Last week, I posed the question, “What separates the outstanding speakers from the mediocre?”
Following is some kick-ass advice from my good friend Emily French, Managing Director of ConsiliAgra.
Emily speaks all over the world on the global grain and oilseed markets, and you just may see her now and again on CNBC.
Here is Emily’s response to my question:
Deep breath and ACTION:
15 Steps to Become an Outstanding Speaker
- Have at least one glass of wine the night before and no more than 1 bottle (by yourself). This can be a challenge for some… just saying. That’s the easy one to get out of the way.
- Make it personal off the bat. If you are nervous, say so… we all have fears – go on and lift your bloomers and expose yours. It makes you human and approachable – especially self-deprecating humor. OWN THE EXPERIENCE.
- I am terrible at telling jokes. But I have a lot of funny stories and experiences. Share those and make it work for you.
- On selling: I rarely talk about my company at the beginning or even in the speech – that’s what a reference slide is for. I share my experiences rather than my resume. They speak for themselves.
- What is relevant right now? What is happening in the media and headlines now? Even if it’s not directly involved in your topic, there will be a relationship. Bringing the “now” to the message shows you know how to read a newspaper, blog, and/or Facebook.
- Look forward. Not backwards (unless applying a lesson from the past. History repeats itself).
- Guide the audience. Pose questions. Why should anyone care? Why do I care? Don’t make them work for the answers or the points: Straight up, grab the leash and take ‘em for a stroll.
- I use the stool methodology (head out of gutter). Present the central theme or question or message. What is the single thing you want to leave with the audience – LEAVE IT WITH THEM then.. that’s the part of the stool your arse sits on.
- Stools have three legs (most of them). Three sub-messages that affect you or brought you to your one message. If you can include a personal story or experience for each sub-message, then you are well on your way.
- I love fun facts; especially if it isn’t a known factoid of the industry but there is an underlying message. Fun facts + personal experience = awesome stool leg!
- Bring back each stool leg to where your arse is sitting. It makes the connection for the audience (in case they partied late the night before).
- Back to an earlier point – don’t make the audience work – guide them. That allows them to listen and be in that moment rather than “what was it we were supposed to take away from this?”
- If it is a morning lecture, skip the Bloody Mary (this can be a challenge) and limit the coffee. Adrenaline rush will get you going and don’t forget to eat. Also if it’s humid and your hair looks “troubled” – call yourself out on it (oh wait – that’s me in Southeast Asia).
- The audience does not have your notes. They don’t know what you are going to say. You will be the only person who knows you messed up (unless you drop an F bomb – but that can be for emphasis for some points, or you really did have a Bloody Mary before your speech).
- The Rock Star Wrap-up. Go back to your stool. Hammer the points home… thank people for their time (they did show up). Wish them the best, and if you are going to be around the conference or if there is a lunch or cocktail hour, invite them to share something with you (I usually pose a question – again, direct… this can be part of your own research) Then stroll off into the sunset like you own the joint (in a very self-deprecating way, of course!).
and END SCENE …ROCK IT!
Well? What do you think? Anything to add to this list?[ssba]
Brad Benton says
As a dear friend of Emily, I completely agree with all of these points and would just add one more. Put the word “smile” as a note to yourself throughout your speaker notes. You’ll be amazed how many people forget because they are so focused or nervous or tired or, or, or…. “Smile and the world smiles with you.”
Lisa Gerber says
@Brad Benton completely agree with that one. It’s amazing what a smile can accomplish. Thanks, Brad!