”The only reason to give a speech is to change the world”. -John F. Kennedy
You may feel that this quote is a bit over the top for you, when you know that it was a US president – in other words the world´s most powerful man – who said it. But when you give it a little thought you start realising that there is a grain of truth for all of us.
It is true that we (you and I) probably will never have the attention of a whole nation watching us speaking and holding to our next word. Then again why not try to change the world that we can influence.
My late grandmother spent her working life as a cleaning lady in the local vocational school. After retirement she started a new career as an active member in local community of the Finnish Carelian evacuees.The funny thing is she was not an evacuee herself at all. She also started teaching herself the Russian language and creating relationships with people on the other side of the border. I guess in some way she found purpose to her life in trying to heal the wounds of the war between Finland and Russia. She was just a normal cleaning lady, but she wanted to change the world with the power that she had in her hands.
When you put the change in the right perspective, you realise that a speech or presentation truly is a chance to advance whatever it is that makes you feel more purposeful about your life. For some of us that change may be to create a better workplace, for some of us that change may be to create a more active and caring neighbourhood community, and for some of us that change may be to build a new business from nothing. Today we all have access to tools that can help us reach the whole world with our presentation.
So how do you go about changing the world with your presentation or speech? How can you maximise the impact of your speech or presentation?
Four ideas how to make your presentation or speech shareable
1. Be passionate about your speech or presentation topic
”Light up with enthusiasm and people will come miles to watch you burn”. That is a great saying about how in order to inspire others you need to be inspired yourself first. So before jotting down any speech or presentation topics, or opening PowerPoint ask yourself – what is it about this topic that gets me excited?
This is especially important in speeches and presentations in which the topic is not universally interesting – let´s say the basics of accounting, or the importance of flu vaccinations. Especially in informative type of speeches or presentations it is important to try to find some angle to the topic that gets you excited to tell about it. In case of accounting instead of just ”the basics of accounting” your angle could be ”how can proper accounting help entrepreneurs avoid unwanted surprises”. This way you are not just transferring information with your presentation but helping someone, which helps in being more excited.
2. Plan your presentation with your audience in your mind
No matter how good you think your presentation was, it is the audience that judges its success. If they find it interesting, relevant and useful, only then will they act upon your suggestions or spread the word. So spend a while on thinking on why should your audience be interested in your presentation, how can they benefit from the information, how can you best be of service to them, and what stories or anecdotes would help your audience to grasp your ideas the best.
This way you will increase the probability of being interesting, relevant and useful to the audience.
3. Make yourself shareable
Today, the impact of your presentation is not restricted by the four walls around you. Very often people are sharing ideas from presentations online in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So if you are passionate about your topic and have been able to present it in a manner that the audience finds interesting, relevant and useful, then probably people will share what you are saying. It would be unwise to not take this secondary audience into account.
Therefore when you are introducing your speech topic make time to also introduce the best ways to reach in you in social media. This way the audience can refer people from their networks to you by mentioning you in their updates. You can even include this information in your opening slide.
4. Make your ideas shareable
One of the preconditions for getting ideas to spread in today´s fast-moving world is to be concise. If you can´t make your ideas simple enough to share, well, then people cannot share them. Below you can find an example of a slide that does not help in making the idea shareable.
You will make it much easier for your audience to share you ideas if in your preparation you ask yourself the question: ”If they should remember only one thing about my presentation, what should it be?” and try to summarise that in one Twitter message.
This does not mean dumbing yourself or your ideas down, but making effort so that you can summarise the main idea(s) of your presentation in 140 characters or preferably less. You can also help your audience in this with your presentation slides so that it easy to share photos of them. Below you can find an example how the main ideas of the slide above could be summarised in order to help in sharing them.
+1 Make your slides shareable
If you want to make an extra service to your audience, then you can use service like Slideshare where you can easily share your slides to people afterwards. It also gives people the possibility to share the whole presentation in their social networks or embed it in their own blogs or webpages.
This post was inspired by the great discussion we had in Dinglecast podcast recording last week. Dinglecast host Simone Bocedi said it well: ”I don´t want to go to a presentation to hear Wikipedia. I want to be inspired.” It´s true. Still too often you see presentations that feel like complete waste of time for everyone.
If you have succeeded in delivering a presentation that people find so useful and entertaining that they want to share it to their peers, then pat yourself on the back. If you haven´t, think your next presentation as an opportunity to change the world even a tiny bit. With these four plus one ideas you will increase the probability of making your ideas spread.