Public Speaking Laws of Success: For Everyone and Every Occasion (New York, NY: Morgan James) by Richard J. Goossen will be released on September 28, 2021! Prior to the public release and distribution at bookstores, copies are available in bulk directly through ELO. For further information on individual review copies or bulk sales contact: Admin@ELONetwork.org.
Leading up to the publication of the book, we will be posting a series of blogs related to public speaking laws of success discussed in the book.
In a sporting event, momentum (technically known as “Big Mo”) is something everyone wants on their side. When you have it, nothing can stand in your way of scoring that goal or reaching the finish line. If you don’t have Big Mo, you don’t stand a chance. Like playing sports, a higher-level skill for speakers is the concept of pace and managing the momentum of a presentation.
These concepts are important for a presentation, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour long. A speaker must always go at a pace that is appropriate to the parameters provided.
Momentum is an intangible quality, but something that we as listeners still sense very strongly. When momentum is well-utilized, we feel that things are heading in a clear direction. There are “positive vibes” in the room. As a speaker, you feel that the pieces of your presentation are coming together and that there will be a successful conclusion. You can see the audience reacting positively through their body language and attention. Momentum is sustained through a focused presentation, where the points keep building in a single direction. Imagine your presentation as a spotlight shining on an idea. Momentum is like a reflector around that light beam, ensuring that it is focused, rather than scattered with a dissipation of light.
The same dynamics apply to a long presentation. I have worked with a number of very well-known speakers who can deliver a 45–60 minute keynote, and at the end the audience’s reaction is still, “What, it’s over already?! That felt like 5 minutes.”
How do they manage this feat? They established pace and momentum. This is a very difficult skill to master.
One master of this skill is Larry C. Farrell. Larry is the founder and chair of the Farrell Company, the world's leading firm for researching and teaching entrepreneurship. He founded the firm in 1983 and went on to do groundbreaking research into the high-growth business practices of the world’s great entrepreneurs. Today, over six million people, in forty countries and across nine languages, have attended the company’s programs. Over the past three decades, Larry has personally taught entrepreneurship to more individuals, organizations, and governments than any other person in the world.
Larry has a “folksy” style of speaking, and he is a master storyteller. He goes methodically at a measured pace through his presentation. You know where he is headed, and you are interested in finding out how he is going to get there. A keynote with Larry seems to go by in an instant.
When someone is going at a good pace it feels very comfortable, like wearing a favorite sweater. How can you emulate that skill? It will take time and practice, but you can get started right now. Let’s say that you are doing a 60-minute presentation. Longer presentations give you more time for your introduction and conclusion, and to develop your points and go through examples in detail. You can use silence and pregnant pauses to your advantage. You can pose a question to get people’s attention, and then take time to work towards the answer.
On the flip side of this, however, is that with longer presentations you need to keep momentum. You need to have people be aware of where you are heading. Imagine it like you’re making a movie. There needs to be a clear plotline. You need a lead character with a problem looking for help, meeting challenges, and moving toward a final yes/no solution.
When it comes to speaking, this means there needs to be clarity. If your presentation is titled “The Five Steps for Being a Better Salesperson,” then people know that they can expect five points. They also likely assume a certain amount of symmetry—that each of the points will get about equal time.
With a longer presentation you also have time for proper transition sentences. For example: “Now that I have established the first point as the foundation, let me build on that with the second point.” With a longer presentation you have the opportunity to summarize and repeat organizational features as you go along.