Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Are You Any Good - It Is 10 Minutes In?


We have worked hard to get our opening right. We know that first impressions really count and we have planned the start. We contacted the organizers well before the talk to get a sense of who has signed up for the talk and what their main interests are. We got to the venue early and checked on all the logistics. We don’t need to thump the microphone and ask if they can hear us on the back because we have already tested it. We don’t need to fuss around with our laptop because we are ready to go or if there is a laptop change over, we do that first before we even start saying one word.

That first word is a chosen word, not some accidental offering. We have been speaking with some of the early arrivals to get a sense of why they are attending and to know their name. we reference their name as we start to connect with the audience and remove the barriers between speaker and the gathered masses.
We are also fully primed for the end, with both our first summation and our final close. We know we need two closes, one for the immediate end of the talk and another one for after the Q&A. We have prepared both. We know how to properly handle questions – repeating, if not hostile or paraphrasing if a veiled or direct attack upon us. In this way, we can make sure everyone heard the question and that any invective in a question has been properly neutered.
What about the middle bit of the speech? How we do we keep attention from start to finish when we have an entire audience fully tooled up with their escape vehicles firmly clasped in their hands. Their mobile devices will release them from the mortal toil of listening to us and they can be swept afar to more interesting and pleasant climes.
The next time, you are at a presentation look around after the first 10 minutes and see what the audience are doing. Many will be surreptitiously scrolling through their Facebook or Line feed or whatever, multi-tasking, rather than giving the speaker their full attention. How do not become that speaker who has lost the opportunity to get their key message across to the audience?
Every five minutes we need to switch the pace. We need to be presenting something that grabs the attention of the masses. We need an example, a story, demonstration, audience involvement, etc. This shouldn’t be left to random chance. This needs D-Day level planning, so that you know what slide you will show at what point, what story you will relate. Your voice is such a phenomenal tool yet so many neuter it by turning it into a monotone that is guaranteed to become an insomnia cure.
We need to use pace – fast and slow, strength – loud and soft, vocal intonation – up and down. Japanese native speakers have a disadvantage on the up an down front because Japanese is monotone delivery language. No problem , just work on the pace and strength variables and you will gain enough variety in the delivery to keep your audience’s attention.
Story telling is so powerful and so under used. There is huge demand for reality television, which are like home movies into the lives of celebrities. This is basic storytelling, often at a very mundane level. Nevertheless, these programmes draw an audience because we are fascinated by the personal lives of others. So tell your disasters, your fails, your hard won lessons, your triumphs. Come up with pithy quotes that are referencing well known legends like JFK or Churchill etc.
The key here is the planning and then the practice. What is written down sounds a bit clumsy sometimes when we say it out loud. This is where rehearsal comes in. Go through the presentation and work on the cadence of the delivery. Make sure that every 5 minutes you are switching gears and giving your audience something to do, like raise their hand (don’t overdo this, it is annoying) or ponder, or laugh at, or nod to knowingly.
We cannot let our audience escape and lose the benefit of hearing our valuable message to the idiocies of whatever is trending on social media.



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