Keynote presentations can be terrifying for some of us. We fear messing up, looking bad on camera, forgetting our notes… The list of nightmares just doesn’t end.
While it’s not possible to have an entirely foolproof plan, we can minimize the number of ways where things can go wrong. So if you have an important keynote presentation coming up, here are some of our tips to help you out.
How to Ace Your Keynote Presentation
We’ll give you a concise guide on what you should be doing, from the time you start planning to the time you conclude your speech. Take these 15 quick tips and master them so you can deliver a stunning keynote presentation in no time!
1. Know Your Purpose
Before you start creating the layout of your slides or typing out the content of your speech, take some time to ask yourself — what is the purpose of your keynote presentation? What is the takeaway that you want the audience to have after your presentation? Essentially, you need to ask yourself, “What is my message?”. While it feels like time is ticking away, rushing into your slides will backfire in the long run. You need to ensure that the intention behind this presentation is clear and focused, as that would help you in creating a keynote presentation with clarity and confidence.
2. Be Confident
A genuine smile makes you look at ease and approachable
Ever heard of the phrase, ‘fake it till you make it’? Now’s a great time to take that advice! A significant factor in determining the success of your keynote presentation is your audience’s trust in you, and to gain their trust, you need to be confident in yourself first. Confidence in presentations comes from two sources: your posture, and your mastery of the content you are presenting. For posture, remember not to fidget and stand in a relaxed position. Stretch for a couple of minutes before presenting to loosen yourself up. As for your content, be sure to know the subject of your presentation like the back of your hand; read up as much as possible and do not start on it last minute.
3. Give Your Credentials
When introducing yourself, simply sharing your organization and position is not enough; if your audience wants to know where you’re from, all they need is a quick search online. What they do want to know however, is why you are the best person to deliver this presentation, and what you have to offer them. By sharing this, your audience will know that you’re knowledgeable in the field you’re presenting on, and that you have the solution to their needs or problems. Doing this will not only make your audience lean a little closer, but will also give you a great segue to move them into the next part of your presentation.
4. Deliver Your Hook
Research shows that the audience will stop listening to a presentation within 10 minutes if they are not persuaded that there is something in it for them. It is therefore important that you “hook” your audience by convincing them that they can benefit from your keynote presentation. You can do this by showing your audience that the key idea behind your presentation has the ability to make them feel happy or successful.
5. Introduce Your Agenda
At the start of your speech, be sure to let your audience know what the takeaway of your message is. Dedicate a slide to show your audience the agenda, and when presenting, remember not to read from the slides! Instead, offer a brief and general summary of your presentation. Give your audience the direction of your presentation, as this will allow them to follow your content better.
6. Ensure Smooth Transitions
Transitions are like sign posts that guide your audience throughout your speech, so they must be easy to follow, the last thing you need is a confused audience! Unclear transitions can be a nightmare as it may potentially distort the content of your presentation. In the end, the audience grasps only bits and pieces of your message, or worse, gives up on following your presentation. This applies not just to the visual effects that PowerPoint has, but also to the words you use. When transitioning from point to point, use words such as ‘next’, ‘then’, and ‘after’, and number your points using words like ‘firstly’, ‘secondly’, and ‘thirdly’. This will help the audience understand when you’re moving on to another idea or part of your presentation.
7. Give a Credible Statement
If you wish to gain your audience’s trust and establish a professional relationship with them, you need to get them to buy into your presentation. One way would be through giving credible statements that support your message. This can come in the form of data, or in the form of professional advice from experts in the field of your presentation. For example, make use of graphs and statistics to show the importance of a certain situation, and share quotes from someone with authority in a similar (if not the same) industry to backup your statements.
8. Use Images for Maximum Impact
The beauty of well-selected images lies in their ability to communicate a message without throwing dozens of words at an audience, so use them to your advantage! Select photos that encapsulate the message of your keynote presentation, or to highlight a specific idea that you’re sharing. Images that look simple can deliver the most powerful messages, and do what words sometimes cannot achieve — stir emotions in an audience. However, while images are a great tool, moderation is key. Stay away from photos that have been used too often (icebergs, anyone?), and use them sparingly throughout the presentation, as too many may reduce their impact.
9. Present data simply
Data is important in any credible presentation, and like we mentioned earlier, can help to establish your audience’s trust. However, it is crucial that the data be presented in a simple and uncomplicated manner. Too many numbers or graphs can be distracting for the audience, and may obscure the real intention of presenting the data. If you have large chunks of statistics, ask yourself: What is the key idea of the message you’re sharing? Which figures will back your statements up? From there, choose the appropriate data and highlight them accordingly.
10. One slide – one theme
Like transitions, each slide can be used as markers of the various points you aim to cover. Not only does this make your presentation easy for the audience to follow, it also makes it easy for you to remember your points as they are neatly categorised in each slide. It may seem tempting to squeeze all your information into few slides, but remember, moderation is key!
11. Be minimalistic
For a keynote presentation, simplicity is important when designing and organising your deck. You do not want the pattern or design to distract your audience from the real content and message. Again, it is also important that you do not overload the slides with words, so keep the sentences and points in your slides short. Let your speech expand on the ideas that you want the audience to take with them. Your communication and connection with them is more impactful in sending your message across than words on the slides.
12. Be consistent
Consistency is essential, especially when it comes to your presentation. Avoid using different backgrounds in every slide, and ensure that the design is reasonably similar throughout, unless you wish to use differences to distinguish individual points in your message. This makes the transitions in your presentation smooth, and thus it makes the story that you are telling easy for the audience to follow.
13. Practice, Practice, Practice
Rome was not build in a day, and similarly, a perfect presentation will not happen instantaneously! Rehearse your presentation a couple of times before the actual one, as this will help you in two ways. Firstly, you will gain familiarity with the content, which will definitely increase your confidence in delivering the presentation. Secondly, going through the deck aloud will allow you to listen to your speech from the audience’s perspective. This will aid you in tweaking and adjusting the content and structure of your presentation, to best fit the needs of the audience.
14. Analyse your audience
On the day of your presentation, analyse the audience. Get a general feel of the crowd. Are they excited? Are they bored? Are they tired? By doing this, you will be able to tweak the content of your presentation to fit the needs of your audience. If they are bored, you may wish to start with an interesting story related to your message. If they are tired, you could give them some time to get refreshed, either through a 5 minutes break or a quick activity to keep them alert. This way, you can ensure that you have a receptive audience ready to listen to what you have to say.
15. Q&A session
It is absolutely important that you leave some time at the end of your keynote presentation for a short “question and answer” session. Since the presentation was done from your perspective, the audience may have missed some important links and connections in your ideas. Therefore, a Q&A session is great in resolving any potential confusion that the audience may have.
There you have it, 15 simple tips to ace your keynote presentation! Just remember:
Know Your Purpose
Give Your Credentials
Deliver Your Hook
Introduce Your Agenda
Ensure Smooth Transitions
Give a Credible Statement
Use Images for Maximum Impact
Present data simply
One slide – one theme
Practice, Practice, Practice
Analyse your audience
Now you’re good to go, all the best for your keynote presentation!
Working towards your first ICO (Initial Coin Offering) project can be a harrowing experience. Besides actually developing the technology that works on the blockchain, you’ll have to actively market the token to cryptocurrency communities and seek private investors before a public launch.
A common problem that most ICO teams face is that they spend months with an expert technical team building the perfect blockchain-based technology, only to find themselves unable to tell a compelling story around their token and their ICO.
There are a few things that anyone working towards an ICO prepares before launching their token sale:
A whitepaper detailing how their token works and the overall vision of the application
A website to briefly explain the ICO to visitors and individual investors
A pitch deck for private sales before the ICO begins
Developing a pitch deck that sells tokens is easier said than done and is on a whole new page when compared with a whitepaper or website.
The truth is, whitepapers are slowly becoming outdated and redundant. Blockchain whitepapers became widely popular after Bitcoin’s inception but are now gradually becoming less relevant. This is because of two reasons: Firstly, they are typically very technically worded or written more for marketing purposes. Secondly, whitepapers fail to quickly answer the questions that are truly at the top of mind for crypto buyers.
Rob May, CEO of Talla.com on Coindesk, puts it aptly:
“So, the next time you look at a token or a network, just skim the white paper. Make it a secondary factor in your decision, not the primary thing you buy on.
