“We are in an age of unprecedented change, it’s a ‘revolutionary’ time to be alive! The question we need to be asking ourselves is - ‘Am I leading that change?’ I believe we all have a choice to step up into personal, professional and social leadership. We have a choice to become agents for change, amplifiers, thought leaders to upgrade our thinking and lead our very own revolutions.”

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Entries in speech (6)

Tuesday
Aug172010

The Mathematics of Retention

Too often when speaking in public, presenters try to give you all of their information. To be world class, don’t make too many points within your speech. Five points, give or take up to two, is the rule. We tend to retain what we can count on one hand. Presenters who presume to teach 21 tips in 21 minutes are pretty content-centred, and do not really respect the mathematics of retention.

Some tips:

1. Have 3-7 core messages to your presentation
2. Every 7-15 minutes or so, introduce a new point
3. Always have less rather than more. Fear makes us over-prepare content
4. Have a “bare bones” version of your speech prepared with 1-3 points only
5. Always have one overarching point for every speech, and make this very clear

Less is more.

M@

Tuesday
Jul062010

Develop an Idea Bank

World class presenters develop a bank of thoughts or ideas that can be accessed in a moment and can be instantly customised to any audience or situation. For this to work though, you need to capture the essence of an idea quickly and have a system for depositing ideas, reviewing them and withdrawing them as required.

I believe that you should never speak about something unless you have given it considerable thought. Even when faced with a spontaneous request to speak, you can still speak from a well considered space, assuming you have done some prep work on your Idea Bank.

An Idea Bank is constantly being enhanced, re-worked and customised. It is a well organised, chunked down catalogue of mini presentations. The IP snapshot system we teach in the Million Dollar Expert Program allows for different people to deliver the same message and adjust it for their style and environment.

Seven benefits of an Idea Bank

1. You can speedily prepare a great speech
2. You are free to customise content whilst preparing
3. The message can be picked up and effectively delivered by others
4. You don't have to rehearse speeches word perfect
5. You demonstrate your knowledge impressively when asked to speak
6. A team of people can present the same message and adjust the content to suit their personal style
7. You can extend or shorten the speech duration as required

In short, it's about creating a set of key ideas and messages that you draw upon at different times and present in a different sequence depending on the outcome you are looking to achieve. The ideas in your bank are all valued differently, some are big ideas, some lesser. A presentation may need a few smaller ideas to make the big ones work.

The more ideas you have in your bank the better, but only if you can access them easily.

M@

Tuesday
Jun162009

The patterns of nervous tension

The whole thing about getting nervous when you speak is serious and maybe not something that ever truly goes away. And maybe that's the way it's meant to be. I was at my doctors the other day and she said to me, "Matt you are showing all kinds of stress symptoms in your body'. I thought it was a strange thing to say. Just before I stepped into her rooms, I was thinking how great my life is and how happy and content I am. So I looked at her and said all that and more. She went on to explain how that may be so but my body was exhibiting the stress symptoms of Soldiers who spend time without leave in active duty. So I said ‘NOW seriously Doc, I fly in a plane, step onto a stage, tell people what I think, they clap (often loudly while standing) I go home and that's it, it's nowhere near the same as soldiering and living with life and death decisions.' She went onto say that while that may be true, the effects of what I do are perceived by the body in much the same way. I guess I' ll be drinking more tea and less coffee now and taking time for a little more R&R.

Now as interesting as all this personal health stuff may/may not be, I am making a point. How could I be so out of touch with the simple stress response of my human body? Clearly the nerves have not gone away, so I must have found a way to deal with them. Because I don't feel ‘nervous' per se when I speak. I am energised, I get into a state but I would not have called it nervous. If there are butterflies in my stomach nowadays then now they fly in formation. So, again, how could I be so out of touchwith my body's stress response?

With this question in my mind I started to ask my Keynote Speaking Coaching Clients what they were thinking about when they were nervous. After several dozen of these interviews I saw patterns emerge; Patterns of Nervous Tension.

It's all about what you focus on when you get nervous. I notice that those who do this speaking thing full time or at least a lot have found a way to shift their focus from things that make them nervous and onto things that are useful.

I see five rings of attention. And they exist in an evolutionary spread. It is not that one level is replaced by a higher level, but rather you incorporate all 5 levels of attention when you really start to master this getting nervous thing and replace it with getting energised and ready.

The 5 Rings of Nervous Tension Ring 1: SELF
When you focus on ‘you' when you spea
k, you are bound to get undone. In your head this becomes ‘I' issues - I am not prepared, I am not qualified, I am not wearing clothes that make me comfortable. I like to think that these worries are not some kind of narcissism but rather the natural result of being in front of so many people. First step; get over yourself. At this ring you should quickly coach yourself and replace the negative self talk with a question, ‘what can I offer that might be of service to the room?'

