Monday, May 15, 2023

7 'Thought' Strategies: To Make Your Speech and Presentation More Exciting


The "Life After 50 Breakthrough" seminar, organized by 104 Life Bank and 104 Senior, took place on April 30, 2023. After a 20-minute presentation, several friends came to chat with me and take photos during the break, and gave feedback on how the content of the speech inspired them. Some even got teary-eyed when discussing the key points of the presentation. From the Facebook posts and reflections shared by the attendees after the speech, it was clear that the memorable moments were in line with what I had intended to convey. At this point, I finally realized that the preparation time I had invested, which was over a hundred times longer than the actual presentation, was indeed valuable (100 times 20 minutes equals 2000 minutes, or approximately 33 hours. I roughly calculated and I'm sure it exceeded that amount).

It has been a while since we last talked about short speeches, or as some may call them, 20-minute presentations! Different types of speeches and presentations, ranging from 20-minute talks to 1-hour speeches, 2-hour speeches, and full-day courses, each come with their own set of challenges. However, if I had to pick the most difficult one, it would probably be the 20-minute talk or presentation. This is because of the ratio of presentation time to preparation time, which is highest for short speeches. Also, because of the limited time, there is a low margin of error. If one section goes over time, it can result in not being able to finish the talk or rushing through the rest of it. Additionally, with such a short time frame, it can be challenging to create rich and engaging content.

After recently giving a speech, I summarized seven "thoughts" that can make speeches and presentations more engaging. I also shared them through a live broadcast. I hope that this summary can provide those who plan to give short speeches or presentations with some key ideas to focus on during their preparation.

It is important to note that the following is my high standard for "good presentations," as well as my requirements for guiding students. As a presentation skills coach, although I have taught many "teaching techniques" and "gamification teaching techniques," the course I have taught the most in the business world is actually "professional presentation skills." The first business book I wrote was also about "stage techniques," which is my expertise. Therefore, if the requirements seem a bit demanding...just absorb them gradually and try them out slowly! (You can read this article to understand the differences between presentations/teaching/speeches).

First, let me share these 7 "thoughts":

1."Think" about what to share

2."Think" about what to leave behind

3."Think" about how to arrange

4."Think" about how to present

5."Think" about humor, climax, and memorable points

6."Think" about each frame

7."Think" about visualization and pre-rehearsal

Now, let's dive into the full article, which is approximately 3,500 words (read at your own discretion).

1."Think" about what to share

Before this speech, I had already been thinking about this question since the end of March. At that time, I wrote an article titled "AI is Here, Do We Still Need Presentation Skills?" hoping to find some inspiration. Also, because of the wave of AI and ChatGPT, I thought about seeking advice from GPT. But I soon realized that if I only talked about what GPT told me, where would my value be? So I started to reflect: what unique value can I provide in the speech? This is the question we should be thinking about.

To explore my unique value as a "person", I thought about a lot of things. To put it this way, if we only talk about logic, principles, knowledge, and methods, I think GPT can also do a good job! (If you know how to use it, here is the technology of Prompt written by Fuguo: ChatGPT's four levels of questioning L3 ~ L4 (part 2)). But although it "knows everything about any knowledge, it knows nothing about life experience". I know that perhaps what is more valuable is not just knowledge, but the life experience I have gone through. In simple terms, it is many cases, successful or failed attempts.

Therefore, I used an old tool: the "sticky note method"! I delved into my past three work experiences, from vocational school student to construction site supervisor, insurance salesperson, lecturer, and now author and Ph.D. I wrote down everything related to my thoughts, learning, and change, and dug deep to discover my unique value (which ChatGPT does not have). After about a week of preparation, I had posted sixty to seventy sticky notes. However, after the speech, I compared them again and found that only a dozen or so were truly useful. I also made changes and had new ideas while posting.

2."Think" about what to leave behind

Therefore, to find valuable content for a speech, it is necessary to diverge and then focus, starting from the broad and gradually narrowing down to find the truly unique value that can move people's hearts. You should also think about what is unique to you and valuable to the audience. Perhaps ChatGPT can give you some inspiration, but we still need to think deeply and find the unique value that only you can speak about.

In addition to what you want to say, you should also think about what the audience will take away from your speech. From the audience's perspective, we must consider their age, occupation, characteristics, and then imagine their needs and expectations. Then imagine what key points the audience will remember after hearing our content. In other words, we start with the end in mind and think backward from the results.

Using this speech as an example, I shared stories from three stages of life and identified three key takeaways for the audience to remember:

Learning requires courage and experimentation to change one's life.

Before learning external knowledge, one must first learn how to use oneself by discovering one's talents.

It is never too late to learn and achieve one's dreams.

Without clear intentions from the beginning, it is easy to become self-absorbed and lose the audience's "empathy." Therefore, it is essential to take the time to carefully consider what to say and what to leave behind, and to mutually exchange thoughts on content and objectives. With limited time, one must make choices and select content that will leave a lasting impression on the audience, thus making the sharing more valuable.

