I just finished speaking at the study club that our company was invited to speak at that was put on by Beaverton Oral Surgeons. Technically I did procrastinate in writing the post today, but it was because the only thing I could think about all day was my presentation.
While I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to speak in the last several months speaking is something that I have always enjoyed. I love analyzing what makes people great speakers, and I love getting feedback on my own speeches. I think it is very similar to my desire for criticism and feedback in all areas of my life. I want to be the best that I can be, and I know that the only way to get there is by constantly seeking for ways that I can improve. Whenever possible I always try to record (either with video or just audio) my talks so that I can go back and watch/listen to them. I think it is really important to get the 3rd person perspective on my speaking, it is very similar to athletes watching game film.
Generally, I pay attention to a few things:
- How well I was able to engage the audience.
- Did they think my jokes were funny?
- How did I deliver my punch lines?
- How many times did I stutter or say “umm” or “uhh”?
- How comfortable did I sounds?
In addition to analyzing myself when I speak, I also have been soaking up knowledge from other professionals in the field. In the last several years, I have read and/or listen to podcasts on speaking and presentations.
Here are my top three resources on speaking and presenting (and my main take-a-way from each of them:
- The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo
- This book really emphasizes the importance of practice and repetition leading up to a talk. This was encouraging for me to ready, because I thought (like most people do) that Steve Jobs had a natural gift with speaking. It always seemed like he would just walk out on stage and give an impromptu speech that would rock peoples socks off. However, what you find is that Steve would actually practice for weeks leading up to presentations. This just goes to show you that in life when someone appears to be better than you at something it almost always is because they have simply practiced more than you.
- Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
- This book has a phenomenal concrete structure that you can use when creating and writing your pitch (or in this case a speech). Oren talks a lot about how the human brain works, and explains how you need to dance between the analytical frame of mind, and the emotional frame of mind. I have now used his presentation style two different times, and both times I was impressed by how well it worked in keeping audiences engaged.
- Also this books stresses in a huge way how important it is to keep your talk under 15 minutes, because people just don’t have the attention span to listen to anything longer than that.
- Jerry Seinfeld on the science of speaking (I can’t remember what this one was actually called, but I heard it a while back. It was basically a documentary on how and why Jerry does what he does)
- This video was particularly interesting because Jerry dives into how using humor and making people laugh in a crowd actually gives you power over them. It sounds weird, but when you start to dive in and think about it it really does make sense. Even when you are not performing a stand-up routine, it is still very useful to dabble your talk with humor to establish your authority in the room. Once you do that, it is often times much easier to talk and speak confidently.
After I got done speaking today, I had so much energy and excitement I felt like I could go run a marathon. It is so enjoyable for me to have an opportunity to strategically (and in an entertaining way) actually convince people of a particular angle or belief that I have. I like to think of good presenters and speakers as excellent manipulators that are using their influence for good.
Lastly, as I am slowly coming off of my high from the talk that I just gave, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have a staff, friends, and family that have helped me so much in the preparation for this speech and other speeches I have given in the past. I really do have a strong desire to continue to give talks and speeches, but more than that I want to have a successful business and practical first-hand experience that I can share with people when I give talks.