Mistake #1: They Tell the audience about themselves
Have you ever heard a speaker say something like, “We all have problems and challenges that we need to overcome.”? What’s wrong with that statement? Here it is. Your audience members do not want to be told about themselves. A statement like that makes them think, “You don’t know me! How are you going to tell me I have a problem or a challenge? Speak for yourself.” This is how you lose them.
Now here’s the key. Of course they have problems and challenges but that’s not the point. The point is you shouldn’t tell them about themselves. The solution is to follow this creed:
Ask, don’t tell
So instead of saying, “We all have problems and challenges that we need to overcome,” say, “Have you ever had a problem or challenge that was difficult to overcome?” Or say, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a problem or challenge that was difficult to overcome.” Then, once their hands go up, you’ve just qualified them and now you can move on with your message by saying something like, “Me too. In fact, in 1999…” Don’t tell;ask.
Mistake #2: Taking too long to get to the story
Another reason we lose our audience is by rambling on too much before we get to our stories. Make no mistake about it, stories are the hooks to our speeches. If you don’t get to the stories within the first few minutes of your presentation, you will lose your audience. In fact, the very best way to begin a presentation is to jump right into a story that sets up the rest of your talk. The sooner you get to the story, the quicker you’ll connect with your audience.
Mistake #3: Taking to long to get to the conflict
What if the Titanic never hit the iceberg? I’ll tell you what, that would have been a boring movie! Why? People are wired to want to see how a conflict is overcome and what tools and strategies are used. Perhaps we can use these tools for our own conflicts in life. Just as stories are the hooks for your speeches, conflict is the hook for your stories. The problem with many speeches is the speakers do not get to the conflict early enough. Instead they go on and on setting up characters and situations when they should already be at the conflict.
As soon as you introduce your characters, make sure to immediately throw them into a conflict. If you’ve been telling a story for more than 60 seconds and you haven’t reached the conflict yet, chances are you’re losing your audience one by one. Write this down: Establish your conflict early.
Mistake #4: They Don’t Tease
Finally, another reason for losing the audience is they don’t tease. To be an effective speaker, you must be a great tease. For example, instead of simply moving from point to point in your speech, it’s important to make your audience thirst for what’s coming next. This is done through effective transitions. For example, here’s what I say in one of my speeches:
“If you get this next idea and put it to use in your life, you’ll find yourself moving towards your goals, dreams, and aspirations even while you’re asleep.”
Another tease I give is towards the end of one of my speeches called the 4 Rs to Remarkable Results. I say,
“There is actually one final R. This R is the most important thing I’ve ever done for my own success and I can all but guarantee it will become the most important for yours as well. And it’s only one word. Ready? Okay…”
Now let me ask you, do you think I give them the final R immediately after saying that? Of course not. Instead, I invite them into my final story and let them uncover the R while they’re in it. The key is that they really want to know what that R is! And every time I get to it, I see their pens hit the paper and a look of satisfaction come across their faces. This is partly because they got good information and partly because they’re happy to have solved the mystery.
When you avoid the four mistakes above and use the solutions, you not only connect with your audience but you deepen that connection throughout the speech.
So what about that final R? Well, I might as well tell you what it is. It’s…
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