Three things to remember for a successful speaking career

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Three things to remember for a successful speaking career

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

For some, presenting is a need. For others, it’s something they love doing and want to do more. But can you make a career out of it? You sure can, I did!

If you are like me, after your first talk, you will want more. Public Speaking is addictive. The applause, the connection with the audience, the fact that you are teaching others. All these elements could be reasons why you want to pursue a speaking career.

But having spoken once, or even a few times, doesn’t make you a speaker. It doesn’t mean you have a speaking career. For that to be the case, something more has to happen.

I’m not talking about money here. I’m talking about being a speaker who gets invited (back) often to conferences. A speaker who gets asked by a company to come in and inform or inspire their staff.

To get to that point, there are a few things you need to remember.

It takes time

Having a successful speaking career takes time. It doesn’t just happen. You need to put real work in it. There are very few speakers who go from a small event straight to the big keynotes or TED Talks. You’ll either have to be extremely talented, have an extremely unique topic or be extremely lucky. In all other cases, you have to at least take a few years to grow.

Question yourself and renew yourself all the time

In all the years I have been speaking, not a single talk I did was a repetition of another one. Yes, elements did come back and some talks were similar. But every single time, I renewed my presentations. To make it better. I questioned myself every single time.

This made my talks better, but it is bigger than that. Because I questioned myself, I grew. I changed not only presentations but styles, topics and much more. I was always trying to become a better version of myself every single time. Constant change will make you spiral up.

Focus on presence

Being a better speaker, to get asked back is more than presenting great content. You have to ‘be there’. You have to have a great presence. Your presence is what makes people listen to you.

If you want to grow, focus on presence. Play with the audience. Become comfortable on stage and use your body to send out a message. Become someone people want to see!

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What happens when people hear a story?

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

Why do we do storytelling? Because we heard we should? Or because it’s fun? Or because the audience wants it?

Yes, it is about the audience. But not because they want it, but because it changes the way they feel. If you tell a story on stage, something happens with people.

What happens? For example these things…

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Getting closer to your audience in Storytelling

Category:Audience,Storytelling Tags : 

An important element in public speaking as well as in storytelling is to get close to your audience. The closer you get, the more powerful your story.

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How to keep your audience attention

Category:Audience,Preparation,Storytelling Tags : 

I recently sat in a presentation with a friend of mine next to me. After the talk, I asked my friend what he thought of the presentation.

“To be honest,” he said, “I got distracted halfway through and couldn’t get back on track after. So I missed most.”

It happens to all of us. We get distracted easy. For a speaker, that means it is crucial to put elements into their presentations that will prevent that from happening.

How do you make your speech unpredictable and your audience engaged?

You want to keep your audience attention. But how? By adding in unpredictable elements to your speech. Elements that will keep your audience on their toes.

Which elements are that? Here are five.

(Bold) Statements

“You all think smoking kills? Let me tell you something. Do you know that the amount of people dying from diabetes are three times as many people as dying from smoking?”

It’s how Mohammed Qahtani, 2015 World Champion Public Speaking, starts his talk ‘The Power of Words’. The statement wasn’t correct, but that wasn’t what mattered. He got what he wanted: the attention of the audience. And a chance to explain his point.

Statements and especially bold statements are a great attention grabber. You trigger people to listen to you. They want to hear how you are going to prove your statement.

Qahtani was quite extreme in his statement. You don’t have to go that far. But you can still trigger. When pitching you could, for example, say something like “We are better than Apple”.

The important part: you’ll have to prove your statement after!

Being funny

A second way to get and keep the attention of your audience is to be funny. Make your audience smile and they will love you for it. Being funny is a great way to do that.

At the same time, being funny is tricky. Be careful here. Not everybody has the same humour. And you have to know the difference between being funny and telling a joke.

When it comes to being funny, timing is everything. And not too much. A funny story can help, but it has to be relatable to the topic of your talk! A good idea is to keep it personal and not insult your audience.

It is a great way to keep the attention. But as said, be careful, not everything is considered funny.

Tell a great story

We know that people are hardwired to listen to stories. When done well, telling stories is one of the most powerful tools in a presentation. A story keeps attention because people want to hear what comes next.

Telling a short story in your presentation can do wonders for the attention. What you want to do is connect the stories to the content of your talk. In other words: make it relevant.

