Do You Memorize or Internalize

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra.

20191209_172005Do you memorize or internalize your speeches? Memorizing requires that you remember every word of your speech in a particular order. When you internalize, you remember the points, thoughts, and organization of your speech to arrive at your ultimate goal, your purpose, and your destination. You never start a journey without knowing your destination. As Yogi Berra is known to have said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you may end up somewhere else.” You should know where you are going before you start. When you prepare a speech, the first thing you should think about is what you will say last – why! Because your last words will always linger.

Your organization, plan, and purpose should be in focus as you start your speech. Your conclusion is your takeaway, the decisive factor, your final appeal to close the deal. When your preparation, plan, and purpose are clear to you, you are in a much better position to communicate your message to an audience. The more you know about your topic, the better you are prepared for the unexpected. No one can predict what will happen when you are on the platform; however, if you are intimately familiar with your topic, you can speak from the heart, which always makes a better connection with your audience. Know where you are heading and stay with the plan and remember, arriving at your destination with your audience is the goal.

After you have internalized your conclusion, your next step is to decide how you will start your speech. You should also decide how you will achieve your ultimate goal, winning and holding the attention of your audience. While it is impossible to predict the mood of the room you will inherit, it is wise to have an opening you can deliver with a bang or with just an audible whisper. Where you take your audience from that opening is what matters most. After you take ownership of the room and platform, lead your audience on your journey as a guide will. Make sure everyone is following along with you every step of the way. Read your audience as you take them along with you. Eye contact with your audience will tell how you are doing.

With the opening and closing of your speech clearly defined internally, logic should now be your guide. Your next step is to construct a bridge from your opening to the closing while making sure it is logical. The length and size of your bridge depend on the amount of speaking time allotted. Each section of your bridge should flow logically into the next. Assign a name for each transition. The name you assign will be your guide to delivering the presentation in the correct order, like milestones of the journey. Remembering the names of each section is now the roadmap you will follow to your destination.

Like any journey, expect the unexpected; however, when you are clear about where you are heading – if you have to make a detour, no one should be made aware. Repeat the last point before you went off course with emphasis. Do again, and again if you need more time to gather your thoughts, then get back on your path and continue with confidence. Smile and keep your secrets to yourself. Some speakers even use prepared statements for those unguarded moments. Get back on track and continue to make each of your points, thoughts, and vignettes fit seamlessly.

You should know when you have arrived at your destination. If you have made a connection with your audience, you should sense when you have made your point or sealed the deal. Keep your purpose and destination in mind, and you will know when it is time to go to your closing. After delivering your closing, be silent, stop, your mission is accomplished. Without preparation, a plan, and a purpose, the best plan is to forget giving the speech altogether.  With a strong, well-prepared opening, closing, and the memorable names assigned to each section of your bridge, you will reach your destination successfully, if you don’t try to memorize. Internalize!

The Number One Public Speaking Rule

“Omne Trium Perfectum”

IMG_4521 (1)Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated always, and forever. The Rule of Three is a powerful technique, which dates back to the beginning of time. The Romans practiced and applied this writing and speaking principle. They referred to it with the Latin maxim – “Omne Trium Perfectum” which means, “Everything that comes in threes is perfect.” Today, speakers used trios to make their presentations more engaging, enjoyable, and a lot more memorable. It is a tried, tested, and proven writing principle that is effective when conveying information with brevity, rhythm, and recall.

This Rule of Three manifests itself in many different ways on or off the platform.  It can add humor to your content. When the third example of a trio runs contrary to the first one or two, if the third is a twist or that which is unexpected, the result is natural humor. Many speakers use this technique when adding humor to content. The Rule of Three can also be applied when speakers are delivering persuasive speeches to rally support. A classic example is Winston Churchill’s famous Blood, Sweat, and Tears speech. Note his skillful us of the power of threes in the line: – “I can promise you nothing but blood, sweat, and tears.” And who will ever forget -Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.

