By Spence M. Finlayson
My childhood friend, Craig Tony Gomez, sent me a text from a city in the United States where he was attending an accounting conference said, “ my brother Spence I am sitting in this conference and the speaker is so dead, we are ready to walk out of the room.” He went on to say that the faces of the majority of the attendees painted a picture of complete boredom.
You see there is nothing worse than sitting in a room with a very boring speaker. You must keep in mind that today the attention span is so short and your competition as a speaker is the smartphones and other electronic gadgets.
I believe in less being more in the public speaking business, where you expertly craft your message to a certain length ending with a cliffhanger so they will want more of you. One of the best compliments that I have received during my 30 plus years as an international motivational speaker is from a member of the audience who says to me at the end of my speech: “I could have listened to you all night. When are they bringing you back?” I know then, that I achieved what I set out to accomplish.
Just recently in my hometown of Nassau, The Bahamas, I was the special guest speaker for the Church of God, men’s conference. After I finished my presentation, a young man got up and said, “I am so happy I came today because I was thinking of giving up, but sir, you inspired me to keep on pushing.”
You see when I was growing up in The Bahamas, in the sixties, we went to the movie theatres, where they played serials. Movie serials are short subjects originally shown in theatres in conjunction with a feature film.
Each chapter was screened at the same theater for one week and ended with a cliffhanger in which the hero and heroine found themselves in a perilous situation with little apparent chance of escape. Viewers had to return each week to see the cliffhangers resolved, and to follow the continuing story. So that is what you should do in your speech; leave your audience hanging, begging for more.
As a speaker, you should not share all your arsenal but leave some intrigue and advertise that there is much more of what you are sharing in your speech at the time.
One of my little tricks that I use when speaking is to ask publicly how much more time that I have for my presentation and if they say you have 15 minutes, I only speak for 7 more minutes leaving them wondering about the rest of my presentation. But you must pay close attention to your audience, to see if they are getting bored or restless or worse God forbid, are they sleeping.
Don’t leave them saying to themselves ‘thank God he is finished, I don’t know if I could have taken any more of his presentation.” You see; you have to tease your audience, tell them, “my time is almost up and I have to quit and if they say loudly, “no don’t stop, we are enjoying this.” Then you know you have them in the palm of your hands.
Steve Jobs was famous for his “One Last Thing” during is presentations at Apple. Everything is out on display, the latest crown jewels are no longer hidden, a big farewell wave and then a twitch. A glint of evil. A smile. And Steve Jobs turns back to the crowd, a theatrical moment of forgetfulness has passed. “One more thing…” as the crowd goes wild.