Do you need to present a lot of data, but worry about being boring? Do you find yourself running out of time before you get to your main point? Delivering a content-heavy speech can be interesting and engaging. In this episode, host, Elizabeth Bachman, gives you great advice and tips that can turn your speech from boring to bravo. She talks about how to avoid drowning your listeners in data so they actually remember what you said, how to flavor your content in a way that keeps your audience interested, and how to be the speaker everyone wants to hear and follow. Prepare to give the best speech you could make because only then can you truly serve people with information.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Transform Your Speech From Boring To Bravo With Elizabeth Bachman
How To Make A Content-Heavy Speech Interesting
I’ve got a question for you. Have you ever seen a boring speaker? Have you ever seen a speaker who’s so excited about what they do that they go on and on, and tell you way more about their company or their project than you want to know? Maybe even a speaker who goes off on a tangent and completely loses the thread of where they’re trying to go? Here’s another question. Have you ever been that speaker? We all have from time to time. My hope is to talk to you about what I do to help your content go from boring to bravo.People give too much ‘how’ and not enough ‘why’. Click To Tweet
The problem is we’ve all seen presentations that are full of data. You’ve got graphs, figures, and information. We’ve all done that and it’s important. If you’re the person who has to give that data, especially if you have to get results or have to get your listeners to do something, how can you keep your data interesting? How can you keep them engaged? For instance, you might be making a presentation on behalf of your company or yourself, making a sales presentation. The result you need is to get them to buy or get them to ask for help. If you’re great, they’re going to say yes. If you’re not interesting or compelling enough, your listeners will tune out or they’ll go to your competitors and get the service from them.
You might be presenting within your company, maybe you’re presenting to upper management, and you need them to approve what your team wants to do. Maybe you’re giving a report to the board. They desperately need to be interested. They’re not going to expect you to be interesting at first. If it’s a lot of data and content, they’re going to expect to be bored. The key is if you can be the person who’s interesting and give them the information, they’re going to remember you forever.
This also works with your team. If you’re presenting to your team, maybe you’re doing an update on a project that they know about, you have to battle the “I already know that” trap. It’s a natural thing for people to fall into. You need to be interesting. My intention is to show you one, how you can avoid drowning people in data. Secondly, how to keep them interested, how to keep yourself on track and not going off on tangents. Three, how to be the speaker everybody wants to follow. I’m going to be sharing with you secrets that have saved me thousands of dollars and cost me thousands of dollars when I forgot to do them.
Too Much How, Not Enough Why
The first big trap that people fall into is giving too much how and not enough why. This is important because people give all the details of how, of what, without telling people why it matters to them. That is the key. It’s a human thing. Automatically, people are going to say, “Why should I care? Why does it matter? That’s especially if you’re presenting to people who already know something about this and you’re giving them an update. It’s, “Why should I pay attention? I already know this.” The key is it’s for them. I always say that’s the number one rule in presenting any kind of presentation. It’s all about the audience. Make sure that they know why it’s going to matter for them. You may have heard this at any speech that you’re doing where you need to get a result you need to move your listeners to take action. That is a sales speech. One of the first rules of sales is to sell the benefits, not the features.
As the old saying goes, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” That works in presentations, especially if you have a lot of data. If you have a lot of content. As you’re giving your content, break it down into lists so that people can understand lists. Bullet points are great. Break it down into the key things they need to know. If they need to know specifics and there are little details, you can deal with that is a question and answer period. To get them to pay attention, let them know why it’s going to benefit them. Give them the why.
Think about it. Have you ever walked out of a presentation thinking, “That was interesting,” and then went to your friends and colleagues and said, “I learned something cool?” That’s the impression you want to make. It’s a little different for every single person. The kind of data you give, the details are different but the general principle is the same. Let people know how it benefits them. Even if you said it before, you can at least remind them how it benefits them.
My client, Greg, is a specialist in employment law. He loves the law. He loves figuring out all the details of the changes in the law. He’s an introvert. He hates speaking. He likes the details better. When his company said, “You’re going to be the one who goes out and tells our clients the changes that they need to pay attention to,” he panicked. He called me up and said, “Help, I don’t want to go out and do that. I know they don’t want to be there. How can I make it interesting?” We used this principle. We made sure that for every point he made, he followed it up with, “Here’s why this matters to you. Here’s what you can get out of this. Here’s the problem that you can avoid.” He had to do several of them. The more he did it, the easier it got.
