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The #1 Most Costly but Avoidable Mistake of Presentations 

presentations

There are 66 words in the Lord’s Prayer, and most people can recite it.

There are 179 words in the 10 Commandments, and most people can name at least a few.

There are 282 words in the Gettysburg address, and most people can recognize it.

Then there are 26,911 words in the United States Government’s Regulation on the Sale of Cabbage, and nobody cares.

The point, as I originally learned from the above illustration by James C Humes, is that when it comes to presentations “less is better.”

Yet, it’s perhaps the number-one mistake that salespeople make in their sales presentations and speakers in their keynote presentations: they talk too much.

They go too long. They share too many details. They divulge too much information.

And as a result, their overall message gets diluted and decreases the likelihood of moving anyone to action.

As presenters, we think that it’s the opposite.

We think we’re serving the audience by trying to squeeze more in but we’re not; we’re dis-serving them.

More is not always better, and that’s especially true when it comes to persuasive presentations.

Too often salespeople talk past the close and miss out on the chance to make what should’ve been an easy sale. Too many presenters drone on and on about useless details that water down what could’ve otherwise been an impactful message. In both instances we miss the mark because we share too much.

Experienced presenters know differently.

I remember when I was working on one of my practice presentations for the World Championship of Public Speaking, I was trying to whittle down my presentation from 9 minutes to the allowable 7.

I had spent 9 months pouring over it, not being able to figure out what to cut out. I felt like everything had to be in there.

And then I sent it to one of my speaking coaches David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking. He said, “Let me have a quick look at it and see if I can give you some ideas”.

Twenty minutes later he emailed me back the speech, and he had reduced it from about 900 words to 600 just by deleting parts that weren’t critical, changing a few words here and there, and suggesting to replace some of the words with stories and facial expressions that could make the points much faster.

I immediately called him on the phone and said “David, I can’t believe this, you did in 20 minutes what I’ve been trying to do for 9 months!”

He replied, “No Rory, that took me 20 years to learn how to do.”

David went on later to say, “The masters tell the audience every word they need to know but not a word more.”

If you’re in sales (and we all are), or you do any other type of presentations, we should all learn how to do the same.

The Uncomfortable Truth About How to Become a Professional Speaker

professional speaker

People ask me all the time, “how do you get into public speaking?”

There are lots of different answers and many necessary steps but there is one simple one you cannot overlook.

If you want to teach people about greatness, then you yourself have to have done something great.

You have to earn the right to talk to people.

You have to prove that you aren’t just a student but that you also are a practitioner.

You cannot lead a mediocre life and expect anyone to want to learn from you.

Your opportunity to influence and lead others is always a direct byproduct of your ability to create greatness in your own life and in the lives of the people around you.

So it doesn’t matter if you think it’s your purpose.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s your passion.

None of that matters if you haven’t pushed yourself to some extreme level of performance. Because then all you are is an educated derelict.

You could be someone who knows a lot but you’ve done nothing. Which actually means you know nothing.

That’s not who you want to be and that’s not who the world rewards.

The world rewards those who work.

The world rewards those who overcome.

The world rewards those who have done something that proves to the rest of us that we are capable of more ourselves.

So don’t tell me you want to speak and teach and “impact people” and then go out and look for the easiest route, listen to all the naysayers, make weak excuses, and do all the things that are comfortable.

If you want to teach people about greatness, you yourself have to have done something great.

So if you want a chance to speak – at least to me – then go out in your industry or business or area of study and do something great.

Do something impossible.

Do something extraordinary.

Do something that shows me as a fellow human that I’m capable of more than I thought.

Do something that makes me believe that if you can do it then I can do it.

Do that, and I will be the first to sign up and sit in your class at your feet to have a chance to learn from you…

And so will everyone else.

PS. If you want to know more tips and strategies for how to be a better speaker or build a speaking business you and I could talk twice a month1?

Check this out: http://www.roryvadenmastermind.com

Succeeding in the Speaking Industry with Brian Tracy – Episode 163 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Speaking Industry

Brian Tracy is an Author, Keynote speaker and seminar leader. He addresses more than 250,000 people each year on the subjects of personal and professional development and has studied, researched, written and spoken for 30 years in the fields of economics, history, business, philosophy and psychology. He is the top selling author of over 70 books that have been translated into dozens of languages.He has written and produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs, including the worldwide, best-selling Psychology of Achievement, which has been translated into more than 28 languages.

Prior to founding his company, Brian Tracy International, Brian was the Chief Operating Officer of a $265 million dollar development company. He has had successful careers in sales and marketing, investments, real estate development and syndication, importation, distribution and management consulting. He has conducted high level consulting assignments with several billion-dollar plus corporations in strategic planning and organizational development. He has traveled and worked in over 107 countries on six continents, and speaks four languages. Brian is happily married to Barbara and has four children. Brian is active in community and national affairs, and is the President of three companies headquartered in Solana Beach, California.

