In-Between Time and Using the Floor
By Craig Valentine
Here are two very important (yet separate) ideas that can help propel your future speeches to great heights!
In-between time is what I refer to as the time in-between making your major points. Of course you need to use this time to transition into the next story or example, but how you use this time can make the difference between a dry speech and an exciting one. One effective way you can use in-between time is to add more humor. Hopefully your stories have humor as well, and if you add humor between these stories, then your audience will really enjoy your speech.
For example, immediately after one story and just before the next one I may relate the following to add humor:
There’s a lady that used to work for me and she liked to tell me all of her problems. One day she said, “Craig, I’m sick of guys.” I said, “Oh no, here she goes again. What’s wrong?” She said, “All the guys I date are always the same.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “The last five guys I dated all had drinking problems.” I said, “Really? Where do you meet them?” She said, “At the bars!” I said, “Well, if you stop going to Drinkers R Us, then you might find a good man.”
[Now completely facing the audience] You know what the key to her situation is? If she wants to keep getting what she’s getting, she should keep doing what she’s doing. Ladies and gentlemen [I step forward to make my point] if you ever want to change what you are getting, all you have to do is change what you are doing, and most people are not using their gifts!
At that point I transition into a story about using your gifts. Therefore, this not only adds to the humor (just a little bit in this case) but also helps you transition smoothly from story to story. Sooner than you think, you will have humor in your stories, transitions, and in those magical spontaneous moments. The audience will certainly have a great time during the learning process.
Here are some other ways to use this valuable in-between time:
- Quick joke
- Repeat after me
- An emotional thought or a powerful quote
- A rhetorical question (to keep them thinking)
- Some audience participation
- Some spontaneity based on the audience’s responses
- A very quick story
- A strong transitional statement
Whatever you do during the in-between time, make sure you practice it and make it a valuable part of your speech.
The other major benefit of the in-between time is that it gives the audience enough time and enough of a break in the intensity of your last story to digest your last point. It is like they are taking a breath and then preparing themselves for some more of your message. Now they can enjoy the break as well!
Remember: Use your in-between time to insert something special for your speech.
Using the Floor
Many presenters are missing out on a huge opportunity to add invaluable emotional impact to their speeches.
Many speakers give absolutely no thought to where they stand or how they use the floor, yet this can be a very powerful part of delivering a speech. Too many presenters are missing out on a huge opportunity to anchor their audiences and to add invaluable emotional impact to their speeches.
What does it mean to anchor your audience?
Anchoring is the process by which your action gives the audience a conditioned response or reaction. For example, the former Tonight Show host, the late Johnny Carson, was great at anchoring. Many times, when he made the audience laugh, he made a certain facial expression. After a while, whenever Carson made the facial expression, people automatically laughed. In fact, the anchor was so strong that even comedians imitating Carson and his facial expression drew laughs automatically. We too, can anchor our audience and using the floor properly will help us do it.
Example: Toward the beginning of many of my speeches (just after the initial connection period) I usually go into my story about Mr. H. In the story I am 10 years old when a father of one of my friends tells me I speak like Daffy Duck. Needless to say I had a huge lisp and slurred my words, which resulted in constant and painful teasing by others. When I tell this 3-minute story at the beginning of my speech, I stand on the left side of the stage. After the story I go to the middle of the stage and give much more of my speech (other stories and points). Then at the very end of my speech I tell a surprise conclusion to the Mr. H. story.
In a nutshell, I run into Mr. H. again 18 years later when I am a grown man. When I tell this 3-minute story I go back over to the same left side of the stage where I was as the 10-year old speaking with Mr. H. The audience is brought back full circle to that story. Since I go to the same spot on the floor it makes it more emotional. It may sound strange but it works, because they are anchored to what happened there earlier.
Many speakers, including myself, also have other spots on the floor used for other reasons. For example, I usually move up as close to the audience as I can when transitioning from a story to making my point. I call this stepping up to the point. I may say, “Ladies and gentlemen,” as I step closer to them. “Life will not give you more until you do something with what you already have.” Many times I move right out into the audience. You cannot get any closer than that. I also have a humor section of the stage and this anchors the audience in knowing that something funny is coming…hopefully. Many times I see them laughing before I even get the humor out to them. Anchoring is one of the most ignored yet helpful practices in the art of public speaking. Try it, they’ll like it!
Craig Valentine, the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, is an internationally-known professional speaker, author, and speech coach. Do you want to increase your number of speaking opportunities, maximize each engagement, and become a speaker in high demand? Great! Visit http://www.52SpeakingTips.com and get a year’s worth of speaking lessons for free.