What’s the secret ingredient for a good talk? 1

Do you remember the last time you had to put a talk together? Was it excruciating? Was it something you dreaded? And when it was done, did it sound like you?

If you’re like most people, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But there is a way to craft a presentation that’s fun, that’s you, and will help you connect with your audience.

The first thing is to put away your pad of paper or your computer keyboard. You’re not going to write anything! Instead, you’re going to talk. It’s best if you have someone there to listen to you – either a speaking coach or a good friend.

Once you know the brief, main point of your talk, you’re going to start talking about whatever the presentation is supposed to be about. Your coach or your friend is going to take notes on what you’re saying when you’re most “lit up.” (That’s the secret ingredient!) What gets your eyes to shine when you talk? What inspires you? Or, what is so honest and profound that when you say it, it moves you, and your listener, to tears? This is the basis of your presentation – the story that lets the audience know who you are and why they want to work with you, take your advice, join your cause, buy your book, etc.

One thing you’ll discover is that when you speak this way your whole presentation style becomes much more natural. You won’t be worrying about what to do with your hands because they’ll move naturally. Your voice will automatically sound more animated. You’ll be a much more compelling communicator.

After you know what it is you want to say that will inspire and/or move your audience, then you can start jotting things down to get the proper order and framework for your presentation. But even then, just write down words or short phrases to remind you what you’re saying next. You don’t want to write down anything word for word until you already have said it so many times that you’re just describing what you know. Written language is different than spoken language, and you want to wait until the spoken language is all there for you before committing it to paper or pixel.

Think about it: you can always tell when someone is speaking from the heart about a topic that lights them up. The message they share with you is far greater than just the sum of the words. They’re sharing with you what is deep in their soul. Wouldn’t you like your listeners to feel the same from you? Try preparing your next talk using this ingredient, and see what happens!