talk is a journey. Start where the audience is.
Start where the audience is. Give a hint on where I’m taking them. Whether it be the explanation or persuasion, my net result is to bring audience to a beautiful new place.
Avoid sales pitch. Avoid taking. Start giving.
5 Phases of a Journey
- Main Concepts
- Practical Implications
What 🡪 So What? 🡪 Now What?
There is no place for shortcut
Taking a shortcut might help me succeed for a moment, but it’ll not last. Be authentic and credible.
Use the same with that of audience to build common ground. Pay attention to curse of knowledge.
Structure everything around through-lines They should be less than < 50 words that are robust and intriguing.
More choice makes us less happy.
With body language, you can fake it until you become it.
Choosing a Through-line
- Is this a topic I’m passionate about
- Does it inspire curiosity?
- Will it make a difference to the audience to have this knowledge?
- Is my talk a gift or an ask?
- Is the information fresh or is it already out there?
- Can I truly explain the topic in the timeslot allocated, complete with necessary examples?
- Do I know enough about this to make a talk worth audience’s time?
- Do I have the credibility to take on this topic?
- What are 15 words that encapsulate my talk?
- Would those 15 words persuade someone who are interested in hearing my talk?
Testing a Through-line
- Say it out loud
- Choose someone intelligent from different background / industry
- Speak to a person, not a demographic
- Do my best to move the same person
Idea can be anything that change the way people see the world.
Center my delivery on one idea as thoroughly and completely as I can
Center around an Idea
Issue-based talks unveil problems.
Idea-based talks unveil solutions and proposals.
The shorter the presentation, the longer the preparation.
5 Core Tools for Speakers
They can be mixed and matched. Some talks stick to a single tool. Others incorporate multiple elements. A few use all 5.
Knowledge can’t be pushed into a brain. It has to be pulled in.
Before we can build an idea in someone else’s mind, I need their permission.
Make an eye contact right from the start
It is as simple as walking confidently on stage, looking around, making eye contact with 2 or 3 people, and smiling.
Make them laugh but not squirm
If I’m not funny, don’t try to be funny. However, I can form a faster connection with my audience by making them laugh.
Acknowledging my nerves doesn’t make me weak. It makes me likable.
Park my ego
A story without an idea, meaning or takeaway appears as self-oriented to the audience.
Stories resonate deeply in every human. Give my talk as a story or a series of related stories, I can greatly increase my connection with listeners. But let it mean something.
Telling a Story
- Base on a character the audience can empathize with
- Build tension using curiosity, social intrigue, or actual danger
- Offer right level of detail. Too little and the story is not vivid. Too much and it gets boring.
- End with a satisfying resolution, whether funny, moving or revealing.
Once, when I was 8 years old, my father took me fishing. We were in a tiny boat, 5 miles from shore, when a missive storm blew in. Dad put a life jacket on me and whispered in my ear “Do you trust me, son?” I nodded. He threw me overboard….. I kid you not. Just tossed me over! I hit the water and bobbed up to the surface, gasping for breath. It was shockingly cold. The waves were terrifying. Monstrous. Then… Dad dived in after me. We watched in horror as our little boat flipped and sank. But he was holding me the whole time, telling me it was going to be OK. 15 mins later, the Coast Guard helicopter arrived. It turned out that Dad knew the boat was damaged and was going to sink, and he had called them with our exact location. He guessed it was better to chuck me in the open sea than risk getting trapped when the boat flipped. And that is how I learned the true meaning of the word trust.
Start where audience is (and add piece by piece)
Ignite curiosity and surprise
Use metaphors and analogues make them ah ha (shaping the concept)
Use examples stories
If explanation is building a brand-new idea inside someone’s mind, persuasion is a little more radical.
Before construction, it first requires some demolition.
Persuasion is all about replacing someone’s worldview with something better.
At the heart of persuasion is Reason
Deepest underlying force behind our moral progress throughout history.
Resembles slow growing oak-tree which roots grow deep and strong but once it grows, it can transform the landscape forever.
Reason is accompanied by
- Intuition pumps
- Detective stories
- Other plausibility-priming devices
Disclosing something surprising and previously unknown facts to the audience
- Run-throughs (rehearse repeatedly)
- Open and close (whether or not I memorize my talk, it’s crucial to pay attention to how I begin and end it)
A Picture is worth a thousand words even though words describe this concept.
Use visuals to share things my mouth can’t do so well.
Majority of speakers script their whole talk and memorize it and do their best to avoid letting it sound memorized. If I have time to do that Scripting probably gives my best shot.
