26 Public Speaking Tips from an Actor & Professional Speaker
By Michael Port
I may need to add a rider to my liability insurance policy for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome because people at the Think Big Speak Easy take so many notes.
Here is just one page of notes from one participant from the first two hours of day one:
The speech starts with your bio before you walk on stage. Bio should be over the top powerful and impressive. Then open with something sincere and self-effacing to disarm the audience.
You DON’T have to tell them what you’re going to tell them. Open with a surprise, a shock…an interaction, something that makes connection, entertains, exposes, etc.
You need to cut lots of info OUT of your stories and better detail with specifics critical parts of your stories. How much do they need to know to get to the a-ha moment; less than you think.
An entire story is designed to serve the end.
Establish right away that you know what the world looks like for them—and what it could look like. Vividly paint the picture.
You must reward them for doing something or contributing in some way.
Use palm up instead of finger for pointing. Sometimes the finger looks like a gun and is rude in some cultures. Palm up serves up the floor to them in a more gracious way.
People say “Yes” when we’ve affected them intellectually, emotionally or physically.
If you’re teaching content (which has some differences from a “message” speech) outline first then go back and unpack it. Outline and then make the case.
Use props. What can you show, demo, depict with things rather than words.
Use contrast/extremes to create excitement and keep attention. Contrast can be emotional, physically, structural. This is basic in every great play, film, and music composition.
Keep your energy and speech moving forward. Never let the energy drop.
Audiences like to think that events on the stage are happening spontaneously. They like to be surprised. The great actor does this brilliantly. The Speaker needs to as well.
Love Michael’s phrase: STAND AND LAND. Let your punch lines, point lines and purpose lines land.
You can move and talk at the same time (people do it all the time in real life) but not on or over the most important points.
Don’t say, “I’m glad to be here.” Audience should see that in your presentation. No need to tell them.
Don’t tell them you’re going to tell a story. Just tell the story.
Every rule is made to be broken but to break a performance/stage rule you have to know the rules, why they exist and why you’re breaking them (only do it for a better result).
Be very conscientious about connecting the dots or you’ll lose your audience.
When giving info for people to write down, give them time to write it down for goodness sake.
You can blow their mind in just a few minutes (example: TED talks). Never apologize for the amount of time you don’t have. They should feel that the amount of time you have is the perfect amount of time.
Audiences love to be let out a few minutes early—even if they LOVE your performance.
Enlist the self-proclaimed experts in the room. It’ll help knock the chips off their shoulders and get them on your side supporting your message.
Slight embellishment and/or combining stories into one better story is fine. It’s a performance, a show. Go for what is most dramatic and effective to get your message across.
Remember they don’t know what you know. It’s the first time they’ve heard your info.
Show them what the world will look like if they DON’T change, if the DON’T follow your advice.
Remember, this was just one page of notes from one participant in the Think Big Speak Easy.
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