I often use stories in my presentations. The stories can be about my kids, about anything. But I always make sure they connect to the topic of the talk.

Give them bold or surprising statistics

“According to Comscore, 25% of internet users have an ad blocker installed.”

It’s a sentence from one of my presentations. These statistics are staggering. It will make people think. “That’s a lot!” (or in some cases “that’s not much!”. Whenever I use statistics like these, I can see people look up, take pictures or write them down.

I have their attention at that point. Statistics do that. But like with the stories and fun stuff, it has to be relevant and at least a little bit bold. Telling your audience 100% of people drink water won’t help much.

Your slide design

The last way to get and keep attention is your slide design. We all know ‘death by PowerPoint’. Too many bullets will kill your presentation.

A great design will keep people focused. This can be the use of the right colours, but also usage of the right images.

Personally, I use a lot of animated gifs. These to me are like the pictures used in Harry Potter movies. They come to life.

It’s all about relevance

With all the things you can do to keep the attention, one thing is important: it has to be relevant. It has to make sense.

To conclude, I’d like to share my favourite gif to use in presentations. Here’s why I use this gif: it’s funny, it’s relevant and it tells a story. I use it to explain how we should always be looking beyond the obvious because that’s where the real gold lies.


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Closing Speaker? Make Being the Last of the Day Work for You!

Category:Audience,Preparation Tags : 

Being the last speaker at an event can be daunting for speakers. But there are actually some big opportunities. Make being the last speaker work for you!

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8 Ways to Get a Connection with your Audience

Category:Audience,Preparation Tags : 

Every speaker wants a good ‘connection’ with the audience. In some cases, that can be quite hard. Not all audiences are the same. And some audiences, you have to ‘convince’. Wouldn’t it be great if your audience would listen engaged to every word you had to say? It’s possible.

There are a few ways to connect to your audience. Some are easy. And your audience will feel closer to you, without you being too obvious about it.

1. Respond to what you see

Many speakers are very self-focused when they are on stage. Most of the time, this is not intentional. But speakers want to do a good job. So they focus on the job they feel is most important: the words and the slides.

If you focus only there, you will lose the attention of the audience. Because there is no connection.

A good speaker has to know what happens in the room, at all times. Are people paying attention, are they bored, are they engaged? Who is laughing and who isn’t? And who seems to agree or disagree with you?

If you feel the room agrees or doesn’t agree, for example, act on it. Tell them “I see some people disagree, that’s fine, here’s why I feel it is like this…”

The mere fact that you are responding to their movements shows you care. And caring means connecting.

2. Look at people a bit longer

It’s common advice for speakers: “Look to all parts of the room and focus on some people”. Great advice, but you need to be careful with this. If you ‘glance’ over the audience too much, they will feel neglected. They feel you don’t ‘see’ them.

What you want is a real connection. This means looking people in the eye. In fact, look at some people a bit longer. Not too long, that gets creepy, but long enough to get the connection. Get a smile even. It will bring you closer.

3. Smile and have fun

Smiling is one of the most underestimated parts of public speaking. If you want to connect, the audience must feel you like them. And if you are not smiling, how will they ever feel you like them?

Once you show you are enjoying yourself on stage, the audience will become part of that. And they will feel closer to you.

Jokes?

How to make people smile? Sometimes you can do that with jokes. Being funny does help. If you can make the audience smile, they will feel closer to you.

Now there is a danger here. If your joke backfires, you could lose all the connection. So think about jokes. Don’t offend people. Don’t make fun of specific groups. Be lighthearted and funny. The best person to joke about is you.

4. Be personal

Which brings me to a very important part of your presentation. You have to make any presentation you do personal. People bond with you, not with the presentation. So as soon as you can make part of the presentation personal, you will get closer to the audience.

This doesn’t mean you have to keep telling stories about yourself or your kids all the time. It does mean, you want to connect the content of the presentation to your personality. Show the connection between you and what you are trying to get across. People will like you, and your talk, better.

5. Refer to what they already know

If you talk about stuff that people can’t relate to, you make it hard for them. It can be almost like you are talking to them in a foreign language. How do you feel when you are part of a conversation between two people speaking a language you don’t understand? You feel left out.

