A few days ago, I went back to watch a speech I gave in 2017. It was for the Utah State University Citizen’s Scholar Conference…
And it was putrid.
Awful. Downright disgraceful. I can’t believe I allowed myself to give such a horrifically boring presentation on a topic I care so much about (empathy). And to punish myself for the dastardly speech, I’m allowing you to witness the humiliation here if you’d like: https://youtu.be/29oHM8Q2swM
And if not, I thank you for sparing me the embarrassment.
“Aww come on, Zac… that wasn’t so bad!”
You’re kind, but you’re wrong. It was bad. Very bad. And here’s why:
I started with “The purpose of my research is to persuade the general public…”
A terrible way to start ANY presentation. I then took it a step further down the slow and treacherous path to presentation purgatory:
“Empathy is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a physical property of the nervous system…”
As Gordon Ramsay would say:
Alright, enough of the self-loathing. The good news of all this is that I now know, after four years, exactly what went wrong and how to fix it. The problem with my speech was that I didn’t start with a story.
If I had started with a gripping emotional story about how I learned or earned the knowledge I came to share (something I learned from Russell Brunson’s book Expert Secrets) it would have changed the trajectory of my speech entirely.
In fact, to my hypothesis here to the test, I redid the speech without any preparation whatsoever. Because when I first gave it back in 2017, I had spent months researching empathy and building my own framework around it. I put together beautiful slides and impressive research to give my claims validity.
Yet despite all that effort, my words fell flatter than a pancake at McDonald’s (I mean really, have you seen how flat those puppies are?).
But the redone version with no preparation? Though it’s not perfect, I’m 100% confident it’s better. And the reason why is simple:
I started with a story. And anytime you’re preparing a presentation, you should too.
If you’d like, you can listen to the redone version on my podcast Spiky-Haired Thoughts here.