When you build a deck of presentation slides, how do you keep on track? If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve sometimes felt pressure (from yourself or some-one else) to include more and more content.
You know, like:
- Background on your topic, even though most of your audience doesn’t care (or already knows it)
- Existing slides on your topic, but which were made for a different purpose
Here’s one great tip that’ll help you resist pressures like those, and it comes in just a
20-second video clip from experienced speaking-coach Jim Endicott:
As Jim suggests:
What do the president of the United States, TED talks, and the key message in the book Made to Stick have in common? Simply this – they’re all known by acronyms:
- POTUS for President Of The United States
- TED for Technology, Entertainment, Design
- SUCCES from Made to Stick.
You might be wondering what that has to do with your talk or presentation. Well, coining your own acronym can help you neatly and compellingly convey your core message or call-to-action.
That’s what I often do with my own content, using acronyms like FiRST, Aim, or PACE. And as you can tell from me citing 3 examples that I’ve coined, I love acronyms!
In this post, we’ll focus on acronyms where each letter represents a separate term, like a series of steps or attributes (rather than acronyms that stand for phrases). For instance, PACE stands for making your talk Personal, Actionable, Conversational, and Emotional.
An acronym can be great for you and your audience
Let me try to convince you why an acronym can be great for you and your audience. (That is, provided you apply your acronym strategically to a vital part of your talk, especially your core message or call-to-action.)
Does this age-old advice about presenting sound familiar?
- Tell people what you’re going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Tell them what you told them.
You’ve probably heard that advice before (and you might well follow it, too). It basically says:
“Start your presentation with an agenda,
and end with a summary slide” [Doubtful advice]
I’ve used that format myself many times. But the more I thought and read about it, the more I realised it tends to bore listeners, for 4 reasons:
When you’re preparing a speech or presentation, do you ask yourself specific questions to help you build your talk?
For instance, you might ask yourself:
“What do I want my audience to do as a result of my talk?”
Questions like that one – being based on your audience – are much more helpful than focusing on your topic itself. They help you frame your content from your listeners’ viewpoint. So when you give your talk, people are far more likely to:
- Listen to what you say in the first place.
- Make the effort to properly consider it.
- Accept it.
One of the best sets of speech-planning questions I’ve ever seen was shared by speaking-coach Christopher Witt. It consists of just 4 questions, the 1st being what you want your audience to do, and the last being:
In part 1 – Use the PACE approach – I showed how you can start to engage an audience before you even speak. To do that, you can make your talk’s title meet these 4 criteria, so it’s:
- P Personal
- A Actionable
- C Conversational
- E Emotional
In this post, you’ll see how to make your whole talk personal – to keep people engaged.
By that I mean using your content to connect with each person in your audience. As people are generally most interested in themselves, one of the best ways you can connect with your audience is to show clearly that you’re focused on them. After you do that, another great way to connect with and therefore engage people is to use genuine emotion.
So, how can you do those things to make your whole talk personal? Well for a start, try these 4 tips, which are arranged roughly from most to least audience-centred:
Here’s one of the most powerful techniques you can use in your talks:
Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.
In fact it’s so effective, I urge you to reserve its full power for your main point. (Otherwise, you risk people remembering the wrong part of your message!)
If you’re not sure what I mean by “speak in threes”, here are 2 examples of catchy phrases that use this technique, which you’ve probably heard many times:
“Location, location, location”
“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”
In both cases, notice that they’re phrases containing just 2 or 3 syllables but which are repeated 3 times in a row.
Let’s look at a real-life example…
Shortly, I’ll show you exactly why phrases like that are so memorable and repeatable – or in other words, why they’re so viral. But first, let’s look at a real-life example of how you might speak in threes…
Imagine you’re the captain of a cruise ship with about 4000 people onboard, and almost 200 of your passengers and crew catch gastroenteritis. In your daily loudspeaker announcements to the whole ship, how might you speak in threes to promote hygiene and help contain the outbreak?
Do you think you’d have bothered reading this post if I’d called it this instead:
“Audience engagement and contemporary presentation materials”
This post’s title deliberately uses 4 “keys” to engage you (in just the first 9 words). For a moment, look at the post’s title again. Can you guess what the 4 keys might be? (You probably guessed that their initials make up the acronym PACE.) Well, read on to see how many of the keys you spotted!
(And, for a very pleasant change from so many posts about presenting, this post has nothing to do with bullet points – despite the bullets in the photo above!)
Looking for a framework to make your talks more effective? Look no further than the “6 Ps of public speaking”. You’ll find them in a short post by Benjamin Ball, who runs a speaker coaching business in the UK, and I think they’re brilliant!
The original 6 Ps
In the table below, you’ll see those 6 Ps, with my thoughts on them. (After the table, you’ll also find a few suggestions that might make the 6 Ps even better. So as you read the list, see if you can think of any changes you’d make, too.)
This post aims to dispel 2 myths you might have heard about public speaking:
- an old, very persistent myth, and…
- a new one that seems to date from just 4 months ago.
So let’s get straight into the myth-slaying…
Have you heard people say that you convey only 7% of any talk through your words? The same people will likely say you convey much more of your message through tone (38%) and body language (55%). Well…
If anyone tells you that,
please let them know it’s nonsense!
Here’s why that’s the case…
The 7-38-55 figures come from studies by Albert Mehrabian, but his work focused on:
Does your talk’s goal involve your audience taking action afterwards? I hope so, because only by people acting on your talk can it be truly effective.
To act though, your audience needs to remember afterwards:
- What they should do
- Why they should do it – that is, how important it is to them.
This post helps you make those 2 aspects of your presentation vividly memorable. And if you happen to have read the overview of the F!RST framework (of which this is part 3), you’ll already know about the acronym “SMS”, which represents the 3 types of tips in this post.
Here, SMS stands for: