By Dr. Jim Anderson
In order for the effort that we put into creating and delivering a speech to all be worth it, we need to get something out of the presentation. Yes, if you are being paid to speak, then you are getting something, but even then we speakers want more. What we want is for our audience to be moved to action by what we have told them. How to make this happen during your next speech is what we all want to know how to do.
The Challenge Of Trying To Be Remembered
If our audience can’t remember what we’ve told them despite the importance of public speaking, then whose fault is it -theirs or ours? Yes, it may be ours but your audience is not going to be helping you out very much. When we use too many slides as a part of our presentation, we tend to overwhelm our audience. A number of studies have been done on audiences in order to determine just exactly how much of what we told them they remember after we’re done. The results are pretty dismal. Just a mere 48 hours after a speech, audiences were able to recall only about 20% of the slides that were presented.
So what’s going on here? Are we really that boring? The answer, thankfully, is no. One of the biggest problems that our audiences are facing is the simple fact that we’ve selected a common look & feel for the material that we are presenting to them. What this tends to do is to end up making everything that we present to them look the same. When the presentation is over and done with, they’ll be hard pressed to be able to distinguish between anything that was presented to them.
Finally, sitting in a darkened room listening to a person talk at you from the stage makes it hard for anyone to remember what was said. This is just not a conducive environment for memory retention. If we are not careful, then what’s going to happen is that members of our audience are going to become distracted by other things and we’ll lose them and they won’t be able to remember what we’ve told them.
How To Help Your Audience Recall Your Message
The good news about this audience memory retention problem that we are facing is that there are solutions for it. First off, we have the responsibility to keep shaking up our audience. The one thing that we don’t want to do is to present them with too much of the same look and feel for our material. We need to give them the unusual – our material has to be different from what they were expecting. This means varying the graphics, the colors, the font sizes, etc.
Next, we need to take steps to involve our audience in our presentation. If we just present slide after slide of material that we developed ourselves, then our audience is going to go to sleep because they are not involved. However, if we take a different approach and leave some material out and force our audience to be the ones who fill in the blanks, then all of a sudden they’ve made a contribution. Studies have shown that when you involve your audience in this way, their retention of what you told them goes way up.
Finally, we need to understand that how we remember things is not all about what we heard or saw. Instead, a big part of it has to do with what we felt during the presentation. This means that you are going to have to take into account how your material is going to make your audience feel. The more of an emotional response that you can get out of them, the higher the likelihood is that they will remember what you told them.
What All Of This Means For You
It’s not easy pulling together a speech, practicing it, and then delivering it in front of a live audience. However, as long as we are going to go to all of this effort, we want to be able to achieve a measurable result – we want our audience to be moved to action to do something. However, all too often this does not happen. What’s a speaker to do?
There are a number of different reasons why our speech might not make our audience understand the benefits of public speaking and then want to stand up and go out and change the world. Chief among these are our audience’s inability to remember what we said even just 48 hours after our speech is over. What we need to do is to take steps in order to make our speeches more memorable. The first thing that we can do is to introduce the unusual into our material – the unusual gets remembered. Additionally, getting your audience to participate by filling in missing information can boost their retention. Finally, how your audience feels during your speech can have a big impact on how much of it they remember. Craft your speech to generate the biggest emotional response possible.
As speakers we are in the unique position that our speeches can change the world. However, they are not going to do that if our audience can’t remember what we’ve told them. For your next presentation shake things up a bit and make sure that what you are presenting is so bold and so unique that even days after your speech is over your audience will still remember it and be talking about it.
Dr. Jim Anderson
“America’s #1 Unforgettable Business Communication Skills Coach”
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