This is the latest in the Speaker Academy series, which started here. The series is addressed to patients and advocates who basically know how to speak on a subject but want to make a business out of it. I’ll try to be clear to all readers, but parts may assume you’ve read earlier entries.
I’m at the 6th annual Mayo Ragan Social Media Summit, in a session called Video Boot Camp. It’s conducted by former PBS producer Drew Keller, and his thinking about how to think out a video exactly matches my advice in this series on how to think out your speech.
- “Who are you speaking to? If your audience is everyone, it’s no one.” If don’t have a specific kind of person in mind, then it’s the same as talking to nobody. There’s no way you can focus your message.”
- In your speech preparation calls, always find out who’s going to be in the room that day. Doctors? Executives? Health aides?
- If you don’t know that, there’s no way you can express your message in their terms. And you’ll be wondering why you didn’t have the impact you wanted.
- “What are your expectations? What impression do you want to leave them with?”
- This matches one of the most important (and thus) earliest things in this series: #5, “Knock it out of the park.” Find out what result would make the client say “Boy, you really knocked it out of the part.” I call this “the home run call,” and it’s a core part of my method.
- (If you want help figurint that out for a speech, ask me!)
The parallel: Both Drew and I are marketing communication people, and what’s clear to me is that for any kind of purposeful communication, you need to know what impact you want to have, and who those “impactees” are.
One more thing: visual aids.
Some speakers refuse to use slides, and I bet you that’s because they don’t know how to use any presentation software. (It’s time consuming and to do it well takes time!)
I have nothing against talking-head speeches – Dr. Atul Gawande, for one, is great at it – but Keller points out something else, that I milk for every bit of impact I can get:
Images engage the mind.
He also talked about how video viewers start to lose interest in a face in about five seconds. (Researchers use eye-tracking software to measure this.) If nothing new hits the audience’s eyes soon, attention wanes, so your work as a speaker to keep them engaged gets harder with each passing moment.
That’s why I commonly click my clicker every 15-30 seconds… sometimes it’s a new slide but often it’s a multi-part “build.” This must be done artifully – you don’t want to dazzle them – but this too is a secret part of why people say “You’re such an engaging speaker!” More on slide-making techniques in future posts, I hope.
Bottom line: to have impact, know who you’re talking to, and what impression you want them to get.
(This post is about speeches, not video, but if you want to explore Keller’s work, check out his StoryGuide.net website. Very very good stuff.)