Organizing Your Speech So Your Audience Can Actually Use the Information (Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Video Blog Series)

Today’s topic in the Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Video Blog Series is How to Organize Your Speech So Your Audience Can Actually Use the Information.

This may seem totally elementary, but it is woefully disregarded way too often. I want to eliminate that possibility for you. Remarkable speeches are memorable because they have awesome content that people actually remember and use (plus other stuff we’ll talk about throughout the series.)

And for those of you (like me) who like to scan a post before you decide to invest in the video (or the meat of the content), here are the hi-lights to help you decide if you want to spend the 3.5 minutes on the video itself:

  1. Too much information is overwhelming to your audience. People often give way too much information (thereby overwhelming the audience.) Let’s don’t have you do that, okay?
  2. Choose three main points (or chunks, as I like to call it, even though it doesn’t seem all that appealing when I think about it) under ONE main idea (the title of your speech should reflect this one big focus area.)
  3. Add compelling stories, super-specific tips, and exciting statistics or data to each of those main points only as they serve to further illustrate and amplify those main points.
  4. Cover nothing beyond the main topic of this presentation and the three main points you have chosen. You will struggle to let go of “really great information” you want to share – let it go anyway. You will think the information you are leaving out is “really important” – leave it out anyway.

If you do all of this for real,  you’ll structure yourself a really powerful presentation (assuming the content is excellent quality.)

There’s more in the video, including an example to illustrate structure. As always, I invite your feedback, thoughts, ideas and suggestions. In particular, I’m wondering about your experience of seeing really great presentations that you remember well. What did they do with the structure that helped you take it all in? Do you use strategies I don’t mention here in your own presentations that we can all learn from?

Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Series – Type-style

I know that sometimes you just don’t want to watch a video. Maybe you’re at work and you don’t want others to hear that you are doing a little (educational!) blog-touring. Possibly you want to scan the info first, to see if it will be worth your time.

So, I’ve asked the excellent David Merrick (my guy for all things online-tech-marketing-ish) to help me translate the video posts into written blog posts, distilling it down to the essentials from the video, using my voice. I think he’s done a mighty fine job of it. So, here is the first translation of the intro video and the first content video in the series.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. In particular, I’d love to know, do you have a preference between video & written? Or audio alone? Or a mix of all three?

Okay, here goes David’s summary of the videos:

I’d like to introduce our “Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People” video series!

I decided to create this series to help those of us who are not as well-known as Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, but who do want to improve our content, delivery, and other aspects of great
Maybe you are just starting to get your message out into the world in a bigger way. Maybe you want to start speaking, but you’re really nervous. Maybe you don’t know where to start, or you’re not exactly sure how to structure a speech in a way that an audience can take it in readily, easily, and go use it to take action in the world. If so, this series is just for you!

In service of that, I’m going to give you several straight-up tips on:

public-speaking content structure, organization, delivery, research, and more.

I’m also going to venture out and see as many ordinary-ish speakers as I can over these next couple of months. I’ll share with you things that I see in their presentations, like suggestions and ideas that I can provide for you that will make your presentations even better. I’m doing this because I know that, at this very moment, a lot of ordinary people are out there making an extraordinary difference in the world by getting their message out there (and often creating more business in the process). I want that for you, too.

So that’s what this series is about, and I hope you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll be regularly posting new articles and videos here on the Brazen Soul blog once or twice per week. I invite your comments, your ideas, your suggestions, and I hope that, together, we can all collectively add to the value of this “Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People” video blog series.

and the second video, on the OSU-Cascades brown bag lunch talk: “Why Not Gross National Happiness?”:

Welcome to the first video of our “Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People” video series!

I want to talk to you today about a presentation that I recently attended at our local college campus, OSU-Cascades, called “Why Not Gross National Happiness?”. It centered around the question of why we’re using production and productivity, instead of well-being and happiness, as a measure of our success as a society. All in all, the presentation was excellent, and I’m going to discuss the aspects that were really great about it as well as a few ways that the presenter could have delivered a more powerful presentation.

In service of those two goals, I’m going to discuss

what made the content of the presentation so appealing,

and then

what he could’ve done with his visual aid (presentation slides) to make a stronger connection with his audience.

On Content…

The presentation’s content was great because he fully flavored it with all of the appeals– ethos (credibility), logos (logical), and pathos (emotional). He cited credible academic journals with peer-reviewed research by other experts in the fields of psychology, economics, and the effects of financial success on well-being and happiness. He used his own experience, which, on top of its inherent ethos (credibility) appeal, helped to bring us closer to him as an audience. Boosting his credibility also added to the logical appeals in the content of his presentation. Perhaps most importantly, he provided emotional appeals as well with pictures that were very compelling, including one of chickens that were crammed into a pen as he discussed how this was “cage-free” chicken raising actually looks like in practice.

