Brett de Hoedt, speaker and emcee at large will cross the continent to persuade the 650 or so young medicos at the Global Health Conference in Perth that if they really want to save the world they’ll need to engage the media.
Many event organisers complain about a lack of attendees. There’s always something to explain the low numbers. Well this event is run by full-time medicine students who have an overworked and impoverished target audience yet the event goes gangbusters year after year, even when located in a rather remote location. Go figure.
Black and white is always flattering.
Organisers even created a fetching sketch of Brett for the program.
It is likely to be just one in a series of modern touches that will leave Brett feeling old.
Too few public speakers make the most of their opportunity and very few in Australia take any public speaking training. It’s easy for public speakers to think that their presentation went well as very few audience members express their true feelings. Event managers are often more concerned with punctuality and logistics than content, so presenters can live in a bubble.
However if we delve into the minds of audience members we’d often find thoughts like those featured in this series:
There’s a fine line between explaining what needs to be explained and teaching people to suck eggs. Many public speakers are worried about bringing the audience along with them so they explain everything from the ground up. They give background, they show organisational flowcharts, they treat audiences as students rather than fellow professionals. Don’t do this.
A client of ours recently ran through a presentation that she was planning to make to a room full of nutritionists. The thrust of the presentation was about how a low socio-economic school compensated for the poor nutrition kids were getting at home through their breakfast plan and other means.
Our client opened up by explaining the link between good nutrition and good student learning. You know the deal – as a well fed tummy provides the ability to concentrate so students get the most out of each and every class. That’s fine but she went on to explain this in great depth and at some length in the context of a 30 minute presentation.
I gave her feedback that a room full of nutritionists do not need to be told of the benefit to students of a healthy diet. They already get it. The nutritionists really wanted to learn about her school’s program so they could steal ideas and recreate its success.
Be careful not to tell your audience what they already know. It takes only a couple of minutes for an audience to sense that you are underestimating them. This is usually interpreted as a sign of disrespect and they disengage accordingly.
Of course you may have to cover some old ground or find some common understandings but liberal use of phrases such as: “you already know this but…” or “I hardly need to tell a room like this that…” show that you understand and respect them. It also makes audiences feel smart.
Public speakers need to find a way to involve their audience whether they want to or not.
Make them believe you care about them.
I like to have some degree of continuous interaction with an audience which can take the form of short, sharp questions such as:
Has anyone else here experienced that?
Anyone here in violent disagreement with what I just said?
Has anyone read that book/seen that documentary/used that software?
Your audience can respond via a quick comment, a show of hands or with a low murmur. It’s a small way to show that you give a damn about your audience and you just might learn something from their response that you can reflect in your presentation. You must find a way to let people in your audience participate. Q & A at the end isn’t enough.
A book your audiences will love.
Serious about being a better speaker? You should be. Better speaking = better career.
The event brings together 130+ organisations, dozens of exhibitors as well as speakers including SBS Insight’s Jenny Brockie, Senator Mitch Fifield, former federal disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes, South Australian Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent and maverick economist Stephen Koukoulas.
Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo. Recommended: for speakers who take the craft seriously and TED talk devotees.
The foul-mouthed bear? Ted Turner? Big Ted?
There is something a little irksome about Carmine Gallo’s book Talk Like TED. Perhaps it’s the shamelessness of writing a book that is entirely dependent on the efforts of others, perhaps it’s the blind faith the author has in the TED talk formula or the repeated plugs for his own speaker coaching skills.
Still, if you want to improve your speaking or are fascinated by the globocult that is Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) this book is for you.
TED talks have redefined what Westerners expect of public speakers. We want work-perfect presenters who win our hearts with personal stories, wow us with slick visuals and walk the stage looking good every step of the way.
In many ways this has lifted the bar for non-TEDsters, though it has created a template that some of us might wish to ignore.
When TED Talks, people listen.
Gallo knows the formula inside and out. This comes from watching every TED talk, timing it, transcribing it, breaking it down into its constituent parts and interviewing many of the (less famous) speakers. He has even plotted their hand movements.
