Earlier this year I was due to deliver a workshop and wanted to bring a guest speaker to join me during the presentation. The guest speaker was very qualified, but somehow after communicating my intent, I was told that the preference was for me to do the whole program without any other speakers on stage. I graciously appreciated the trust and agreed without any further discussion.
As I look back, although the workshop was a complete success, I know that the opportunity to make it even better never took place. I am aware that the guest I had in mind to join me that day would have brought an added layer of richness and variety to that presentation.
Sharing the spotlight with a guest during you next presentation can add many significant benefits to your speech. Some of them are variety in the rhythm and cadence of delivery, they add more credibility to your statements, fill in gaps of knowledge by introducing an expert on a particular topic that you intend to cover or serve as your best selling tool by adding a live testimonial to the quality of your work. Depending on the length of the speech, it can also add a respite to the audience from listening to just one speaker - you.
10 - That's the number of minutes that you have before your audience's attention starts to leave the room according to John Medina at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
This challenge can pose a great opportunity for you to introduce some variety into your speech by changing the audience's exposure to your linguistic style. Your linguistic style refers to your speaking pattern. It includes characteristics like tone, cadence, directness, volume or pitch. It can also include other features more emblematic of each person, such as the tendency to use jokes, stories, questions or if you have a penchant for making dramatic pauses! Every person has a linguistic style dictated by their culture and their experience speaking which makes them unique and different from everyone else.
It's true that by adding a new cadence and rhythm to the speech, you will add spark and interest to your presentation. This strategy can also backfire if your guest does not prepare accordingly, and instead, it introduces a different kind of energy that does not compliment you as a speaker. An example would be a guest who speaks in a very monotone and dull way. You can learn how to add more interest to you voice and delivery on this TED Talk by Julius Treasure. It’s one of my favorites!
It's possible that a guest can also include an interesting dynamic to your presentation in the form of conversations. Consider turn taking by having a short dialogue with your guest to expand their contributions and make your presentation richer. According to Margaret Heffernan an international speaker and productivity expert, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art casts actors for their ability to contribute and compliment each other, not for their potential to become superstars. The thought of: What can you give to others to make them better? Surpass in importance to individual contributions. I believe that this is fascinating because an excellent presentation in its essence not only needs to be clear but also memorable. And by including variety to it, we can achieve just that.
Another speaker will change also have the opportunity to add credibility to what you have to say employing a testimonial. As we know, testimonials are your golden ticket to sales. Today the expectation is for companies and individuals to launch products or services with a set of testimonials already at hand. This collection of useful references can be done before a product launch through beta testing. So if you are set on pitching your idea or product to an audience, it can be incredibly helpful to include someone to speak about your product on your behalf even for a short time. Testimonials and endorsements are one of the most persuasive drivers of purchasing behavior.
Finally, if sharing the spotlight with someone else is not possible as it was for me during the presentation I introduced you at the top of this post, another option is to include different media into the presentation. I love to add short TED talks or other appropriate videos related to the topic discussed during workshops so that the participants (and I ) can have a moment of passive learning. Another great alternative, specially for those who are pitching a physical product or an app is to perform a demo with someone in your audience.
However you choose to make your presentation more appealing, adding variety in the form or a prepared guest or different multimedia will always be a good hand that can add spark and make our speech rich and memorable.