He called me up after this series of presentations and said, “I’m not afraid to go out there and do that anymore. Even better, the company now wants me to take this speech and talk to prospects. They want me to go and recruit.” He wasn’t sure how to do that so we went over the speech. Because we had taken the time to make his first presentation interesting and good, all we had to do was tweak it a little bit so that it became a recruitment speech. He got new clients and he’s now on the track for promotion.
Going Off Tangents
The second big problem that people have is going off on tangents. Have you ever sat through a presentation and the speaker suddenly went off track and started telling you about something that had nothing to do with the point? This is especially if you’ve gone to learn something and they’re not talking about that at all. That’s annoying. It wastes people’s time. It’s an easy trap to fall into. We all do it, especially if you like telling stories with your friends. You have these conversational tracks that you’ve told over and over. It’s easy to get caught at the beginning of a story and then you go on and on. If it’s a business presentation, if they don’t understand why it matters, then you go off talking about something else entirely, you’ve wasted their time and yours.One of the first rules of sales is to sell the benefits, not the features. Click To Tweet
Here’s how to fix it. Think about writing your speech from the end. Start at the end and work backward. Reverse engineer it. All too often, you see a speaker who just starts and they go until they’re done. Rather than thinking, “What’s the thing you’re going to ask them to do? What’s your call to action?” If you’re presenting to sell, the action is to talk to me about using our services. Talk to me about hiring us. If you’re talking to your team, “Let’s go off and do this.” If you’re talking to upper management, “Here’s what it is. Here’s why it will benefit you. Please approve this.” If you start with what you want them to do and then work backward, make sure that all your points lead to that call of action. This is a standard practice in sales speeches, but not necessarily in internal presentations or presentations where you’re giving information. I believe that it does matter.
One of the images I like is to think about the difference between a stopwatch countdown timer, like a kitchen timer. You start the stopwatch and it goes until you stop it. It can be as long as you want. A countdown timer says, “You have ten minutes for this.” You know how much you have to do in ten minutes and you know when you have to finish. That’s the way to keep yourself on track. Always make sure that your call to action and your best point that leads to a call to action is the one that you leave time for. Work backward and time yourself. You know how long it’s going to take. You know how much time you have. There are lots of ways of managing time. I’m going to be doing another presentation all about that. Think about it as a countdown.
My client, Sally, had a speech to give. She is the CEO of a small manufacturing company. They have a niche in manufacturing and she’s one of the few women who have that presentation. Sally is fun to watch. She’s excited. She’s one of those speakers who get so passionate about what she does that she goes off on tangents. When she does that in a sales presentation, she often runs out of time to ask for the sale. She asked me for help. She had signed up to be part of a speech at a conference. She said, “I’ve got to get this right. I only have six minutes. I can’t be concise, help me do this.” We reverse-engineered her speech. We got a nice, polished, interesting speech that gave the key information and would hopefully make people say, “I want to know more about this company.”
The night before, I checked in with her. She said, “I thought about it all day. I’ve added a whole bunch of extra stuff.” She showed me the script. She’d added extra details, other stories, and things that had nothing to do. She had probably given herself twenty minutes’ worth of material for a six-minute speaking slot. As I talked to her, she suddenly thought, “They’re not going to take me seriously, especially a woman in a male-dominated business. I’m going to have to give them more details to show them I know what I’m talking about.” This is pretty common. It happens to a lot of people, men, and women. At the last minute, they look out at the audience and they think, “I have to show them that I know what I’m talking about.” They go off on some tangent and the whole flow is ruined.
Fortunately, I was able to catch Sally in time and get her to trust her material. I said, “Remember, we practiced this. We worked on this. We know how long it’s going to take. Trust that you’re okay.” We added enough things in there so that people knew she knew what she was talking about. Just trust. She called me up afterward and said, “I did it. I managed to get in within six minutes. They loved it. Best of all, three different companies came up to me and said, ‘This is interesting. I didn’t realize that you did this service. Let’s talk.’”
