Hello readers! Welcome! It makes me smile to know you’re here. Let’s start without wasting time...
As a public speaker, my motto is:
Delivery trumps content!
When I started to perform as a story-teller, one of my stories worked very well, people always laughed. However, one day, about 2 thirds of the way through the show, I started to feel tired. I had lost my enthusiasm. I should have asked the audience to gather in front of me rather than sitting at the back of the room or on the sides, there were too many empty seats just in front of me. However, I wanted to give those who were there the best performance I could; In spite of my weariness, I told my best story. After the show, someone told me that they really enjoyed it, apart from this one, that wasn't really interesting... It was my best story they were talking about though! What happened?
The people in the audience didn't notice that I was tired at that moment. They just found the story not that interesting...
Morality: delivery trumps content. As wonderful, clever or relevant your content might be, it will be valued in the light of your delivery. It does not work the other way round: no content will never ever redeem a poor delivery. You may find the ultimate remedy to climate change, if you don't know how to say it, they won't care.
Content is about what you want or have to say. I don't know what you will tell the world. It’s your business to know that.
Delivery is about how you say it. It’s my business to help you with that.
And now, here is another motto:
Delivery = Energy + Connection + Structure
Energy = confidence, joy, enthusiasm, poise, health, conviction, gravitas, elegance, grace, strength, love...
How you are will induce emotional states in your audience. How you are is the underlying message. Power lies there.
To bring about energy: Cultivate, Conjure up, Express
Cultivate= Long term preparation. Public speaking is a sport. Sleep well, eat well, do exercise, practice yoga or chi-kung, whatever helps. For challenging situations long term preparation is important.
Conjure up: As the Chinese proverb goes: “Do as if it was, and it will be”
Smile and you will feel the kindness. Open your arms and your heart opens up... Stand up straight and your confidence improves... Think of how great it is to keep calm and carry on and you will.
Express: Public speaking is performing. If you feel you are overdoing it, you’re probably doing it. If you feel you are doing it, you may be too reserved! Don’t trust your inner censor, or change its settings. The only mortal sin is boredom. You’re on stage, go for it!
I am building this post like a speech. Therefore, let's do a bit of sign posting:
I told you: Delivery = Energy + Connection + Structure
I have spoken about energy, that is better cultivated in the long run, can be conjured up to some extent, and that has to be expressed.
Energy is about how you are. Let's talk about connection now.
Connection =how you relate to others
Don’t talk at them, talk to them and they will love you.
Public speaking is a relationship with other human beings. Why forget the basic principles of human engagement? They are still the same as in everyday life!
To create a good connection= Smile, make eye contact, greet
...and the rest will follow!
Don’t wait for them to smile first. Remember when you were at school, waiting for the new teacher. Would you have smiled first? Once you are the speaker, you are in charge. It’s your role to show that it’s ok to smile.
Making eye contact is a most fundamental human way of breaking the ice. You are not facing a big undifferentiated crowd but a number of people like you. Brief eye contact with many of them while smiling and greeting will create a connection. You will become part of the group. This will defuse nervousness.
When you speak to the group as a whole keep making casual eye contact with some of them, without forgetting those who sit at the back of the room or on the sides. You can also look at the audience as a whole without focusing on one person in particular. Don’t look at the ceiling or your feet, keep in touch!
Greet Say Hello! ...and wait for them to answer to your greeting, as human beings do when they are genuine. If you say “Hello, how are you...” and keep talking, you’re on automatic pilot, you’re not really meaning what you say.
If you are scared... engage with a bit of small talk, ask them how was their day, and if you have compliments to make, don’t worry, they are not going to feel insulted.
... A bit more of sign posting...
Do you remember? Delivery = Energy + Connection + Structure
I started with Delivery trumps content, however content is your business. We have talked about energy (cultivate, conjure up, express) and about connection (smile, make eye contact, greet)
I will now talk about structure.
You want your message to be clear and memorable. A long string of facts and comments without apparent order nor transitions will not do the trick!
Structure = One, two, three, many!
One: There is the one thing you are talking about. In this presentation, I am talking about delivery in public speaking. I hope it's clear!
You can think of a tree. The one thing is the trunk. You can think of a star: the one thing is the centre. You can also think of a thread. If you are not sure what the one thing is... who will know!
From now, we are going into subdivisions...
Two: Opposition. The pros and the cons, on one hand, on the other hand, us and them, here and there... Two is a very simple easy to remember structure. In the introduction of this presentation, I have said “Delivery trumps content” and opposing these two facets of a speech, I have put the content aside as your business and focused on delivery as being mine.
A whole speech can be built on the principle of opposition: What my party propose to do (if elected) versus what your party would keep on doing (if the great misfortune of you being still there after the elections occurs)
Three: It is often said that there is something magical about the rule of three. Our minds seem to naturally like it. The trunk of your tree can divide into three branches, or three roots, and it will be easy and pleasurably to memorize, for you as speaker and for them as audience. Delivery = Energy + Connection+ Structure. One more... and the speech become confused. Beyond it’s too many.
In this presentation, each of my three main branches subdivides in three. Energy= Cultivate, conjure up, express; Connection = smile, eye contact, greet. Structure = one, two, three!
Many is too many! Beyond three it becomes a list. A list can be a good structure if you are the boss.
Now I feel a little bit annoyed. It occurs to me that there is a fourth branch that should be mentioned to say all there is to say about delivery, that is rhetorical devices.
So I have to make a decision... Maybe I could manage to re group my content differently so as to preserve my rule of three? This would be the wiser way.
However, rules are rules, and it’s always possible to break them and be creative! (At our own risk though)
Before talking about this fourth subdivision, we need a bit extra sign posting. The longer the speech, the more important the sign posting becomes. I have told you that Delivery trumps content, that content was your own business and mine was to help you with delivery.
I have told you that Delivery = Energy + Connection + Structure
And I find myself embarrassed with a fourth category, Rhetorical devices...
So now maybe you’re beginning to feel tired?
I will treat this very briefly, relax and don't worry.
I will just mention a few essential rhetorical devices.
- Anecdotes and stories. Story telling is most powerful to attract and keep attention. Do you remember? I started these explanations with a little anecdote.
- Repetitions. In here, I keep repeating the great lines: Delivery trumps content, Delivery = .... You will remember well after that.
- Metaphors and similes. Like stories and anecdotes you will strike imagination and get your point across easily. The structure of your speech is the skeleton. This is a metaphor. If I said “The structure of your speech is similar to a skeleton” this would have been called a simile.
I called this presentation: Tips in emergency: everything you need to know in a few pages. Much more could be said however I think that with that, you have enough information and it’s now time to write something and start rehearsing.
Good luck !