When experts come to me after being asked to speak or to teach about what they’re an expert in, they often have the feeling, “how on earth am I going to fill a whole hour?”
I just laugh at them. You’re an expert, you’ve got plenty of content. Usually by the time we finish crafting their message, they’re concerned about fitting it into an hour. That’s usually the problem.
The problem is we try to fit it in. Let me challenge you and change the way you think. Instead of trying to fit what you know into a time slot, why don’t you start by saying, “I’ve got nothing to say. How can I build my message into that time slot?” I usually start such a consult with one question. If you could condense your message into one sentence, what would that sentence be? We call it your one thing.
If you don’t have “one thing,” really, you just have stuff to talk about. And that usually ends up meandering, chasing rabbits, going long. But when you are so singular and focused that you know what your one thing is, then everything you say supports that. It becomes very easy to follow, and trivial to fit into a time slot. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had one client that ever gave me their one thing on the first try. Usually they just wonder for about five minutes and I go, so that’s your one sentence? Oh, I got a lot to say. Well, yeah you do. But what’s your one sentence? That client turned out to be a friend. His one sentence was “little things make a big difference.” He said it immediately, like he knew exactly what his message was. His name was Stan Phelps.
He became a friend and most recently a co-author as we coauthored his latest book, silver goldfish together. Oh, by the way, it’s not that Stan doesn’t have a lot to say. He’s written 10 books all based on the theme of “little things make a big difference.” That makes the message repeatable. And I might offer that the true success in communication is when the audience can walk away and repeat your message. Oh, they may not agree with you and they may not buy from you, but if they can repeat your message, you won communication, you did your job.
That’s done best when we know exactly what we want to say and everything fits into that theme. It’s not easy. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to figure out your one thing. But once you find it, you’ve got your branding message, you’ve got a structure for a one hour presentation or a three-day class and everything you find will fit very nicely in support of that one thing. It took you years to figure out what, you know, don’t assume you can cram it all into 50 minutes or a 15 minute slot that you’ve been at the meeting. Don’t try to condense what you know into a smaller period of time. Build it up from nothing based on your one thing.
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As a high-stakes communications expert, Alan motivates individuals and teams to build their confidence and professionalism and trains them to seamlessly handle the unexpected in ANY communications setting.
Alan is an International Keynote Speaker, Coach, Trainer, and Author who has delivered keynotes and training workshops to thousands on the impact of powerful, persuasive communication. Alan is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer of MillsWyck Communications. He is the author of Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and Start Impressing) Your Audience and the co-author of Silver Goldfish: Loud & Clear: The 10 Keys to Delivering Memorable Business Presentations.
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