Use Stories And Metaphors
The third point. This is what the other two are building up to. Use stories and metaphors. People respond better to stories than they do to facts. People remember stories better than they remember facts. If your material is complicated, you can mix stories and images in. If you can tell a story, like I just did with Sally, and demonstrate why it matters, especially why it’ll matter to them or a story that they can relate to, that’s a good way to do it. If you’re talking to people who think they already know this, you can say, “Here’s this new thing.” You can think of it as a countdown timer versus a stopwatch. That was a metaphor that I used to give you the idea of the concept. It put the image of kitchen time in your mind so that you remember a kitchen timer, not a stopwatch.
If you’re telling people how to use a new piece of equipment, they understand it. Use that to help them. You can give them the story that they can then pass on and they’ll remember it. I’ve had a lot of people say, “The people I talk to are all engineers or they’re specialists or technical experts. They only relate to facts. They’re not going to relate to stories.” As long as they’re human beings, they learned as children from stories. We all grew up hearing stories from our parents, reading stories, watching stories. You see it all over the internet now. Metaphors can help you understand something. Even if they love the facts, mix a story in there either before or after. That can help people grasp it and keep it in their minds.
It’s the hook that fits the memory so that people can remember what it is you’re looking for and what it is you’re talking about. Stories are what people will tell later. With Sally and her manufacturing story, she knew she was speaking to a mixed audience, some of whom were manufacturing professionals and some of whom were not in her department. She had to explain what she did. Here’s the key, mix data, and metaphors. You can use the jargon or technical term so that people know you know what you’re talking about and then say, “You can think of it as or you can explain it to your clients as.” You do a mix and it will stay in people’s minds better.
For Sally, she used an example of a strainer basket in a refinery that her company had improved. In the process of refining oil, the strainer basket strains out the unwanted solid waste so that the liquid goes through the pipes. It works like the hair trap in your shower. She said, “I can’t talk about a shower drain.” I said, “Just try it and see what happens.” Sure enough, the image of the hair traps in the shower drain that strains out that icky stuff was what people remembered. One of the reps from one of the big companies that wound up hiring her came up and said, “I love the shower story. I’m always going to use that.” Find an evocative image that will make the difference and help people remember.
When you are the speaker, you automatically have credibility and authority. If you’re boring, if you drone on and on, or if you talk too fast that no one can understand you, that’s what people will remember. If you’re interesting, compelling, and give people a hook and a memory that they can use, that will make them go, “Bravo.” Remember, include the benefits and what’s in it for them. Make sure that you reverse engineer your speech. Do a countdown so you know how long you’re going to take and make sure that the end is what’s important. That’s what people remember, beginnings and endings. Use a mix of stories and metaphors to help people understand.People respond better to stories than they do to facts. Click To Tweet
If you’d like to learn more, take our free assessment at www.SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. It’s a four-minute assessment that can give you an idea of where your presentation skills are strong and where you might need a little support. If this was helpful and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe. Tell your friends. Go to iTunes and leave us a review. Spread the word. I’ll see you at the next one.
- iTunes – Speakers Who Get Results
About Elizabeth Bachman
Elizabeth Bachman is THE go-to person for advanced level training in Speaking, Presentation Skills, Sales and Leadership. With a lifetime spent perfecting the art of presenting, she helps high-level clients master a message that brings * the Funding they need, * the Allies they want and * the Recognition they deserve.
A sought-after speaker and strategist, Elizabeth works with leaders and influencers who need to become concise and compelling presenters. She helps them present as smart, down-to-earth, loose, friendly—even funny—and still be taken seriously. Elizabeth has directed such luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti & Placido Domingo in more than 50 operas around the world, giving her a wealth of tools to help business professionals become respected presenters. Fluent in 5 languages, she is adept at working with presenters from many countries, bringing her global experience to her clients.
Elizabeth is an award-winning contributing author to the international best-seller “Messages That Matter,” as well as the creator of “How to Get Booked as a Speaker: Taking Your Show on the Road” – the ultimate guide to filling your calendar with lucrative speaking gigs.
Elizabeth has been featured in numerous media interviews alongside – among others – business greats Dr. Ivan Meisner, Dan Kennedy & Steve Forbes. She presents regularly at such corporations as Bank of America, McKesson and Turner Construction as well as the National Association of Women Business Owners, Small Business Global Summit, E Women Network, and many more.
Founder and Artistic Director of TOP Opera, a summer opera training program in the Austrian Alps, she continues to give back to the opera community.