Stand and Deliver
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”– A.A. Milne, Author & Poet
Let me open this article with a remembrance of 9/11/2001. For those of you who are old enough, my guess is you remember precisely where you were when 9/11 happened, what you were doing, and what you did when you heard the sad news.
Please take a silent minute from reading this article to remember those who died at the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. May they rest in peace.
< Minute of silence >
We will never forget them.
Yesterday, Saturday, 10 Sep 2022, I attended the monthly meeting of the National Speakers Association, Washington DC Chapter. The speaker was Craig Valentine, who won the 1999 Toastmasters International World Championship of Speaking. So naturally, I was very interested in what he had to say.
He talked about how to, what I call, stand and deliver.
Three of Craig’s speaker delivery points were (1) Speak to One, But Look to All, (2) You Can’t Rush and Resonate, and (3) Never Sell the Product, Sell the Result.
Below are my thoughts on Craig’s three points:
Speak to One, But Look to All
Another way to say this is speaking to your audience is nothing more than talking to individual audience members one at a time. When you are speaking to a particular audience member, scan the audience.
Would you say most everyone is comfortable talking to their best friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger they just met? I think most people would be comfortable.
Think of the one audience member you are talking to one at a time as this best friend, acquaintance, or stranger you just met.
This is the way you should talk to your audience. Again scan the audience after you have made eye contact with the one audience member to which you are talking.
Below are three examples from Craig Valentine of how you should change your language when talking to one audience member instead of your whole audience.
Instead of saying, “Has anyone here been to Baltimore?” say, “Have you ever been to New York City?”
Instead of saying, “Has anyone here in this audience ever been to a college basketball game?” say, “Have you ever been to a college basketball game?”
Instead of saying, “Has anyone in this crowd been to Italy?” say, “Have you ever been to Italy?”
The first question in each bullet is asked of the whole audience. The second question is asked of individual audience members. The second question in each case is the better one. So you are trying to reach each audience member separately.
You will engage your audience significantly better if each audience member thinks you are talking just to them.
In the NSA DC monthly meeting, Craig Valentine said, “too many speakers try to squeeze too much information in too little time. You can’t rush and resonate.”
You Can’t Rush and Resonate
If you give too much material too fast to your audience, it will be too much for them to take in at once. Less is more. What does this mean?
It means you will resonate with your audience more, convince them to apply what you say, and make it more enjoyable for your audience if you emphasize fewer main points and, thus, allow them to absorb what you are saying.
You are given a certain amount of time for your presentation. Plan on using only 80% of it to allow for audience reactions, your pauses, and things don’t go according to your plan. You will appreciate this extra 20% of the time.
If you rush through your presentation material, you have not planned well enough to succeed in your presentation. This may be a frank statement (pardon the pun), but it is true nonetheless.
Treat your presentation like a sinking ship. Whatever material in your presentation is unnecessary to support your message should be “thrown overboard.”
You may feel your audience needs all the information in your presentation. The fact is, they don’t. The truth is they only need the information vital to your message.
No one has ever complained about a speaker finishing before their time is up. However, complaints about a speaker going too long are legendary.
So, speak to one, but look at all and don’t rush your presentation so you can resonate with your audience are two points Craig Valentine talked about when you stand and deliver.
The final point Craig made was to never sell the product; sell the result. I will rewrite this as never sell the product; sell the transformation. The word “transformation” better indicates what you should sell in your presentations.
Never Sell the Product, Sell the Transformation
When was the last time you bought a car? How did the salesman approach you with an offer?
Did they tell you about all the safety features of the car? Did they tell you about how the satellite radio and Bluetooth work? Did they tell you about the manufacturer’s warranty?
Or, did they tell you about the smooth ride, how the car is a pleasure to take on long trips, and how great you look in the car?
In two paragraphs above, the salesperson was selling the product. In the previous paragraph, the salesperson was selling your transformation if you buy the car.
Which sale is more likely to happen, the product sale or the transformation sale? You guessed it, the transformation sale. Transformation always wins out against features.
If you are selling presentation skills, sell how much better audience members will feel about themselves if they hone their presentation skills, how their promotion potential will increase, and the accolades they will get from their direct reports, peers, and superiors.
You should be selling the transformation your audience will experience if they apply what you say.
So, three great points to stand and deliver are to speak to one audience member at a time but look at all; don’t rush through your presentation so you can resonate with your audience; and never sell the product, sell the transformation your audience members will experience.
In other words, stand and deliver!
Call to Action
Always speak to one audience member at a time; however, look to all when you do it
Take less than vital information out of your presentation, slow down, and use pauses to allow your audience to assimilate what you are saying
The audience is only interested in how your words can improve their lives. Concentrate on the transformation in your audience members’ lives
“Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Swim out after it.”– Anonymous
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at email@example.com and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”