I’m married to a list writer. Megan has been a list writer since she was a little girl. There are often days that I am home when she proudly shows me the list and the often significant number of things she has accomplished. Megan even completes tasks then adds them to the list only to cross them straight off again! Recently we shared with our eldest child that she was going on a special trip and the next day we found her pouring over a piece of paper. We asked her what she was doing and she innocently said “Getting ready to go away.” On closer inspection we saw what this diligent, responsible, first born young lady was doing to get ready for a special night away.
It was a list!
Possibly it’s built into our world now. Life moves forward fast and perhaps David Viscott got it right when he said “People now feel time accelerating. Lists allow them to feel some sense of accomplishment.” Potentially they are really, really helpful to those who leverage them correctly. Lists can serve leaders who speak. Lists remember for you. Lists create a flow and framework for your next presentation. A list gives you checkpoints to make sure you plan and execute the right things at the right time. Leaders who speak can leverage lists. Use this list to plan and prepare so your time before, during and after a presentation is most effectively utilised.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
What’s the aim or goal of this presentation?
- Who is your audience?
- What are their needs? What are their aspirations? What are their problems?
- What do I want them to learn?
- What do I want them to feel?
Questions to ask about your presentation
- Where am I speaking?
- What time am I speaking?
- What is happening before I speak?
- What is happening after I speak?
Questions relating to representation and follow up
- Am I representing myself or a bigger cause or organisation?
- What feedback am I looking for?
- What follow up will I invite?
- What is my primary call to action?
Start by going through each question one by one as you prepare for every presentation. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. The more you “follow the process”, the more you will notice the depth to which you internalise and own the framework. Over time this become second nature. It became YOUR process. You personalise it and build it into your rhythm and routine. It becomes a normal part of preparing and thinking through your leaderspeak process. You will notice how helpful a framework becomes to speed up and discipline your process.
Using these questions will help you prepare in the flowing five ways:
They remind you that the audience is new every time.
Even if you speak to a group of people regularly (I do this), the makeup of the group changes consistently. When you speak for a living or are addressing teams, staff or constituents the group is rarely exactly the same every time. Remember, leaders speak to people (see next point) rather than just deliver content. Make no mistake, your content needs to be top shelf. It needs to be current, it needs to have insightful and elegant perspectives on the subject matter. And, leaders who speak need to remind themselves that they are speaking to a new group of people everytime. It keeps you fresh, focused and in service rather than self-serving.
They ensure you to focus on your audience not your content.
Leaders speak to people rather than deliver content. When content wins, the focus of the presentation has been misplaced. However, there is no excuse for poor content either, or incorrect content, or sloppy research or preparation. Leaders who speak know their stuff, they know their topic, they know their content. Leaders who speak also know that content is only the entry fee to being given an invitation to speak. Leaderspeak is about PEOPLE. It is about the story you are telling becoming part of the story of the people you lead and the organisation you are serving. Questions that focus you on creating content you are proud of as well as being reminded to focus with laser like discipline on WHO you are speaking to will greatly enhance the impact of your presentations.
They focus the time and place of the presentation.
Are you the fist speaker of the day, the room may not have warmed up yet. Are you the ‘after lunch’ speaker? The room may be coming down off a delightful meal. Are you the ‘after dinner speaker’ where the room may be doing anything they want! Knowing who you are communicating to and when creates a pathway to prepare and plan.
I had the opportunity to speak to a room full of teenagers recently. It’s been a long time since I did that. I was the first speak of the day in a half full room with a group of strangers. What to do? I structured my leadership presentation around narrative – I had three compelling stories and used the imagery and metaphor in the stories I told to make some application. The feedback was extremely positive. When you know when your speaking to and how they might need to experience your content positions you to be even more effective.
They clarify what the end game and next steps are.
A long time ago a public speaking mentor of mine in speaking asked me to answer three questions before I got up to speak. They were “What do I want them to know?”, What do I want them to do?” and “What do I want them to feel?” When I know what I want the end game of the communication to be, I can work backwards from that point and wrap everything around this goal. It’s the true north of your presentation, the main focus that you work towards, curate content towards, illustrate and ultimately ask for a change in. The “Big Ask” at the end of the presentation positions you to lead the audience towards that goal and hold onto your conviction with confidence. Leverage these questions to make sure you land your presentation as well as you possibly can.
They leverage you into the next time you speak.
Leaders who speak don’t just speak once. They speak once knowing they will speak again. When you present you are preparing to present again. When you speak you are considering what the next step might be for your audience; what your own next step might be. In a way you’re speaking into the future, speaking to the next step, the next iteration, the next meeting. By considering “What’s next?” for your listeners and for your next opportunity – seeing this as a both/and exchange – will mean you turn up to lead and you turn up to serve.
Leaders who speak build up a process that helps them deliver fresh, relevant and elegant content to new groups of people each and everytime they present. This list will help you make the process a deeply internal one that becomes uniquely you. Leverage the list until the list leverages you.
#TheTopFifteenPercent | Going Further Faster