Sometimes it might feel pretty good to use our crystal ball and see what a speaker is going to be like…unless that speaker is predictable and then we’re all in trouble. But what if that speaker is you? Trust me when I tell you that having a predictable speaking style is definitely not an asset, assuming you don’t want to encourage the snooze factor!
And yet so many speakers are predictable but may not realize it. So let’s look more closely at what factors tend to be predictable and how to alter them.
1. Take it off the shelf:
Many speakers are tempted to simply repeat a presentation they’ve given recently or in the past thinking it’ll be good enough. The antidote for this predictable behavior is to make it a priority to learn about your audience and then craft your presentation around them (audience analysis).
2. Slide addiction:
Often speakers are quite familiar with creating a slide deck, not necessarily a good one, but nonetheless a slide deck. They erroneously believe that using a set of slides is a necessity. The antidote for this predictable behavior is to delay creating any slides until you can validate there is a clear benefit to your audience for showing slides. If it’s only for your benefit, you can skip this step and dedicate your time to using props, handouts, or demonstrations.
3. First words matter:
Too many speakers start off with…”I’m so glad to be here” or “Thank you for inviting me to speak” or “Today I will update you about.” These openers are so widely used they’ve become predictable and give your listeners ample reason to tune out when you’re speaking. The antidote for this predictable behavior is to invest your time crafting a powerful and dynamic opening like a provocative question, a single word, an anecdote, or a startling fact.
4. Last words matter:
What you wrap up with is as important as your opening but now it’s at the end. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve heard speakers say “Thank you for listening.” How stimulating is that? The antidote for this predictable behavior is to circle back to your opening and when possible tie the two parts together. As an example, you could reference the startling statistic and point out that the audience can now alter that statistic by implementing what they’ve learned. Another option is to tell the second half of the anecdote with which you started, coming full circle. Your closing should be inspirational, motivational or a call to action.
When I coach my clients I always emphasize ways to stand out and therefore avoid being predictable. Make sure your delivery style is fresh and unique and gives your audience a reason to listen. You’re always welcome to contact me for assistance…I promise it won’t be predictable!