10 steps to creating a really strong story

Guest post by Jim Harvey

It sounds like a presentation trainer’s cliche, but it’s not. In business presentations, the story is the thing. There’s a skill and a structure to creating interesting and compelling narratives. A craft started in the verbal tradition by prehistoric man, developed by the ancient Greeks, sharpened by the French, the Italians, Spanish and British over centuries, is now made into a global, multi billion dollar industry by the Americans. Telling stories with a message is what people have always sought to do. And those who are good at it have real value in the places they live and work.

Children are brought up on stories with a beginning, middle and end. Adults expect a point, a message, interesting characters, love, laughter, joy, tears and pity, and are disappointed if they don’t get them. Then we go to school, university, college and work and all of the joy seems to disappear. And we get talked at. Why? Because people don’t apply the simplest of the story-telling crafts to the most important parts of their life. Story structure? Ignore it at your peril or understand that when you’ve got a strong story, everything else will follow. How do we do it then? Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask ‘if I were them what would be interesting, useful and relevant to know and understand about this subject?’
  2. Brainstorm everything you could say on the subject onto a single piece of paper.
  3. Consult with key members of the audience about what it is they want to know, don’t want to know. Then decide what you absolutely have to tell them.
  4. Go back to your brainstorm and highlight those things that now will feature in your presentation and write your presentation objectives- In this presentation I will show X, Y and Z, and explain how we came to this decision. Then I will tell them exactly what I think they need to do and by when, to make the most of their investment.
  5. Build the storyboard- Act by act (See a classic 3-act structure) and keep on grinding until there’s a real rational, logical path through the presentation.
  6. Create a storyboard that tells the story with key scenes & content from each part.
  7. Create the visuals to support the storyboard.
  8. Add a high impact prologue (introduction) and epilogue (conclusion).
  9. Build your ‘script’ through rehearsal and repetition out loud rather than writing it out.
  10.  Write your script to the level you require (bullet points are best but in some very important or sensitive presentations you have to be scripted word for word).

Jim Harvey is the MD of Allcow Communications, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.

Five Tips to Deliver Exciting Speeches

I received this article in Patricia Fripp’s email newsletter, and I have reposted it with her permission.

Five Tips to Deliver Exciting Speeches

1. Open Hot, Close Hotter.

To grab audience attention and be remembered, start the presentation with a bang, not a limp “Thanks, it’s nice to be here.” The first (and last) 30 seconds have the most impact on the audience. Save any greetings and gratitude until they’ve already grabbed the audience with a powerful opening. And don’t end with a whimper. Remember your last words linger. Unfortunately, many speakers close with, “Are there any questions?” Wrong! Instead, say, “Before my closing remarks, what are your specific questions?” Answer them. Then close on a high note.

2. Get the Inside Scoop.

Attendees at one of my seminars, “How to Be a Coach to Your Client,” wanted to know how they can personalize and add excitement and color to the speeches they craft for others. How, they ask, can they get those invaluable inside stories? I suggested they do what I do—interview the client’s colleagues and family members. These people are familiar with the “stories” the speaker often tells, stories that have already been honed to what I call the “Hollywood model” (characters, dialogue, dramatic lesson learned). What insights and amusing stories do you share with family and friends? Your audiences will enjoy them.

3. Try Inside-Out Speaking.

Don’t write speeches to read. I ask my coaching clients questions. My goal is to pull out of them their ideas, stories, life experiences, philosophies, and examples through questions. Then my job is to help them organize, wordsmith, and deliver these comments with more drama. Although the client and I often end up with a script that can then be edited and tightened, the words grow out of our conversations. I call this “inside-out” speaking. My work represents a cleaned-up conversation; one the speaker is going to have with the audience. Of course, a script is not a conversation, but if it sounds conversational, it is far more appealing and much easier to deliver directly to the audience without reading it word for word. Emotional contact is impossible without eye contact.

4. Provide Five Magic Moments.

How are great speeches like classic Hollywood movies? Movie promoters say that a successful film has to have five magic moments for each viewer, though not necessarily the same five. When it does, people will talk about it and add enough energy to a paid advertising campaign to make it a hit.

