Back in 2001, at the Toastmasters International Convention, I was invited to deliver the opening keynote speech. In this 10-segment series, you will view the anatomy of a keynote presentation. Segment 4 of 10.
You will notice I have made comments on how I would give advice to the 2001 speaker, me!
“You’re Toastmasters; you like to be involved. I’ve been speaking for about 18 minutes. In the first 18 minutes, what have you learned that can help you prepare and present your programs? I’m going to walk down into the audience, and although I can only walk back four rows, it doesn’t mean that the back of the room can’t think.
“So, think about what you have learned that might be helpful to you. All comments need to be edited to less than one sentence because the most difficult thing we all must do is edit our remarks. As Jerry Seinfeld says, ‘I will spend an hour taking an eight-word sentence and edit it to five.’ In one sentence, tell me what I have already said that might be helpful to you? Do we have someone here?”
Lesson: I would now change “. . . the most difficult thing we all have to do . . .” to “. . . the most difficult task we all have to do . . .”
‘Open with a story that’s relevant and interesting.’
“Fabulous. Thank you. One sentence. Yes, ma’am.”
‘Plan your impact.’
“Plan for impact. Great. Well, I thought Toastmasters would be begging to speak, begging, begging. How about my Golden Gavel winner for tomorrow? Have I said anything valuable to you who’s heard it all?”
‘Absolutely. You’ve blown me away.’
“I’ll give you that sentence, then one more.”
‘You’ve said that I have several options for how to open. One is a dramatic statement, one is with a story, and so forth.’
“Perfect. Wonderful. We all have choices. Any more before I walk back on stage?”
‘Yes. Remember, remember the three Ss: start, structure, and stories.’
“Oh, wonderful. Thank you. Yes, give yourselves a hand. Paying attention. Wonderful.”
Lesson: You can interact with a large audience.
Lesson: In advance, ask the video crew how far you can walk before you walk out of the view of their camera.
“We have many ways to open a speech. What do I mean by ‘answering the questions the audience has in their minds’? As you heard, I’m a hairstylist, or I was a hairstylist for 24 years. I know what you’re thinking: ‘There must be a big difference between being a hairstylist and being a speaker.’
“As I said last year on 60 Minutes . . . Oh, come on. If you were on 60 Minutes, you’d tell everybody. ‘I used to work on the outside of people’s heads; now I work on the inside. There’s only half an inch difference.’”
Lesson: Self-deprecating humor is good in small doses.
“People always want to know what gives us the right to speak, what do we know about the subject? For example, if I were talking to realtors, I might say something like, ‘I know you’re wondering what this woman knows about selling real estate. Well, I’ve never sold any, but I have bought some, and, as a hairstylist, I worked 100% on commission just like you.’”
Lesson: I would now change people to your audience.
“As a speaker, I’m unemployed when I have finished a speech until I create another. So, just like you, I know the value of repeat business and referrals. We need to show our connection upfront.
“Perhaps we know nothing whatsoever about what they do. A few years ago, I addressed some nuclear engineers, not exactly a target audience for me. I know they were wondering, ‘What does this ex-hair stylist know about nuclear engineering?’ I said to them, ‘Not much, but what you are doing here this weekend is coming up with a strategy to change your corporate culture. For the last 10 years, I have spoken for at least a hundred groups a year. Many of them have changed their corporate culture. What I would like to do is share some of the best ideas that my clients have used.’
“You see, what I did was find the connection to why they were there.”
Lesson: Find a connection to your audience, even if it is not obvious.
“I did not try to compete intellectually with people who were, or at least who thought they were, a lot smarter than I. Let’s face it, they were a lot smarter than I in certain areas. This, believe it or not, was an after-dinner speech, and for an hour, nuclear engineers who could have gone to the bar stayed and asked me questions because I found the connection. That simple.
“Think. What do you have in common with the audience? A few years ago, I was in Australia traveling with some other speakers. You might have heard one of them, one of my longtime favorite speakers, Jim Rohn. If you’ve ever seen Jim Rohn speak, you know he is a fabulous, fabulous motivational speaker. He said, ‘Patricia when you get up to speak to an audience and they’ve given you this fabulous introduction, the audience is thinking, “So what?” You want them to think, “Me, too.” ‘
“The best example I’ve ever seen of an audience connecting with a speaker or the speaker connecting to the audience right up front was again at this Young President’s Organization. (YPO). One of the other speakers was Lou Dobbs from Moneyline on CNN. They introduced him, he’d won this award, he’d done this and been on television. Very, very impressive. The audience was also very impressed with themselves, all very young, very successful. The typical group would be thinking, ‘So what?’
“He walked up and said, ‘John did not tell you one award that I won last year. The local Chamber of Commerce named me Father of the Year. They had this fabulous event, gave me the plaque, and I gave a speech. Afterwards I went home, and my family was sitting down having dinner. I sat down, and my son said, “Dad, who actually voted on this award?”’
“The essence was that regardless of how famous we are or how well-known we are, we will never get the respect from our teenagers that we think we deserve. Lou had such a great connection. It was perfect.”
Lesson: Answer the unspoken questions in the minds of your audience.
“Fripp! You did an amazing job at the Award’s Red-Carpet event. You could explain how ants crawl across the ground and it would be marvelous and entertaining! It was so obvious you put hours of effort, energy, and hours into the presentation and it showed. Great job!!!” Steve Spangler, Hall of Fame Speaker, Best-Selling Author.
“Your talents as a speech coach have helped me craft my story so well I have delivered it on the MDRT main platform 3 times as well as countless other stages around the globe. Always your raving fan.” John Nichols, President, Acrisure Insurance Wholesale Solutions