Knowing the difference between a good talk and a great talk is obvious. The great talk is the one that inspired you, expanded your mind and left a lasting impression. It was a talk that you refer to when chatting to friends, one you see re-tweeted over again, and one that makes it to the trending page. The good talk, on the other hand, is the one that taught you a thing or two. Knowing how to craft a great talk instead of a good talk can be a little trickier though. You have a lot to tell us, so here’s how to get over the world’s biggest fear and give an amazing speech.
1. Develop the Idea
You should spend most of your time developing the idea behind your talk. Focus on answering the who, what, when, where and why first. Then, find a way to make that more interesting to your audience. Your time should be focused on perfecting the story you plan to tell, not creating slides to read off of. The idea is what is going to set you apart from the other speakers, not the facts or the slides or the specific words you use. Once you have the concept, rehearse and refine it as much as possible. Just don’t rehearse to the point that it sounds rehearsed.
2. Tell a Story
Tap into the “human voice” by turning your talk into a relevant story about you or the people you know. Use real elements of a story like plot, setting, and protagonists and antagonists to capture attention and elicit emotion. Make your speech about the people in the room. The more relatable you are, the more interested your audience will be. So, try including your audience in your story. Use the word “you” to make the talk about them. It’ll be harder for them to ignore, even if it’s hypothetical. Overall, just show that you’re human. Be funny, be casual and be relatable.
3. Start Strong, Finish Strong
From the moment you step on stage, you have about 20 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. What’s worse is that it only takes about 17 seconds for the average person to form an opinion of you. Obviously, you need to come out guns blazing. Try opening with a question or a surprising statement to get people engaged. Be sure to finish just as strong as you started. Your conclusion should connect back to your introduction and leave an inspiring, lasting impression.
Steve Jobs was incredible at this. To steal some of his tricks, flip through Steve Jobs: How To Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.
4. Use Compelling Pictures
If you’re going to use slides, mix in some compelling pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words for a reason. Some pictures say more than entire presentations. Hack the format of your talk and just use images instead of text slides. As long as they are relevant and expressive, they will go a long way. Besides, people are more likely to remember images than words.
5. Say More with Less
Have you ever seen an Ignite talk? Speakers get 5 minutes and 20 15-second slides to make their point and move an audience. That’s it! Surprisingly, the quick talks are extremely motivating. When you think about it, there is a lot that can be said in just 5 minutes. This format forces speakers to cut out any content that is not absolutely amazing. Adopt the concept of saying more with fewer words to boost your speaking skills. Don’t waste any words or you’ll risk losing the audience’s attention.
6. Inspire Action
At the end of your talk, your audience should be inspired enough by your story to make a real change. What do you want your audience motivated to do when you’re finished? What can you say or do to get them there? Your entire talk should be developed based on that question. If you’re giving a talk on small business performance marketing, for example, your goal might be to have everyone in the room ready to jump head first into AdWords. Focus on meaningful facts that are relatable and the benefits of your topic. Just remember that you’re not selling; you’re inspiring an action, a change.
What is an example of a great talk you have heard lately?