June 9, 2010
Giving a talk in front of tons of people is tough. Keeping your audience interested is even tougher. Thankfully, there are ways to frame your talk to automatically hold better attention, no matter the topic. The method can be summed up in one phase: “Say what you’re going to say, say it, and then say it again.” So basically, three steps:
1. Say what you’re going to say
This should be found in your introduction. It is not enough to just have a talk title. For example, if your talk is titled “Why Twitter is Awesome,” your talk can still go a number of different directions. You’ll want to give your listeners a road map so that they know where they are at all times. This can be done quickly and to the point. For example: “In my talk today, I’ll be demonstrating how Twitter is awesome by demonstrating a few key user functions, addressing the functionality of the API, and ways that marketers currently use the service.” You’ve just summed up your talk in one sentence. Great!
2. Say it
This is obviously the most straightforward part of your talk. It is the meat, the creme dela creme, the real caviar of your talk. One thing to keep in mind, though, is the road map you laid out in your introduction. Reference it each time you move from point to point so your listeners can easily gauge the progress of your talk.
3. Say it again
Now that you’ve laid out your road map, told them everything you had planned, you should remind them what you said. Seem redundant? It’s not. The human attention span is so short, many have forgotten the majority of your talk by the time it’s over. But by reminding them in your conclusion in one or two sentences, similar to your introduction, it allows them to bring back the information they almost lost and package it away in their long-term memory.
Keep your audience engaged and informed. Remember in your talk preparations to leave room for saying what you’re going to say, saying it, and saying it again. (Yes… that’s the third time I’ve said it.)