Your Mic Drop Moment: How to Give a Talk to Remember
EXCERPT FROM FORBES ARTICLE I wrote: On April 21, 2016, while running along Lake Michigan after having one of those days, in between the sweat and a tear or two, I decided that I had a voice and I wanted to use it. I wanted to stand on stage and move people with my words.
"I decided I wanted to speak publicly, often and powerfully. This was a new feeling for me. They say public speaking is a bigger fear than death for most people"
I've always spoken inside of my companies, but have never spoken for a living. I'm a former journalist and always had the entrepreneurial bent that led to stages. On this day, I decided I wanted to speak publicly, often and powerfully. This was a new feeling for me. They say public speaking is a bigger fear than death for most people, and I was most people.
Earlier, an industry colleague had told me it was better than some people listen and not speak. Everyone in the room knew he meant me. I was too shocked to reply as snickers resounded. While I allowed myself to wallow in it for a moment my initial feelings of hurt turned to purpose. I decided to respond with, "All right, buddy. Just you watch me."
I've been studying the language of public persuasion. For the last 515 days, I've been gathering intel on how the best of the best ensnare people with their words. I've given 83 speeches on a variety of subjects across the states and the Americas. I've made more mistakes in videos, live interviews, podcasts, radio shows, red carpets (that was an awkward one) and television shows than I’d like to admit. And I have practiced.
I've learned some beautiful things. My goal for you is that when someone dismisses you next; saying you can't, you aren't, you shouldn't, you say, "Go ahead. Just watch me." Here are my five key learnings: Your Mic Drop Moment: How To Give A Talk To Remember
"I was spending too much time perfectly writing out what to say and then alternatively not enough time practicing. This is a killer."
Don't Spend Time On 'Perfect'
The No. 1 mistake I made initially was obsessing over my PowerPoint and script. I was spending too much time perfectly writing out what to say and then alternatively not enough time practicing. This is a killer. My process now is to outline the presentation, know the seed I want to plant in the audience's minds, write out the entire speech, then create a PowerPoint with pictures to trigger my memory, all as rapid-fire as possible.
I record myself giving the full presentation three-to-five times before I go live without notes. If I can't do it without messing up, I go back to practicing. Just because it's written does not mean it's deliverable. It is much better to have a scantily prepared PowerPoint than to have a scantily prepared speech.
"Keep your focus and don't allow niceties to distract you from your goal. You're there to perform; not for small talk."
Give Yourself Space Prior
Almost every expert in every industry takes time in solitude prior to performing. There is a calming factor in rituals. Think about baseball players and how they step up to the plate, hit their feet with the bat and then zone in. Rafael Nadal's tennis pre-ritual is worth a chuckle and a watch.
The moral of the story is, don't feel bad for saying, "I like to have a few minutes of solitude prior to speaking." Keep your focus and don't allow niceties to distract you from your goal. You're there to perform; not for small talk.
Layer Stories On Like Perfume
I don't memorize an entire speech -- ever. I layer my stories together. These are stories I have lived, read or used so many times that I could tell them in my sleep. This allows me to not only show my humanity and vulnerability, but tell a story in a way that feels like I’m talking to you in your living room, in our pajamas. I keep an Evernote of all of these snapshots of time, where just the title is a trigger for me to remember. For example, I know from these few words below where I want to go in my presentation. Can you come up with a similar list you can turn to again and again?
• The moment they told me "no" (when I was convinced to follow my "why")
• Doing the hard thing anyway (when I made my biggest, most painful life pivot)
"These days, we live in a world of 140 characters or fewer. Give the people what they want. "
Nail The Tweetable Moments
These days, we live in a world of 140 characters or fewer. Give the people what they want. What are those delicious little tidbits that your audience will hang on? Where can you insert soundbites that if they are delivered properly, absolutely send home your message? Then focus on landing those bad boys. I find that I weave the following one-liners in consistently. I believe them and I believe that the average person must hear something seven times before they remember it.
• "The few who do, not the many who speak."
• "If you do what the average person does, you will be as the average person is...average."
• "Surround yourself with those who feed your wild soul."
"The goal is akin to a movie or an Instagram scroll; you grab people’s attention through a sea of sameness."
Create Bold PowerPoints
I like PowerPoints for their visual effect and use as a trigger for my memory. However, my PowerPoints have a word or two, maybe a photo or at most one graph on them. The goal is akin to a movie or an Instagram scroll; you grab people’s attention through a sea of sameness. I rotate back and forth between using more malleable versions of the PechaKucha Method (essentially showing 20 slides each for 20 seconds) or the Lessig Method(showing simplistic slides with one word or image on them). It’s common sense but not common practice. Please don’t read off your slides, my friends.
Now go, use your voice and ensnare others with your words.
You deserve to be heard.
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