Spend your time instead looking at the team, understanding the big vision, researching the market opportunity, and thinking counterfactually about the possible futures of the network. You’ll make better decisions.”
This then begs the question, what should we include in ICO private sales and investor decks?
ICO decks are not very far off from regular start-up pitch decks where founders seek to raise funding from skeptical investors.
There are numerous areas that overlap:
Proving that the team is capable and experienced enough to see through the execution
Hinting at a high return-on-investment (ROI): a positive payout for start-up investors and token appreciation for ICOs
Communicating immense potential for uptake and usage of product or token
Why they should act on this immediately
That said, ICOs are far more nuanced because of the technology and considerations that cryptocurrency buyers have before they sink their hard-earned capital (in Ethereum, Bitcoin or NEO) into your token.
Here are some of the key components that make up the general structure of every ICO deck:
1. Cover Slides That Summarize Your Story
Gone are the days where it was trendy to be the ‘Uber for XYZ’. Clarity is the new currency to get your token funded. The cover slide needs to immediately hook the reader or audience to want to align with your vision and also intrigue them to continue with the rest of the deck.
A good title clearly indicates what the token or network will be used for and what it enables. Do not complicate the title. There is no benefit in confusing your potential token investor.
To ensure your title on the first page of your ICO pitch deck is concise ensure that:
The title clearly represents your project
Hint at the benefits that it provides to the end-user of the token, who might not always be the early token investor.
This slide should also contain a visual representing either the end-user or a digital mock-up of the blockchain solution that you’re creating.
This is one example. The title is clear about what they want: To convey why Vaultbank will be of benefit to the target user. On the right, it then provides several brief descriptions of the benefits.
Good Title Examples:
Switcheo: The World’s First Decentralised Exchange on the NEO Blockchain
TenX: Spend Your Virtual Currencies in Real Life
Kyber: Instant Exchange and Conversion of Digital Assets
2. Problem Statement
Tokens will typically continue to appreciate in value and stay that way (unless we see a crash in the cryptocurrency economy) if they have real-world application that targets a gap in the world currently. Token investors are always on the lookout for the next big blockchain project that will change the world as we know it and ‘moon’ so that they’ll see a big gain.
If your identified ‘problem’ can be solved by using a database instead of your solution – is it really a problem worth investing in? You’ll have to make clear why you’re building the blockchain application and also illustrate the magnitude of the problem.
This should be descriptive yet clear. For example, if your blockchain project is intending to replace insurers – it could be something along the lines of: Today’s Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency
Look at this slide’s title. Its main point is concise and clear, no complex language used.
Describe the Problem
Elaborate more on the problem to make a case for your problem statement. If: “Insurance Solutions Lack Transparency and Efficiency”, why is this happening?
Some example pointers could be:
Insurance customers still rely heavily on agents for claims
Inefficiency is good for insurer bottomline
Basically, support your statement with what’s happening in the industry and back these points up later with hard facts and statistics so you do not lose credibility.
Substantiating Pointers and Arguments
Your statement should then be supported by real problems that you’ve identified in your industry of choice that you’re trying to solve by using the blockchain. These can be supported by using research statistics, quoting credible sources like large news sites or influential individuals and/or showcasing other competitors in the arena that have done well, but still leave room for growth.
If you’ve surveyed a good sample size of respondents or have market data to back up your opinion, be sure to include these in summary as well.
This video of Switcheo Network CEO speaking at the NEO Amsterdam conference is a good example of illustrating problems within the general space with real examples.
3. Introduce Your Blockchain Solution
Now’s your chance to showcase your solution. You’ll want to be clear about two things.
What is the solution?
How users interact with it (E.g. Is it a platform that they login to? Is it an app? Or will it be used in the form of a credit card to spend cryptocurrency?)
Leave no room for doubt here as it’s critically important that your prospective investor understands how your solution can fit into the lives of those you seek to serve.
It helps to reference the points listed out in the problem earlier and juxtapose that with the merits of your solution. That way, investors can quickly see how your solution solves those various problems.
Show the solution
The benefit of using a pitch deck is that you can afford to include imagery to help your audience or reader fully visualize what your solution will look like. Having it mocked up is half the battle won versus not even having a proof of concept. Don’t leave it up to their imagination, show them.
This presentation by the Zilliqa team (the cryptocurrency with the highest market cap in Singapore) is a great example of explaining a complicated solution in a simple manner whilst painting the high potential of the landscape.
4.Demonstrate How It Works
Blockchain solutions are notoriously difficult to explain to non-technical people. It’s your job to make it easy yet informative for your prospective investor so that he or she can understand your token and solution.
Explaining what the solution looks like from the front-end (i.e. user experience and interface) is the first step in getting their buy-in for your product. Investors want to understand what the user sees and how they interact with your platform. Instead of using long prose, break up the example of use into a linear step-by-step process with screens or descriptions.
For example, instead of:
User enters exchange with their private key, makes their trade with the right pair and receives their currency in their wallet
Login with private key -> Trade with pair of choice -> Receive currency in wallet
For more discerning investors, they want to understand your tech. This is where most technical people shine when explaining the logic behind the solution. Problem is, these explanations are usually quite verbose and hard to understand.
Using illustrations, diagrams or flowcharts in the right sequences have proven to be one of the best ways to effectively explain a blockchain product to investors.
The key to not confusing them is to:
Have a headline upfront that explains what the diagram is explaining, and the process involved
Always show the users/stakeholders in the diagram prominently
If there is flow of token usage, use animation or demark sequencing to avoid confusion
Try to adhere to a left-to-right reading flow that most people in the world read
5.Explain Your Token
The deck will not be complete without explaining what your audiences are buying in the first place – your ICO Token. You’ll want to ensure you cover:
The slide provides a clear step-by-step explanation on the process.
The way the token moves around in the network should also be described along with how token holders can benefit from being a holder. Do they receive dividends or rewards? Does the token let them attain reduced trading fees? Or does the token allow them to spend less on acquiring a product or service?
Be clear with what the token does as there are various token applications that either work on utility or act as a store of value/proof of stake.
You should already have this in handy. Be sure to use this throughout the deck so that your investors know what your token looks like and that they know what they’re getting into. The token symbol/logo represents your cryptocurrency and is backed by the overall messaging of your other communication mediums.
This token presentation by WAX sports a really good build-up by showcasing the progression of their industry, ending with their solution sitting at the forefront. They also did a good job around the 8-minute mark explaining how tokens could be used and the benefits for holders.
Unless your cryptocurrency token is truly a world’s first (which in 2018 is still very possible), you’ll want to always try to list competitors in your space. In lucrative industries, there will almost always be competitors that exist in one form or the other even if indirect. If there are no competitors, the market is either too small or not really that lucrative.
The key to getting this slide right is to:
Compare your application with your competitors so that investors know where you stand in the big picture
Identify why your token is unique, superior in application and differentiates from others
At times, illustrate that your competitors have already done well in different markets and that your solution can perform as well or even better.
The format of this can either be a table, a positioning graph with X and Y axes or a map with market sizing bubbles. It really depends on the messaging and what ties in best with your story.
Here, the key message is conveyed through providing where Switcheo stands amongst its competitors through a positioning map. The message shows that Switcheo does not compromise convenience and security – something its other competitors lack.
7.Introduce Your Team
This is one of the most important slides in your deck where you’ll want to play up the achievements, experiences and technical fit of your co-founders, advisors and team members to make a case for your token sale.
There is no hard and fast way to ace this as the makeup of every team is different. Try to identify strengths within the team even if they might come from a few individuals.
Avoid making general boastful statements like: “creator of multiple successful startups”. Always use quantitative numbers or facts to substantiate any statements
(e.g. former CEO at X, 20 years in IT)
Decide on a specific format and keep it consistent throughout team members. Advisors that need no real introduction can have shorter descriptions.
Here’s one example. The format in introducing the team is consistent. It states their position and states their experience or describe their roles.
As mentioned above, this slide keeps the introductions for the advisors short.
8.Share Your Road Map
Some investors buy tokens to HODL (Hold on for dear life) for the long-haul and not just sell immediately after the ICO is over. As such, they’ll want to know exactly what the founders plan to do and have a look at the roadmap ahead.
