In this episode Chris shares with you how he is preparing for an upcoming talk in Boston this year.
Steal The Show: http://amzn.to/2wh3SW7 (Amazon UK)
Hey, welcome back to the Content Marketing Academy Podcast. I am going to follow on from the theme from the last episode, which was all public speaking, and share with you how I am preparing and rehearsing for an upcoming talk in Boston this year in 2017.
So, public speaking is one of those things that we all have the potential to do, right? We can all physically, most of us, physically get up on a stage. We can have words come out of our mouth? We’re all able to do that. Physically, we can all do it. However, there is a big difference between what makes someone average at it or rubbish at it and someone who’s really great at it and professional at it. I think there’s a massive, just a huge gap in there right. It’s not some we’re going to cover in 10 minutes. But we’re going to cover some of the stuff, I think that makes a big difference.
If I was to wind the clock back, say 18 months, maybe two years ago. The way that I prepare for my talks now is entirely and dramatically different than it was back then. So, here’s the mistakes that I would have probably made a couple years ago that you are maybe making them as well, the things that you do. For example, one of the things that I used to do was just create one whole talk.
if I had someone ask me to do a talk, then I would just go in and create that talk from scratch. That takes a long time, it takes a lot of effort, but the first thing I probably would do is open up something like PowerPoint and start designing slides. It’s one of the last things that you should do. I probably end up putting too much content, and also try to squeeze too much, and then probably run over time or have too much and I have to rush it, or not feel like I can complete everything that I want to do and things like that.
So, it’s just very badly organized, very badly planned, or just not as good. It could be the structure, it would have probably likely been poor as well. Not as good as it could have been, definitely not putting in enough time to practice. Talk about that in a second. So, that’s really what actually this is all about.
I find myself looking back now and thinking about all the things I did, and one of those was last minute adding slides, taking slides out, rehearsing in the hotel room on the day or the night before, things like that. Just generally being very disorganized and that resulted in doing okay, just being all right. But that’s just not really enough. Again, it’s all about bettering yourself and wanting to be better all the time. We’ll talk about that in a little bit as well.
But I’ve seen several discussions online now about whether or not you should rehearse your talks and how much rehearsal you should do. I truly believe that those that say that they don’t rehearse and they actually feel better just getting up on stage and just telling stories and all that kind of stuff, they believe that they don’t have to rehearse or be modest about it, or ignorant. In other words, they actually do do it, but they’re not telling you that they do it because they think it’s cool or something like that. Or they’re ignorant in other words, they don’t actually realize just how much preparation and planning and rehearsal could dramatically change their performance. They’re are just not aware. They just don’t know what they don’t know essentially.
Now, this is something, like I said, over the last two years, 18 months or so, it’s become much more of a thing for me trying to figure out what the difference is between someone who is average and an amateur and someone who’s a pro. One of the things I’ve done in the last six or seven weeks is interview over a dozen professional speakers. This is going to go on a new podcast show which I’ll tell you about in time. But I’ve learned a lot from them. Honestly, one of the common threads, the common themes throughout is this thing called rehearsal, this practice. One of the people that I interviewed was Michael Port. I’m going to pull from a lot of Michael Port stuff today in this show and just give you an insight into what I’m up to.
He’s the author of a book called Steal The Show. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes for you. But that’s one of those books that if you want to get better at speaking and you haven’t read that book, that’s one of the books that absolutely needs to be on your shelf. A lot of what I’m going to share with you today has been lifted out of that book, and the discussion I had with him and the interview as well.
Essentially, what I’m sharing with you today is what I’m doing to be the best I can be. I’m not ready to settle on being good, I want to be the best, okay? And I want to be the best version of me. So, a lot of that is just about learning and proving and accepting that that is never done. You’ve got to continue to make progress all the time.
I’m constantly challenging myself. What I’m going to do is I’m going to use an example for a talk that I’ve got coming up on October which is B2B Marketing Forum, Ann Handley’s event in Boston this year. Which I’m really honored to be a part of, and I can’t wait to get stuck into. That’s another reason that I want to do really well is that there’s going to be people there that I know. I want to show people that I’m good at this thing, right? That I want to get myself out there basically.
So, if you’re in the same situation as me where you want to get better, not only that, you want to stand out from others as being really, really good. A big part of rehearsal and planning is making that look really easy, right? When you get up there, it’s just so good that you’ve practiced it. I’m not kidding, it was the most common thread in all the discussions I’ve had with professional speakers, this element of rehearsal and planning.
Here’s what I’m up to. I’ve got maybe like, nine points I want to make here. I’m going to try and get them all in about the 10 to 12 minute mark. One of the first things is working back from the dates. So, looking at the dates of submission. Typically, with a big conference, you’ve got a submission date for a draft and then you’ve got submission date for slides and things like that.
So, you get all those into your diary or your schedule is really important because you want to meet those deadlines. That also gives you a time scale to work to as well, so you can map out exactly when you need to do certain things. The elements and the aspects of rehearsal that I’m going to share with you just know, have all been backdated from the deadlines, and fitted into my schedule. So, I know what I needed to have done by week ending this week and week ending next weekend, and week ending next week, and week ending the week after. I make sure I have put in time in my schedule to actually make sure it’s happening.
For example, this week, I spent most mornings working on a certain element of the rehearsal because I knew that I knew to do it this week. If I didn’t do it this week, it will be running into next week, and then so on and so forth. Then all of a sudden you’re back to cramming it all in again.
