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As a speaker, it would be great if listeners said or thought to themselves… “That was beyond belief.  Truly amazing.” What they would be referring to is the speaker who presents the unexpected vs. the expected. In fact, the expected is quite common and often is the downfall for many speakers.  Consider these examples:

  1.  Opening with “Today I’m going to talk about…”  This is the usual way most speakers begin their presentation but starting with a quote, a question, or a startling statistic is unexpected.
  2.  Stating who you are too early in the presentation such as “My name is _____ and I’ll be speaking today about____” It’s unexpected to open as I suggested and then use a name transition.  That means you say who you are after your opening when people are ready to listen.
  3. If the speaker is using slides they usually will get from one point to another (transition) by saying “In this slide you’ll notice…”  It’s unexpected to say something like “You now know  X  however there’s more information you’ll want to know.”
  4. Closing with “Are there any questions?” This is known as a close-ended question.  It is not a close but is often what speakers will say at the conclusion of their presentation. It’s unexpected to offer a pithy closing that loops back to the opening or offers a call to action.
  5. Rather than closing as indicated in number 4, it is unexpected to say “Before I close, let’s take the next 5 minutes to share what your reactions are to what you’ve learned.” Then you can close after your audience has a chance to share their reactions or next steps.
  6. Many speakers save time at the end of their presentation for audience questions.  The problem with that is the speaker may run out of time or the audience may forget what their question was.  It’s unexpected to add time for questions at 2-3 points during the presentation. Keep it short, but this helps the speaker to know what their audience knows or needs to know. It’s also a great interaction tool.
  7. Speaking of interaction, speakers should avoid being didactic.  Who wants to listen to one person do all the talking? It’s unexpected to design interactive exercises where attendees can voice their opinion or learn from their peers.

When you observe these seven tips you’ll be delivering the unexpected.  That’s what your listeners want.  Know that they have a choice in selecting to listen to you.  Be sure to make it the right decision by presenting the unexpected.