Great speaker, stories and signpost

The thing that great speaker do

What do the best public speakers do when they are speaking and presenting? What do they do that is different from most people? That is an easy question. The thing that great speakers do is they illustrate every single key point with a story and they limit the number of points.

They try to convey in anyone’s speech or presentation often to five points or fewer. President Ronald Reagan once told his speech writers, “I never want to talk for more than two minutes without talking about a real person with a real problem.” So stories for every key point limit your key points to a handful and if you really want to be great, practice, rehearse your presentation on video until you like what you see.

Signpost in public speaking

What is a signpost in public speaking?  Well step back a minute and ask yourself what is a signpost in the real world. If you are driving along the highway and you see a sign that says you know “caution” road is slippery or there is going to be deer crossing over it, it is telling you in advance what is going to happen if you are seeing a sign that says stop. You know that you need to now stop. There is a yellow light. You need to caution and slow down, these are signposts.

Same thing with public speaking. So quite often a speaker will say I am going to really focus on helping you build three specific skills today.  That is a signpost. So you might hear what those signs are.

Let me recap can be a way of saying “okay here is what we just talked about”, to summarize is another signpost telling you that you have already talked about this but i am boiling it down to the most important ingredients.

I do think signposts can be helpful, however it is far more important to be interesting the whole time you are speaking and to give vivid examples and stories. That is what will resonate with people because if you give a boring data dump and then you give signposts summarizing the boring data dump and telling why you gave the boring data dump, the signpost is not going to help you because people will not remember a boring data dump. No matter how many signposts you put up.

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