Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Simple 3-Step Sequence So You Can Stop Wasting the Most Precious Time In Your Speech

Within seven to 30-seconds audience members decide how much energy and attention they will give your presentation.

Those are precious seconds too many speakers waste.

If you open by “thanking” the organization for bringing you in, or saying warm and fuzzy things about the organization and the event that have no meaning other than to be a “pleasantry,” you are wasting those precious seconds.

Craig Valentine, the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, calls these openings “unpleasant pleasantries,”
Skip Weisman with 1999 WorldChampion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine, and Marketing Expert Mitch Myerson, at the World Class Speaking Coaches conference
Craig Valentine (right) coined the phrase
'unpleasant pleasantries" for speech openings
because they cause the audience to literally or figuratively roll their eyes and yawn, wondering how boring the rest of the presentation will be.

There are three things you should do in sequence that will make your audience members lean in to listen even before you take the stage:

1) Create a “you” focused introduction
2) Open immediately with a provocative statement, fact or question that creates curiosity leading in to your opening story
3) Open with a “you” focused compelling story of vulnerability

Create a “you” focused introduction
Most speaker introductions that are a chronology of the speaker’s experience and accomplishments mean nothing to the audience because it is all about the speaker.

Connect your experience, accomplishments and published books into statements that speak to something the audience wants and needs to learn. 

For example, here’s a piece from my speaker introduction:  
“Because Skip was named CEO of his first professional baseball franchise at just 26 years old he knows he committed the seven communication sins you’re going to learn about in his presentation today, many times over. Yet, over the second half of his baseball career Skip learned and practiced 7 critical communication skills he is going to share with you today so when you leave here you can begin your path to become a champion communicator.”

Open Immediately with a Provocative Statement or Question
So many speakers begin with the “unpleasant pleasantries” you will easily set yourself apart by sending a message to your audience in the first few seconds with
a provocative statement, fact or question related to what you will be teaching.

For example, I open my communication presentations with this:

“Research shows that the average employee wastes 40-minutes per day due to ineffective communication in the workplace. In most companies this equals more than $5,000 per employee per year. How many employees do you have and what may the loss in productivity due to ineffective communication be taking away from your company’s profits?”

Open With a “You” Focused Compelling Story of Vulnerability
Being the speaker on the stage causes the audience to think of you as something special and different from them. This creates a barrier between you, the speaker and your audience.

You need to break that barrier as quickly as possible by showing them that there is nothing special about you, but there is something special about the process, steps and skills you will be teaching them.

Your story should directly relate to the provocative statement, fact or question you opened with that shows where and how you learned a lesson your audience can benefit from.

The story should also be “you” focused putting them in the scene. Here is one example of how I’ve done it:

“Imagine, you’re 26 years old and you’ve just been promoted to the job of your dreams, it’s a job you’ve coveted for several years and now the job is yours. Just like every other 26-year-old in your company today, you think you’re ready to be the boss. Then, very soon after stepping into that boss roll something happens that teaches you that you’re not as ready as you thought. One day I was sitting at my desk, when…”

This story speaks directly to my poor communication skills as a young baseball executive, and the cost to me, and my organization, reinforcing the credibility of the opening statement, fact or question.

Lose the “unpleasant pleasantries.” Open your next presentation with this three step opening sequence so your audience will lean in to what you’re about to say the rest of the way.

Skip Weisman is The Workplace Communication Expert and a member of an elite group of international World Class Speaking Coaches.

Skip works with aspiring speakers to improve their presentation skills and programs around content, organization and delivery, while also working with the owners and CEOs of small businesses with between 6-60 employees to improve communication in the workplace.

The work Skip does with his small business clients can transform work environments in as little as 90-days to create a championhip company cultures that are more positive, more productive and even more profitable.

You can download his newest workplace report, "The Missing Ingredient to Improving Employee Performance" at www.YourChampionshipCompany.com and learn about Skip's keynotes and seminars on workplace communication at www.SkipWeismanSpeaks.com .

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