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Podcast: Why You Should Focus on Your Message


In this new podcast episode, I’m addressing a very important topic regarding public speaking: the reason why you should focus on finding your underlying message every time you have to speak in public.

It will save you tons of time during your preparation phase, it will make you more confident in front of the audience, plus you’ll thank me the day you meet Bill Gates.

Transcript

Hello, and welcome to The Introverted Speaker Show!

Today, I’m going to talk about a very important topic regarding public speaking. I mean, that’s probably the most important thing regarding public speaking. If you have only one thing to remember, if you only want to learn one and only thing from me (and, really, I don’t thing you should) that’s what I’m going to talk about.

And that very important thing is: having a message!

Yeah, I know, it sounds obvious to some of you but, my experience showed me that not everybody knows that. I mean, most people, when they are asked to give a talk, a presentation, a speech, a lecture or anything like that about a given topic, well, these people research their topic. And then, they start to produce their talk. Or even worse, they start to make their powerpoint slides. They don’t know what they are doing, they don’t know how they are going to organize their speech, and yet they go straight away. Huge time sink, and it’s the best way to produce a terrible presentation, or a terrible speech, and spend way too much time at doing it. So don’t do that, that’s dumb. That’s probably the worse way to prepare.

Other speakers start by organizing their speech. And, that’s a little better. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say it was good to do it that way, but at least, it’s a little better. It’s less worse. Because at least, they know where they are going. And their overall talk will make sense, because it will have a beginning, a middle and an end. But that’s not perfect either. Because they will spend too much time on it, and even if their presentation will not be terrible, or, well, it will not necessarily be terrible, it will still leave the audience somewhat confused.

So, I know what you’re wondering right know: you’re wondering “Fabien, what should I do then?” Well, I already told you what you have to do, remember: you must find a message! Because as soon as you have got one, you will be able to outline your presentation, or your speech, way faster, and it will be much more convincing for your audience.

OK, so what is a message? Your message is the one major thing you want your audience to learn from you. It’s the most important thing for them. If they could only remember one thing from your talk, it should be your message. They should be like, at the end of their day, when they get back home and meet their loved one, they should be like “hey, honey, today I saw a wonderful presentation, and the speaker was talking about how yada yada yada”, and, that yada yada yada is your message. Well, no, of course, it’s not literally yada yada, but you understood me.

And no, some you you must wonder “oh, but no, I can’t do that, I have too many things to tell, I want them to remember several important things, in fact everything is important, so does that mean I have several messages?” Well, the answer is no. Because, you just want to focus on one single message because the more you say to people, the less they remember. If you want them to remember several things, if you give them several messages, you run the risk they won’t remember any of them. So that’s pretty counter-productive.

Remember, you’re giving a speech, or a presentation, so you’re live. I mean your audience cannot put you on pause. You can put me on pause, because that’s a podcast, so you have controls, audio controls, and don’t do that if you’re driving of course, but you can put me on pause, or you can rewind if you didn’t understand what I just said or if you let your attention wander. Because, remember, people have very short attention spans nowadays, so they won’t remember all you say because they won’t hear all you say, no matter how good you are.

So, yeah, you must find your message, and not only for your audience, but also for you. Because as soon as you found your message, the whole process of preparing you talk, the whole preparation process, from your title to your outline, to your actual content to your powerpoint slides, all of that becomes way easier to produce. And that’s something, that’s not something I’ll talk about any longer in this podcast, how to find your message and how to use that message to help you prepare your presentation wayyy faster, because that’s exactly what my crash course, The Introverted Speaker’s Crash Course On Public Speaking is all about.

But having a message is important for another reason. For something that has no relation with your talk. Well, not directly. That’s what is called the elevator pitch. Or, elevator speech. Pitch or speech, you will see both expressions.

So, what is an elevator pitch? Let me tell you a story.

Imagine you’re at a conference. Something important, an important conference in your domain of expertise. Like, I don’t know, you’re an IT person, and you’re at a very big IT conference. And you are going to give a presentation there. Yep. Big deal. With very important people in the audience. That’s already stressful, I know. There will be people like, I dunno, Steve Jobs. He… No, he’s dead. Not him. Someone else. Bill Gates. Bill Gates will be there, in the audience. Or, maybe not, but you know he’s at the conference, because he gave a keynote at the beginning. So, you’re in the hall of the hotel where the conference takes place, you’re calling the elevator, you push the button, you wait for a few seconds, ding! The door opens and… Inside the elevator, you see… Bill Gates. There’s him only, and this is the first floor, and you’re going to, I don’t know, the 10th floor, and so does he. So, it’s going to be a rather long ride, especially if you’re an introvert, and, to break the ice, Bill Gates asks: “so? Are you giving a presentation at that conference? What are you going to talk about?”

And now, if you don’t have a message ready, you’re screwed. Yeah, that’s great, you have a great presentation, you worked on it for months, you rehearsed, you almost know it word for word, you could talk about it for like 20 minutes, but, there, in that elevator, with the most important person in your domain, your field of expertise, you don’t have 20 minutes. You only have like, 20 seconds or less. But, you don’t have a message, a key idea, a corner idea, the thing you want people to learn and to remember from you, so what do you do? You’re mumbling, you’re hesitating, you’re giving the title of your presentation and try to make an abstract on the go, in the 10 seconds you have, and it’s very confusing, because you didn’t expect it. And, your Bill Gates is confused, he politely nods and says “oh ok, cool, that sounds great”, the door of the elevator opens, you both get out and… It’s done. You just screwed in front of the most important person in your domain. All of that because you didn’t have a key message.

And that’s why having a message is so important. Once you found your message, you can adapt to tons of situation. You can deliver an elevator pitch, that’s easy, I mean, you just have to say your Bill Gates “oh, I’m going to talk about yada yada because this and that”, and now you’ve got your Bill Gates all excited about assisting to your presentation. Not only that, but suppose the person just before you took too long, and nobody dared interrupting her, and now you only have 10 minutes left while you were supposed to talk for 20 minutes. As soon as you have a clear and non-ambiguous message, it’s way easier to adapt to these kinds of constraints. Because you can re-organize your speech around the message.

So, no, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say it was easy to shorten a presentation as long as you have a clear message, but it’s clearly easier.

So, that’s it, I hope I convinced you to find a key message, a core message in your next presentations, your speeches, your lectures, your seminars, or anything, you name it. And, by the way, did you see what I do? Yep, I had a key message in that podcast. That key message was “you need a key message in your presentations because it will make your lives easier”. I’m pretty sure you forgot most of what I said there, but I’m almost certain, no, I’m absolutely certain you got the message.

And that’s it for today, that’s the end of that episode of The Introverted Speaker’s Show. I hope you enjoyed it, don’t forget to register to get the next episodes, and if you want to talk with me about this episode by e-mail, or if you want to subscribe to my newsletter and get daily e-mail tips about public speaking and introversion, just go to my website www.TheIntrovertedSpeaker.com.

OK, thanks for listening, see you next time, bye!