Marketing and Growth
Nobody wants to be the last holder of a token. Some investors want to know how you’ll continue to acquire and retain new token holders to bring added liquidity and value to tokens on sale. If you have these in handy to a notable investor who has been asking questions about your marketing plans ahead, list out initiatives to grow users with a dollar value tagged to them.
A basic linear timeline usually suffices when it comes to communicating different phases of your project along with the goals and benefits it is meant to achieve for token holders and users.
Juxtapose each phase title with descriptions of what features will be added along with what benefit they can expect. Typically, founders forecast developments up to 3 years ahead.
(e.g. Phase 2: Main Net, Secure trading for token holders direct to their wallets)
9.Plan to Finance
This is close to your end slide where you detail the distribution of ICO token proceeds as well as the important dates that investors should note for public and private sales.
If you’ve managed to convince the prospective token holder by this point, congratulations.
It’s a good time to deliver an ICO summary so that they’ll know the factors to consider in their purchase including the token price, whether there are hard caps to the number of tokens and how these will be distributed to their wallets.
Specify the following parameters:
Hard Cap and Soft Cap Campaigns.
Number of tokens for sale.
Key token properties for owners.
Platform for release.
Model of the token distribution.
Dates of ICO opening and closing.
Distribution of tokens and key holders.
The distribution breakdown typically consists of the founding team, tokens set aside for marketing related promotions (such as airdrops), key advisors and general operation of the foundation or company working towards realising the solution. Ensuring these are broken up logically and with good reason helps to avoid dissuading the discerning investor wondering where their funds are invested.
10.Ask for Investment
Your whole presentation will be for naught if you don’t ask for the investment. List a few calls to action they’ll have to take to get onto the private sale or public sale and try to reduce the barriers to entry for ease of investing. Nobody wants to go through lengths just to invest.
Have an action statement that clearly answers the question: ‘What do I do next?’ and also incentivise quick action. Don’t forget to include contact details and telegram/medium page URLs if any so they can involve themselves in the ongoing conversation.
E.g. ‘Help us build the world’s first DEX on NEO’, ‘Join our private sale within 24 hours and get 25% bonus”
Visual suggestion: Always good to have a user depicted using the solution or a mock-up of your application to really solidify your ideas and to suggest eventual realisation.
Meandering this new world of cryptocurrency and the blockchain can be confusing when you’re trying to get traction in the initial stages. However, as with any difficult endeavour, strategies that work will leave patterns and we can learn from these successes and apply it to our own projects.
Every time you go up on stage to speak to the audience, it’s ultimately to establish and develop a good relationship with them. To win the heart of the audience is to gain their trust and their respect all while providing engagement and credible information during a speech.
With that being said however, most speakers worry about whether their audience will like them or not – especially when they have to speak to a tough crowd.
How to Approach Tough Audience Members
These tough audiences can come in many forms. They’re either unimpressed, unconvinced or will jump at any opportunity to scrutinise and judge your every action. If not, they could just be plain uninterested.
This is every speaker’s worse nightmare. But while it can be daunting to face these groups of people, there are ways you can get them to switch to your side. All you need is a lot of determination, patience and effort.
So let’s start with knowing the audience. In order to get a tough audience to switch, it’s important that we understand what type of tough audience members we can typically find. This is so we can frame our presentations to adapt to their needs.
Here are the four types of difficult audience members and how to approach them:
1. The Entertainer
Just like their label, they love the social part of public speaking and this is often more important to them than listening to you. They participate by offering comments and questions to entertain and make the attention shift towards them rather than on the speaker.
At times, they can be of great entertainment but if you’re trying to bring up or convey a serious issue, their energy can undermine your efforts.
Here’s how to identify one:
They constantly promote themselves
They crack jokes
How to Handle This Type:
a) Bite Your Tongue
Do not challenge them unless you wish to make a new enemy. Resist the temptation to give a witty comeback or to crush his or her ego. Instead, be polite and answer their question before quickly moving on.
b) Leverage On Their Energy Skilfully
Sometimes, it’s okay to direct the attention towards the entertainer. Keep them involved by constantly asking questions and giving plenty of eye contact. However, to give the other audience members a chance to participate as well, only ask the entertainers a very specific type of question.
If that doesn’t work, cut short any comments that do not relate to the question.
c) Maintain an Easygoing Approach
Avoid being too serious or you’ll seem like a wet blanket. It’s okay to go with the flow with the entertainer at times. You can laugh at their jokes and give your audience some fun via this entertainer.
This helps give your audience a break – especially when the topic is difficult, complex or boring – before pulling them back to focus.
d) Bring Them Back on Track
Sometimes your talk may require the scene to be much more serious due to the depth of the issue. To ensure, that the entertainer does not lead the talk out of point, gently get them on track by mentioning the purpose of your speech and how you’d prefer the audience to behave.
2. The Rock
This person does not budge. Literally. No matter how much you try to engage with them, they won’t respond or provide any sort of reaction at all.
This is because they’re often socially anxious and will try to avoid participating or interacting in speeches. Despite so, these very people are also aware of how you, the speaker, behaves towards them.
How to Identify One:
Lack of response
Does not like to participate
How to Handle This Type:
a) Do Not Assume
You won’t get much opinions or questions asked from a room full of these individuals, but don’t judge a book by its cover – they may not necessarily dislike or are bored of what you have say to say. This brings me to my next point.
b) Warm Them Up
Try welcoming them into the room with a smile on your face, so they’ll feel much more comfortable and relaxed. This creates a positive environment which makes them much more keen to voice out their opinions as well.
c) Ask for their thoughts
The Rocks are usually the most reflective members of an audience. Due to their detachment from the group, their opinions and thoughts are mostly unbiased and offer a fresh perspective into your topic or issue.
3. The Critic
This audience member is every speaker’s nightmare because all it takes is one mistake. One mistake and these people will jump on you like a pack of hyenas that finally cornered its prey. They will scrutinise your every detail and action before they deem you as a trustworthy or credible speaker.
How to Identify One:
“Hi yes, I noticed that the second slide with the third paragraph overlaps the fifth paragraph with the second column on the first row”
Constantly questions your every intention while looking you up head to toe in scrutiny
Has a hostile or cynical attitude towards you or your topic
How to Handle This Type:
a) Welcome Them:
Listen to their comments and do your best to work with them rather than restricting them. This not only enables an open discussion; you may even get to gain a few insights from another person’s perspective as well.
In the end, they will also perceive you as a humble speaker who believes that their opinions matter too.
b) Agree with Them
If you still firmly believe your opinions are right, it’s okay to provide reasonable and tangible evidence to support your point. Just, make sure to do so in a calm and objective manner to avoid sounding defensive.
4. The Rebel
The rebel is basically someone who just wants to disagree with everything you have to say. Their reason for opposing you can vary. Sometimes it’s because they just hate your guts or worse – they do it because they think it’s fun to make the speaker squirm.
Either way, it’s important not to let them push your buttons or all the effort you’ve built for your image and credibility as a speaker will be thrown out the window just like that.
How to Identify One:
When You say the sky is blue, they yell back in protest, “No! Look out the window! It’s grey!”
Constantly finding ways to irritate you with irrelevant questions or statements
How to Handle This Type:
a) Turn the Tables
Most comics deal with this type by turning them into the target of the joke. This is good if you are naturally very good when it comes to improvised humour.
b) Do Not React
These types of individuals’ main goal are to fire you up so the worse think you can do is to let your emotions get the better of you.
One very quick way to stop them from constantly finding ways to get under your skin is to just stare at him or her with a neutral expression. They will eventually grow more irritated instead of the other way round since you’re not falling for their trap.
Winning Your Audience’s Trust
Now you know what to expect from the type of audience members you will be facing, it’s also equally important to know what you can do to gain their trust as a whole.
According to experts, trust affects a speaker’s credibility. This is because your audience view trustworthiness as your motivation to be truthful. Furthermore, gaining trust often makes audiences believe in your message as well.
Hence, here are the 7 Tips to help gain the trust and respect of your audience:
1. Embrace the ‘tough crowd’
“Embrace each challenge in your life as a an opportunity for self-transformation” -Bernie Siegel
We all have to face a tough crowd at least once in our lives. It’s inevitable. But, instead of seeing this as a challenge, try turning the table around so that it works in your favour.
