Fit Focus Flair

Three Ways to add Flair to Any Speech

Fit, Focus and Flair is our model for making sure each of your presentations are great – not just one in ten, when the stars are aligned and your stock speech just happens to suit the situation perfectly. Find out what we mean when we say ‘Fit, Focus & Flair’.

Put simply, Flair is how you make people listen, and remember. It’s how you advertise your speech; your USP; the pretty leading lady who makes us agree to watch the film; and that first act which glues us to our seats until the end credits roll.

To make people listen and remember, your speech needs to do three things: get them to listen, keep them interested, and give them something to remember.

1. Get them to listen – give them a reason

In marketing, the phrase “so what?” is a popular litmus test to find out whether your message will get people to buy. The introduction (or prologue) to your speech is a quick fire ad for the rest of your time on stage – it’s your chance to answer the question on everyone’s mind: “why should I listen to you?”

To dig right down to the answers people want, write down the reason you’re speaking, and then ask yourself “so what?” Keep digging until you find the real benefits which your audience cares about. No matter how important it is to the company, most people won’t get fired up about innovation, abstract money savings, or anything else which doesn’t immediately affect them or their targets. Start talking about how much easier their life will be, or how much time your idea will save them, and now you’re talking about benefits they care about.

Here’s an example of finding a reason or ‘hook’ for your audience.

2. Keep them interested – make them give a damn

All of the best authors and playwrights use the first act to help their audience to get to know their characters. Why? Because to make us stick with the story until the end, we must care about what’s going to happen.

In film and theatre,  a good first act gets us emotionally invested in the characters, so that our reason to stay to the end is to find out whether the people we care about will be happy, alive, in love, and fulfilled, in another ninety minutes.

Stories are the best way to make your audience give a crap – they take advantage of our natural interest in gossip and desire to find out the answers and ‘finish the story’. Frame your presentation around a human struggle, a story everybody can relate to, or a memorable (relevant) anecdote, and your audience will usually care more about what you have to say.

They’re also more likely to remember what you said – because by sparking their imagination you stimulate a different part of their mind, one that’s eager to remember the story – and, if you do your job well, the message you link to it.

3.Give them something to remember

If you spike their interest with your introduction, and use a story which makes them care, your audience will usually remember around 5% of your speech the next day. If you’re lucky, that 5% will be the general gist of your story, and the key message which got you up there in the first place (rather than how bad your suit looked and the annoying way you said “umm” after every third word). To make sure your audience ‘gets’ your message:

  • Give them what you promise. Make your message the focus of your introduction, explain and enthuse about your message in the main body of your speech, and reiterate it in the simplest way you can for your conclusion.
  • Drill it in – refer back to your message frequently, and show how everything links to that one sentence which sums up everything you’re trying to say.
  • And make your message memorable. Do this by using a story which directly and obviously links to your message, which is full of imagery to make that message ‘sticky’. Make it a ‘soundbite’, and display it in huge letters on the screen behind you.

Follow these steps, and you will do three things: get your audience interested; make sure everything you say contributes to your ultimate message; and give your audience one simple, concrete idea to sum up your speech when they try to recall it the next day. Flair.

This is a part of my Fit, Focus & Flair model. To be great, a presentation must be a perfect FIT for the situation; the content must have complete FOCUS on it’s purpose and message; and it must have enough FLAIR to stand out on the day, and in our memories. Learn more about developing your Fit, Focus and Flair.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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