Ever felt your public speaking skills could use some work? According to Renee Jacobs, “public speaking is speaking to another person,” and we perform public speaking everyday, whether it’s in an elevator, or giving an investment pitch at the bank.
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Renee is a former TEDx coach who now works with entrepreneurs and business professionals, teaching the importance of effective public speaking in our daily lives. Getting better at public speaking isn’t just about engaging a large audience from the stage; it’s about gaining confidence, building collaborative alliances, and inspiring action.
Crafting a Modern Folktale
According to a popular adage, the only thing people fear more than death is public speaking. Whether this is true or not, the fear of public speaking is a serious hurdle for many. So how do we get past this fear and gain the confidence necessary to deliver an effective speech?
Renee has found that with her clients, once they are confident in their message and story, the fear disappears. Preparation and understanding the craft of putting your story together is key.
One simple and effective way to do this is to weave storytelling into your speech, creating a hook to engage your audience and get them interested. Renee recommends using the Four Ws of a Modern Folktale--when, where, who and what--as a simple framework for crafting an engaging story.
To begin, ‘when’ and ‘where’ both provide a context and frame of reference. Instead of “Once upon a time in a land far away,” in a business story, it might be, “A few weeks ago, I was in a coffee shop…”
‘Who’ and ‘what’ are your characters and the conflict-resolution. This is your opportunity to draw your audience in, ratchet up the tension, and hold their attention. It’s also a good point to drop out of story to touch on the more technical details of your presentation. Then, you can end by picking the story back up, wrapping up with a satisfying resolution, and leaving your audience with a lasting impression.
The Science of Humour and the Rule of Three
Once you have mastered the basic mechanics of storytelling, the next step is to add a little humour to the mix. Begin by asking yourself if there is anything funny about the situation. Sometimes it’s obvious, while other times it might take more thought.
Humour is difficult, but there is a science to it, according to Renee, and anyone can learn how to be funny. Drawing inspiration from David Nihill’s book, Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker, Renee recommends remembering the Rule of Three.
The essence of the Rule of Three is simple: two things make a pattern, and so people begin to form an expectation for the third item. If you can surprise them with something unexpected, you might make them laugh.
Though the premise is straightforward, the execution takes a little bit of finesse. To really nail this, it’s important to know who your audience is to better understand how they will react and what they might find funny.
Who is Your Audience?
In inspirational speaking, it’s important to ask yourself, “What do I want people to think, feel, or do differently after they have heard from me?” But before answering this question, you must first know who your audience is.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of preparation when it comes to crafting an effective speech, because it ties back into the first two points of weaving a story and injecting humor into your speaking.
When you know who your audience is, you can use familiar characters and relevant contexts in your stories, and you can better predict the kind of humour that will elicit the best response and the most laughs.
And more importantly, you will have the opportunity to create a lasting impression through engaging and relevant content that is not only beneficial to your audience, but also has the potential to initiate valuable, mutually beneficial collaborations and business partnerships.
Gaining confidence in public speaking takes practice, but there are proven methods and frameworks that will help you utilize storytelling and humour to craft an engaging and effective speech relevant to your audience.
Becoming an effective inspirational speaker has many benefits outside of successfully delivering a keynote speech, and Renee encourages those interested in improving their skills to take advantage of any opportunity, big or small, to practice public speaking in their daily lives.
Connect with Renee: http://publicspeakinginspirationintoaction.com/
Thanks for reading!