Come onto the stage with a positive mindset and approach them like they’re the best crowd you’ve spoken to. The key is to look at every laugh or any sort of interest in your speech as a gift. Think this way: Every laugh or moment a listener engages in your presentation is an affirmation that you’re doing my job.
Focus on what is working and put your insecurities and doubt aside. This is so you can free up your mind to work on the good things and go from there.
2. Don’t take it personally
So far, we’ve been talking about how you can gain the heart of your audience. But one sure fire way to lose them forever is to take their comments to heart.
We, as humans, are naturally driven by emotions. But sometimes, letting them get in the way prevents us from establishing a good relationship with our audience. To ensure this does not happen, focus on the result that you’re looking for and not on how the process is making you feel, or whether the person offended you.
Although this sounds simple, it’s easier said than done. This is especially so when we encounter a rude and unreasonable individual that steps out of line. Don’t stoop to their level. Instead, take a deep breath, remain calm and try to deal with this individual patiently.
In return, the audience will realise that you are being treated unfairly. Not only that, the audience will have a better and positive image of you as well. The rude individual on the other hand, will look like a jerk as a result.
3. Addressing the Elephant in the Room
There will be a point in time where something unexpected happens or the audience knows something embarrassing or controversial about you.
For example, it could be someone in the crowd that was insulting or throwing food at you before you could speak or a ‘scandal’ that you allegedly got into.
Either way, it creates an awkward atmosphere between you and audience. Hence why you should address it even more to get it out of the way.
If not, you risk losing your audience’s attention because they’re too preoccupied by the unspoken issue that you did not clear before your speech. This ‘elephant’ that surrounds the room is what’s hindering them from paying attention in the first place.
President Barack Obama strongly believes in this saying. He openly acknowledges his discomforts which often include his race, his ‘funny name’ and the fact that his father comes from a developing part of the world and once lived in a hut.
This is an uncomfortable topic for him as his background may make him seem less eligible than the other leaders in America.
Despite the discomforts he faces, he still addresses them head on with humour, easing the comfort of those to whom he speaks. The outcome? He successfully manages to lead his audience back to his main point.
4. Show you understand
No one and I repeat no one likes to be told that ‘they don’t understand’. So when someone in the audience decides to challenge your idea, don’t fight it; embrace it. Say: ‘Tell me more’ so you can have an effective, enlightening and calm discussion.
This will show your effort in trying to understand your audience and you are doing so by addressing their concerns.
Here’s an added tip: constantly ask for their opinion or thoughts from time to time. This makes them feel wanted and appreciated as they feel that what they say matters to you as a speaker.
5. Find the common ground
A famous speaker for this is none other than former US President, Barack Obama. He has the uncanny ability to bring people together despite their differences. His method is simple, and it’s to focus on the similarities of him and his audience. This is how he manages to bring people of different backgrounds, race and ethnicity together.
So when you’re about to present, always ask yourself what are the shared beliefs, values, message or opinion you and your audience can agree on. This can help you gain their trust, flipping them from a tough crowd to future loyal fans.
Here’s a famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Dr Martin Luther King Junior that brought people together despite their differences:
In this video, Dr King kept using the words, ‘I have a dream,’ before bringing his audience together with a common vision – the dream and the hope for a brighter future for America regardless of race, language or religion. This shared vision helped unite these people despite their differences in beliefs and values.
6. Through storytelling techniques
According to experts, recent scientific work is putting a much stronger emphasis on how stories change individuals’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
It has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to data and statistics. Our brains activate on all our five senses which allows us to broaden our imagination and be part of the story itself.
If used correctly, storytelling can be a very powerful communication tool due to its ability to connect, gain the trust of and pique interest amongst the audience.
One example of a simple yet extremely effective storytelling technique is none other than ‘The Hero’s Journey Approach. This technique has a proven framework that never fails to keep your audience glued to their seats!
Here’s a video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about how school kills creativity. In the talk, he makes use of storytelling techniques to engage and hook his audience.
You’ll notice that he makes references through the story of others such as Picasso as well as his own personal stories to build rapport with his audience.
7. Ace your Q&A
It’s vital you Master the Art of Q&A. Many speakers are intimidated in this area but who wouldn’t be? It’s unchartered territory since you can’t know the questions that will be coming your way.
In short, this session will demonstrate whether you truly know your stuff.
This is the crucial moment where you either gain the trust and loyalty of your audience, or you completely lose them and your credibility. Essentially, it’s the segment of your talk where a two-way dialogue takes place. It’s not just a matter of conveying the message – it’s also receiving on your end as well.
In Q&A sessions, you may face a difficult questioner from time to time. In this setting, it’s important you know how to respond knowledgeably, calmly, and confidently. Don’t fear this obstacle but rather, embrace it. If you understand your content from the presentation, it’ll be half the battle won. All that’s left to do is to prepare questions to anticipate in advance and practice.
Summing It Up
So there you have it! These are the ways to handle and convince a tough crowd. Identify and understand the behaviours of a tough audience member so you can best approach them without compromising your credibility and image as a speaker.
Seize the opportunity to convince and switch a tough crowd with these tips:
Identify the type of tough audience members
Understand their behaviours and patterns
React and approach them accordingly
Embrace the problem and turn it into an opportunity
Don’t take things to heart and dare to address the issues or problems
Find common ground and show you understand your audience
Engage your audience through storytelling
Build your credibility through Q&A
Leave a comment below if you’ve applied these tips and if it worked for you!
Everyone is blessed with a certain level of persuasive skills. Whether it’s a salesperson convincing a customer why they should buy a product or a mother convincing her child why he needs to sleep early – persuading is something that revolves around our lives whether we realise it or not.
This applies to persuasive presentations as well. It is a speech made with the intention of selling an idea, message, service or product to the audience. Some forms of persuasive presentations include sales pitches, legal proceedings and debates.
Persuasion is an art form, an effective weapon that impresses your ideas upon the minds of listeners.
Overall, a persuasive presentation is intended to reach people, convince them and then prompt them into taking action.
Although some are born with the art of persuasion, what about those who need to acquire it through practice? Here’s a definitive guide to help you step by step on how to frame and execute a great persuasive presentation:
The 3 Step Approach to the Art of Persuasion
According to one of the most articulate speakers, Greek Philosopher Aristotle, there are three forms of rhetoric to influence people: ethos, pathos and logos. You need to understand and skilfully apply the methods found in these three elements to conduct a successful persuasive speech.
In every speech, it’s vital that as a speaker, you are knowledgeable at the topic you’ll be speaking about. This not only provides assurance to the audience that you know your content, it also shows you are able to clearly say what you need convey.
It’s important to follow these five steps so that you come in prepared and establish a favorable ethos:
1. Selecting a Topic
People are naturally interested to stories that have a hook. This also applies for a speech. This ‘hook’ is none other than a speech topic. Every speaker wants their audience to be engaged. Hence, the first step to achieve this is they need to select a good topic that will interest their audience.
A well-chosen topic is key to the success of a good speech. Brainstorming is a method that helps you generate topic ideas and it should feel less stressful than the other methods.
Once you come up with a list of potential topics, you need to identify what is a good topic depending on several factors such as who your listeners are and their interests.
Once done, start eliminating the topics one by one till you find the perfect topic. Brainstorming is a creative process. If you don’t put in the effort to produce a creative presentation, it will never touch the minds and hearts of your audience.
b) Tailor The Content of Your Presentation to Your Audience’s Needs
Understanding who you are speaking to helps make you more persuasive as a speaker. This helps determine how you can make your tone suitable for them and make the content relevant.
For example, if you are speaking to a young audience, you should find out how they speak and their capacity for understanding towards the topic. If you’ll be speaking about difficult topics like insurance, it doesn’t make sense to use a lot of technical terms or jargons since they definitely wouldn’t understand what you’re saying most of the time.
Remember, if you come into the talk without any effort to adapt to your listeners, it will be a definitive way to lose their interest. When they do not see a need to listen to your talk, how can you sell your idea in the first place?
Hence, make an effort to show that the speech was tailored especially to them. This will raise your credibility as a result and show that you’ve done your homework in advance.
Questions to ask to get yourself started:
Who will be attending your presentation?
What are their goals, motivations, beliefs and values?
