Sunday, January 25, 2009

Get out of a rut and add some pep

One public speaking trap for folks in marketing, sales, or training is that constant repetition eventually can lead to a bored, emotionally disconnected delivery. An article by David Stoppard in Presentations magazine back in 2005 discusses how to Put Some Pep Back Into Your Speaking Style.
One of David’s suggestions is to change your persona. I saw this done yesterday morning at the Toastmasters Leadership Institute here in Boise. George Jolley of Boise Club (aka Club 61) was Toastmaster for the meeting, but appeared as “Ralph Smedley” (the founder of Toastmasters International who died in 1965).
Recently I experienced getting in a rut. I was trying to finish the Technical Presentations manual at Toastmasters. The fourth project was presenting a technical paper (in 10 to 12 minutes). I had been avoiding doing it, although I previously had given that paper (as much longer presentations) four different times.
The topic of the paper was corrosion failure analysis of fire sprinkler systems. I gave it at the annual NACE Corrosion conference in New Orleans back in 2004, and also at the SIEO/NACE Winter Symposium in Sun Valley, Idaho in January 2008. Between those two presentations to corrosion professionals I also gave it at two different chapter meetings of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.
I had to completely reorganize the presentation for the nontechnical audience at Toastmasters. My focus had to switch from specific details to general concepts.
There are other possibilities for completely changing the style of a presentation.
You could try giving part (or even all) of your presentation in verse. In a recent blog post Nick Thomas discusses Speechwriting in verse? Well, you could do worse! If you can’t write poetry, you can even buy it from places like the Poem Store.
The next step up from poetry is to add music and turn your presentation into a song. If that is not difficult enough, then you also could try singing a capella, like in this segment with Stan Rogers performing part of his song, Northwest Passage. It sounds like an ancient sea shanty, but Northwest Passage was the title song of his last album (released in 1981).
Or, you even could package a song as a rap music video (complete with karaoke lyrics), like the very geeky Large Hadron Rap. This video is about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) recently built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It is pretty amazing to see an abstruse topic like particle physics explained in less than five minutes.

1 comment:

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