3."Think" about how to arrange

When the content of a speech is similar, it is important to consider how to structure the presentation. There are many different ways to present content, but starting with a simple structure such as dividing the speech into three or four sections is a good place to start. If time is limited, a three-part structure is effective because it is easier for the audience to remember and is a method that many experts prefer to use.

There is flexibility in how to divide or connect the three-part structure. It can be connected in a sequence, such as "motivation, process, result," or it can be separated, such as "learning points A, B, C." Alternatively, it can be arranged like the three life experiences I shared, and then connected at the end. These are all methods that can be chosen.

When arranging the structure of a 20-minute speech, I had a main theme of breaking traditional ideas that people are accustomed to, such as "can learning really change your life?" (this is a question!), "what external knowledge should you learn? Or should you first learn about yourself?" (what does it mean to learn about oneself?), and finally, "is it too late?"... I used three stories to reverse some of the misconceptions that people may have.

In this process, there is a role that is somewhat like a "screenwriter". The content may be the same, but through the arrangement method, the storyline or process can be made different! For example, I chose to divide them into Story 1, Story 2, and Story 3, instead of giving each story a specific title, because I think it would be cliché. To ensure that my arrangement is correct, I shared my thoughts with everyone through live broadcasts in advance. In this way, I had to organize the structure early and force myself to condense my ideas into a shorter speech. Therefore, in the first three stages, a lot of time is actually spent thinking about how to arrange the content, because this is the most critical part.

4."Think" about how to present

Once the content is roughly determined, the next step is to use slides in the speech to present the content we want. Slides can help the audience better understand our ideas and be more engaged in the speech. A simple standard is: "Let the audience see the visuals I'm talking about." (Rather than seeing the "text" I'm talking about!)

Since I was talking about stories from my past life experiences this time, I used many past photos, my own photos, and even animation transitions to present these stories. In this way, while the audience listened to me speak, they also saw these visualized photos, which made it easier for them to turn my words into mental images.

Secondly, I also controlled the pace of the slide appearances to follow my speech. In this way, the audience not only understood my content more clearly, but also could easily keep up with the progress of my speech.

In order to enhance the value of my speeches, I will utilize three key presentation techniques: visualization, half-text half-image, and large font. By doing so, I can effectively convey my ideas and make it easier for the audience to understand my content.

The process of creating a presentation is all about how to use it to improve the value of your speech. During this process, it may take a lot of time to adjust the details to ensure that the audience understands what I want to convey through the presentation and can feel that what I am presenting is not just imaginary but actually happened. This not only makes my speech more exciting and credible, but also enhances the effectiveness of the presentation.

In conclusion, by using these techniques, I can create a powerful and effective presentation that will help me deliver my message to the audience in a clear and concise manner. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) emphasizes the importance of effective communication skills, and these techniques are a great way to enhance those skills.

5."Think" about humor, climax, and memorable points

After arranging the structure of the presentation, it is important to consider adding elements of interest, humor, and memorable points to make the speech more appealing and help the audience remember the content. To do so, analyze the entire presentation structure and think about how to incorporate interesting elements or a bit of humor to ensure that the content is not boring or too plain, and to keep the audience engaged. Next, predict the audience's reactions and identify potential surprises or design memorable points to enhance the audience's memory of the content.

For example, in my presentation, I showed everyone what my photo would look like if I only learned but did not change. I knew that everyone would laugh when they saw the photo, which is an example of a humor point. I also knew that if I used ChatGPT to search for other speakers' content, such as Xian Ge, at the beginning, everyone would be surprised and laugh, which is an example of a surprise point.

Memorable points are often a sentence or a key phrase that can be displayed in large letters, making it easier for the audience to remember. Of course, it is not just about memorizing for the sake of memorizing, but rather about condensing the content into a sentence that can summarize the entire speech. These are all places that require prior thinking and design. (Related article: 3 Ways to Enhance Audience Memory Points)

6."Think" about each frame

Here's a funny anecdote: during a practice session the day before a speech, everyone burst out laughing when they tested the visuals. (XD)

In this context, "visuals" refer to being able to clearly imagine every slide or image that will be presented during a speech, presentation, or when taking the stage. Doing so can help you speak more naturally and smoothly without needing to memorize every word or read from a script. During preparation, close your eyes and try to remember each visual, such as the first slide being the cover page, the second slide showing data on the average age of the Ministry of the Interior, followed by several slides of ChatGPT queries, and then visuals comparing your life before and after turning 40.

This approach can help you naturally connect keywords and visuals to create an engaging speech. Don't try to memorize every word. Instead, focus on each key visual that represents a set of keywords or a segment of your speech. That way, when you take the stage, all you have to remember are these visuals and you can naturally speak each part of your content.

Of course, some people may choose to write out their speech word-for-word, but this can actually create a significant cognitive burden and make the speaker more nervous. Therefore, my advice is always to "remember every image, not every word." Before the speech, you can double-check that the mental images and slide transitions are consistent. This can help you feel more confident during the speech because you know what to say next. Additionally, since you haven't memorized every sentence or word, your naturalness will improve.