So, planning is the secret to this whole thing, honestly. It’s planning the right things at the right time. So, looking at the deadlines from the conference and then mapping that into your schedule of rehearsal. One of the first steps is to do something that … I don’t think I’ve really done to this degree before, but this curation of my ideas. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Evernote gathering my ideas, writing ideas for stories, questions, example, curating, collecting thinking, writing. That’s been a big part of it, which leads into one of the next stages as well.
I’ve not opened up PowerPoint at all yet. I haven’t really thought about PowerPoint at all. I’ve taken some notes and annotations in my notes about what I maybe want slides to look like. I’ve got a picture of my head, but I haven’t even remotely been interested in opening up a PowerPoint yet. It’s maybe one of the last things that I do before submission.
So, that’s the second thing we’re doing. We’ve got deadlines, and we spend a lot of time just writing it out. The third thing is something that I learned from Marcus Sheridan a couple of years ago now is about creating segments for your presentation. Instead of writing a whole talk from start to finish, it’s about creating segments and creating segments around the structure; question, story, result, challenge.
One of the first things I do is come up with the stories first. I take the topic that I’m going to be talking about, and I think about, well, what stories they have that can either help me get across a point or support something that I want people to learn? I’ll write down all the stories I have.
For this one, for example, it’s a 45 minute presentation. I’ll need probably three main stories for this, and three main segments. So, that means that will be three stories that will support my arguments or support the lessons and the teaching that I’m doing in this presentation. The benefits of using segments is that you’re creating them almost in … They’re definitely not in isolation because they’re going to work together. But you’re creating it so you’ve got a little bit of structure in each segment.
So, back to my earlier point. One of the things is structure can be one of the problems or the challenges that people have with presentations that solves that problem. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not like it has to be question, story, result, challenge. It just helps you when you’re creating. I love that. It really works well for me, and it means that you can also practice those segments in isolation as well.
Say, for example, someone wanted to me to do, let’s say a 30 minute presentation in six months’ time, and it’s on the same topic. I’ll just take two segments. I can deliver those two segments as a presentation. It just gives you a lot of choice, and a lot of flexibility. I can talk a lot about that, but it’s definitely been one of the significant things.
For this one, it’s a 45 minute presentation. Probably, it’s looking like three main segments, and three main stories to support my topic as well. Now, this fourth one’s interesting. It’s something that I’ve never done before for a talk, is scripting. I am literally in Evernote right now writing out word for word, and the actual structure that I’m going to talk in from start to end right through. This is not so I can read it on stage, this is so that I can practice it.
The Step five is that … Sorry, step four is writing that script out, and then step five leads into the next bit, which is literally reading that script out loud by myself in private a lot. Between now and the time I need to design the slides together. I’m going to be practicing that talk all the time, over and over and over again, and I’ll be annotating my notes, putting down things that don’t work, questions I want to ask. How I’m going to be interacting with the audience. I’ll probably … You know what, honestly, I’ll probably be in my office as well, pacing around, and I’ll be looking at my body language, and how I’m actually pacing as well. That called blocking. It’s like, one of the next steps is when you’re practicing, is to look at the way that you actually behave on stage when you’re pausing, when you’re moving, what kind of actions you’re making with your hands, that sort of thing. I’ll be doing a lot of that over the next four to five weeks too.
So, the slides for this event and to be submitted one month in advance. That will be when … That’s why I need to get the script done and practice it out. Then I’ll put the slides together, and then I’ll submit the slides. It’s between the time when I submit the slides and the talk takes place, that’s when I’m going to be doing a lot of that rehearsal. Like I said, I’ll be … I think, I’ve actually got it scheduled in for early in September before the slides are even submitted in this case. I’ve actually got a rehearsal that I’ve planned to do online.
Some people are going to get an advanced preview of this presentation in private, which allows me to do the whole presentation with an audience from start to end. And I can see how it goes and get some feedback. I can make some tweaks before I submit it as my final presentation.
Then between the time where the slides are submitted, and the presentation actually takes place in real life, which is about a month, I’ve got that opportunity to really perfect how I tell the stories, submit them to memory, really … And by doing that, I can get a lot of confidence. I can ad lib on stage, I feel really confident about my whole presentation, knowing that it’s going to run on time. I understand the structure, and what questions I want to ask, and when I want to ask them, and what points I really want to make and drive home. I’ll just feel like I know my topic so well that I’ll not feel … I’ll be able to enjoy it, I’ll be able to have a really good experience up there.
I think this is one of the key things is this whole element of practice. There’s a lot more to it that people might weigh onto, and like I said, a lot of times where I’m talking about this with other people, not the professionals but other people that are frankly not professionals are not doing. They’re not doing this stuff. If you want to be different and you want to be the best you can be, then I feel like this is one of the missing parts to closing the gap between being an amateur and a professional speaker.
I’ll keep you posted on this and let you know how I’m getting on with it. If you’ve got any questions, you can always email me email@example.com. I’ll you know exactly when this new podcast is coming out, probably the next few weeks. I’ll also put a link to Steal The Show into the show notes for you. So, you can go ahead and buy that book. It is a really great book. I think I really, really enjoyed it. I’ve pulled a lot from it.
I hope that you’ve taken something away from us today. And you can always tweet me @chrismarr101 as well if you’ve got any questions, thoughts or ideas. I hope you’re going to have a great day, and I will speak to you soon.
Don’t forget to be awesome.