Mark’s Experience at NLC

Mark’s Experience at NLC

One of my favorite parts of NLC was all of the different talks we had the opportunity to go to! Every time slot had five options ranging from categories like political advocacy to business to stress management. I learned a lot from these, and I’d like to share some of what I learned from a talk on how to give good talks!

The first part of this presentation focused on generalities about talks

  • The goal is for the audience to understand the topic, not for you to convince them you’re smart. Don’t use a five dollar word where a two cent will do. 
  • Don’t choke the audience with info, less is more here and every piece of hard info should serve your purpose
  • Never open with “it’s an honor to be here”, a comment about the weather, or 
  • anything close to that. Start strong and powerful to grab their attention
  • Many people worry about what to do with there hands: that’s not nearly as important as making eye contact, smiling, and not pacing back and forth

The second part of this presentation focused on more specifics for crafting a talk. The speaker recommended the bookshelf model for outlining the talk, where your key concepts are the books, and bookends are the opening and closing, all on top of the shelf (the bottom line). The bottom line or main point of your talk should be able to be condensed into one or two sentences. Each book (key concepts) can have different lengths (detail) depending on the total time given for the talk, but the number of books should stay the same. Our job with filling these books is to make the complex and confusing seem simple to our audience. 

Crafting the opening and closing should be done after the core of the talk is complete.

  • Must be emotional, grab the audience’s attention
  • Must foreshadow what’s coming next
  • Good to start with story that ties in to rest of talk and is wrapped up in ending
  • If controversial topic, include “not the only way to do this”/ “this is my personal opinion”
  • The closing should summarize the content
  • There should be a call to action (what you want the audience to do)
  • The call to action should not be the very last thing you say
  • It’s good to close strong and with hope
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