A Contemporary Shakespeare
by, 01-31-2010 at 12:41 PM (35919 Views)
Shakespeare was a master at telling stories. He knew the two most important parts of every story are the beginning and the end. These are the times that people are listening more closely and tend to remember. The play Macbeth starts with a scene in a desolate place with raging thunderstorms where the Three Witches meet to predict the future. Three witches and a thunderstorm - that should get your attention. As the play concludes MacDuff enters the castle with Macbeth’s decapitated head and hails Malcolm as the new King of Scotland – not an ending one would soon forget.
Whimper or Bang it’s your Choice
A mistake that is often made in business speeches is that they often end with a whimper instead of a bang. That is because the speaker often ends their speech with,“Are there any questions?”
There are two problems with this question. The first is that you never want to end a presentation on question since the beginning and the end of the speech is where your audience pays the most attention and you should use that time wisely. After you finish with the questions, take the time to reiterate your key messages or say something like, “There is one thing I want you to remember when you walk out that door today ……” The second problem with the question is that it is a closed question. Someone can answer yes or no to it. You need to ask an open question like, “What types of questions do you have?”
If you have the dreaded silence after your speech try saying something like, “There are no questions about my speech? Ok then, I’ll start taking personal questions.” That usually get the audience to relax and people begin to raise their hands. Another way to get questions started is saying things like, “The last time I gave this speech I got a number of questions about ……. let me take a few minutes and share my views on that topic.”
The Prior Speaker just Stole your Speech: What do you do?
Sometimes it is hard to avoid saying many of the same thoughts and ideas the previous speakers shared. However, here are some comments you can make which will add a little humor to the situation.
• I think I should just take your questions because _______ stole my remarks. I was going to give you a long presentation on _________, but you just heard a better articulation of it than I can possibly give
• As I sat here and listened to _______ presentation to you I thought of the time when a Senator had to appear on the same stage as Mark Twain. Mark Twain got up and gave his presentation, and there was warm applause for that. The Senator frankly didn't know what to say at that point. So he got up and he said, "Mr. Twain and I had an agreement before we came here. We swapped speeches this evening. He has just given you the speech that I wrote which was so warmly accepted, and he has given me his, but unfortunately I have lost his and I can't remember a word he was going to say."
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