You want to avoid people feeling left out. Even when you are talking about difficult topics. You want to sometimes bring it back to basics. The best way of doing that is to refer to things people already know. Sometimes that is an analogy, sometimes it’s going back to something everybody knows.

If you refer to what people know, you give them trust and they will get closer to you.

6. Walk towards your audience

There are speakers who stand behind a desk. And there are those (like myself) who like to walk around. I prefer the walking way, for several reasons. For one, it’s a way of getting closer to your audience.

By physically getting closer to your audience, you will make them feel closer to you as well. So walk towards them. Make them ‘part’ of your presentation. And it will create a bond.

7. Compliment the audience

Finally, compliment the audience. Tell them how great they are.

There are several parts in the presentation where you can do this. At the start, you can make a compliment about the location, the city that you are in or the company that you are presenting at. During the talk, you can tell them you can see they are a smart audience. “I don’t need to tell you this, you know this”, shows you feel they are smart. And at the end of the talk, you can say you enjoyed their presence.

A compliment can do many things!

8. Tell a story

As you can see, there are many ways of getting a connection with your audience. The one important thing you have to keep in mind is that it has to be about them. They need to be able to recognise themselves.

The best way of doing that is by telling a story. People love stories. Not only because they are fun, but because it’s part of our DNA. Stories are part of our everyday life. Each day we tell each other stories. Each day we listen to stories.

When we hear a story, we listen better. We remember more. And we trust the source of a story. This is why storytelling is such a powerful tool. And this is why storytelling needs to be part of any type of talk that you do.

But Storytelling isn’t easy. That’s why we created a class for you that shows you exactly how to create a perfect story, over and over again.

If you sign up right away on this page, use the discount code “ConnectionKII5BI” to get $10 off!


Misconceptions about Storytelling debated

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

I attended an office party the other day at which a few people started debating storytelling. There were a few who didn’t believe in the concept of storytelling at all. Others did believe in it, but didn’t think it was ‘for them’. It struck me how little informed some people seemed to be. Or better said: how presumptuous.

Some people believed storytelling is not important. Which is ok to think, but they thought so for the wrong reasons.

It’s a hype!

“Let me tell you a story”, that’s how the conversation started. “Hah, a story, are you doing ‘storytelling’?”, said the second person. “Storytelling is a hype!” was the third response. That’s how the conversation started.

Some of the people at the party thought Storytelling was a hype. They thought so because they had heard the term so often.

In a way, they were right. When you hear a term often, it feels like the start of a hype. And when agencies start offering a service related to that ‘buzzword’ as a service, all alarm bells go off. At that point, it has all the signs of becoming a hype.

But is Storytelling a hype? When something is a hype, it will also go away again. It temporarily has the attention.

But ‘storytelling’ isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it will be around longer than many other ‘buzzwords’. Storytelling is part of human DNA. It has always been around. From the stone ages until now. And it will remain part of our lives in the far future.

We’ve been telling stories forever. And we’ve been selling by stories forever. So is it a hype? It probably is. But one that actually makes sense. One that

This argument made one of the people in the conversation, let’s call him Mark, think. He tended to agree but didn’t give in yet.

It doesn’t work!

“Whatever, it might not be a hype, it sure doesn’t work! People want to know what they are buying, they don’t want to hear stories!”

This is an argument that you hear often within businesses. Many businesses aren’t using storytelling yet because they think it doesn’t work. These businesses haven’t looked well enough at how and why people buy.

People don’t buy because a product has the most features, they buy because they feel it fits their needs. And that goes beyond the features. When buying, people listen to friends and families. They read reviews, and they listen to the stories of the salesmen.

Did you ever think about why a salesperson always has a personal experience that happens to feel like yours? Yep, that’s because the story works. You start feeling a connection with the salesperson.

Stories also work because when buying, people want to learn. They want to know everything about the product, the service or anything connected. People’s brains need to learn. And the best way of learning is through stories. Because stories stick.

But that doesn’t work for B2B!?

Mark wasn’t convinced yet.

“Ok, it might work for consumers, but we are a B2B business. B2B is different. Here people want to know about facts!”

Again, this was an argument I had heard before. B2B and B2C seem to be very different, when in fact they aren’t. Like B2C, B2B is also all about people, about emotions. And that is not a made up argument. A Google Research showed that half of the B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they can connect emotionally with a brand. And the best way of getting that connection is by telling stories that show a connection.