Surely we didn’t really need to have Al Gore’s presentation presented in a two column chart with his words on one side and a description of his hand movements on the other. Surely he hired an intern for all this bollocks?
The result of this industriousness is a book that promises to “reveal the nine public speaking secrets of the world’s top minds”. Oh dear. Undoubtedly there is wisdom to be gained.
While Gallo may be a great speaking coach he is a writer in need of an editor. Talk Like TED has a convoluted format. Not only are there nine “secrets”, there are groups of secrets within each secrets, there are many quotes from the greats, TED notes, subheadings, and breakout boxes.
There is an absolute acceptance that the TED talk formula – and it is a formula – is the definitive way to present to groups of people. Nowhere does Gallo seriously suggest that you do things your way or acknowledge that those of us who are a little less famous, who speak in spotlights a little dimmer, may not have the same options available to us. To Gallo, the more YouTube hits you have, the better the speaker.
Public speaking tip: launch new iPhone. Wish we’d thought of that.
Gallo Carmine has history – his previous work was: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Clearly he too has a formula, knows when he’s on a good thing and sticks to it.
Few of us are philanthropist rockstars, hero pilots, silicon valley CEOs or bloody Malcolm Gladwell but we can heed Gallo’s advice to tell a story, to be brief, to incorporate levity, to deliver one killer statistic, to ensure that we teach people something they did not know.
The book also provides plenty of insights into what goes into creating and delivering an 18-minute Ted talk. It’s a cult we tell you! Run!
Ironically, for a book that praises TED’s brevity Talk Like TED is repetitive and far too long. Like so many books it cherry picks neuroscience, talking about attention spans, recollections and visual processing. Whatever!Just be interesting and of value we say.
A book your audiences will love.
Still, if you want to improve your public speaking Talk Like TED is a worthwhile read that will give you food for thought and some specific ways to lift your game. To Gallo’s credit there are dozens of pages of notes footnotes. Or maybe that was the intern.
It was with interest that we compared the response time of two leading environment groups – ACF and Greenpeace. (Left)
Dr Sinclair we presume.
News quickly gets old. Readers will always appreciate you keeping them informed – especially if you tell them first. On this occasion ACF Paul Sinclair (left) wins by the best part of an afternoon over Greenpeace. Kudos Dr Sinclair.
First up: if anybody doubts the power of sound and movement (aka video) to make a dramatic emotional impact with viewers watch this and get back to us.
That’s why this year, we have spent a lot of time and energy shooting short videos destined for the websites of clients such as Merri Community Health and ourselves. Our videos were not as tear-inducing as the example above but we are convinced that they offer a way to communicate that is hard to resist. Here’s what we learnt from making 30 or so videos:
Meet the Marriott School Ambassadors.
Introduce your people via video
So much of your business success hinges on whether people think your individual people are great at what they do.
You need to convince people of their skills, authenticity, and passion. You could do this with words and a headshot or you could do this with video. Which do you think will be more effective?
Marriott Support Services did this beautifully with a series of videos showcasing their public speakers all of whom are young people with an intellectual disability. We are proud to have made them.
More is more It’s better to make a series of shorter videos that break down a topic into bite-size pieces then make one longer video encompassing many perspectives on the one subject.
Time is of the essence.
Less is more.
People claim to know that attention spans are short and getting shorter. Then of course the very same people make a video and find that they have much to say in such interesting ways that the viewer should be happy to block off five minutes. This is deluded. Sixty seconds is a long time online so anything more than two minutes duration is likely to outstay its welcome. Looking back at some of the videos we shot for ourselves in January – some of which are 90 seconds long – we realised that we could have shaved some excess time but didn’t. Bugger.
Short captions. Fleeting theme tune.
Opening credits An opening credit or graphic adds professionalism to your videos and explains what people should expect. Be sure to keep them very brief as people’s patience can wear thin, particularly if they’ve already seen two or three of your videos in the preceding minutes.
We ensured that our credits were short with an exceptionally brief piece of audio which is both cute and allows people to check the volume level on their devices.