Be sure each presentation has five great moments—dramatic, humorous, profound, or poignant—that the audience can relive in their minds later and repeat to their friends.

5. Avoid Borrowed Stories.

I urge you to create vivid, personal stories for your presentations. Imagine how I once felt, sitting in an audience of 18,000 people, listening to Barbara Bush describe a great story she had read in Chicken Soup for the Soul—my own story which made the point, “What you do speaks louder than what you say.” (Yes, I know Ralph Waldo Emerson said it first.) Did Barbara Bush mention it was my story? No.

But even if she had mentioned my name, I think she missed a huge opportunity with her speech. Back then; I imagined her sitting in bed going through stacks of books with a highlighter pen. Since then, I’ve realized that a speechwriter did the research and wrote her words. My point? I’m not upset she didn’t credit me. Just disappointed that someone with Barbara Bush’s incredible life experiences did not share them. I am sure she has more interesting topics and perceptions than reporting on a conversation I had with Bobby Lewis. That’s how audiences will feel if you repeat old stories.

Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

A Speaker for All Reasons™
527 Hugo Street
San Francisco, CA 94122 USA

Telephone: (415) 753-6556 (USA)
Fax: (415) 753-0914
Email: pfripp(at)ix.netcom.com

Guest post: 5 Tips for Conquering Q&A

“What Questions do you have for my answers?” – Henry Kissinger

When roles are reversed, and audience members are handed the microphone, many public speakers turn a brighter shade of purple. But this article will outline 5 practical steps for beating Question & Answer Sessions, and help you leave the stage as victor.

But first, the preliminaries: Questions and Answer sessions have become routine with many forms of public speaking and will often be expected by a host. It entails giving the audience members opportunity to reply to the material you’ve been presenting by having them ask questions. It does not necessarily entail simply asking for comment (that can be long, boring and often useless), but specifically setting apart a short time frame where you direct audience members to raise their hands if they have questions.

This can naturally be scary for even seasoned speakers, especially when speaking on a new topic. Its one thing to have the microphone in hand, with all the natural authority that it conveys, but it’s a different and more vulnerable thing to open yourself up to the audience. So here are seven tips for conquering Q&A:

1) Use the Bucket Method. This is the best way I know of to prepare for Q&A, and I stumbled upon it in Carmine Gallo’s book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Used by smart CEO’s and diplomats alike, it basically entails placing anticipated questions into separate categories (or buckets) and then preparing set answers for each category.

For example: Let’s say you’re marketing a new toaster that your company has developed. You’ll likely have a “features” bucket since audience members are sure to want to know what makes your toaster so special. Perhaps you’ll have a “funding” bucket, or a “patent” bucket and certainly a “price” bucket.

The benefit of this method is that it streamlines your preparation. There’s no way you can prepare and memorize answers for hundreds of potential questions, so dividing questions into categories like these, simplifies the process.

2) Anticipate Questions. This one ties on to point one above. Certain questions are just naturally to be expected and for these, you can and should prepare laser-like answers that come straight from the textbook and convey the authority you have on your topic.

3) Get Experience. This is obvious, but there’s a side benefit: Most public speakers will tell you that nearly 90% of questions asked by an audience on one single topic, will be repeated by the next audience. If you’re giving your toaster speech in front of Audience A, then tomorrow when you do the same in front of Audience B, you’ll already have answered nine out of every ten questions possibly coming your way!

4) Never, ever take a question personally. I recently saw a video of Steve Jobs being personally insulted by an angry audience member who asked a demeaning question. Jobs’ reply was absolutely masterful. He never took the insult personally, refused to retaliate and instead, by focusing on the solution to the question, he never got angry (surely the response the audience member was hoping to elicit).

Some people are impossible to satisfy and you’ll occasionally stumble upon a smarter-than-thou who simply thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about. These people are true tests of your character and self-confidence and you can beat them by refusing to indulge them.