The same study also shows that 71% buys because they see a personal value. 68.8% even wants to pay more if they believe in a business.

That is all emotion. That is all personal. And guess how to best get the message of connection across…

Not in my niche!

Mark started to see he was running out of arguments. But he kept trying.

“Yeah ok, maybe it works somewhere, but not with us! We are in a very specific niche. People don’t listen to stories in our niche. And even if they would, we wouldn’t be able to find or create stories anyway. There are no stories in our niche!”

To be honest, I always get a little bit annoyed when people say this. There is no niche in the world where you cannot find a story. There is no niche in the world where you can’t find a connection with your audience. If that would be so, the niche would not even exist.

When there is a niche, there is a demand. Someone wants that product or service. And if there is a demand, it means the product or service is solving some sort of problem, even if it’s very small. That’s where you can find the stories.

You could see that some people started to think storytelling wasn’t so bad after all. Even Mark. But if you know anything about the human mind, you know that giving in, is the hardest thing to do. Instead, ‘we’ try and change the subject, or at least find a way to make us look good. That’s what happened at the party as well. Mark shifted the topic.

Storytelling is difficult?

“Well, we don’t do storytelling because it takes too much of our time. We are in the selling business, not the telling business. When you do storytelling you need to find the stories or create them. You need to actually be able to think of stories! Our people can’t do that.”

Granted, good storytelling does take some time. But it doesn’t take that much more time than a regular marketing campaign will take you. Any work takes time. But it’s about choices. And knowing that storytelling is so much more powerful, the choice should be easy.

The good thing about storytelling is also that if you know how it is not so difficult to do. If you analyse stories, you can see that most stories have a similar structure. You need an obstacle, a hero, a beginning, middle and an end.

“Oh, so Storytelling is easy? Anyone can do it?”

Well, yes, anyone can do it. Anyone can create a story. But you want the story to be good. You want the story to have an impact. And for that, you need to know how to fill in the details that create a persuasive story. And no, not anyone can ‘just do that’. If so, anyone would write novels.

Everybody can learn how to create a story!

If you want to learn how, join our FREE webinar on the secrets of Storytelling! It has some of the best tips from our Storytelling Class in it.

Finally, Mark was convinced. He realised Storytelling was a useful way of getting a connection with his audience. He realised his business needed to “get” storytelling. And see it as more than a hype.

“Ok, now I get it. Storytelling is about reaching the human brain. It’s actually a very natural way of connecting with your audience! We should do this. We’re going to allocate time and resources to this. First, our staff will take the class and then we’ll tell stories! We’re in!”

Are you in?


What Ajax and Spurs can teach us about Storytelling

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

The 2019 Champions League Quarter Finals between Ajax and Juventus and between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur were more than football. They were stories.

We can learn from the stories of two games played in the Champions League: Juventus vs Ajax and Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur.

They follow the same path as any good story follows!

Do you want to be able to create stories like this, without having to step one foot on the pitch? You can! Join the Storytelling Class and start making a real difference!


Being Prepared Mentally for a Presentation

Category:nerves,Preparation Tags : 

Getting ready for a workshop, training or presentation is much more than getting your slides done. The mental part of preparing matters a lot.


Why people can’t handle a lot of text on your slides

Category:Audience,Structuring Tags : 

In the past few weeks, I’ve been giving a lot of advice to speakers who were preparing their decks. Some of them were preparing for a conference. Others were preparing for workshops. And there were even those who were preparing for online courses.

It was a lot of fun to do, and there were some great decks sent in. Of course, there were also quite a few things I could suggest for improvement. There is one thing that kept coming back when analysing the different slide decks: the text.

A lot of speakers still put a lot of text on their slides. Because they want to share as much information as possible. This isn’t always the best approach though. Let me explain why. After that, I will explain how you can handle slides that do have text on them.

Why is having too much text on a slide a bad thing?

Before you go and change your behaviour… Of course, you want to know first, why is having too much text on a slide a bad thing? After all, you are trying to give your audience as much information as possible. Aren’t you helping them?

As well as the intent often is, it isn’t helping them. For a lot of reasons.

People read

Have you ever been to a bar where they had TV’s hanging on the wall? You will have. And you will have experienced that it is hard to keep your eyes off the screen. Even though your conversation partner has something interesting to say. You can’t keep your eyes off it.

