My friend Michelle works for a radio station. They were one of the sponsors for a workshop on innovation that was being held in my town, and she offered me a free ticket.
I had two meetings scheduled for that afternoon, and was able to reschedule both of them, so I said “Sure. I’d love to go.”
And although there was some good information shared, I walked away saying to myself, “I moved two meetings for this?!?”
As I reflected back over what disappointed me, I pulled out four tips to share with you.
Make It Interactive
This workshop was scheduled from 1-4:15. That’s a long time to talk “at” people without opportunities for them to engage with you, each other, and the material. In all of that time, there was only one point when we worked in small groups to brainstorm something, and that was just for about 10-15 minutes.
Today’s audiences want to interact. They want to engage. They want to be a part of things.
Somehow, because this was a workshop that was billed as being “brought to you by the award winning experience design studio…” I expected it to be more of an experience. One of the reasons I decided to go was to see what kind of amazing experiential exercises they would use to teach the material.
Unfortunately, with the exception of bringing in a singer/songwriter, I did not find it to be much of an experience.
Use the Power of Story
There was a guest speaker who took the stage for a brief time. She was introduced as speaking to us about courage. Except that’s not what she talked about. Or if she did, I couldn’t find the connection.
She talked about herself. She talked about her business. She talked about all the great projects and organizations she’d started in our town. She used quotes from other people. Lots and lots of quotes. It seemed to be a bragalogue. I didn’t see its relevance to innovation, to courage, or to me.
She didn’t use the power of story.
If I’m going to hear someone speak on courage, I want to hear about a time in their life they were terrified. They were stuck. They were paralyzed. And then they found a way to be courageous, and to overcome the obstacles they faced in reaching their goal. I want to hear about how they were able to summon that courage. I want to feel the emotion of it. I want them to then relate it to me and how I might apply that in my own life.
Nope. That didn’t happen.
People remember stories. With all of the information that was shared yesterday afternoon, there were many opportunities where the main speaker could have illustrated his points with great stories.
He used many examples, but only a few real stories. There’s a difference.
Storytelling is an art and a skill. It brings your information to life. It connects information and emotion. It makes your points memorable. It has setting, and characters and dialog and emotion.
Learn to tell great stories, and tie them tightly to your points and to lessons your audience can use in their own lives.
The main speaker was a delightful man. He clearly knows his stuff, and is very passionate about it. He’s making a difference in the world.
Yet, his energy was at one consistent level. There weren’t highs and lows. His pacing was pretty consistent. His tone was consistent. I wasn’t drawn in.
Although I was taking lots of notes on the content, it didn’t hold my full attention. It wasn’t riveting. I kept waiting for the “wow.” I found myself looking at Facebook on my phone while I took notes on my laptop.
As a speaker, you want to design and structure each moment to be so compelling that all eyes are on you. If anyone is on their phone, it’s because they’re tweeting your brilliance, or telling their friends how amazing you are.
Tie It All Together
This workshop had a lot of moving parts: the main presenter, his colleague who served as emcee and interviewer, the guest speaker, a second guest speaker who was briefly interviewed on stage, a musician, videos.
Yet somehow, it didn’t hang together tightly enough. There was a model that was presented. Each of those pieces could have been tied to the overarching concept that was being presented. Some pieces seemed very relevant. Some, not so much.
It’s the speaker’s job to craft the trajectory, and to help the audience see the purpose and the point of each piece. It’s their job to make each piece relevant to the audience and to their lives. It’s their job to help the audience see how each piece can be used to solve the problems that they’re struggling with.
It’s not the audience’s job to figure that out.
So did I waste an afternoon? No. I definitely learned some stuff. Could it have been better? Absolutely.
Keep these four tips in mind as you design your next program or workshop so that you totally engage your audience, and so they’re happy they shifted their schedule to be with you.
© 2015 Big Impact Speaking
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Ava Diamond is a speaking mentor and messaging strategist, and is the founder of Big Impact Speaking. She has created such programs as Speak Your Way to Clients and Cash, and the Rock Your Speaking Academy. A professional speaker for nineteen years, she helps entrepreneurs rock their speaking so they expand their influence and reach, become known as the “go-to” expert in their field, and get all the clients they want.
Download the complementary Rock Your Speaking Power Pack at http://BigImpactSpeaking.com Contact Ava at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-224-3015.