The world's greatest communicator today isn't a person . . . it's television.
Television has been extremely successful in shrinking attention spans, and then occupying them itself. T.V. also teaches us that important information can be delivered quickly, with a visual punch. Each of these is a good lesson for a public speaker.
If you need to convince listeners quickly, you too can learn to "broadcast" a message with television's power and efficiency. Here are five ways to do so:
1. Be clear on your purpose. Many speakers simply deliver information; but good speakers know their objective clearly before they start speaking. Advertisers certainly are clear on their purpose when they run ads on T.V. -- it's to sell a product. You're in the "sales" business too, so learn how to use the techniques of the "great influencer." In other words, give your purpose precedence over sheer information. You'll be more successful as a result.
2. Hook your audience's attention. Think of those memorable Super Bowl commercials. Don't they all grab viewers' attention immediately? There's usually something funny, or offbeat, or quirky that makes us keep watching. Why not use the same technique yourself at the start of your speech? If you engage your listeners immediately, they'll still be with you when you present your all-important message. Otherwise, they may be long gone!
3. Use a problem-solution format. You've seen this more times on T.V. than you can recall: a problem is presented, the sponsor's product or service is heroically presented, and then the happy people of TelevisionLand are shown benefiting from the situation. The problem-solution format is an age-old effective persuasion technique, and that of course is why advertisers use it on T.V. Of course, television also includes a heavy dose of visuals. You need to use visuals too. Although you can't compete with T.V.'s visual wizardry, you can…
4. Paint pictures with word. Visuals are very powerful in terms of persuasion and the emotional involvement they engender in people. If you can "paint pictures with words," you'll make what you say far more powerful. You've heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in a sense that's true: you can say what you want more quickly and with greater impact if you use a visual image people can latch on to. Try it the next time you rehearse a presentation.
5. Use stories that illustrate your point. Everyone responds strongly to stories, audiences included. Stories make sense of complicated ideas; they show the result of actions on people; and they are simply fun to listen to. Too many presenters give their audiences data instead of something they can believe in or be wrapped up in hearing. Whatever you're saying, it will come alive more if you present it in the form of a story.
If you're clear on your purpose, grab your audience, present a solution through vivid word-pictures, and tell a story, you'll make your case quickly and efficiently. Keep practicing, and you should even be able to do it in 30 seconds or less.