The same thing happens with the screen(s) that are behind a speaker. People can’t take their eyes off it. At least, not until their brains have digested what is on the slide.

So what happens to a person when they see a lot of text on a slide? They start reading what is on it. Because they need to digest it. That means their attention will stay on the slide until they’ve read it all.

When your audience reads, they don’t hear you

Now try this: have someone tell you something, while you are trying to read something for the first time. You will either fail to read or fail to listen. You can’t do both.

The same will happen with your audience, they will focus on one thing. And that one thing is going to be the text. Their eyes will be drawn to the screen and will read, and won’t listen to you.

Your audience starts writing

I’m assuming that what you put on your slide is valuable information. Information that will help your audience. Your audience will feel the same way. It must be important because the speaker has put it on there!

When people come to an event or when they are listening to a speech, they want to remember things. And to remember, they will write things down. This means that when you put text on a slide, chances are your audience will write down what’s on your screen.

And you’ve guessed it. When they are writing, it’s hard to listen to you!

Too late

Especially when you have quite a bit of information on your slide, it will be hard for people to keep track of what you are saying. Chances are they will still be writing when you click to the next slide. That will mean they won’t hear the first things you are saying on a new topic.

They are playing catch up

The result is that people are playing catch up all through your presentation. They want to hear everything you say. They want to write down your message and your tips. But let’s put it bluntly: you’re not letting them.

The more text you have on your slides, the more your audience is playing catch up with your words. And that’s not something you want happening!

How much text can I put on a slide?

The question now of course arises, is how to handle the issue of too much text on a slide. And how much text should be on a (Powerpoint) slide anyway? There are a few things that you can do.

Give them short bites

The simplest solution, of course, is not to put too much text on a slide. But the truth is that you sometimes do need text. Also, because you sometimes WANT people to write something down. Or to tweet something.

The best way to do that is to use short bites. Short sentences that don’t take too much time to read or write down.

How much? I use the rule of the ‘old tweet’. Meaning around 140 characters. That is enough to digest. It will also make that it will be easier for people to share your quotes, using your name in it as well.

Don’t use text, use images

I don’t have much text on my slides. I use a lot of images. Using images prevents them from reading. I use images to represent what I am talking about. They support my words. They help my audience visualise my words.

Me speaking in London, using an image of my children to explain a point

If you want a good place to find the right images, you can read the article I wrote about where to find high-quality images.

Give them time to read

If you do need to share more text, give them time to read. Pause your speech. Tell them they can read the slide if they want. Just don’t talk through it if you don’t have to.

Share the slide!

It’s common use to share slides afterwards with audiences. Even though there is discussion about whether or not this is a smart thing to do. Especially when you are using a lot of images, it won’t make much sense to those who haven’t seen your presentation.

When you have a lot of text on your slides, it might be wise to share your slides. When you get to a slide with more text, tell your audience they will get that slide. Tell them they should write down some important words, but they don’t have to copy the entire slide.

Powerpoint math: the 1-6-6 rule? No.

Finally, there is the 1-6-6 rule. This rule is very simple. You should include no more than six words per line and no more than six bullet points per slide.

They invented this rule to prevent people from using too much text. Unfortunately, it does the exact opposite. It encourages people to add text, a slide with six bullets and six words each, is still a lot of text! So when you think this rule is the way to go. Go up, and read the post again!

The essence: think about their attention

When it comes to text on slides, there is no set number of words or characters you can or cannot use. The essence of it all, is to think about your audience. Understand them. And understand the attention curves. If you understand those, you can help your audience digest what they need to hear.


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Why you shouldn’t be rehearsing in front of a mirror

Category:Body Language,nerves Tags : 

It’s common advice given to a lot of speakers: practice in front of a mirror. So they can see how they ‘perform’ and improve their body language. It’s a very logical way of thinking. In fact, it’s in the advice of many books and courses. Intended to make you look at yourself in real time and make instant adjustments. But is this the right way of thinking?

I believe it is a completely wrong approach. It can even lead to the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.

Why do people use a mirror?

“But wait, what are you saying? Are you saying that the advice others are giving is false?” Well, as with many things, my answer will be: that depends. It depends on how you ‘read’ the advice.

Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind the tip that you should practice in front of a mirror.

