3 Lessons From Shane Sams on How to Prepare A Killer Talk

Recently, Shane Sams sat down with Grant Baldwin on The Speaker Lab Podcast to discuss the art of preparing a killer talk. Here are the top 3 takeaways from their conversation:

Start With a Framework

The natural instinct of many speakers is to try to write their talk in a linear fashion from beginning to end, but Shane explains that he found a better way.

First, develop a general framework with the main beats of your talk. Once you’ve done that, work through the framework and decide where you need your audience to laugh, where you need to place emotional points and most importantly, the point at which you want them to make a mental decision. Then fill in the specifics of the talk in line with the framework you’ve already developed.

Not only does this make preparing your talk far less daunting, but it makes it easier to adapt to different situations, audiences and lengths.

Keep Your Audience Engaged

A huge part of public speaking is keeping your audience engaged. Throughout your talk, plan moments to check in with the audience and make sure they’re not losing interest.

Whether that’s asking the audience if they relate to something, or simply interjecting something like “Are you with me?” it can tremendously increase the engagement and response from your audience.

Building on the framework you’ve developed, make sure your audience is paying the most attention at the decision points and crucial moments of your talk.

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Do More Than Just Tell a Story

A common mistake speakers make is to simply tell an awesome story without leaving any obvious takeaways for their audience. As interesting as the story may be and as well as you may deliver it, you’ll never succeed if your audience is left wondering “So what? What’s in this for me?”

First, be as relatable as possible! Make sure that throughout the talk, your words point back to the audience. Tell relatable stories and pull your audience into the talk with you. Let them see themselves in your story.

And of course, present a decision. Shane suggests doing this early in your talk, as part of your own story. Show your audience the factors that led to your decision and everything that followed from that. Once your audience makes their decision alongside yours, everything that follows is a chain reaction.

Want to dive in more? Check out the full podcast episode with Shane Sams here.


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