Show Highlights:

  • Without self-discipline, hard work, and focus, you really can’t accomplish anything. @BrianTracy
  • “The Master key to riches is self-discipline” – Napoleon Hill
  • “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” – Albert Hubbard
  • Self-discipline is the catalyst or linchpin that makes all the other principles work. @BrianTracy
  • Manage your time, get organized, set priorities and determine most important thing and stay with it until it’s complete. @BrianTracy
  • I didn’t graduate high school so I thought washing dishes was my future. @BrianTracy
  • I had 3 major turning points in my life:    @BrianTracy
    1. Discovered I was responsible for my own life.
    2. Discovered the importance of written goals and plans.
    3. Discovery of personal development
  • Discipline yourself to do what you need to do to accomplish the goals that are important to you. @BrianTracy
  • Every high powered person is very responsible. @BrianTracy
  • I found the only way to be successful was to go back to basics. @BrianTracy
  •  My focus has been to teach people how to dramatically increase the rate at which they reach their goals. @BrianTracy
  • When speaking, romance your points. Give more stories and low it down so they can assimilate it. @BrianTracy
  • Rory shares his checklist for how to get started and to be successful as a professional speaker! @rory_vaden
  • The number one element for becoming a great speaker is: Be a student. @rory_vaden
  • It’s not about age time, it about stage time. @rory_vaden
  • Take charge of your own success. @rory_vaden
  • You can’t afford to wait to be discovered; your dream is too valuable. @rory_vaden
  • Don’t allow your pursuit of your dream to compromise your other targets. @rory_vaden

To connect with Brian and find materials on self confidence, goal setting and much more visit: briantracy.com

This is a special extended interview with Brian Tracy. The extended interview is all about wealth and successful habits of millionaires! To receive the extended bonus interview, send an email to rorypodcast@gmail.com with just your FIRST NAME in the subject line and it will be sent to you in an email format.

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

How Do You Write Jokes?

jokes

If you’re a business leader or a professional speaker you don’t necessarily need to learn how to write jokes, but it will help you if you can learn to be funny. 

Someone recently asked me, “Rory how do you write jokes?”

My response was “don’t try to write jokes; instead write stories.” 

For most people it’s much easier to write about something that really happened to them that makes them or other people laugh as they think back on it. And there is automatically an extra added element of humor when it’s based on a true story. 

Start with writing out the story first in as much detail as you remember. Then as you go back through and edit the story, look for natural opportunities to use these humor techniques:

Exaggerate the character features – Developing your characters is always one of the best ways to improve your stories. So let us know more about who the people are that were in the story and anytime you exaggerate their characteristics it’s usually funny. 

Instead of saying “she was an older woman” say “she was probably 67…thousand years old. Seriously, she was in the Yoda stage of life.”

Embellish the circumstances – Think of interesting ways to express the circumstances. 

Instead of saying “the family was poor” say “there was no way this family was going to have the money…there was a better chance of an Amish family pulling up in a Hummer.” 

Be self-deprecating – People love to laugh at a speakers own ineptness so don’t be afraid to highlight it. 

Instead of saying “I don’t know anything about changing air filters” say “I went to Home Depot and asked the lady for an air filter and she said ‘what size’ and I said ‘they come in different sizes?!'”

Connect the old with the new – Since all stories are from the past it makes us laugh when you introduce an element of the future that everyone knows wasn’t there. 

Instead of saying “Jesus went to Galilee” say “So Jesus pulled up Google Maps and said we must go to Galilee!”

Humanize inanimate objects – Anytime you treat things as living that aren’t really living it is often funny. 

My friend Craig Valentine has a cute story where he says “I needed help so I picked up a book. I remember I looked at the book and then the book looked at me!” The book then proceeds to give him advice as if it were a real person. 

Get inside their heads – We connect with other people by being able to relate with what they’re thinking and experiencing. So tell us what the characters were thinking in the crazy moments. But say something different than what everyone might expect. 

For instance let’s pretend you’re telling a story about a bicycle accident you once had during one of your first jobs. As the bike is falling over tell us what you were thinking. Except what we would expect to hear is “this is going to hurt” so instead say “wow this is really going to enhance my resume!”

Remember you’re not a stand up comedian so no one expects you to be. Which actually very much works in your favor because people won’t be expecting you to be funny in a business environment – and that makes it easier to pull off. So instead of starting with trying to write jokes, just tell stories. 

When speaking you don’t want to “lie” and just outright make things up because that’s dishonest. But you also don’t want to just tell what happened in plain detail because that’s boring. Both are a disservice to your audience. 

Instead, use what is commonly referred to as a “license to embellish.” Which simply means to highlight and play up the most salient features of the story. 

This will give your stories more life, more color, and more laughs.  

P.S. For more on the psychology of why we laugh and how to become a funnier person check out my book “How to be funny to make more money.

What is the true key to success?

key to success

What is the true key to success?

Hard work is not the key to success.

There are plenty of people who work hard but don’t become successful.

Because you can work hard but have a bad attitude and not become successful.

Or you can work hard with poor skill and not become successful.

And you can work hard at the wrong thing and it won’t take you where you want to go.

Hard work is a necessary prerequisite of success; but it isn’t solely the key.

Success requires first making good choices and then following them up with hard work.

Success means first identifying the right things to do and the right way to do those things and then working hard at them.

That is the difference between discipline and hard work.

Discipline involves an element of choice.

Discipline includes an aspect of selection.

Discipline demands that you not only work hard but that you work hard at the things that must be done.

Discipline means you do the things you know you should be doing.

Discipline often means you’re taking action on things you’d rather not do.

Discipline means you “Take the Stairs” even if you’d rather take the escalator.

Discipline means you cast your fears, your worries, your inconveniences, and your doubts aside and you focus in on what must be done even if you don’t like doing it.

Ironically with discipline, sometimes the work itself isn’t even that hard, but rather the choice to do the work is the harder part.

Discipline then is where the magic happens.

Discipline is what creates success.

Because Discipline is the marriage of good choices and good work ethic.

And when you combine those two, good choices and good work ethic, success is pretty much inevitable.