NSA Presentation and Performance Lab — Public Speaking

I’m attending the National Speakers Association (NSA) Presentation and Performance Lab in Las Vegas this weekend.  The first day was terrific.

Keynote speaker and magician Giovanni Livera opened the conference with a powerful program on creating Transformational Experiences for your audience.  He asked the question, “How can I be more astonishing?”  Here are a couple of things he suggested:

The first suggestion:  Create Audience Impact Moments to enhance the “experience” of the audience.  The group brainstormed forty-plus types of experiences a speaker could use to enhance a speech: Humor, Magic, Stories, Props, Music, Sound Effects, Gymnastics, Mime, Cartoons, etc.  You add “texture” to your talk by incorporating a variety of these moments and not relying on a single element to create your speech.  For example, rather than expecting humor to carry your message; or expecting stories to do the job; consider how much more effective it would be to include humor AND stories AND music AND cartoons AND poetry AND sound effects.  He also shared a storyboarding technique using colored Post-It Notes to visually see the flow of audience-impact-moments in your speech (color-coding each type of speech segment; stories from the heart, audience participation, music, etc.  Pick categories most relevant to the texture of your speech.)

Another suggestion:  If you close your talk with what you consider the strongest part of the speech, Giovanni suggested experimenting by moving the big closer to the front end.  It would start your talk with high energy and challenge you to strengthen the rest of your talk to match your new strong opener.  I’ve tried doing that during the past year, and I’ve discovered that it creates a wave of energy which enhances everything that follows.  I moved my funniest material, which was normally in the last third of my keynote to the front part of the talk.  It improved the impact of everything else in the speech.  The segments that followed benefited from riding-the-wave of energy created by the stronger opening.

That’s a small bit of what Giovanni shared with us.  A great presentation from the Creator of Experiences.

We also enjoyed a session by celebrity impersonator and impressionist Rich Little, an educational and entertaining program by a show-business master.  A lengthy question-and-answer session gave us many insights on connecting with and entertaining an audience.  One question was:  How much does he exaggerate or embellish when creating stories or humor. He said that he embellishes about five-percent of the time, usually when needed to strengthen a punchline at the end of the joke.  It was interesting to see how careful he was throughout his talk to add “no, he didn’t really say that” when he wanted to clarify that the funny words he was putting in the mouth of a celebrity were not words that the celebrity had actually said.

The conference was welcomed by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a celebrity politician who embodies the style of Las Vegas.  His warm and witty remarks were a hit.

The afternoon closed with a Jam Session with two speakers from the audience receiving feedback from our panel of faculty experts.  A great end to a terrific day.  Looking forward to Saturday and Sunday.

NSA Presentation and Performance Lab Day #2 and Day #3

Upcoming NSA Events:

NSA Branding and Promotion Lab
Boston MA
May 2-4, 2008

NSA National Convention
New York City
August 2-5, 2008