The One Trick Public Speaking Trainers Rarely Teach -- Story
December 7, 2013
I’ve trained CEO’s and senior executives for decades on how to handle the media, how to stay on message in front of customers and staff, and how to tackle the tough questions. But most of this training fades away in a week, sometimes in days, and the thousands of dollars been spent on this training turns into a complete waste.
Most public speaking and media training sessions focus on the physical, or what I refer to as the “hardware” of public speaking. Frankly, executives are so busy there is little time for anything else.
So, executives see their fumbling and stuttering on camera and they’re told to keep chin up, minimize hand movement, don’t face the camera, face the camera, don’t move, move with purpose, wear a blue shirt, stand stage right, and so forth. If lucky, they might get a company message point crafted, or two. Then they are cast out to face the cold, cruel world of customers, and the media.
It’s a miracle anyone gets a word out.
It’s as if trainers delight in wrapping multiple layers of anxiety and confusion around the poor speaker. And all in an effort to make things look “natural.”
Don’t worry so much about the physical, or the “hardware,” side of public speaking, but focus on the content, or the “software” side.
If your content is “programmed” correctly then a good chunk of the “hardware” problems become irrelevant. Wild hand movements and pacing go from issue to asset, and those funny physical eccentricities, which we all have, become your signature style.
Your content needs to be a “structured conversation” with your audience. And it needs to be a story built in classic fashion, that is, in three strong acts – strong beginning, middle, and end.
Of course, the audience doesn’t know this inner structure. They are just delighted by it, and by your fantastic hand and arm movements. You are taking them on a journey, and they are engaged.
The point is, move away from being a corporate robot with message points to becoming a real, living human with something powerful to say. That’s what an audience wants from a speaker.
Of course, this takes some thinking, planning, writing, crafting of story and message, re-writing, and practice. You have to work with a story template that is appropriate to the subject, and you may need dynamic visuals, too.
But by developing your story, or your “software code,” along with a strong point of view, you will never forget what you came to say. Your story becomes deeply embedded within you, and it is 100 percent natural.
Now, all those little physical tips you were trained on, spent thousands on rehearsing in front of a camera, add a layer of professional polish that makes your story that much more powerful, and impactful.