How can I customise the slide images to resonate with their industry or line of work?
What are the words I can use that are relevant to them or are used in their daily conversations
c) Make It Personal
In order to change the minds of your audience, you need to win their hearts first. To do that, it’s important to add a personal touch to your topic.
One way to incorporate this is to pick a topic you are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about. It shows how much effort and time was spent on understanding and learning the topic.
This passion will naturally make it easier for you to add your own personal experiences, research, and stories. As a result, it will help your topic resonate with others as much as it resonates with you.
One example is Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” where she spent years studying human connection. In her talk, you can see she has incorporated touches of personal experiences and stories that make the talk heartwarming.
d) Make It Interesting
Even if a topic is already interesting by itself, that does not mean you, the speaker can just stop there. Even the most fascinating topics become boring in the hands of an ill-prepared speaker. You have to spend as much time as possible in making your message interesting so that your audience will get hooked on your talk.
So try to figure out how to put a fresh and personal spin on topic – especially if it has been talked about a lot already.
2. Organise Your Content
There’s no point having a great topic with the best content and ideas if it’s not organised in a coherent manner. All it entails is a very confused audience at the end of your speech which meant you did not convey your key message successfully.
a) Create an Outline
Outlines help restructures your speech so that it is clear and concise. After you’ve decided the points you’d like to bring up, start organizing them in a way where it can smoothly transition from one to the other.
b) Inserting important key messages at the start or end of the speech
Another method is to insert the important parts at the beginning or end of your speech. According to a study done by Murdock, people recall information better in the beginning and the end of a presentation. This helps create an edge for your persuasive presentation.
3. Know Your Content Inside and Out
One of the worst sins you can commit as a speaker is to read your script off a cue card or worse – look at your slides throughout as you speak.
Not only do you sound rigid, monotonous and boring, you’ll definitely lose your audience’s interest as a result. If you cannot engage your audience to listen to you, how are you going to sell whatever that is you are speaking about?
Many tend to memorise their script word for word in an attempt to ‘know their stuff’ which is just a huge recipe for disaster.
What if you get stage fright and your mind turns blank? Or you simply cannot remember? Any hesitation on your part could sprout doubts from the minds of the audience about your speech and its contents.
Hence, focus on memorising the flow of your key points as well as the overall arching message of your speech.
According to experts, understanding the content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others. This allows you to speak with conviction thereby convincing your audience as well.
In order for others to have confidence in you and your message, it all needs to start with being confident in yourself first. By showing you are confident in your topic and yourself, this feeling with exude outwards towards your audience. And when they see this confidence, they’ll believe in what you have to say.
Confidence is key to making sure that you believe in yourself and that others believe in your too. Hence, the more confident you are, the lesser the reason for skeptics to doubt you and be convinced by your speech as a result.
Letting your nerves and stage fright get the better of you, however, will just show your listeners your doubtfulness and hesitation which will make it hard for them to be convinced with what you’re saying.
Confidence, however does not just come in the form of how you speak but your body language as well. This can mean having good eye contact and hand gestures to voice projection.
Pathos (Emotional Appeal):
The most eloquent speakers are found to focus the most on this component and with good reason. This is the main area to focus on when it comes to persuasive speeches because majority of people do things based on “feeling” or anything that connects them emotionally. In summary, emotional appeal is the key to persuade the audience.
Here are some ways you can connect with your audience emotionally:
1. Storytelling Techniques
You want to capture the attention of your attendees with your very first words. To do that, start by telling a story. It’s important you do not bombard them with facts and data as it has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to hard facts.
Storytelling is one of the most effective approaches when it comes to persuading your audience to buy your idea, message, service or product. This is due to its ability to stimulate interest, increase engagement and help the audience understand what’s being said.
Hence, tell a short story to provide them with the vision of the goal. It also helps if you can make the story relatable to everyone involved so they are able to resonate with your speech. Storytelling is also extremely useful when it comes to deescalating the situation in a room full of people who may not be too keen on your ideas.
a) Hero’s Journey
There are many ways to tell a persuasive story but one of the most effective and foolproof methods is ‘The Hero’s Journey’ approach. This technique has the exact built-in mechanisms for creating the connection needed for any audience. This can result in an impactful speech that can inspire your audience to action
Described by Joseph Campbell as the The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the Hero’s Journey is the same exact tale every culture tells – just with different characters.
Typically the hero’s journey would somewhat go like this:
The hero starts out as an ordinary person.
He or she then gets a ‘call to adventure’—sometimes by choice or by circumstance.
As the hero leaves the comfort of home and family to begin the journey, he or she faces life-threatening challenges along the way.
The hero’s situation looks bleak and it further escalates to the Hero’s defeat.
Then, just when all hope seems lost, the hero finds some inner strength to win despite the odds.
If you noticed, these tales of heroes have three things in common – the problem, the solution and the reward. These three elements are always or mostly used in every hero tale and it never fails to attract the audience.
Leverage on this three step approach to help make your speech much more engaging which will empower your audience in return.
2. Make Use of These Two Persuasive Words
There are words that hold more power in swaying our decision making than others. If we can learn how to utilise them, it’ll be easier to persuade our audience:
When you’re speaking, writing or even pitching to persuade, use first-person language. That means making use of the word ‘you’.
This word not only gets your audience’s attention it also makes them feel special – like they’re a part of something. Using ‘you’ makes you sound much more conversational and friendly which makes it easier to establish a connection with your audience.
Here’s an example: “You are capable. You are strong. And you can make a change in this world” This word is powerful as it holds your audience accountable for what you’re saying and instantly makes them feel involved.
A study found that using the word ‘because’ would make people more inclined to allow someone else to do something.
Here’s a proven scenario:
Person A: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
Person B: “I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I need to make copies?
Look at both of these sentences. Are you more inclined to allow Person A to cut the line or Person B? Studies find that only 60% would allow Person A to cut the line while a staggering 93% will do so for Person B even if the reasons are ridiculous.
This is all because they simply heard the word ‘because’ accompanied by a reason. Human brains love explanations and hence we need to know why. Why do I need that feature? How does it benefit me? So what?
Your audience thinks this way as well. Hence, provide them with the why after the ‘because’ to further convince them.
3. Reinforce Your Message
It is vital that you drive your message home. This is to ensure your audience does not lose sight of the key message of your speech. Here are some ways to help reinforce your message:
a) Power of Repetition
A study of managers in the workplace by Professors Tsedal Neely of Harvard and Paul Leonardi of Northwestern found that:
“Managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”
Knowing this, try to apply the power of repetition in your speech to drive home your goals. Don’t rush trying to get your point across but rather, try to convey the message as many times as you can.
However, be creative in repeating your message. Do not say the exact same thing over and over again or you’ll just sound annoying. Instead, find other creative and effective ways to get the same idea across to your audience.
Using visual aids like presentation slides or images not only provide the opportunity to enhance and drive your message home, it also provides 43% added recall according to Prezi.
As humans, we are all naturally visual people – even more so when it comes to listening. A study even found that those who were provided visuals during a speech remembered 55% more than those who only heard it.
Here’s an example: A speaker is giving a talk about the severity of plastic waste. Which one of the scenarios would make you more inclined to do something about this issue?
Scenario 1: Speaker talks about why plastic is bad for the environment.
Scenario 2: Speaker shows devastating photos of the consequences when we ignore the severity of plastic waste.
Naturally, we would feel a sense of responsibility more so when a photo is provided.
Hence, make use of evocative images to stimulate emotions amongst your audience. It does not steal your audience’s attention but reinforces your key message instead. All while evoking a certain feeling in your audience which helps in persuading them to believe in your idea.
Just like imagery, colours can evoke emotions in your audience as well. Colors signify different emotions and associations.
Look at this video to help you understand how you react to different color stimuli:
d) Interactive Content
According to Time magazine, the average person has a very short attention span – they lose concentration after 8 seconds.
A study found that interactive ads were found to be twice as memorable as compared to static ads. Knowing this, you should find ways to create interactive content to further engage and persuade your audience. This can be done with the use of PowerPoint as you can add animations, transitions or even embed videos to spice up your speech.
Furthermore, recent statistics show that video content isn’t just effective, it’s also on the rise. Furthermore, 64% are willing to watch a video if it’s interactive. So if you find that your speech may be boring or full of data, try to present it in a form of an interactive video.
