They say ‘Content is King’…. I say … “Intent creates the best content”
When you have to deliver a speech or presentation, do you get the problem that either; you have no idea what you are going to say, or, worry that you’ll forget what you have prepared?
You are not alone. The fear of forgetting, or not knowing, what you’re going to say is a common one – but unless you are having to share specific data, or legal, medical, or technical terms, (in which case I’d suggest having those details to hand, or on slides that you’re using) then what you say and how you say it, is really only up to you. You are not an actor in a Shakespeare play, your audience are not sat there with the script in their hands, following what you are saying (and yes, this happens!) No, you are someone who has been invited to speak about a topic, person, or business that you know; and what you say, and the way you approach that, is completely up to you.
There seems to be a trend at the moment where people think they have to speak without notes to ‘be professional’. I’m not sure where this has come from, TED talks maybe. The fact is – quite frankly – it’s fine to use notes, or have a whole speech there in front of you. If you feel more confident with them … then use them. HOW to use them… well that’s a different blog.
Whether you are using notes or not, the fear of forgetting or freezing is still there, but I have two points to make here. Firstly, the specific content is not as important as you think it is, because, secondly, your audience hear more in what lies behind your words than the words themselves. Maya Angelou famously said:
. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is why I strongly believe that if you focus on the intent of what you want to say, the message you want to convey, the impact you want your audience to feel …. then, the content will look after itself. This is what I refer to as being connected to your ‘higher-purpose’ … what is the most important thing about what you are saying? What impact do you want to leave your audience with? What do you want them to go away thinking about, or feeling? What action do you want them to take when you’ve finished?
It’s all very well writing a cleverly worded presentation, with specific turns of phrase and jokes you hope will work … but unless you know that you can remember everything as you’ve written it, or that you won’t beat yourself up if you forget a sentence, skip a paragraph, or put things in the wrong order …. then I suggest you try creating your next speech or presentation like this: (By the way, this method works for challenging 1-2-1 conversations too, keeping you focused and connected to the points you need to make and the result you want create.)
- Ask yourself ‘what is my higher-purpose for this talk?’ (higher-purpose is a different blog to come – but for example ‘get this potential client to sign the deal’ is a purpose . ‘Create connection to build a long-term relationship with this potential client’ is a higher purpose … and will make you more money!)
- Know what specific points, or highlights, you want, or need, to include (the number of these will depend on the length of your talk try to make this no more than 3-5, possibly 7 – but if there are, say, 10 then so-be-it)
- Write those specific points as short, specific bullet points that will trigger what comes next for you. Make each point preferably one, but no more than three words.
- Connect to your higher purpose (your intent) look at the trigger word or words, and start speaking, out loud.
- As you speak, you may wish to record it – to capture any moments of genius that flow from your mouth, or write down the phrases that you create that you know contain the core of what you want to convey. (I tend to create my talks when out on my morning walk, exercise is great for freeing the brain, so I jot down the important bits that I remember when I get back.)
- Practice OUT LOUD.
If you are someone who needs to write some things down, then do so, but please try not to get caught up in trying to ‘learn your script’ you are not an actor, you don’t need to be ‘dead letter perfect.’ What you do need is to feel confident enough to say what you want or need to say, in a way that delivers your intention to your audience.
All you need to learn is the essential trigger points – if you are still concerned you might forget them, then all you need is a small piece of paper, or your slides, to remind you of what trigger point comes next.
Creating your talk or presentation this way will mean that you are more connected to be able to speak from your knowledge base, or from your heart. You will have a structure, but your brain isn’t trying so hard to remember the specifics of what comes next, it is freed up to be able to read the room, to respond to any inspiration you receive in the moment, to allow yourself time to breathe and find the words you want to use. If your piece is time-limited, then remember to speak them out loud and time them as you do so, this will really help you figure out what is important and what is filler, or where you have time to expand on a topic.
Finally, because you have to speak out loud to create your speech or presentation this way, you are more likely to remember it, but if you do get those moments of forgetting or freezing, all you need to do is look to the next trigger point.
When is your next speech, talk, or presentation? Try creating it this way and remember your INTENT will create the best content. So, content may well be King … but Intention is your empire!
If you would like my support in helping you come up with your next high-stakes speech, or high-pressure presentation then I offer intensive half-day and one-day sessions where we create, or create and practice, your piece and give you tools to manage nerves. Look at the ‘whole voice’ page on my website, or get in touch if you’d like to know more. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you found this blog useful, or think I’m talking a load of hokum – let me know in the comments below!