“It helps you see what you look like”

This is true, of course, you can see yourself. As I point out below though, it’s not your real self. But the essence of the advice here is good: seeing yourself will make that you can improve yourself. The question is if that has to be a mirror… But I’ll get back to that.

“It helps with practicing eye contact”

Some say that a mirror will help you look at your audience instead of at your notes. Where I agree that you shouldn’t look at your notes, I doubt that the mirror will have that effect. Eye contact is important. So you have to train yourself to look at different people.

I think this advice comes from the understanding that you need to practice without notes. But there are many better ways of doing that.

Why is practicing in front of the mirror wrong?

So why do I advice against it? There are several reasons you shouldn’t do this.

1. It’s not real!

A frog rehearsing in front of a mirror

Even though you see yourself in the mirror, and the reflection is real, this is not reality. Practicing in front of the mirror doesn’t reflect what happens in real life. Because for one, in real life, you don’t see yourself. If you want to practice, you want to get as close as possible to the actual speaking experience. When you see a reflection of yourself, you will act on it right away. Change the way you look. But that is how you look in the mirror, not on stage.

You will not even see how you act on stage because you are focusing on your reflection. What you see is not what you get. This might also mean that you change things that don’t need changing!

2. It’s a habit you need to change, not a moment

When you look in the mirror, and you see something wrong, you will change it. But then the change has happened and you don’t think about it anymore. Where in fact, it’s a habit. So you need to address it over and over. Looking in the mirror fools you into thinking you ‘fixed’ your body language.

3. The mirror will make you focus on gesture, not story

When you practice in front of the mirror, you are focusing on how your movement and gestures. You will see every movement that goes wrong. You will see every little thing. Your focus will be on your smallest facial expressions and gestures. This is distracting. Which then leads to too much emphasis on those little things and you will lose the focus on your story.

You want to focus on your story, not your gestures.

4. Your mirror image might make you nervous

Looking at yourself in the mirror when practicing might actually make you nervous. When you look at yourself, you emphasize what goes wrong. You are much more aware of what goes wrong. Therefore increasing the likely hood of it actually going wrong.

If you see things going wrong you will start thinking about these things more and more. And that will make you nervous.

What to do?

Is it always wrong to practice in front of the mirror? I would say yes in most cases. But, like with everything, there are exceptions. If you practice early enough, it will most likely not make you nervous. And you can do that, but only to practice certain gestures. To see if certain gestures work or not. Otherwise, I would advise against it.

But if it’s something that works for you, do it!

There are two other things you can do that will give you a much better insight into how you are presenting yourself:

Practice in front of an audience.

Find colleagues or other people to see you talk. They can give you feedback as well. Remember to ask them for specific feedback on your body language and not on your story.

Record yourself

Grab a video camera (or your phone) and record yourself. Position the camera so that it has a broad view of how you move (which show your full body). Watch the recording, write down the two or three biggest things you want to change, and do another practice run.

Just be careful rehearsing in front of the mirror. It might not have the outcome you were hoping for!


Storytelling: Hype or Real?

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

Is ‘Storytelling’ a hype? As a marketing strategy, maybe, but only when done wrong. Because stories ARE important. Why are they so important? Because stories are part of our everyday life. Each day we tell each other stories. Each day we listen to stories. Stories are part of our DNA.

When we hear a story, we listen better. We remember more. And we trust the source of a story.

This is why storytelling is such a powerful marketing tool. And this is why storytelling needs to be part of public speaking.

In fact, when you do a talk, treat your talk as a story. Craft it like a story. Your audience will remember you for it, will believe your words and will trust you.

Don’t tell stories because others do. Tell them because it’s part of who we are. Because it’s personal. That’s storytelling done well.

How to do Storytelling?

Good storytelling isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work. You need to be prepared. Here are the steps that are important:

  1. you need to get information on your audience.
  2. you need to show the situation
  3. you need to have a character (the hero)
  4. you need to have conflict
  5. you need a goal
  6. you need to bring it all together

We are going in depth on this in our Storytelling Class which is now open to everyone!


How to deal with scared prospects who are afraid to choose

Category:Persuasion Tags : 

When pitching, the prospects you are trying to sell to seem extra critical. It’s hard to persuade them. This is because they are scared of making the wrong choice.