Here’s a video of Hans Rosling, one of the few speakers who know how to present data in a fun and engaging manner:
4. Adopt the Golden Circle Approach
In order to convince others to buy your idea, message, service or product, find out your purpose for what you’re doing.
Here’s a video of Simon Sinek, explaining how the Golden Circle approach is effective in making others buy your idea, message, service or product.
In the video, Simon Sinek mentions that many of us communicate from the outside in. This means we always start with What, How and then Why.
He explains that persuasive speakers do the exact opposite. They start from the inside out. This is also known as the ‘Golden Circle’ Approach:
Why: What is your purpose for doing what you’re doing
How: How you show your belief in what you’re doing
What: What is the result?
One example who makes use of this approach is Apple.
Why: What is your purpose for doing what you’re doing? Their purpose is to challenge the status quo and they believe in thinking differently.
How: How you show your belief in what you’re doing? By making their products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
What: What is the result? They happen to make great computers.
As Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do but why you do it.”
Find what you believe in and you’ll realise it’s easier to persuade your audience into buying your message and taking action upon them.
Logos (Logical Appeal):
Have you ever found yourself arguing with a friend over something you definitely know is a fact but somehow they just don’t want to believe you? This is because you lack providing facts or evidence to prove you’re right.
Logos is the final seal of act to convince your audience into buying your idea. This strategy makes use of providing evidence and reasons to support your front. Here are ways to utilise logical appeal effectively:
1. Provide Evidence
Use evidence so that your audience cannot argue or doubt your point. This is because it establishes an objective foundation to your arguments, and makes your point more than just a mere speculation, personal opinions or prejudices.
Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought the speech was engaging, the content informative and stories compelling? You’re convinced by the issue brought up but you don’t know what to do with it.
This is because the speaker forgot to include one crucial thing– the solution. Without this, your audience will think, “What do I do with all of this new information?”
As a speaker, informing is not enough – take it a step further and show the audience how they can take action. And to inspire action, solutions must be provided. Although problems hook your audience, solutions are what activates the action.
Start adopting the “How will my audience change as a result of hearing my speech?” mindset. Your speech can empower the audience if they can take at least one action because of what you’ve said.
If the audience does take action, this means you’ve successfully persuaded them since they are motivated by your message.
“That tension helps them persuade the audience to adopt a new mindset or behave differently — to move from what is to what could be. And by following Aristotle’s three-part story structure (beginning, middle, end), they create a message that’s easy to digest, remember, and retell.” –Nancy Duarte
Knowing this, you should be prepared to provide solutions to overcome any obstacles or challenges your idea may face or anticipate.
Summing it Up
And there you have it! Leverage on the 3 Step Approach – Ethos, Pathos and Logos – to create a great persuasive presentation that’ll easily get your audience to believe in what you’re saying. If you want your persuasive presentation to have that cutting edge, take a read of some of our recommended books to help boost your persuasive skills as a presenter.
Identify a good topic and research on your content thoroughly
Organise and tailor the content to your audience’s needs
So, you’ve prepared everything you can to create an impressive presentation. Whether it was finding the perfect topic, conducting thorough research or even understanding your audience demographics. You even practiced for what seemed like the millionth time, making sure you’ve calmed your nerves and stage fright so you can perform your best on stage. But, there’s a problem. Almost every speaker is doing what you did.
This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but have you ever wondered what you can do to stand out from your competitors? The answer is none other than rhetorical devices.
As cliché as it might sound, rhetorical devices are the art of language. We can’t deny how much rhetorical devices can help to enhance your presentation. Not only will it help to make your presentation much more memorable and engaging for the audience, it will also definitely be able to grab their attention.
In this article, we have prepared a list of rhetorical devices that you can incorporate so that your presentations can have that edge:
1. Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are used to lay emphasis on certain points of the presentation. Even though it may have an obvious answer, no answer is expected from the audience.
I’m certain many of you have subconsciously used this phrase ‘Who cares?’ when you’re speaking. This is a rhetorical question to show that nobody actually cares. Sounds pretty harsh doesn’t it? However, that’s the main purpose of a rhetorical question, to place extra emphasis on a point.
Many presenters make use of rhetorical questions either at the start or end of the presentation.
If you wish to use it in the beginning of your speech. It will leave the audience pondering about the question which will then make them anticipate for the answer afterwards.
If you choose to use this device at the end, it will often lead to a call to action from your audience.
Also known as the rule of three, Tricolon consists of three parallel words or phrases which are placed next to each other without any interruption. The purpose of tricolon is to add a sense of wholeness, and empowerment to the presentation.
Here’s an example of a speech by Abraham Lincoln, ‘… Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’
Many speakers across the globe make use of tricolon to conclude their presentation. Another example would be from Mark Antony’s famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend me your ears’.
Not only does it create a humorous effect, it is also effective in helping the audience remember the key message of your presentation. That way, they are sure to take away something from your presentation.
Alliteration is a stylistic literary device, which occurs when a number of words with the same first consonant sound are placed close together in a sentence. The use of alliteration not only helps to create a musical effect that enhances the pleasure of listening to a speech, it also creates a poetic flow to the presentation.
For example: If you are conducting a presentation on being environmentally friendly, you can make use of the famous alliteration, ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’.
Another example are brands like ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘PayPal’. These brands make use of alliteration in their brand name so that it can be easily remembered by their consumers which may help to enhance sales.
This can be applied to presentations as well. Alliteration helps to make information easier to remember as it attracts the attention of the audience due to the similar sounding words, which makes it sound a little catchy.
With that being said, many people have the misconception that alliteration depends on the starting letters of a word, however do remember that it isn’t the letters, but the consonant sound.
Ever heard of phrases like this – I came, I saw, I conquered also known as Veni, Vidi, Vici?
Phrases like these are known as Anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of certain words or phrases at the start of a sentence which can help to amplify certain key words or ideas.
The use of anaphora in presentations can create a huge impact as it emphasises key messages and ideas often with strong emotions. It also helps the audience remember your presentation content much more easily due to the repetition of words which causes anticipation for the next.
Epiphora is the opposite of anaphora. It is the repetition of words or phrases at the end of a sentence instead of the start.
For example: ‘I want pizza, she wants pizza, we all want pizza!’
Do you feel that there is an extra emphasis placed on the word ‘pizza’? Furthermore, the repetition helps to string words and ideas together to create a key focus point, which in this example is the pizza.
By using Epiphora in presentations, it will help draw the audience’s attention to the important points due to the emphasis of the repeated words.
Anadiplosis, which means reduplicate, refers to the repetition of words. This device helps emphasise words differently whereby the word at the end of a sentence is repeated at the beginning of another sentence afterwards.
Here’s an example of the lyrics from The Wanted ’s Glad You Came:
Turn the lights out now, now I’ll take you by the hand, hand you another drink, drink it if you can, can you spend a little time, time is slipping away, away from us so stay, stay with me I can make, make you glad you came.
As seen from the example above, this device helps amplify and create emphasis on the repeated word. As a result, the lyrics sounds catchy and it can easily be remembered by others.
By applying Anadiplosis in your presentation, it is able to place emphasis on key points because people tend to focus more on the repetition of words. It may also differentiate you from other presenters if used appropriately.
This brings us to the next point.
Anadiplosis is also part of Chiasmus. Chiasmus is when two or more words are balanced against each other by reversing their structures to create an artistic effect. This can also give pattern and rhythm to your presentation.
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
After reading this quote, do you find that you are more empowered by the second half of the quote? Well, I do. This is because chiasmus tend to lay stress on the second part of the sentence, and that way you’ll feel more inclined to it.
Besides that, chiasmus also gives structure and adds a poetic touch to a sentence, which helps the audience understand and remember the point much more easily, hence, adding value to your presentation.
However, be sure to not overuse it as it may confuse the audience. Whenever you are using a chiasmus, be sure to consider the relationship between the two words before turning it into the device, because sometimes, the two just wouldn’t fit.
Lastly, whenever you’re thinking of creating a chiasmus for your own use, do refer to other examples as a template and make it your own by changing either one or both keywords.
A simile is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another and is used to make a description sound more vivid.