Therefore, imagining each image as an effective practice method can help you speak more naturally and fluently while reducing psychological pressure. By linking key images and key phrases, you will be able to deliver a fantastic speech.

7."Think" about visualization, Imagining to Reality, and Rehearsal

The Importance of Rehearsals and Practice Before Presentations

One important secret to success in presentations is to make your imagination a reality. It is not enough to simply imagine a successful presentation, but you must put in the effort to make it happen. Especially in important speeches and presentations, relying solely on imagination will not suffice. You need to arrange rehearsals and practice beforehand to ensure a smooth and successful presentation.

Have you ever arranged rehearsals before an important speech or presentation? For performers, it is a common practice to go through rehearsals to ensure that the flow is smooth and the timing is right. However, when it comes to presentations, it seems to be a different story. It is strange to expect a flawless performance on the first try without any prior practice. Therefore, it is crucial to arrange rehearsals and practice beforehand to receive feedback and make necessary adjustments to ensure a successful presentation.

In conclusion, it is important to make your imagination a reality through practice and rehearsal before important presentations. This will not only ensure a successful presentation but also boost your confidence and credibility as a speaker.

Using the recent 104 speech as an example, a month before the speech, I shared my ideas about learning and change through live streaming. This was the first time I forced myself to "speak out" my thoughts. Although the content was not concise enough (I spoke for 50 minutes), about half of the concepts were formed. Two weeks before the speech, I met with the fans of "Teaching Techniques - Online Course" and shared the draft of the presentation with them. The main purpose was to get a feel for the timing, knowing how to allocate the 20-minute flow and each key point. The day before the speech, I combined the almost completed version of the slides with teaching skills and shared it with everyone again at the "Gamification Teaching Techniques" demonstration in Tainan. Therefore, what everyone saw at the 104 breakout session was already my fourth public sharing...just in different venues.

Of course, if you don't have the opportunity to practice speaking in front of a crowd like I did, you can also seek out friends as an audience and ask for their opinions. Because I believe that facing a real audience can bring a sense of closeness to a formal speech compared to practicing in front of a camera or recording device. Therefore, it is essential to rehearse before an important speech, especially for short speeches or presentations. As long as you do this, you don't need to do it too many times (I think two times is enough), this can definitely help you to have more confidence when you take the stage and show your best state. (Reference: One of the Three Stages of Presentation Training: Mountains are Mountains - Basic Skills)


In conclusion, it is important to rehearse before a speech, seek feedback from friends or family, and practice in front of a real audience to gain confidence.

1."Thinking" about Sharing: What is worth sharing? What can AI or ChatGPT not find? What is worth exploring in depth? What have you written from your life experience? Remember to use sticky notes and mind maps for brainstorming.

2."Thinking" about Leaving an Impact: What impact do you want to leave? Imagine what the audience will remember after 20 minutes. What impact will these memories have on them? What value will it bring them?

3."Thinking" about Arrangement: What kind of process should be used for arrangement? How many paragraphs should it be divided into? What are the memory points for each paragraph? How should the opening be introduced? How should the ending be reinforced? Is the entire process smooth?

4."Thinking" about Presentation: What kind of slides will add points? How can you make the audience "see" what you are saying? Should the slides only appear when mentioned? Are there any good techniques for using slides? Should appropriate animations be used to emphasize effects? Are the photos appropriate? Are all slides necessary and needed?

5."Thinking" about Humor, Surprise, and Memory Points: Are there any jokes? Are there any surprising points? What are the memorable points that need to be emphasized? How should the time for presenting these be arranged?

6."Thinking" about Every Scene: Imagine what slide will appear with each button press. Does the process in your mind match the slides? Where do you want to stand on stage? Should you walk or stay still? Imagine the audience's expressions and your interaction with them. Let each scene slowly emerge in your mind.

7."Imagining" to Reality, Pre-Event Rehearsal: Don't just imagine, make it a reality by finding opportunities for pre-event practice. Practice multiple times before going on stage, and use the actual act of speaking to correct any mental images that may be inaccurate. For important or large-scale events, consider arranging several smaller presentations beforehand. By rehearsing early, you can complete most of the content ahead of time and validate it through practice.

In order to ensure a successful presentation, it is important to not only imagine but also practice and rehearse beforehand. This allows you to correct any mental images that may not align with reality and gives you the opportunity to make adjustments before the actual event. By arranging pre-event rehearsals, you can also ensure that you are fully prepared and confident when it comes time to present.

For larger events, it may be beneficial to arrange several smaller presentations beforehand to gain experience and work out any kinks. This also allows you to validate your content through practice and make any necessary adjustments.

Overall, taking the time to practice and rehearse before an event can make a significant difference in the success of your presentation. By doing so, you can ensure that your mental images align with reality and that you are fully prepared to deliver a confident and effective presentation.

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