On presentation slides…

The presentation was great, but could’ve been made better through his presentation slide choices. He used slides–lots of slides–which can be dangerous to public-speaking if the presentation slides aren’t done right. Presentations slides are a tool to emphasize a point that you’re making, to amplify your presentation. In many cases in this context, they did, (as in the case of the image of the chickens) but several of
them were jam-packed with words.

When your slides have lots of words, people (including you as the presenter) shift focus to those slides and you lose that vital connection between presenter and audience. The way that
you make meaningful impact in the world, in almost all aspects of interaction, is connection. When all of you are staring at the presentation slides, you miss that critical opportunity for eye-contact and connection with your audience.

This loss of connection negatively impacts your presentation in a couple of ways. First, you lose out on
the feedback that the audience is giving you
. You don’t know if they’re telling you “Yes, I’m
understanding what you’re saying,” by nodding their heads or smiling -  or “No, I don’t get it,” by way of furrowed brows and head shaking. This is essential feedback for you as a speaker to act on. It gives you the signal to better explain a point if everyone looks confused, or to exclude extra explanations or stories if it appears that everyone understands. You also lose out on the potential power of your visual aid because a wordy slide doesn’t look as nice or have the same impact as a powerful image or a slide with a few large, carefully chosen words.

For truly magnificent presentation slide design, I highly recommend using the guidelines Garr Reynolds provides in his fantastic book, Presentation Zen (affiliate link). Essentially, he advises six words or less per slide if at all possible and a big, powerful image that amplifies what you’re saying so each member of your audience can feel the emotional impact and better connect with you. That’s what you want for powerful presenting.

I hope those two tips about the public-speaking presentation content and presentation slides help you in your next presentation.

Until next time, lovely day to you!

Freight Trains & the Drive for Self-Expression

I spent this past week on an unexpected trip to California. My mom was sick – she is on the upswing now – and I needed to be there to help figure out who could help her get better. I am pretty tapped out on hospitals, ERs and insurance company paperwork at this point. At the same time, I am profoundly aware of the gifts they all were in this confusing medical adventure we went through. More on that later – there were many surprisingly relevant experiences to share from all that.

But for now, I want to talk about this freight train I saw as I was making the 6-hour drive home. Check out that train. Isn’t it beautiful? I was totally struck by the colors and artistry on every single car on that train. What I thought to myself was, “Man, our drive for self-expression is so intense!” Because it is.

I get it that it’s illegal to paint those train cars. I’m not here to comment on the legal thing, either way. I’m here to scream from the rooftops: You must be heard! (Isn’t that ironic?)

Here’s the thing: If you are a creative person (and really, who isn’t, whether they self-identify or not?) it is essential to your health and well-being that you find your modus creativitando (mode of creative expression – no, that last word isn’t a real word, but I like the way it words with modus.) We know this from happiness research (especially if you are American), we know this from mental health experts, and we know this from people who tell us how much better their life is now that they’ve started living from their center of self-expression (like here and here.) Those people who risk their freedom (they could go to jail, you know… or get a fine, or whatever) just to express their artistic talent and message on the side of a train, they have this figured out. The bummer is, they aren’t making any money off of this. They still have to pay bills somehow. The nirvana is marrying your modus creativitando (yep) and your paycheck (in a legal way that doesn’t jeopardize your freedom to enjoy your freedom) and making big stuff happen in the world. Some people argue that you don’t need to get paid to do what you love, but I can’t help but think that is the only way to make the hugest mark in the world for most of us.

Meantime, if it’s a start for you and gets you off your tookus toward living your greatest self-expression, find a freight car to paint (but since I officially do not condone illegal behavior in any way, please ask permission first. Or whatever.)

Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Series Intro & Overview

If you are NOT a professional public speaker – maybe you’re just starting out in your public-speaking adventure, or you are just really nervous or want a refresher on the fundamentals of great presentations (with some truly new and different angles on powerful speaking at any level of experience), this series is created precisely for you. More details here in this overview video: (be sure to scroll down to the first content post below as well!)

Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Video Blog Series Intro from Michelle Barry Franco on Vimeo.

And now for the promised First-Ever post of the series, let’s dive right in and talk about great content & engaging use of presentation slides using the talk I attended today at OSU-Cascades called “Why Not Gross National Happiness?”:

Public-Speaking Tips from Mike Arauz’s Design for Networks Talk

Mike Arauz of Undercurrent in New York gave a great talk today for our AdBite meeting today. Here are just a few of the things he did really well that we can learn from and use easily in our own talks:

Public Speaking Tips: Thoughts on Mike Arauz of Undercurrent talk for Adbite, Bend, OR from Michelle Barry Franco on Vimeo.

Here’s the link to the video archive from the talk so you can see what I’m talking about. Thanks, Pinnacle Media, for creating a video we can reference. Y’all are so lovely.