Well, how do you identify a simile? You know you’ve identified one when you see ‘as’ or ‘like’ in the comparison. For example: ‘You were as brave as a lion’ and ‘She slept like a log’.
Similes can help to attract the attention of the audience during presentations as it encourages them to use their imagination to understand what is being presented. With the help of the comparison, the audience will also better understand the point you are trying to make as they can relate the point to the thing that you are comparing it with.
However, there is a misconception that similes are just like metaphors. The truth is, similes are like metaphors, but metaphors aren’t like similes. This brings us to the next point – metaphors.
Metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to make a comparison against another object which isn’t related but has something in common. In other words, metaphors directly state a comparison against another object. For example: ‘Time is money’. Both time and money are in no way related at all but, yet they have one thing in common: Both are valuable.
To simplify it even further, here’s another example.
Sarah and Jane are best friends. They aren’t related to one another, but they have one thing in common – Both are girls.
Do you get the gist of it? This is what differentiates metaphors and similes – whether the words used are related. If it’s not, it’s definitely a metaphor.
During presentations, metaphors can play a big part in engaging the audience as it encourages them to use their imaginations to understand what is being said to them. Also, it helps to get your audience to embrace your key message by tapping into their imagination. Lastly, transform your ideas into something that your audience can relate to by using metaphors. This way, your presentation may stand out from the rest.
A hyperbole is an unreal exaggeration of ideas used to emphasize a real situation. Hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally, it just exaggerates the subject, giving a dramatic effect.
For example: ‘He’s got tons of money’. The word ‘ton’ is used to exaggerate this statement to place emphasis on how much money he has.
Hyperboles can be used in your presentations to add emphasis to the key message by comparing it with something exaggerated. By doing so, it develops a contrast between the two subjects so that it is clearer for the audience to visualise the impact.
An oxymoron is formed when two opposite ideas are combined to create an effect that will leave a lasting impression in your audience’s mind.
The most common oxymoron phrase is formed when a noun is placed after an adjective with a contrasting meaning, for example: ‘act natural’ and ‘seriously funny’. However, the contrasting words may not necessarily have to be side by side, it can also be spaced out in a sentence, for example: ‘In order to lead, you must walk behind’.
During presentations, oxymoron adds flavor to your presentation by creating a comical and dramatic effect that literally makes no sense. The contradicting words also triggers the audience’s thoughts which leaves them to ponder about the oxymoron. By doing so, it helps to engage the audience throughout the presentation.
A personification is when a thing, idea or an animal is given human attributes. These objects are represented in a way where they have the ability to act like human beings.
Personification is also a way of using storytelling to modify your speech by personifying ideas or thoughts.
An example of personification is ‘The flood raged over the entire village’. The word “raged’ personifies the blood while also symbolizing the flood was really bad.
Personification help give a deeper meaning to your presentations which can captivate your audience. It also adds a realistic touch filled with expressions that encourages the audience to unfold a new and innovative perspective of your presentation. It can also simplify a complex subject by giving it human characteristics.
Here’s a video of Harry Baker incorporating personification into his slam poetry (0:43-4:01):
In his slam poetry, even though 59, 60 and 61 are just numbers, they were given human attributes to help him
There are two ways to view climax. Most people see it as the most intense and exciting part of something. These ‘climaxes’ are usually seen in movies and stories.
For example, in the movie ‘The Maze Runner’, when Thomas and the gladers went into the maze trying to find an escape route. During their search, some gladers fought the weird creature, also known as the grievers. Some died, and some managed to survive.
Another way of interpreting climax is when successive words, phrases or sentences are arranged in ascending order of importance and there will usually be a hierarchy between the events. For example, ‘If you think that’s bad, it gets worse.’
By using climax in presentations, it makes the audience anticipate on what is going to happen which also helps to build excitement and suspense.
By keeping the audience in suspense, it keeps them glued to their seats as well. Climax also adds a touch of drama into your presentation. Furthermore, it establishes a clear relationship of hierarchy between things. This can help the audience identify the key message of the presentation.
Irony is the contradiction between the intended meaning and the actual meaning of words used in a phrase or sentence. It may also be a situation that turns out differently from what is being expected.
In short, irony is the difference between appearance and reality.
A great example of irony is ‘The fear of long words is called ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquippedalio phobia’.’ See what I mean? It’s ironic as the term used for someone who’s afraid of long words is well, long.
Irony can create a powerful impact on the key message of your presentation as well as to create a sort of puzzle in your audience’s mind. It is also able to lighten the mood of your presentation because the two usually contradicts one another other to create a humorous effect.
Summing It Up
All in all, don’t miss the opportunity to make full use of any of these rhetorical devices so you can drive your message home. Let us know in the comments if it worked out for you!
Imagine this. You’re attending a presentation hoping to be inspired on a particular topic. Instead, all you notice is the presenter spilling fact after fact just like the presenter before him. And the presenter before him. And the presenter before him. It just seems so… mundane. You simply cannot pay attention. Every presentation looks and sounds the same and none of the presenters stood out. In the end, you come out of the room bored and uninspired.
Constantly being bombarded with hard facts and data can be overwhelming, which can explain why we zone out from a presentation, lecture or speech after a while. According to the theory of cognitive load, our minds become overloaded and blank out if we’re required to process too much complex information at once. So what can you do as a speaker to empower and captivate your audience?
The Power of Storytelling
Enter Storytelling. Stories help to connect with your audience which makes it easier for them to remember your speech. They will also walk out of the room feeling inspired, driving them to take action. It has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to data and statistics. Our brains activate all our five senses which allow us to broaden our imagination and be part of the story itself.
However, story structures on their own aren’t enough. Stories only truly become powerful when the audience can experience the adventure and challenges the characters of the story face as well.
This is where the hero’s journey storytelling technique comes in. Almost all films make use of this approach and with good reason. It is the most powerful pattern out there for telling stories. Not only that, it has the exact built-in mechanisms for creating the connection needed for any audience. The result? An impactful speech that can inspire your audience.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to captivate a room of investors with your startup pitch deck or to boost your chances with your ICO deck during a private sale, the hero’s journey can be a powerful structure to utilise.
So what exactly is the hero’s journey?
Described by Joseph Campbell as the ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, the Hero’s Journey is the same exact tale every culture tells – just with different characters. Though the journey’s process can be in various manners, all of them have a few things in common – the call to adventure, a mentor, challenges, victory and the return.
The 12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey
“[Heroes] are only mortals, ones that try their best to accomplish feats while fighting against external and internal forces. The only difference between them and other people is their response to the call to be heroic” – Julie Harris
There are typically twelve stages that compose of the Hero’s Journey. Not only does each phase helps the audience to connect with the Hero, it also leads the audience to the key message of your speech.
We’ll use the film, KungFu Panda to reference these 12 stages of the hero’s journey:
1. Ordinary World:
The ordinary world is the hero’s home and a safe haven. Here, we get to understand the Hero’s background before his or her journey begins. We also get to identify the hero’s urges, needs, and problems and what makes the hero uniquely them. The idea is to ensure that the audience is able to relate to the Hero who helps them become emotionally invested in the story.
E.g. Po is a commoner who idolizes the Furious 5 and is unable to achieve his dream of being a Kungfu Master as he helps out with his Dad’s noodle restaurant.
2. Call to Adventure:
The Call to Adventure sets the story rolling by disrupting the ordinary life of the Hero, either making him or her face a challenge. Depending on the situation, the hero may either accept the adventure by choice or due to a circumstance that forces him or her to. This is a crucial moment in the story, where an alarm goes off for both the hero and audience. This issue that the hero faces is what will get your audience’s attention. This ‘Call to Adventure’ can take a multitude of forms such as a message, announcement, a sudden disaster, the arrival of the villain or a death. The idea, however, is to convince the audience why they should care about this issue that has surfaced. Only then can you get them glued to their seats.
E.g. Po is proclaimed the Dragon Warrior – the one kung fu master worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll and capable of defeating Tai Lung.
Depending on some heroes, they may initially refuse the ‘call to adventure’ due to fear or insecurities. The hero is not receptive to changes preferring the safety of the ordinary world. This sign of weakness makes the hero relatable to the audience as it shows everyone struggles with self-doubt and insecurities.