The good news is as I start to rehearse, the difference between scripting and improvisation starts to fade. The starting points may be different, but in both cases, I end up with a talk that is meticulously prepared and passionately delivered.
Rehearse multiple times preferably in front of people I trust.
My finish line is my time times 0.9 Rehearse a talk that is 9/10 the time I’m given so I have more breathing room to pace myself, to pause, to screw up a little, to milk the audience’s response.
Asking feedback on rehearsals
- Did I get your attention from the get-go?
- Was I making eye contact?
- Did the talk succeed in building a new idea for you?
- Was each step of the journey satisfying?
- Were there enough examples to make everything clear?
- How as my tone of voice? Did it sound conversational (usually good) or as if I was preaching (usually bad)?
- Was there enough variety of tone and pacing?
- Did I sound as if I was reciting the talk?
- Were the attempts at humor natural or a little awkward? Was there enough humor?
- How were the visuals? Did they help or get in the way?
- Did I notice any annoying traits? Was I clicking my tongue? Swallowing too often? Shifting from side to side? Repeatedly using filler words?
- Were my body gestures natural?
- Did I finish on time?
- Were there moments you got a little bored? Was there something I could cut?
4 (Better) Opening Techniques
- Deliver a dose of drama (see Zak Ebrahim)
- Ignite curiosity. (see Ed Yong)
- Show a compelling slide, video or object (see Alexa Meade)
- Tease, but don’t give it away
Example: Sadly, in the next 18 minutes four Americans that are alive will be dead through the food that they eat.
7 (Better) Closing Techniques
- Camera pull-back (show a bigger picture, a broader set of possibilities)
- Call to action (nudge them to act on it)
- Personal commitment (make a giant commitment of my own)
- Values and vision (turn the discussion into inspiring or hopeful vision)
- Satisfying encapsulation (neatly reframe the case)
- I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is “How do we make people pay for music?” What if we started asking “How do we let people pay for music?
- Narrative Symmetry (link conclusion back to its opening)
- Lyrical inspiration (end with poetic language that taps deep into matters of the heart)
Chris morning ritual for his speech
- Bio resonance sound work
- Breathing exercises
- Emotional freedom technique (a therapy commonly known as ‘tapping’)
- Go for a walk to move the adrenaline into the body
- Laugh at least once
- Visualize success
- Power pose
- Use my fear as motivation.
- Let my body help me.
- Drink water.
- Avoid empty stomach.
- Remember the power of vulnerability. Oops sorry, I’m a little nervous here. As you can see, I don’t do a lot of public speaking. But this one mattered too much to turn down.
- Find ‘friends’ in the audience.
- Have a backup plan.
- Focus on what I’m talking about.
Traditional wooden ones screen out the speaker’s entire body and boosts his authority.
The good is the speaker feels comfortable and secure.
The bad is it distances the speaker from the audience, undermining the connection between them.
Many high-end venues have confidence monitors either angled up from the floor of the stage or perhaps at the back of the room above the audience.
The good is the speaker don’t have to turn around to see his slides.
The bad is the speaker can have a hard time maintaining eye contact with the audience.
If a confidence monitor can be counter-productive, a teleprompter can be more so.
The good is the speaker can read the text while maintaining constant eye contact.
The bad is the speaker can come across as inauthentic with fake eye contact.
Modern, transparent lecterns can remove ambiguity about what’s happening.
The audience can enjoy the fact that the speaker is clearly making effort not to read the speech, looking around, making eye contact, smiling and being natural.
Slides and hand-held cards
While the speakers must not read full outline of the talk, it’s perfectly fine to use slides / notes as memory nudges. Many speakers do so. The reason we don’t see them on screen is partly because editors have done a good job disguising them, and partly because most use them occasionally.
Bring life into scripted talks
- Underline 2,3 words in each sentence that carry most significance.
- Cut down to 1 word that really matters and underline it 2 times.
- Find the light sentences and underline a wave.
- Find questions and highlight yellow.
- Find the biggest “ah ha” moment and put a big black bold.
- Find the funny anecdotes and put little pink dots.
Now try reading my script, applying a change in tone for each mark. For example,
- Smile when looking at pink dots.
- Pause before black bold.
- Speed up for wavy line.
Try multiple times until I sound human.
Innovate the Talk (pg. 210)
- Dramatic drops
- Panoramic screens
- Multi-sense stimulation
- Live podcasting
- Illustrated interview
- Spoken word fusion
- Videopoetry exploration
- Added musical soundtrack
- The Lessig method
- Dual presenters
- New debate formats
- Slide blizzard
- Live exhibition
- Surprise appearances
- Virtual presenters
- No live audience