My Biggest Speaking Mistake and Two Tools That Fixed It

Having fun with my audience in South Africa

Having fun with my audience in South Africa

Can Being Content-Rich Make Your Speaking Poor?

I’ve always prided myself in being a content-rich speaker so imagine my surprise when I had the following conversation after a speech. A couple ladies cornered me and said, “You had a lot of content in your speech.” I said, “Thank you.” Then they said, “We mean you had too much content.”

At first I thought, “Too much content? I’ve spent all this time striving to be a content-rich speaker and now they’re telling me I have too much content?” Guess what? They were right.

The problem with having too much content is just what one of the ladies told me. She said, “As soon as I’d begin writing something down, you’d say something else worth remembering and I wouldn’t catch it. Because you shared so many points, I’m afraid I won’t recall any of them.”


Here’s the problem many speakers will face if we are not careful

When we start to know more and more about our topic, inevitably that “more” ends up finding its way into our speech. What’s important to realize about speaking is that oftentimes less is more. Just because you know more doesn’t mean you have to show more within that particular speech.


When you say everything, you say nothing


After providing great value, it’s okay to leave them wanting more especially if you put that “more” into a next step such as a book, blog, or even a follow-up speech.


Here are two great solutions to keep your audience from feeling lost or overwhelmed

 Tool # 1:Call Back Before Your Move Forward

Tighten up your structure by calling back to each major point before you move onto the next point. For example, once I finish making my point about “Selling the Results,” I’ll transition into the next point by saying something like, “Never sell a product, always sell the result. Always put the result before the resource. Always put the result before the request.” Then, and only then, will I move onto my next R, which is about Relationships.

Then, every time I finish my other points, I make sure to call back to every single one of the points I already covered. This becomes almost like a chorus in a song that your audience starts to remember and sometimes even sing along (so to speak). For one of my speeches, I’ll call back to Selling the Results, building remarkable Relationships, and Reforming to a better way. Regularly calling back before moving forward makes your message very clear and prevents your audience members from getting lost.


Tool #2: Use my “10 to 1 Rule of Thumb.”

Part of my mistake was that I tried to fit too many points into too little time. Now I use my “10 to 1 Rule of Thumb.” For every 10 minutes I speak, I feel I can make an average of one point that I can illustrate effectively and make palatable for my audience.

Therefore, if I’m asked to speak for 45 minutes, I’ll often do my 4 Rs to Remarkable Results speech. If I’m asked to speak for 30 minutes, I often do my 3 Rs to Remarkable Results speech. The key is to heed the old speaker proverb that, “When you squeeze your information in, you squeeze your audience out.” By using a similar formula to my “10 to 1 Rule of Thumb,” you’ll move towards much greater clarity and your message will be easily digested.


So What Can We Learn from This?

Being content-rich should not include filling your audience up with content until they overflow. Instead, it should be about giving them a few solid, memorable, and actionable ideas that they can use to improve their lives. Indeed less is more. I’ll leave it at that.

Craig Valentine

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