Last Thursday I met Ze Frank (web, twitter), who a few days later would hold the closing keynote speech at the design & creativity conference MAD in Spain. I had previously seen Ze talk at TED Global 2010 in Oxford and had found his presentation both entertaining and professionally interesting as he deals with creating online experiences that generate powerful and intimate interactions with his audience (if you never heard about Ze Frank or watched him speak, I suggest you watch these two of Ze Frank at TED Global 2010 and at TED 2004).
During our chat at the opening event of MAD we talked about public speaking, what makes a good presentation and some of the advice he gives to speakers while coaching them.
Note: Although I tried to record Ze’s tips on my iPhone while we were talking, my love-hate relationship with technology once again came to surface when I discovered that the device had only recorded the first 3 seconds of it (my fault I guess). So what follows comes from my imperfect memories of that evening (it was late, noisy and I trusted my iPhone was getting in on tape so I could later write this article).
These are the two tips and an observation to improve your public speaking:
Rehearse alone in an empty room and don’t stop
There’s only one way of preparing a good talk and that is practice. Especially if you’re a new speaker, but not only, Ze suggests you try your speech in an empty room. You can have a mirror if you want, but that’s not the key. Ze Frank suggests you make your full talk several times non-stop. Just go the whole way through with your speech and don’t stop to write down improvement remarks like “I’m using too many ‘eehs’ and ‘aahs’, I should correct that”. People usually do that and what happens is that they rehearse very well the start of their talk instead of just going on in order to improve the whole delivery of the presentation.
Know that stuff can go wrong
You can prepare all that you can, but stuff might/will go wrong. So what do you do if your computer freezes, there is some kind of audio/video issue or the audience is not reacting as you expected? Plan for that, think of possible scenarios and resolutions… and relax.
Isn’t this amazing?!
Talking about delivering an interesting live experience, Ze noted that if at a certain point of your presentation you cannot say “Isn’t this [stuff I’m showing you or telling you about] amazing?!”, then something is wrong with it. Apart of many exceptions we can both think about, if you’re not excited about your presentation yourself, why should people in the audience be? By the way, he does say that during his talks and what he’s talking about it usually is (amazing).
For sure will be thinking about this the next time I prepare for a talk… using it as a pondered editing criteria.
Hey Ze, if you’re reading and this is not what you said, just raise your hand! 😉