“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Is it safe to say that you have attended a record-breaking number of online presentations this year? What percentage of the speakers kept you rapt? How often did your mind wander and the message minimize? I am betting that most went on too long and transformed you too little.
I wonder how many hours we have wasted collectively sitting through remarkably dull and woefully ineffective speeches. Our most precious commodity is time. We can never get those unproductive minutes back.
Admittedly, I am the Chief Critique Officer, thanks to my complete lack of patience for boring orators. Being inattentive is part of my ADHD brain-wiring so this is deeply personal. Oh, how I’d love to tell most online presenters to be sincere, be brief, and be seated!
Having done many hundreds of online speeches and interviews, going back to my Blog Talk Radio days through today’s podcasts, I am always trying to up my game. I pretend that I am my audience. How would I keep my attention?
I can’t give you salient advice on how to stay awake and attentive through a sleeper. Instead, I’ll give you some basics to help you keep your audience rapt.
Whether you are tasked to deliver full-blown training sessions online or must-share short messages, here are a bunch of my public speaking pet peeves.
Please don’t wait for the laggards, even if their reason for tardiness is valid. This shows respect for the majority of us who are ready to roll when you said you would start. This instantly sets the stage for respect and trust. Reward the on-timers, not the late-comers.
Solve the technology issues before you begin.
Please don’t test your audio and video settings when it is showtime. Work out the bugs early. People who attend my online meetings know that I go LIVE between 5 and 10 minutes early. This allows me time to tweak the AV and the lighting. Plus, I get to welcome in the early birds and have a little pre-program chatter which we all love.
When I feature a guest, we will connect at least 15 minutes earlier to do a proper tech-check. Plus, our pre-show banter is better than doing a cold start.
Review the agenda.
Please confirm what you will deliver, if this will be interactive in the moment and/or if we should save Q&A till the end, and if you are providing any downloadable handouts. Immediately after thanking me for attending, confirm your purpose so that I know you are organized and that we are aligned.
I have seen this happen time and time again: the mic is hot, and the speaker loses composure and all sense of time. Being in the spotlight causes them to ramble. They lose sight of the agenda and blabber on about nothing important. Practiced speakers remain disciplined (which is an extraordinarily challenging feat for ADHDers like me!).
Don’t go long.
Please stay agenda-disciplined and don’t expect me to stay any longer than the original end time. If this was a live concert, it will be my pleasure to hear your encore. Unless you have completed the agenda and have stumbled onto something truly fascinating, keep your promise and end on time.
Say it in half the time.
A giant mistake is scheduling a 60-minute meeting by default. I am convinced that most messages can be more effectively delivered in half that time. If I gave you 30-minutes to deliver the information, versus the full hour, you’d stay disciplined and more impactful.
Get in and get out. Reserve that extra half hour for lively Q&A. It is not about talking faster, it is about talking smarter.
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”
– Dale Carnegie
When it’s your turn to speak, give the one you wish you gave. This will keep your audience rapt and up your influence!
Stuart Cohen, Chief Motivation Officer at StuartLloydCohen.com
If you can think big, Stuart will help you do big! An accomplished 28-year travel industry executive turned serial solopreneur, Stuart is a creator of brands and an energizing motivational speaker. He motivates & maximizes personal performance in leadership, entrepreneurship, salesmanship & wellness.