As a graphic recorder, I’m hired to go to conferences and meetings to listen, synthesize information, and create a “picture” of what the group is hearing or creating together.
Over the years, I’ve graphically captured the key points of dozens of high-profile speakers, and each time I learn something new about what makes a great speech.
- Make it personal: If you’re connected to the content of your presentation, that will connect you to your audience, and that’s when people feel moved.
- Have a clear point: What is the main message you want your audience to know? Articulate it clearly and then repeat it often and slowly. You may feel like you’ve heard it yourself too many times, but your audience is hearing it for the first time. John Medina makes this point in his book “Brain Rules.” Rule #6: For long-term memory retention, “Remember to repeat.” John suggests repeating every 10 minutes, which again may seem like a lot to you, but listeners will appreciate it and most importantly, they’ll remember your point.
- Silence is golden: A long pause after making a key statement can be very powerful. It allows the audience to soak in the information and they’ll be eager to hear the next statement.
- A note about notes: The best speakers I’ve seen don’t read anything at all during their speech. That includes notes in their hand or at a podium as well as PowerPoint slides.
- PPT—Ughhh: I’m obviously all for using visuals to enhance a message. A powerful picture projected while the audience is listening to a story is very helpful in driving home your point and creating an emotional connection. I suggest using your slides only to enhance your point. Never read from them. I recently recorded a speaker who used statistics in his speech. The numbers were important to the point he was making, but he didn’t show graphs or charts. He REPEATED the numbers slowly and paused each time to let them sink in. This was far more effective than a PPT slide ever could have been.
- Move: People don’t pay attention to boring things (rule #4 in Brain Rules). What’s more boring than watching someone who’s standing still behind a podium? Move around as much as your surroundings allow.
The Bottom Line
When your passion comes through, that passion is contagious. It will connect you to your audience and they will see things differently than they did before. They will be transformed.