Ring 2: AUDIENCE
Most advice you get on how to handle nerves comes from this centre of attention. Well meaning advice such as ‘picture your audience naked' and ‘stare at their foreheads' are simply not helpful. It's a simple distraction strategy to overcome nerves. That's OK if you're simply going for the 15 minute once in a lifetime, sit down without embarrassing yourself speech. As a tribe of people committed to being World Class Presenters though, you need a more successful coping strategy than simply survival.

Ring 3: CONVERSATION
This is the first of the elevating rings. The outer three rings of CONVERSATION, MESSAGE and PROCESS all work together to help you truly manage your internal state and keep an appropriate level of arousal and focus without becoming ‘hamstrung' by sweaty palms. The Conversation state is about getting into dialogue with the audience. It may mean opening with questions, in a smaller audience asking them what they already know or think on your topic. With larger audiences you might send a survey out in advance polling their opinion and asking them what their biggest challenge is regarding your area of expertise. I often use rhetorical questions with very large audiences to start what is a two-way conversation with only me speaking.

Ring 4: MESSAGE
You have to have something to say worth listening to. Seems obvious right? It's amazing though with the survival mindset, we are OK saying something obvious, already understood and easily read or reviewed outside of the live experience. When preparing message for the live audience, spend more time on the words, the key ideas and the ways you can use repetitive variety to bring the thoughts from your mind to theirs.

Ring 5: PROCESS
Start to think about how you say what you are saying. Develop a third eye perspective where you begin to watch the science and art of oration. With this ‘student' view you begin to have an out of body experience when you speak. You become detached from the words and start to look at the way. It becomes a Zen like experience as you float metaphorically above yourself speaking and you have an expanded consciousness/awareness of all that is going on around you. You notice little nuances like that guy in the third row who straightened his tie; The CEO nodding in agreement to your message; The CFO on her ‘crack'berry emailing the accounts department to hold off on paying the catering bill. The trick is to stay engaged and connected to what is happening in the room and have a range of techniques you can access to change the direction, energy and feeling in the room.

When you are in control of your internal dialogue of self, aware of the needs of others in the room, engaged in a conversation with the room, delivering a message they value in a way that is compelling there is simply no time to get nervous. So, start from the outer rings and work back, rings 5,4,3 and then 2 and 1 kind of take care of themselves.

M@
Matt Church

Tuesday
Jun022009

An ancient battle has ended!

This battle has been going on for eons. It was most often fought in the corridors of academia but it's no longer got heat. It's over and to continue the resistance is futile. Small guerilla groups will continue to skirmish in small pockets holding out for the way things were in the bad old days. They are like warmongers, only happy and profiting if the conflict is still alive.

I am talking about the war between Method and Message. Which is more important? Something to say or a better way of saying it? The battle's over, finished, done! You can't have one without the other any more. See Barack Obama or Hans Rosling (www.ted.com)

There are casualties on both sides. On the Message side there are those who believe that what you say is what matters. Great content, rigorous thinking, solid evidence. On the method side, those who package thoughts of others and push them out. Great technique and packaging.

To take sides now is to doom yourself in the sharing of great ideas. You need both. You need your Cicero messages and Caesar charm.

Here's to world peace!

Three previously won battles:

  1. Form versus Function - completed; agreed to share the victory.
  2. The war for talent - talent won.
  3. Gen Y engagement - beware… anyone under 25! (just joking)
My next few Skirmishes:
  • The end of team building based on competition or problem solving.
  • Death to 360 degree feedback.
  • The end of email as we know it.
Phew! This war thing is tough. Be a great thinker and a great communicator. Use message AND method. Spend equal parts coming up with great ideas and broadcasting great ideas.

M@
Matt Church

Tuesday
May052009

Omm not Umm; The Power of a Mantra

A great idea can be expressed as a short statement. A slogan if you will. The word mantra has Hindu origins and means, a word or formula, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer. Now, I am not suggesting you get people chanting your key ideas, but it is the effect we are going for.

A great speaker creates memorable phrasing. It's almost as if they are suggesting a language people can then use to express how they feel, what they need to do next or perhaps even simply to show they belong. It happens in conferences from time to time. A speaker leaves such an indelible impression that for days afterwards people are using phrases from the speech. This is not just a self rewarding goal, it's indicative that your speech, your words have touched and influenced the audience in a positive way. You have made sense of their world. You have provided a frame of reference that is so agreeable the individuals in the room choose to carry it forward for you. They become Thought Repeaters and in each utterance and use of language from your speech you increase your audience beyond those who were in the room when you spoke.