People don’t like making choices. Because making choices mean you can make the wrong choice. And if you make the wrong choice, you will feel regret. Or even worse: you will lose status amongst your peers.

This is why at pitch presentations, the recipients seem extra critical. They are trying to avoid making the wrong choice rather than making the right choice.

You can make them feel at ease more by first acknowledging the fact that the choice they have to make is indeed hard and by telling them stories.


“Kinda Like Trump” – The Art of simple language

Category:Structuring Tags : 

It turns out that when we talk on a lower grade level, more people will understand and love what we say. It’s part of the success of the speeches of Donald Trump.

If you’ve ever wondered why so many people believe every word Donald Trump says, the answer might be simpler than you think. A large part of the reasons lies in the way he talks.

During the 2016 election, research showed that Donald Trump was speaking on a 4th or 5th grade level. That means the level of an 8 year old. Why is that important? Because he kept it simple.

Whether or not he did this on purpose, we don’t know. But the results were great for him. By toning down his language, he was able to reach a much larger group of people. And more important: he was able to persuade them. To make them believe his words and his ideas.

As a speaker, we can learn from this. Because too often, speakers use language that is too difficult for their audience. We have all been guilty of using jargon in our talks. But using difficult language is likely to make your audience fade out. They will stop listening.

When speaking in public. Try to keep it simple. Use words people understand. And if you want or need to use jargon, explain it. You can do that using the ‘Kinda like’ theory.

This theory means you create an analogy. Are you talking about something difficult? Compare it to something everyday. Something everybody will understand: “It’s kind of like riding a bike: hard at first, but you’ll get it.”


Your mom will not be honest, she can’t be

Category:nerves Tags : 

Have you ever watched TV shows like ‘Idols’, ‘The Voice’ or ‘Britain’s Got Talent”? These shows are very popular. And for good reason. We love to see others show their often hidden talents.

But next to those that show their talents, there are also many who fail. There’s something interesting about these people. Something that has nothing to do with their (lack of) talent on stage.

When you watch the interviews before their performances, you might notice something. Most of those who fail have something in common: their moms. Broader: their families and friends.

These families all say similar things. “She has always been singing at home and I always get goosebumps!” or “We love hearing him sing in the shower!”. They are proud. Genuinely proud. They are entitled to be.

But they are not always right.

They say these things because they are family. Even though what they say might not be true. Because they don’t want to hurt their loved ones. But some also because see their relatives in a different way. They believe in them. You could say that they are in a bubble. One that will make the performer sound good. Even if they are bad.

You need feedback

To improve as a speaker, you need feedback. I’ve talked about getting feedback before, like in this video.

It’s crucial to get feedback. But not always fun or easy. You will hear things you don’t like.

But if you want to grow, you will need to treat the criticism as a gift. As something that will make you a better speaker.

That means you need to ask for feedback as much as you can.

But don’t ask your mom.

Like with the contestants of the talent shows, your mom, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, brother or sister, or someone else close to you, won’t be honest. They can’t. Granted, there are parents who are the most critical people you will meet. But most aren’t.

You will need to find feedback from those that have a certain expertise. Get it from someone with expertise of the content (someone from your industry). Or from someone who understands what it takes to be on stage.

Getting the right feedback

When asking for the feedback, you need to be ready. Ready for the answer, but also to help those that give the feedback to give you the best answer.

In his book “Confidence 2.0” the author, Rob Yeung, highlights three things that are important when asking for feedback. I agree very much with them. They are:

1. You need to give those you are asking for feedback ‘permission’.

Permission to be honest and negative. Make sure you tell them you want to improve. That it’s ok, in fact even good, to get negative feedback. Because that will help you improve.

2. Anonymous feedback works.

If possible, get people to give written feedback. When they write things down, they will be more honest. And when they write it down, knowing it can’t be traced to them, they will be more honest. Most people are afraid to give criticism. By making it anonymous, you help them be more honest.

3. Thank them for the feedback

Finally, make sure you thank people for their feedback. You will have the urge to reply. You will want to explain or counter. Don’t. It won’t help and people will be less eager to help you out the next time. If you ask for negative feedback, you know you won’t like it.

Accept the feedback, use it and improve.

And I’m sure your mom, dad or loved one is amazing. And loves you very much. But be careful with their feedback!

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