Brain power

Gaming our way to better public speaking

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

Public speaking is regularly revealed as the most terrifying thing we do in our professional lives. I’ve written a few times about various technologies that aim to help you, whether it’s an AI that will write your speech for you, a VR environment to allow you to practice, or augmented glasses to give you live feedback as you present.

Gaming our way to better public speaking

One venture that is trying to help users improve their style is a new game called RHETORIC. As the name suggests, the aim is to help players improve their use of rhetoric in speeches and presentations in a fun and engaging way.

The app based game has migrated from a successful board game of the same name, with players taking turns to talk about a particular topic for a specified length of time.

Of course, rhetoric isn’t the only useful weapon to ensure your speeches are great. I wrote recently about the various ways you can use humor in your presentations, and spoke with David Nihill, author of Do You Talk Funny, on how to infuse your speech with comedy.

As with many things, the tips shared by Nihill seemed quite obvious in hindsight, but were nonetheless things that I had seldom used in my own presentations.

The first such nugget was to make liberal use of images. Whilst this is a staple of many a presentation these days, perhaps a smaller number go out of their way to use images that are designed to provoke a laugh.

Anyone that’s in anyway familiar with sites like Reddit will already be aware of the sheer number of fun images one can choose from. Are you giving a presentation on something that will excite your employees, for instance? There’s a gif for that.

Think of some stories

Nihill also recommended liberal use of stories in your presentation. He advocates breaking down your story into three chunks:

  1. Set up/Introduction: Introduce your concept/topic in as few words as possible (no longer than three sentences).
  1. Punchline: The key funny part to your story.
  1. Taglines (Optional): Additional funny comment(s) after your laugh line.

Most of us have fun anecdotes that we can dredge from our past, and you’d be surprised at how easily you can find a hook to apply those stories to the central message of your presentation.

Use the rule of three

The rule of three is a well known construct that copywriters have been using for eons. It basically suggests that information is more satisfying and palatable when it’s constructed in three components. Once you’re aware of the rule of three you’ll start to see it wherever you go. Think of “the good, the bad and the ugly,” or “friends, Romans, countrymen” and so on.

It’s not just useful for moving narrative however but also for comedy, and Nihill reveals that the rule of three is a standard structure for most jokes purely because of the way it taps into how we process information. So attuned are we to this pattern that breaking it can be a great way to grab the attention of your audience, so if you set them up with 1 and 2, give them 4 rather than 3 to complete the “set.”

A recent study also found that we tend to employ confirmation bias when we speak to an audience. It found that we focus in on particular audience members depending on our predisposition to public speaking. So if we’re nervous speakers, we’ll focus on audience members that reflect that, and vice versa.

Public speaking is undoubtedly a nerve wracking thing, but hopefully some of the tips here will help you deliver your next presentation more effectively.

Article source: Gaming our way to better public speaking.

Header image source: Tony Hsieh by Nan Palmero is licensed by CC BY 2.0.

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Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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