Most people feel like they have to make too many points…
… and I often tell people that audiences, if you’re really good, they’re going to have a feeling about you – hopefully a positive feeling – and they are probably going to remember one point, two weeks later.
So the key thing is, to make that one most important point really well. If you have five minutes, focus on connecting to the audience and making your most important point as deeply and as powerfully as you can.
And I would do it by telling a story if I could, or at least a little anecdote because people tend to remember stories and anecdotes and if you tie your point to a story, they’re going to be more likely to remember it. Remember, Gettysburg address three minutes. It’s considered maybe the best speech ever given in America. Three minutes he made his point.
Content or Delivery?
People are always asking which is the most important and my answer is: both!
You can have the best content in the world, but if it’s badly delivered, no one will realize how good it is. And, you can be brilliant at delivering, but if you don’t have coherent thoughts and express them in a way that’s powerful, the best delivery is going to not be as effective.
You must have, first, good content that sounds like you – the way you really talk and gets across your key points. Then, you must deliberate in a way that again, expresses your natural, real, likable, individual personality.
When you put the content and the delivery together, that is a marriage of equals – and it works perfectly.
One of the key things that most people worry about is rambling when they talk, you know, getting off the subject.
Here is the secret to that: Know what you want to say.
Know ahead of time the one or two key points that you want to get across.
Whether you’ve got two minutes or 20 minutes. There’s still a couple of things you want the audience to remember and if you know those and if you have taken the time to practice those, then you’re much more likely to stay on the subject.
And, if you feel yourself wandering off, you can bring yourself back because audiences don’t remember much. So if you can get across to points and do it in a likable way, you have hit a home run.
Remember: Speaking is like real life (only more so). And, in real life – I hate to say this – but my mind sometimes goes blank.
Oh yes! I forget names of people I know and love. I forget dates… I forget a number of times… the world does not end.
Often, if I forget a name and I’m in front of a group, I’ll say, “who was it that did blankety-blank?” I’ll ask for the audience to help me. They like that. They like seeing that you’re human!
And if your mind goes blank and the middle of a speech… do not worry about it! Pause – if you give yourself a second or two – it may well come to you. If you still can’t remember, you might just ask the audience: “Now, I was trying to make an important point… what was the last thing I said?” I have done that many a time – and they’ll tell me, and I go, “Oh yeah!”, and I go on and give the next point.
Audiences are on your side. They’re not judging you. There’s not going to be a guillotine at the end and if you do something wrong – they want you to succeed! And if they can help you, and if you can show your humanity, they think, “Wow, that’s great. I mean, Jim forgot something and he just kept going,” and they love that.
So, don’t worry about forgetting things because for the most part you’re not going to. And when you do, there are plenty of ways to get back on track and you’ll be able to find them. If you just give yourself a short, quick pause – or, give yourself a break!