Tomorrow I am due to speak at the Virtual Speakers Association on how to use and apply Startup & Entrepreneurial toolsets for public speaking.

It doesn’t matter if you are presenting a new product, the annual report at work, selling something to customers, or pitching your startup to investors. When you are speaking or on stage, you need to ensure you have everyone’s attention in order to get your message across.  Otherwise, your audience will drift off daydreaming while you blabber away.

When you are speaking in front of an audience, you need to demand that they not only pay attention but succumb to every word, image and move you make. Of course, you may think that this may be impossible because there are so many variables that may affect your presentation but ultimately there is only one person in control, YOU.

In order to be in control, you need to ensure you have everyone’s attention. If you show any sign of insecurity you lose control and you will lose everyone’s attention. A catch 22 you may think and it is but it starts with you grabbing their attention and keeping it throughout the whole presentation.

So how do you keep control of everyone’s attention? That’s the big and one million dollar question.  Of course there are many factors, but let’s just take into consideration one thing: The result of not keeping attention. The result of not keeping attention is that the audience starts to think about other things, daydreaming. So either what you are saying is boring, or something you have said has triggered something else in their mind and allowed them to drift away from the rest of your talk and presentation. This is the key.

What is it that allows the mind of your audience to stop paying attention to what you say, drift away in their own world or on a tangent to what you are saying?

The answer is simple “Attention”. If what you say is not of importance, you lose their attention and the myriads of other factors surrounding you immediately come into play and you are no longer in control of your audience’s mind.

You may think that the surrounding stage and ambiance are more important than what you say, but think of a time when you have listened to a good speech, presentation, etc. The surrounding, ambiance, place and everything else disappears and the only thing that remains is that person and that movie.

In order to achieve maximum attention,  you should make the audience become subservient to your rhythm, your phrasing, your transitions, your emotions, your heart’s beat, and your will. You are in immediate control and have the power to manipulate the audience’s feelings. You must at all times show that you are in command.

Here is where I believe a number of toolsets can help you improve your presentation and keep the audience’s attention, and the key is FOCUS.  Everything thing you say and everything you do needs to be so focused and so important that the audience cannot allow itself to risk losing 1 second of attention. Every word must lead to the next word with such relevance and focus, that no word can be missed.

This is where entrepreneurial and startup toolsets can come in handy. Two of the tools that I have used in my entrepreneurial journey is: 1) The Canvas Business Plan/Model 2) Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix.

  1. THE SPEAKERS CANVAS. The Canvas Business Plan allows you to create a simple business plan on 1 page, using 9 key elements. The plan allows you describe in simple and short words,  the problem you are addressing to how you are going to make a profit.  I have modified the Canvas Business Plan to fit the requirement of anyone who wants to do a speech or present anything to any audience.  It doesn’t matter if you are a professional speaker or an entrepreneur pitching to investors. You are both speaking to an audience and the rules apply to both. Click here to download the Speakers Canvas.
  2. EISENHOWER’S DECISION MATRIX.  If you use the above Canvas Model to create your speech.  You have now gathered and organized all the information and material you need.  You probably will agree with me that we often have an overwhelming amount of information. Interesting facts, figures, images, details that we have dug up, results and the list can go on and on. How do you decide on what is important? I often find pitch deck presentations as well as even great speeches, crammed and jammed with all the information there is available. The presenter sometimes thinks that they must provide you with as much and all the information there is available for the presentation to be valuable and complete. However, the reality is that you only need to provide the most important information set to attract and maintain our attention.  Too much information leads to confusion and confusion leads to loss of interest and the mind drifting away while it is trying to process all the information it has received.   Here is where you can use Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix to decide what information is important and what is just nice to have. I use this toolset even for my personal task list around the house. I question myself on “If it is Urgent and Important” and if it really is not that important after all and just a nice to have.

Using the above two methodologies, I build and create most of my speeches, startups, and even jobs around our house and my life. You can simply do the above on paper, or if you are techy like me, you can go one step further and create the above Canvas and Quadrant Matrix in a tool like KanBan.  KanBan makes it so much easier to type in ideas and then drag them along from one box to another.  This visual and project management tool is versatile enough to allow you to apply it to anything and afterall any speech or presentation that you give is a project in itself.

Use project management tools with the above methodologies and you are on the right track for bringing focus to your work and keeping your audience’s attention.

In her book “Dance While You can”, Shirley McLaine says:  “On stage, there is no time for democracy. You need to be firm, like a dictator. You should make the audience become subservient to your rhythm, your phrasing, your transitions, your emotions, your heart’s beat, and your will. You are in immediate control and have the power to manipulate the audience’s feelings. You must at all times show that you are in command. You need to be secure and sure of this power and enjoy wielding it at your pleasure. When you are in command, the audience feels safe and they surrender their feelings to you.”

I help Startup founders and entrepreneurs with improving their investor’s pitch deck and presenting on stage. If you are fundraising or simply want to improve your performance on stage, sell a better product or present a better speech, book a call and let’s have a chat.