The question is… How can you do this?

Here are three ways you might increase the likelihood that your points are carried on by the audience into the rest of their life.

1. Use the phrase in a story.
One way to increase the memorability of the speech is to wrap your language in a story. People then use a sentence, point or object from the story as a label to explain in short hand the essence of the idea expressed in the story.

2. Use the phrase repeatedly.
Use the phrase repeatedly. Use the phrase repeatedly. But...it's actually got be a meaningful phrase, not just any old words said again.

3. Use poetic phrases.
When there is a certain rhythm and rhyme to your language, a Hip Hop esque feel, people will dig it and be down with that. Yo know what I mean? (I am so uncool… I can hear my eventually teenage kids cringing at my middle age attempt to be relevant and in touch). Martin Luther King had a rhythm and a poetic coupling of words.

We are all so busy it's hard to remember to pick up the milk on the way home! Your key ideas and messages need to be easy to remember, they need to be chant-able. Mantra's are good for the memory and key to the message.

Ommmm.ommmm.ommmm… not um, um, um….

M@

Tuesday
Mar312009

State

A fish rots from the head down. There are no bad audiences, just bad experiences. A presenter who feels the audience was boring, was most likely bored themselves. A presenter who finds the audience is angry, was probably stirred up or frustrated. Public speaking acts like a mirror; you see outside of you an amplified version of what is going on inside of you. Great speakers choose their state.

That's not to say that you don't have bad days. Of course you do, we all do. The difference is that if your work that day is to present to a room full of people, you are required to get over it and get on with the presentation.

I spoke In New Zealand the day of 9/11. My audience of 500 woke up to the news coverage. The convener decided to go ahead with the program that day. That required a lot of state preparation on my part. I think it was the right decision but I took a good 3 hours just getting my head into a state where I was OK speaking into that environment. At another event a young delegate had fallen off a balcony during the night and plummeted to his death. Again, they continued with the program. How do you manage the state in scenarios like this?

Often, just before I go on, people will say things like… (and I kid you not, each of these has happened to me...several times)

(a) Gee you shouldn't wear those jeans, they make your ass look big.

(b) You better be good, I travelled 3 hours to be here today.

(c) Oh, it's you again… I saw you speak last year and I didn't like it very much.

(d) OK, so thanks for coming, the speaker we wanted wasn't available so best of luck. and on and on it goes...

In each case I have come up with some pithy retorts. I suggest you stand on the high ground and do not resort to these.

For me, the lighter side of life allows me to shift my state. In any situation, if I can see the funny side I can almost immediately get out of a funk or an unproductive emotional state and choose a better one. Do not give your power over to other people. I think that's a life lesson and one we learn on the road of speaking all the time.

State is also a case of preparation.
Things almost always go wrong and having done what you can to be in a productive and positive state means that these things don't affect you quite as much.

There are several things you can do to help manage your state more effectively;

Focus on the game plan.
A method and outline for what you are going to say, designed in advance, can often help you out when you feel less than inspired. I am often glad that I have a planned opening, I may not always use it, but its acts like a mood fall back.

Develop pre-speech rituals.
I clean my teeth before I speak no matter when I am speaking. I like to shower before a speech if it's possible. You may listen to a certain song on your Ipod. Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago bulls uniform every time he played. The rituals act as triggers for state. Make your rituals mean something to you.

Eat right.
Protein, not carbohydrate food types will help you remain mentally alert. Watch your caffeine intake as it's a diuretic and makes you need to go to the toilet and get a dry mouth. Plan your da
y and force food down. When you are on adrenaline your body shuts down the hunger response and the last thing you want to do is eat. Fight this or else you will end up with a sugar crash and lose the mental energy required to stay in state.

Exercise on the day.
Excess nerves and mental run throughs all compound the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is like the adrenal systems back up fuel. Too much cortisol though can make you angry, sad, afraid or guilty. These four emotions are state killers for a speaker. Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day advised the Groundhog ‘don't drive angry' - you don't speak angry either. Some vigorous exercise on the day of the speech helps take the excess stress hormones out of your system.

Be your own Barometer.
As a World Class Presenter, you try to read your room and adjust what you do accordingly. The problem with this is you can misread a room and assume things are going better or worse than they are. Don't assume you know what's going on with an audience. Stay a little detached and self-referring with your state. Remember, if you feel good, they will too.

Take care of yourself.
People often ask me if I choose my pre show music to match the demographic of the people in my room. That would be so clever. I don't. I choose music that lifts me and gets me ready.

M@

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