Talking to two hundred people in a few minutes

A few years ago, when I was a new manager I was asked on a very short notice (a few minutes before) to give a small speech to an audience of about 200 people visiting our institution. I was supposed to encourage this people to buy a service from us. At first I was freaking out, but then I remembered a simple technique that has helped me again and again in speaking in public. A few minutes later I was done with the task with a huge group of happy people that had listened to me for about 10 minutes.

Giving a speech or presentation in front of a crowd can be very daunting and frightening, especially if you don’t know how to approach such a task. But there are some very basic simple steps that you can take to quickly prepare and give a great presentation. Do you want to know the secret?

First, engage your audience by telling them a short story

People like to hear things that interest them. Telling stories automatically gets people attention, interest and curiosity. Great speakers know this and almost always take some time from their presentation to tell a story.

Stories are a fun way to introduce your topic and let the audience “see” your point very quickly. Use any story that somehow relates to your subject. It will be better if it can communicate a problem or opportunity that your topic will address.

You can tell a true story from your childhood, from an event in history that you know, from memorable events that happened during war or you can even use fictitious fables. Every story has a beginning, some characters that somehow teach us something, a plot, a climax and an end. This story can take a big chunk from your time, but it will be worth it if it introduces your topic in some way.

Second, briefly explain your main point

You can now move from the story and star actually explaining your main point. You can do this in a very concise and brief manner. Make sure you address some problem or opportunity relevant to the audience. This is where you can throw in all the numbers, details, characteristics, reports, facts, quotes that you might know about the subject.

Third, call them to action

Chances are, if you are giving a presentation or speech, you have a purpose or objective to reach. Call people to action! Ask them to change, to give it a try, to buy, to enlist, to enroll, whatever it is, ask them to do it! People will appreciate it and the presentation or speech will take more meaning to them. This is better achieved if you yourself can give them some sort of testimony that you have tried out the call of action that you are asking them to do.

So, that is it: tell a story, quickly tell your facts and call to action.

Are you ready for it? I challenge you to right now take 3 minutes and prepare a simple speech on a topic that is relevant to you. Think of a story, think of the facts that you would tell and think of the call of action that you will ask from your audience.

What do you think? Give it a try and tell us how did your presentation went.