How Do I Formulate Rock Solid Speeches?
Question for you: I had the opportunity to speak at a conference in Vegas last month. Ran about 20 minutes — a good toe dipping in the water experience. I’m hooked. I’d like to speak at future conferences — have any recommendations or articles that might help me formulate rock solid speeches?
Hi Newbie Speaker,
Congratulations, that’s a really big deal!
Welcome to a topic that might go way deeper than you expect. Many people talk about how to put slides together, how much or little detail to put in slides, or how to organize your presentations… but that is the least interesting part of giving speeches. Here is my recommended study guide for how to keep your audience from falling asleep.
Step 1: Study
I am sure you have seen some of these before, some maybe not. But this time, do not just watch, but study. Study the tone. Study the pauses. Study the rhythm. What makes them tick?
- 7 Steve Jobs Presentations
- Larry Ellison — Oracle OpenWorld
- Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do
- Bill Cosby Famous Pound Cake Speech
After watching those videos, if you haven’t figured out what makes them tick, here is a great TED talk that has done the analysis for you (you cheater, :P) .
Step 2: Tell a Story
Storytelling is the most powerful way to activate our brains, evolution has wired our brains for storytelling, and it is rarely used in tech talks (which is what makes most tech talks so boring). Engage people, get them to passively (or even actively) participate. Grab them, keep them guessing.
- The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains
- Business Storytelling: Using Stories to Inspire
- 3 Reasons to Master the Art of Storytelling
- How to tell a story TED talk Playlist (all are good but especially the Andrew Stanton and JJ Abrams talks)
- Storytelling That Moves People
- John Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story” Pt. 1 and 2 (Video)
- John Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story” (Book) (read this book if you get really addicted to story telling concepts)
Step 3: Be Interesting
Always remember that the people in the audience are usually bored out of their mind and hear the same dry topics all day for 2-3 days in a row, then go to a bar and talk about the same topics. Spice it up, talk about something totally tangential to your topic, but it has to be something you are passionate about. Use metaphors and analogies, but hold back how they connect to your main point, keep people guessing.
- 14 years ago: the day Teller gave me the secret to my career in magic
- Interview with Jony Ive & Marc Newson (watch how little these guys talk about details of design and how much they talk about their passions)
This is just the beginning, it only touches the surface of what you can do with speeches. Let your imagination run wild. Most importantly, have fun on stage. I hope this helps, let me know when you are speaking next so I can come watch!
About the Author
Lucas Carlson is a hands-on consultant, author and entrepreneur. He helps founders discover opportunities for growth, both for their companies and for themselves. He was the CEO and founder of AppFog, a popular startup acquired in 2013 after signing up over 100,000 developers and raising nearly $10M in venture funding from top angels and VCs.