Picture quality Whether you’re a corporate entity or a nonprofit you need to have videos that look like they belong on the world wide web. Shooting your videos in high definition is not a budgetary consideration anymore; so go HD. Ensure that your videos are well lit and have excellent audio quality. The latter will usually require a lapel microphone. Too many videos suffer from hollow sound quality which immediately brands your videos as amateur.
And no – being a voluntary outfit does not allow you to create content that is amateur in appearance. Hire the best people you can hire which in most cases does not mean someone is tech-savvy nephew.
Music / Audio A lot of online videos have a bed of music underneath. This can be very distracting if it is not balanced well with the sound of the narrator. We recommend not using a continuous soundtrack or score under your video. You may wish to use some carefully selected sound effects at various times throughout your videos to add emphasis or humour but be minimalist with this won’t you? Similarly you may wish to insert some graphics to highlight key words, concepts or extra information.
More overlay please Overlay is the term given to the visuals you see as you hear the spokesperson talking in the background. For instance you may start a video featuring the interviewee on camera talking. Then, at an appropriate juncture, the vision of that person is replaced with overlay that somehow relates to what they’re talking about as per this short film we shot recently for Merri Community Health:
Without overlay you have a long, boring and amateurish video. You need to shoot more overlay than you ever thought you needed and an editor willing and able to browse that overlay and edit it with a deft touch.
It’s all about editing Hollywood directors are fond of saying that a movie can be made or broken in the edit suite. How true this is. Sharp editing with savvy use of graphics, music and various angles makes all the difference. A one-shot, set-and-forget approach will not work. You need close-ups, wide shots, overlay, graphics all working in concert to keep people’s attention. Editors make the most of your content.
Have a script Most people prefer to work with a script. We intuitively don’t like scripts as they turn normal people into actors, causing them to be more concerned with remembering their lines instead of saying what they actually mean in an authentic way.
Some spokespeople prefer to work without a script. This is more fun but causes two problems: 1. it makes editing harder as there’s no script for reference. You may have to transcribe the whole bloody thing! 2 you wrap-up the shoot, only to realise the next day that there were 17 things you should have said on camera but didn’t.
Scripts or dot point outlines help avoid these problems. For each of the videos we made we had an outline of what needed to be said. Knowing that we were able to add overlay, graphics and still images in the edit suite allowed spokespeople to deliver a chunk or two at a time. Don’t burden your spokespeople with the need to deliver all of the talking in one fell swoop – this is madness and a shortcut to a very boring video.
This guy knows stuff. And hangs out on balconies.
The production is just the beginning
So you’ve created your video masterpieces – now the hard work begins. If your intention is to rack up millions of hits you will have to do your darndest to promote them.
YouTube is a very big place and it’s unlikely that your videos will be found by strangers. Just as you should optimise your website so that it is found via Google you need to optimise your YouTube videos so that they are found by people searching YouTube. Babyfaced James Wedmore teaches a lot about this and all things video related.
A trio of thumbnail images.
Thumbnails YouTube only offers you a few selections for your thumbnail image. Pick the most vibrant, lively, attention-grabbing option. Generally speaking a picture of a person is more compelling than other imagery. If you can combine an image of a person with some text explaining the video, you are probably on a winner.
Make-up! You aren’t making a Hollywood romcom but viewers would like you to look pretty damn presentable. Make-up really helps – especially under the heat of the spotlight. Brett could have looked like Nicole Kidman if we’d got a make-up artist on board. Opportunity missed!
Maureen is best experienced on video.
Got a conference? Want bookings? Shoot video. Every event organiser wants more people at next year’s event than they got this year. Testimonials help. They are five times more powerful if delivered via video. Set up a camera and encourage people (with chocolate) to proclaim the magnificence of your event. This will make promoting next year’s conference much easier.
To video or not to video Like everything associated with the online world, videos promise much but may not necessarily deliver. For every YouTube sensation there are many, many videos with very, very few views. That said, any website aiming to impress viewers and build credibility needs videos. Use them to add colour and movement both literally and figuratively.