5) Don’t end with a Q&A session. Toastmasters recommend that a speaker never end a delivery with Q&A, and it makes sense. Since it certainly won’t be the most exciting part of your speech, it might be a good idea to interrupt yourself before your final (hopefully climatic point), give time for Q&A, and then proceed to end your speech strongly.

———————–
Leon Potgieter is an English Teacher, Christian Minister and Public Speaking Enthusiast who’s been living in the Republic of Korea since 2008. His website effective-public-speaking-tips.com is an ever growing online portal for public speaking tips, speechwriting help and presentation techniques, and compliments a lot of my content, so well worth checking out.

 

(and he is South African).

The Oratorical Prowess of Barack Obama

Guest post by Zander Smith

A good politician gives lots of speeches. A great politician has the oratory skill to use his speeches to motivate, inspire, and convince people to follow him. The recent American presidential race showed the world the importance of giving a good speech, the importance of having great oratorical prowess. Barack Obama a black motivational speaker inspired millions of Americans to follow him to the White House during the course of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Most Americans have never met Barack Obama and they never will. They do feel connected to him because of the power of his pre-election speeches. On the campaign trail Obama used style to give meaning and believability to his words. This often ignored trait of great orators made Americans feel as if they knew Barack Obama personally and they believed what he had to say.

Obama is an expert at using rhythm and cadence during his speeches to involve his audience. Frequent pauses during his speeches allow the audience to participate by cheering, clapping, and chanting. It also gives listeners the chance to actually absorb what he is saying. Experts note three advantages to using well placed pauses during a speech.

-A pause will allow the speaker to take a breath and gives the audience a chance to respond

-A pause during which the audience responds lets people feel connected to the speaker – they are participating in what he has to say

-A pause which lets the audience respond shows the speakers generosity – he allows others to speak and does not take all the time for himself

Delivering a good speech is very difficult task. Bob Proctor, a great orator, breaks a speech down into 3 simple parts. First, tell the audience what the speech is about by introducing your material. Next, give the audience the meat of your material. Third, review what you have said in steps 1 and 2. The second step of any great speech is practice. A great orator will know his stuff. Study all of your information. The better acquainted you are with your material the better you will feel when sharing it with your audience.

Barack Obama’s campaign trail speeches, and his presidential speeches, are excellent examples of the above three advantages. Instead of following the modern, just the facts style of many of today’s orators Obama looked to the great speakers of the past for inspiration. Barack Obama may be a “new” style candidate but he has taken full advantage of “old school” techniques when speaking in public.

Zander Smith, Site Representative Great Black Speakers Member of Great speaker motivational society

Source: http://www.submityourarticle.com/a.php?a=53912

How to Triple Your Back of the Room Book Sales Every Time You Do a Public Speaking Engagement

Guest post by Tom Antion

I’m darn good at selling at the back of the room. In fact, just this month I did three speaking engagements at multi speaker events and I outsold all the other speakers put together. What’s unique about this is the way I do it is not obnoxious and high pressure. Today I want to give you a low pressure technique that can give you way more sales than when you nervously wait till the end of your talk to suggest people buy your book.

What I want you to do is put a copy of your book on the chair of every attendee at your event. You will put a note in the book that says something like, “You don’t have to buy this book. We are just going to use it during the presentation.”
Yes, I know this is a scary thing to do. I know you’re thinking, “What if everyone just walks out the door with all my books?” Relax . . .this won’t happen. People are generally honest.

You will pick the two best parts of the book and read them from stage as you are teaching a related point. You might use the three best parts if you are speaking for several hours.

Here’s what will happen. You’ll sell three times as many books and you’ll hardly have to even mention it’s for sale. Just put a box in the back of the room at your table and mention that you’ll be at the table if anyone wants to take the book home with them it will be 20 bucks (or some round number). Also, tell them you will personalize it for them.
The idea here is that instead of just “selling” your stuff, show the value of it and you’ll sell way more than you ever have before.

Tom Antion is a professional speaker with over 2700 paid speeches to his credit. He is the founder of the largest public speaking membership site on the Internet, and the author of the best selling professional speaker course of all time “The Wake ’em up Video Professional Speaking System