Many more examples of the power of the Rule of Three are documented in the scriptures, nursery rhymes, and fairy tale. Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and The Three Musketeers are all examples. Even in sport, the Rule of Three sets the standard. In Baseball – “Three Strikes and you are out.”  It is a well-established fact that humans can only hold a small amount of information in their short term or ‘active,’ memory. When content is presented in a group of threes, trios, a pattern is generated with a natural rhythm. The ordering and patterns created are easily stored in the brain for quick recall, from our short-term memory in “chunks.” Audiences remember those chunks and small patterns of information easier than longer phrases or sentences.

Speakers, we are all taught a speech should have an opening, body, and closing. Some Public Speaking coaches can look at a soft-copy or script of a speech and tell if that speech will be “Good Bad or Ugly.” As you prepare your content, practice, and apply the principle of threes. Make it your number one writing principle. Focus on the Rule of Three as you create your content. Try structuring your format like a play:- act one, act two, and act three.

Your act one, two and act three format will help your audience grasp your material quickly and even make the scenes you have created more visual. Your storyline and message will also be easier to follow. Practice using the “act one, act two, act three structure, and you will also find it helps with your delivery when you are on or off the platform. Make the Rule of Three your number one rule of Public Speaking, and your message will be heard, understood, and repeated, always and forever.

Your Magic Moment

A magic moment can be scripted or spontaneous

IMG_6565Every speech should have a magic moment; a moment not even passing of time will erase. Your magic moment can be a simple event like a long pause, a memorable sentence, or a phrase that connects with your audience, leaving all present with an unforgettable feeling. It is a feeling that adds your signature to the experience you shared with that audience. Magic moments can be the great equalizer. When a speaker  is able to produce one of those moments on the platform, it transcends all human boundaries. That moment serves as a reminder that we are all connected emotionally.

The six emotions that connect us all are happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. We all respond to these emotions that dwell deep within us when we communicate. We share these emotions as we interact with each other in various aspects of our lives. Great orators past and present have used those emotions to set the stage for their memorable lines or events that make whatever followed that emotional connection in their speech timeless. What is magical about their moment is it may have been a brief or random event received or perceived in some unique way by their audience.

A magic moment can be scripted or spontaneous. Some of the best lines that immediately come to mind are those that were timely or unexpected. Although a response may have sounded spur of the moment, we associate that magic moment with that speaker forever. Long after the speaker has completed speaking, their words continue to linger. What matters most are the emotions speaker and audience rekindle. They often relate to the moment and the experience of their past. When speakers can make a deep emotional connection with their audience with words or deed, that shared experience makes for a unique magic moment.

The size of your magic moment does not matter. What matters most is the size of the impact it has on an audience; however, if the moment appears to be overdone, ill-timed, or not an appropriate fit for the speech or presentation, the magic is lost. When speakers can make their magic moment relate to the moments of others, an unbreakable bond is formed. It is a bond that makes us realize; we all belong to one world; we all are one people; we all share similar life experiences that live on forever in the hearts and minds of others, cemented in time as your magic moment.

Speaking with Style Substance & Clarity

Speak to the head, the heart, or the pocketbook

20190423_144540The dream of every speaker is to deliver their presentations with style, substance, and clarity. If your purpose for speaking is clear and relevant to the audience you are facing, that dream can become a reality. Your goal may be to promote a cause, improve your image or the image of your organization, sell products and services, answer questions, inspire others, or explain a process. Whatever that purpose is, it must echo throughout your presentation from the title to the end. One World Champion of Public Speaking calls that echo, the scarlet ribbon effect.  

There are four speech-types, most presenters use to achieve their purpose for speaking.  INFORMATIVE, PERSUASIVE, INSPIRATIONAL, AND ENTERTAINING. While a speaker’s primary focus may be on one of the four types, to craft an outstanding speech; the speaker should try to blend all four types seamlessly to convey their message. When your purpose is clear, connecting with your audience depends on your passion, knowledge of the topic, and delivery. Try keeping the scarlet ribbon effect as your guide, when considering your topic selection as you progress to a final decision, 

Next, you should do a Q & A to evaluate your options. Some questions to consider are:  

  • How well do I know this topic?
  • What are my available resources?  
  • How passionate am I about this purpose or story?
  • What do I want to accomplish with this speech?
  • Can I accomplish my entire purpose and speech in the allotted time?

