3 Ways to Mess Up a Public Talk

3 Ways to Mess Up a Public Talk

You can add up all of your social media posts, ezines, and other online marketing tactics but here’s the bottom line:  public talks and speaking gigs, when done right, are your FASTEST path to get new patients and clients.  Of course, the operative phrase here is “when done right.”

The following 3 areas are where I consistently see people fail.  Are you guilty of any of them?

1.  Confusing Talk Structure.   The human brain is ill-equipped to do the following things:

a. Listen and read and comprehend at the same time.  Text heavy PowerPoint slides that you read to your audience overwhelm the brain’s circuitry and make your listeners disconnect with you.

b. Absorb complex ideas.  Talking in medical-speak or using terminology that you might use in your industry or profession distances you from your audience and turns them off.

c. Connect the dots.  When teaching new ideas about health, loading up the slide deck with a bunch of tangential data, though making sense to you, may confuse your listeners.

The Better Way

  • ·When preparing your presentation, begin outlining it by asking yourself, “What should my audience be able to do, learn or understand at the end of my talk?”  Get crystal clear on the takeaway. 
  • Chunk your talk down into 3 to 4 key sub-topics related to your answer to this question.  That’s about all the brain can handle when it comes to short-term memory and learning.
  • Prepare your slides and make sure that each is related to its sub-topic, and that they logically flow from one to the next.  Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse as this will bring huge clarity about flow.
  • Develop your slides with as few bullet points as possible.  Each should have a relevant graphic and a slide heading that is a complete thought (e.g. “The 5 Facts About Fats,” not “Fats”).  Put all of your speaking points in the notes section and MEMORIZE your talk or use your notes if you must; just don’t dump all of your talking points onto your slides!  You want all eyes and ears to be riveted on you… not reading what’s on the screen behind you.

2. Messing Up the Offer.  If you’ve done a great job in your presentation, many people in the audience will WANT to know how to work with you.  Where you often fail is a) not making an offer at the end of your talk because it makes you uncomfortable, or b) offering everything under the sun to the audience which paralyzes their ability to decide to do anything at all.

The Better Way

  • Unless expressly prohibited by your sponsor, make an offer at the end of you talk for one specific program or service.  It should be something priced at the low to mid-range if it’s your first exposure to this audience, and should relate in some way to the talk you have just given.  Offer a SWEET deal if they sign up right away, too:  a discount or bonus for those who take fast action.

3. Forgetting to Collect Names.  The number one goal of a talk, believe it or not, is to collect attendee names because plenty of listeners will still need more time to “think about it.”  This is not a failure on your part!  Some people just need to get to know you better before opening their wallet.  Without collecting those names, you’ve missed out on the opportunity to serve them later.

The Better Way

Depending on the audience size your name collection strategy will vary:

  •  Clipboard sign-up.  For audiences fewer than 50 people, pass around a clipboard for them to sign up to be emailed a compelling gift that reinforces something from your talk:  a talk outline, a recipe guide, or other relevant tips.
  • Opt-in page.  For a larger audience, the clipboard thing doesn’t work so well.  If possible have your techie set up a special page on your website, e.g. www.drjones.com/freegift and direct people to opt-in to get it a few times during your talk.  Let them know what they’ll receive including the OUTCOME that your gift will deliver to them, too.

In both cases, be sure to communicate that they’ll also be receiving regular tips and ideas from you in the future.  Be honest and transparent and don’t worry if everyone doesn’t sign up.  You only want the ones who believe in you and what you do anyway!

About The Author