4. Meeting a Mentor:
The Hero then meets a mentor to gain confidence, insight, advice and training to overcome their initial fear. This is because some heroes may not wish to or are unable to rush into an adventure without gaining some experience and wisdom through his or her mentor. Some examples include: Po when he meets Master Shifu who will train him to be a KungFu Master (KungFu Panda).
Here, the audience gets to be part of the journey the hero takes to improve and strengthen him or herself as an individual.
E.g. Po meets his red panda master, Shifu, who puts Po through a torturous and agonizing training regime.
5. Crossing the Threshold:
Once the hero crosses the threshold, it shows that he or she is finally committed and ready for the Journey. Crossing the threshold will directly affect the Hero, raise the stakes and force some action. External forces may push the Hero ahead, such as an abduction of someone close to the Hero (Taken) or the hero may cross the threshold when the earth’s population is on the brink of being wiped out in half (Avengers: Infinity War).
Internal forces may also push the Hero to accept their ‘call to adventure’. Such examples include Belle sacrificing herself in exchange for her father’s freedom (Beauty and the Beast) or when Rapunzel finally musters the courage to leave her tower with a man she just met (Tangled).
E.g. Shifu decides that Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies:
This Stage is the most important for the hero and audiences alike. Throughout his or her adventure, the hero will encounter obstacles and fights with enemies. They may forge allies or may even form a Hero team as well (Avengers Assemble). The Hero must prepare for the greater obstacles that have yet to come. He or she also requires this stage to test his or her skills, power and commitment to the Journey. For the audience, seeing the hero struggle as he or she fights obstacle after obstacle will naturally make them root for the hero. This hooks your audience to stay as they now want to find out whether their hero is able to succeed or not.
E.g. Tai Lung (enemy) escapes from Prison. Po and the others attempt to defeat him.
7. Approaching the Inmost Cave:
The Hero must make the preparations needed to approach the inmost cave after facing a setback or a failure in a mission. He or she is now forced into trying a new approach or idea. This makes the audience empathise with the character, forming a type of connection with him or her as they understand that everyone experiences failure at some point of time in their lives.
However, some confident heroes may bypass these preparations and head straight to the inmost cave. Despite so, a new approach is necessary after they faced their setback – whether it be a teammate dying along the journey or whether the villains have won the fight during that moment. In summary, the approach is nearing the climax of the story.
E.g. As Shifu decides that Po is ready to receive the Dragon Scroll, it reveals nothing but a blank reflective surface. Unable to understand the message of the scroll, Shifu and Po are thrown off balance by it which distracts them from fighting Tai Lung (enemy) to the best of their abilities.
8. The Ordeal:
The Ordeal marks another crucial moment in the story, where a transformation takes place. This stage is where all hope seems lost and the hero is on the brink of losing. Some examples include Mulan when she was cast out after the soldiers found out she was a girl (Mulan) or when powerless Thor loses to Loki in a fight on earth (Thor).
The hero finally faces the ordeal where not only do they confront their greatest fear but also confronts the most difficult challenge and experiences “death”. Only through ‘death’, ‘loss’ or ‘failure’ can the Hero be reborn, experiencing a resurrection that makes them stronger. This is where the hero sees to it that he or she finishes the journey till the end.
E.g. A distraught Po finds his dad who, in an attempt to console him, reveals that the long-withheld secret ingredient to his famous “secret ingredient soup” is ‘nothing’, explaining that ‘to make something special you just have to believe it is’. Po realises that this is the message of the Dragon Scroll, and goes back to confront Tai Lung.
The hero manages to overcome the ordeal successfully and has earned the reward. The reward can come in many forms like greater knowledge, wisdom or recognition. The Hero deserves the right to celebrate. At this point in time, the audience has become part of the story and will rejoice with the hero as they felt a connection with this character.
E.g. Po becomes a formidable challenge for Tai Lung (enemy), eventually defeating him in combat.
10. Road Back:
After the celebration, the hero finally sets out on the road to return to the ordinary world where he or she continues to live in his or her regular life.
E.g. Po returns to the Valley of Peace.
While on the journey back to the ordinary world, the hero encounters his or her final challenge which will test the hero. This will be the toughest challenge the hero will face. Most Heroes will come out of the challenge reborn or transformed as a better version of his or her ordinary self. This is due to the lessons and insights from the experiences gained and characters that he or she has met along the road.
In some cases, this battle may not necessarily be just about the Hero’s life. It may also include other lives or the entire world that may be at stake. Thus, the Hero must prove that he or she is willing to accept his or her sacrifice for the benefit and safety of the ordinary world. Other allies may lend assistance, but at the end of the day, the hero must rise to the occasion.
The hero finally returns to the ordinary world with his or her final reward. In most tales, the return with the elixir not only resolve storylines, it also restores balance to the ordinary world. The hero may also embark on a new life with another adventure stored for them, influenced by the journey traveled. The return also helps the audience understand the meaning and key message of the hero’s journey, bringing a sense of completion to the story.
E.g. Po is praised by the Valley of Peace and earns the respect of the Furious Five, who fully acknowledge him as a true kung fu master.
Incorporating The Hero’s Journey Technique in Your Speech
So now you have a better understanding of the cycle of the Hero’s Journey, you’d know that most of the stories go somewhat like this:
The hero starts out as an ordinary person. He or she then gets a ‘call to adventure’—sometimes by choice or by circumstance. As the hero leaves the comfort of their home and family to begin the journey, he or she faces life-threatening challenges along the way. The hero’s situation looks bleak and it further escalates to the Hero’s defeat. Then, just when all hope seems lost, the hero finds some inner strength to win despite the odds. Good prevails over evil. The hero then returns to his or her ordinary life, but with a new addition – wisdom. This wisdom is then communicated to the rest of society for everyone’s benefit. If you noticed, all the tales of heroes have three things in common – the problem, the solution and the reward. You’ll notice that these three elements are always or mostly used in every hero tale and it never fails to attract the audience. Leverage on this three step approach to help make your speech much more engaging which will empower your audience in return.
How Is the Three Step Approach Effective?
a) The Problem
This is what really keeps your audience glued to their seats. There’s no point providing all the hard information and data if you cannot make your audience understand why the problem is a problem. However, once you convince them otherwise, they will be interested and curious as to what will happen next.
Many make the mistake of identifying the solutions first but not the problem when it comes to their speech. Some don’t even mention the problem at all! The problem is crucial as it gives reasons why the audience should care about the issue.
So what? Who cares? What’s in it for me?
This is the reality of the audience’s mindset. The quicker we grasp this, the sooner we’ll craft and deliver presentations that engage our audience.
b) The Solution
“A presentation that doesn’t seek to make change is a waste of time and energy.” – Seth Godin
Have you ever sat through a presentation and thought, “Interesting but what can I do to help?” Overall, the content was great, stories were compelling, and valid points were brought up about the issue. Everything except one thing is missing – the solution.
Without this, your audience will think, “What do I do with all of this new information?”. As a speaker, informing is not enough – take it a step further and show the audience how they can take action. And to inspire action, solutions must be provided. Although problems hook your audience, solutions are what activates the action.
Start adopting the “How will my audience change as a result of hearing my speech?” mindset. Is there a way you can make their lives easier, help them grow, or do something better, faster, or more efficient than ever before? Your speech can empower the audience if they can take at least one action during your speech.
c) The Reward
All great stories have one thing in common and it’s the key takeaway of the story. After addressing the problem and providing the solutions, this is where the audience will learn the message that you are trying to convey.
The message is the core of your speech as it helps you to create a narrative that provides information, inspire action and solidify the public opinion. Not only that, it ensures your whole story is consistent which is crucial as it ensures your speech does not get out of point. For instance, the moral of “Mulan” is that we shouldn’t let limitations stop us from doing what we want.
Here’s a tip: To ensure your whole speech remains consistent, develop your key message first to get the ball rolling. Distill it into one or two very specific yet concise lines that you can easily repeat for your speech or presentation.
This key message will be a reminder of why you are making your speech or presentation in the first place.
Here’s a video of an inspiring talk by chef José Andrés who made use of the three elements in his storytelling to empower his audience:
And there you have it! An in-depth understanding of the step-by-step phase of the Hero’s Journey. Use the three core elements found in this storytelling technique to personalise, connect, engage and inspire action amongst your audience. Let us know if this approach worked for you in the comments down below!