Timing is everything when moving from being informative to persuasive, to inspirational or entertaining. As the speaker progresses through the four types, it is crucial to decide on your Speech Strategy. The speaker must sense the right time to speak to the head, the heart, or the pocketbook if a sale is your purpose. A Speech Strategy should also be an essential part of your preparation and practice. After you have successfully touched the heads and hearts of your audience, they will always be happy to join in to take part in the heavy lifting – your purpose.  

When a speaker can convince an audience to think, do something, feel differently, or make a change to their life or the life of others, that speaker has achieved the true purpose of public speaking. In that crucial moment of silence, after you have finished speaking if your audience can’t wait to take some action, rest assured you have realized your dream. You have just delivered another speech with style, substance, and clarity.  

Your I to You Ratio

An I for An I will always produce a boring speech

20191014_145242Have you spoken about yourself lately? What was your I to You Ratio? In that presentation, how many times did you use I to refer to yourself, and how many times did you use the collective You? We all use more than ten thousand words daily. Consciously or subconsciously, those two little words, I and You, influence our style of communication. Language and the words we use most often, shape our behavior, not only in our everyday conversation but also in our speeches and presentations.

When we are on the platform, some of our audience members may quietly ask themselves this question: does this presentation relate to my wants or my interest? Notice the focus is not on You the speaker; it is on “You” or “Them” the audience. The self-interest of your audience has to be validated when you are on the platform. Your work as the speaker is bringing your I’s, your accomplishments, your topic, your objectives, and the You’s, the audiences’ What’s In It For Me -Their “WIFM” into alignment.

Your ability to look at a softcopy of your speech or presentation will heighten your ability to focus on the number to times you use “I” versus “You” in your communicating. To change your “I to You Ratio,” look at each sentence and test the effect it may have on your audience if you switch from I to the collective You. When you use the word You, you are speaking to the listener’s interest also. That simple change makes You, the speaker more relevant and credible. Instantly the focus of your audience’s shifts from You, the speaker to You or Them, the audience.

We all have had to endure speeches about speakers and their accomplishments. We all have asked ourselves as audience members at some time, what about me, what about us. By no means am I saying speakers should not use I’s in their speeches or presentations. Speakers may want to keep this in mind – An I for An I will always produce a boring speech. Try using ten You’s for every one I as a rule of thumb. While ten may not always be achievable, any change in your ratio will make a vast difference in your connection with your audience, whether your purpose is to be informative or persuasive.

When your audience can relate to you, the speaker, the universal question of your audience members, is answered. That question is:- “What’s in it for me” – “Station WIFM.” Change to that station, and you may change a life. Try stepping outside of your habitual vocabulary, starting with your use of I and You. Just that simple change can make you a more engaging and authentic speaker when you are on the platform.

Word of caution, avoid using You in an accusative manner. When you use an I or You, look for ways your audience may relate to each case. Test your usage by asking, how does this “I” relate to the wants and needs of “You,” my listeners. Focus on how you use those two little words in your daily communication, and you will become a transformational presenter all because of that tiny but significant change to your “Your I to You Ratio.”

Your Body Language

Audiences always remember what you were doing when you said what you were saying!

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Keep Your Body Language Handy

When you are on the platform, your audience bases their judgment of you and your message on what they see, hear, and feel. Your Body Language is one of your handy tools for adding clarity and emphasis to your words. It is also one of your most useful instrument for convincing audiences of your sincerity, earnestness, and enthusiasm. Audiences always remember what you were doing when you said what you were saying.

