February 5, 2008

Two minutes of thank yous?

I read an article the other day about delivering a ten-minute speech that gave this instruction:

"Begin with a two-minute opening of thank yous, acknowledgments and possibly a little background on yourself and the organization."

Wha . . .? 20% of a ten-minute speech devoted to thank yous and acknowledgments?

Extrapolate this out to an hour-long presentation and try to imagine 12 minutes of this at the beginning of a presentation:

"Thank you so much for having me. I'm so honored to be here presenting in front of such a distinguished and brilliant audience. I'd like to thank Jane Doe for her excellent decision to invite me to speak to you, the most fabulous audience ever, today, on this lovely sunny September day in Southern California. Let me tell you all about myself for the next ten minutes."

Excuse me a moment while I . . . *SNORE*

I wrote recently about helping a client with a 12-minute speech. Bottom line: there's no time for frou-frou and fluff in a 10- or 12-minute speech. Or any speech. You have to get into it immediately if you want the audience to hang with you for the remaining minutes.

You have to engage them right away.
Draw them in.
Intrigue them.
Make them laugh.
Make them cry.
Ask questions.
Make it about them, not you!

If they don't know who you are and why you're there, that's what introducers are for. Better yet, have your info in a handout, one-sheet, or whatever you like to call it, so the audience can take it home with them.

I wrote about when not to thank the audience back in August, and what I may not have made clear is that I find it bordering on rude to waste the audience's time with such trivial ceremonial butt-kissing hoo-hah.

There, now I think you know how I feel about it.

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8 comments. Please add yours! :

Unknown said...

Come on Lisa. Are you sure the audience doesn't want to know about my many degrees, my kids, what my dogs did with my sons homework, and how really overqualified I am to speak on the subject?

Honestly, most people already know about the speaker, the expertise, and the history. This is especially true at a conference. I always read about who is speaking, what is the topic, and if the person is a credible expert. If not, I am bailing and heading out to sight see!!!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Right on, Tony!

Anonymous said...

Well stated Lisa. Most speakers do a poor job of really thinking about what is important in an introduction. TJ Walker tjwalker.com

Anonymous said...

Politicians are notorious for this.

Thank you for setting us all straight! :)

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I'm glad to hear there are others on my side! I'm NOT crazy, I'm NOT.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, I agree 100%. Leave it for your introduction to your speech. I touched upon this in an article I recently wrote about The Speech Introduction

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great point, James. The introducer should be the one talking about you, not YOU.

Povl Henningsen said...

An excellent point from a Danish perspective. Thank yous is not a Danish specialty. In this connexion this cultural trait comes in handy.

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