Thursday, August 25, 2011

Speaking in Public: Adding the Varnish

© 2011 VDS Brink

Success in public speaking is to put yourself in the shoes of the audience and adhere to the 6 golden rules:
1.   What
2.   Is
3.   In
4.   It
5.   For
6.   Them?
This is where most go wrong when the speech becomes a self inflating ego boosting boredom.
This article builds upon good principles giving same practical guidelines.
When asked what makes him a virtuoso, the great pianist, Artur Rubinstein answered,“ is not the notes, it is how I hit them and especially the spaces between them ...”
The words we utter are a tiny bit of our success. To ramble on from a piece of paper like a cabinet minister is the worst we can do.
Between the words are:
·  Body language:  Youtubes some politicians, yet switch off the sound. Nick Clegg (the UK’s vice Prime Minister) is by far the best and locally a lonely voice in the desert: Naledi Pandor
·  Space between concepts to give the audience to absorb it all: We can hear and think only so fast. After each key point, give them a breather and sometimes repeat.
·  Structure: people can take in about 3 concepts and that is about all. Never ever “..O yes and another thing..”
·  Begin and end: it makes and breaks. Never with a table of contents or end with “now in conclusion”. Watch the great Steve Jobs while he is still with us.
·  Humour is not a joke, humour is to laugh with a tear, it is the most difficult form of public speaking and takes years to master. Humour starts in the mirror and poking fun on yourself and your oddities. My son in law is blessed with huge ears. He often starts with: “Everybody talks about me as the guy with the Ego; ‘Enorme groot ore!’ ” or when Janetta in her CC1 spoke about being visually impaired, she said: “I am going to retire in Van Zylsrus; there is nothing to see!”..hilarious!!
·  Nothing beats a good story, especially if it’s a fairly tale. The moment we start with “An elephant and a rat walked in the woods and the rat said:.. “ we have all the attention because believe it or not, 99.9% of all people still believe animals can talk!
·  How hard we hit the notes: Vocal variety. Practise in the garage over and over.
·  The eyes are the mirror of the soul; 5 seconds at a part of your audience works well. More is staring and less is glancing.
·  Of visual aids, books are written on it, yet 99% of us all do it wrong: It is an AID, nothing more. To simply repeat word by word on a screen what we say is ridiculous and boring. People read 20 faster that we can speak. A picture or graph are stuff things I cannot always tell and usefull to show. Now and then a brief 1-2 words/line synopsis also works wonders.
Use dark backgrounds and light letters, avoid eye sweeps.
The needs of an audience are what all is about. Each of us need: Safety, Belonging, Self-esteem, Self-actualization, Curiosity, Aesthetic, Transcendent, Sympathy, Spirituality, Achievement & Pride, Anger and revenge, Competitiveness, Adventure and danger, Fear and resolve, Humor & play. Give an audience most of this, even in a 5 minute talk, and you will have them eating out of your hands.
It all lies in the preparation. Most think it crazy, but great speakers write the speech word by word, read it loud, change bit by bit and redo. Then leave these notes at home. This aids to perfect word choice, timing and the structuring of the mind. Do it!
Back to the great Steve Jobs: Youtube him, especially the Stanford Graduation speech starting with, “This is the closest to graduation I have ever been..!” 

Jobs’s approach gives something for us to learn from:
·         There is something in the air: Raise expectation
·         Set the theme: Why are we here
·         Clear and consistent headline: We have clear focus
·         Give outline: This is what it is all about
·         Clear transitions: Short stories
·         Enthusiastic
·         Passionate words
·         Wows
·         Sell an experience
·         Analogies & Stories
·         Visual: use metaphors and physical props
·         Simple word pictures: “it is like…”
·         Give a show
·         Make it memorable
·         Give them an unexpected bonus
·         Leave them wondering
Great public speaking, like sculpturing, is an art, we need to be born that way. Yet each of us can be 90% as good as an artist, it just takes hard work.
Just do it!

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