Body language can fall into any of the three following categories – Facial Expressions – Gestures and Whole Body Movement. Your face expresses your feelings to the audience. Combine with your voice, gestures, and stance; you can communicate to your audience any or all of the six emotions, we all respond to as humans. Those emotions are happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust. Your facial expression is often the key determinant of the meaning behind the words and your message. If you are talking about a terrible tragedy but smiling, you will undoubtedly leave your audience confused. Your facial expressions should always match your spoken words.

Eye contact is especially an important part of your body language. Eye contact works both ways. It can make your audience feel comfortable or uncomfortable. In everyday life, we often associate eye contact with honesty, sincerity, interest, or nervousness — the same goes when you are on the platform. Your eye contact should be steady and not be darting from side to side or up and down. Focus on one individual until you complete your though then move to another person. Develop the technique of speaking – One to Many. Pretend you are talking to only one individual, and then shift to someone on the left or right to make your next statement. This technique makes your audience feel like you are communicating in a personal and sincere manner.

Gestures are specific body movements that reinforce a speaker’s verbal message. There are three basic types of gestures. Conventional gestures – symbols for words such as raised hand for the word “stop” or two raised fingers for the number two. Descriptive gestures – when describing, large or small, short, or tall. Then there are the Emotional gestures, which we all know only too well – clenched fists to show anger, or a huge smile, to display happiness. Your Whole Body Movement will communicate to your audience if you are confident, alert, and in command of yourself and the platform. Use your entire body to work the room with confidence and poise.

Your visual presentation plays a significant role in your speech’s success. According to many experts, more than 60 percent of our communication is nonverbal. The way you stand, your facial expressions, hand gestures, and how you use your entire body communicates more to your audience than your spoken words. When you are on the platform, it is natural to display some discomfort through nervous energy and habits which detract from your presentation. That is why you must make Using Your Body Language an essential part of preparation and practice. When you are comfortable with your body language, your speeches will resonate with your audience long after you have spoken your last words on the platform.

Tools Of The Speaking Trade

Recall and retell the stories you have collected.

justice-law-case-hearing-159832.jpegThe tools of the speaking trade are few; however, the rewards they provide are many. They are the devices we use every day – notepads, laptops, recorders, and cell phones – our everyday print and media tools. The stories they preserve are the rewards, however, no one knows when inspiration will come knocking. When your number is called to be the recorder, will you be prepared to answer, with the tools of the speaking trade?

Keeping your fun-filled stories under a separate heading in your Toolbox is a wise idea. When you are preparing any speech, although stories are essential, laughs are your currency. Laughter is one sure way to make your presentation unforgettable. The stories your Toolbox contains will often provide you with the “magic moment” for your speech. Standup comedy is for comedians. You are a speaker. Focus on recalling the funny stories in your Toolbox that perfectly fit your speech or presentation. Funny comes naturally when you focus on having fun. Don’t try to write funny. Make what you write funny.

Practice mining your stories and novel ideas as they occur. Always be prepared. Someone may be a great photographer, but without tools; a camera, they will are just another bystander. No one knows when the stars will align to present you with that special moment that you were chosen to preserve. As the chosen one to immortalize that piece of history, you must always be prepared. Some of the greatest moments in history were first recorded on napkins. Today a cellphone may be your preference. Email to self or your Toolbox if that is your medium of choice. Never leave home without a tool to preserve unexpected moments. They will provide you with valuable vignettes for all speaking occasions.

As you continue your speaking journey, keep recording and adding unexpected events to your Toolbox. They are the material that you will find is readily available when you are stuck on or off the platform. Turn those vignettes into speech brighteners – short stories that will add humor to brighten your speeches, and someone’s day. Visit your Toolbox regularly.

Recall and retell the stories you have collected. Make those stories your “isms” – Some call mine Henry-isms. Others refer to them as Miller-isms. The more you tell your stories, the better you will become at making them fit naturally into your presentations. There will always be room for one more story to gather. Don’t post them on social media. Save them for the platform. Your Toolbox may hold the key to your success someday as a master of the Speaking Trade.