Monday, June 15, 2009

Ho Hum! Could an unruly crowd improve a speech?

The trouble with speaking to a well-behaved crowd is that you can never be certain if the folks are tuned in or not. Common courtesy mandates that they at least look like they're tuned in -- even if they're mentally elsewhere.

A fellow named Richard C. Borden developed a speech methodology where you imagine you're speaking to an unruly crowd.

The moment you step to the dias, this imaginary crowd yells out, "Ho hum!" Borden recommends you start a fire. That is, you say something that invokes curiousity or grabs attention.

Next, the crowd yells out, "Why bring that up?!?" Borden says to build a bridge -- relate the opening sentence to the folks in the crowd.

The crowd then yells out, "For instance?!?" Borden advises to get down to cases -- provide examples and/or tell stories, preferably ones that are simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, and emotional (read Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Dieby Chip and Dan Heath for more info on stories like these).

Finally, the crowd yells out, "So what?!?" This is the time to ask for action. Determine beforehand what you want the audience to do, then ask for it.

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