Today's post comes from ROAM Communications network partner, Dave Yewman. He is co-founder of Elevator Speech and owner of DASH Consulting and a master media trainer.
Most speakers develop their presentations backwards.
How? They start with slides.
It's not a fatal flaw and it's easily fixed, by starting with the "talk track" -- the words you're going to say.
Presentations or speeches are typically delivered by someone standing up and saying words, right? But most presenters don't stand up and say words when they're practicing. Instead they enter a vast presentation wasteland. They obsess about their slides -- what bullet points make sense, what fonts work, do I have the latest images, can I find good clip art? Then speakers go over and over slides, rationalizing that they already know the material, they're experienced and prominent in their industry.
Then they stand up to speak on the big day with no a second of out loud practice under their belts. And things quickly go south.
No wonder public speaking is statistically the top fear most of us have.
It's time to break the cycle, but it requires a different approach. Three steps:
What happens when you go through this process is you get a sense of what works and what doesn't verbally. If you can't make something work when you're standing up and saying it, then you can change it or cut it -- something you don't find out by adding yet another bullet point to your slide deck.
After you've stood and delivered your speech, or at least the opening 5 minutes, then -- and only then -- do you reach for the laptop and start building slides. But remember this mantra: one thing/one slide. Don't write a short novel on the screen. Use high resolution photos or 90-point numbers or short quotes. Have your talk track drive the presentation. You should control the PowerPoint; the PowerPoint shouldn't control you.
To be clear, this is more work for you. But it's much better for your audience. Because you'll have practiced and refined that presentation so much so that when audience members walk out they can actually remember what you said.
In many ways, following this approach is like being an actor learning lines. British actor Michael Caine was interviewed a few years back and told CBS "I rehearse on my own, and by the time I've come onto a set I have said the line to myself a minimum of 1,000 times."
Yeah, 1,000 times. No wonder it looks so easy and effortless. But it's not, and frankly nothing worthwhile that looks easy really is. Graceful actors, athletes and speakers all practice like crazy -- it just happens behind closed doors and we see only the final draft.
PowerPoint slides aren't inherently evil. They're a tool. But when you're getting ready to present, put them to one side until you've hammered out what you're going to say. In doing so you'll be among the best speakers your audience hears on that, or any other, day.
Let everyone else continue to do it backwards. You do it right.
About Dave Yewman
A friend of Dave’s 11-year-old son Aaron asked, “What does your Dad do?” Aaron thought for a minute, then said, “He teaches people how not to say ‘um.'” That’s a pretty good elevator speech for a presentation coach. Dave likes to think there’s a bit more to presentation coaching than that — but it’s a great place to start. In the past 10+ years Dave’s coached CEOs, professional athletes, tech startup founders, engineers, creative designers and pretty much everyone in between.
Dave Yewman is a strategic communications expert with more than 15 years of experience. A former newspaper reporter and columnist, he speaks regularly to groups about how to use clear, concise, compelling language as a strategic weapon when dealing with reporters, employees, sales prospects, shareholders, and consumers.
Dave lives near Portland, Oregon.
Learn more about Dave and ElevatorSpeech at www.elevatorspeech.com.
Today's post comes from ROAM Communications network partner, Rory J. O'Connor, Chief Storyteller at San Francisco-based Morcopy Communications. He is an award-winning former journalist and long-time senior PR executive, who provides executive communications consulting and writing services to corporate clients.
There's hardly a corporate communications program that doesn't include a "thought leadership" component, whether the goal is to increase the visibility of a key executive, position a brand to stand apart from its competitors, or influence the direction of an industry or public issue.
Unfortunately, few of those programs succeed as well in practice as they do on paper. What often gets in the way of success is fear of risk.
Being a true thought leader is inherently risky. It requires an individual or a brand to be bold, to take a stand on something important, or point with confidence to a vision of the future. But taking a stand means choosing sides, and predicting the future means you might be wrong. The stronger the stand, the more risk there is of opposition; the bolder the vision, the greater the risk it won't come to pass.
The temptation is to back away from that risk -- but that also saps a thought leadership campaign of vitality and effectiveness. You wind up with speeches that don't excite audiences, op-eds that don't entice editors, and blog posts that don't ignite conversations.
Don't run away from those risks: Embrace them instead, and then build your campaign around these five key principles:
Finally, even if you follow these principles, a thought leadership campaign rarely succeeds overnight. It takes time to earn a following and respect with a target audience. One of the most successful thought leadership campaigns of my career, which a colleague and I developed for a major global technology brand, developed quite gradually over 18 months. We were fortunate to have a CEO who both embraced the risk and was willing to invest the right level of time and resources. Setting expectations at the outset will help ensure the campaign has the opportunity to deliver its full value.
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.