For quite a while now it’s common that young people fly out to Cuba and party. But it’s less common to see elderly Cuban citizens vacation in Europe. A few years ago that’s what happened and we got to meet a former high ranking dignitary of the “revolution”.
The guy who invited him over - one of those “country-country friendship club” types gunning for honorary consul status and diplomatic license plates, set up a little tour.
Including a speaking engagement in front of a large, curious and medium prestigious audience. The only problem was, Mr. Cuba Senior was out of his comfort zone. And it showed.
His presentation was akin to reading a thrilling 952 page novel with 27 plot twists and immediately after finishing the last page, the characters and emotions burned into your mind, logging into Netflix to see the 90 minute movie version.
Had you not read that book, you would have fun. But now you’re not seeing the story you just read. Instead you’re frustrated that most of the story is missing. This is how Mr. Cuba Senior felt and funny enough the audience felt that way too. Why?
Well all the usual suspects were ruled out: a) Being a fellow combatant of Che Guevara, this guy was no pussy, so stage freight was not it.
b) Being a former president of parliament, which in a one party system means commanding a gigantic hall filled with hundreds of chatty delegates, addressing a room full of people with no relevance on the future of the country, perhaps even the world, he was not losing his train of thought because of being overwhelmed by the occasion.
c) Arriving with an entourage, having two interpreters (one from his dialect into Spanish and one from Spanish into English), presenting a 60-minute intro movie on his fight alongside Che, he also didn’t come unprepared.
So what made him lose structure, flow, any and all sense of excitement, intrigue, suspense, humor and other ingredients of a good story?
Here’s what went wrong, what he should have but didn’t do:
1. consider the event format or audience context.
2. preselect the highlights, the opening and close.
3. write down the words, put messages in the right order.
4. focus on a clear point or story moral.
And most importantly - 5. be in a hurry to leave.
He did though explain what he felt went wrong. And that’s the fact that back home his usual speaking format is 8 hours. Yes, 8 hours. And now we felt he had to cram it all into 2 and a half hours and his narrative arc just fell apart.
Granted, this is an extreme example. But a very common one is that we only get 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes to say something interesting and always want to somehow fit in 2 hours into 20 minutes.
There are many great methods and frameworks for fitting what you need to say into 5, 10, 15 minutes. We use the best ones and religiously focus on ending our presentation, speech, keynote, webinar precisely when intended.
Before your next meeting, set 15 minutes as your target time. Write down what you want to say and in what order. Practice before going to the meeting, see how long it takes. And then stick to 15 minutes. If the audience wants an encore, they will let you know.
People who follow this advice come across as stronger, more interesting and valuable. They show they can control themselves, know why they are talking to you and have important places to be.
© 2019 by KOMUNIKATOR
By Goran Tomsic — January 9, 2019
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