Kathy Sierra posted an entry about public speaking tips that struck home today. I consider myself an accomplished speaker (at age 8 I was giving a talk before about 800 people for a church gathering. I'd written it myself, and did it from memory. Since then, nothing's really made me nervous.) but I could see quite a few things in her list that I needed to polish up.
The one that especially comes to mind is this section:
How many talks do you see where the speaker has multiple bullet points and slides just on their background? I did it once because I thought it would help people understand the context of my talk, and it did NOT go over well because:
A) Nobody cares
B) Bullet points do not equal credibility
C) Nobody cares
D) You already HAVE credibility going in... you don't have to earn it, you just have to make sure you don't lose it.
E) Nobody cares
She's so right. Nobody cares. I'll even go a step further and say that nobody cares because everybody knows somebody smarter than you. In fact, they may even be that person smarter than you. I've co-presented on the topic of jealousy with my girlfriend, and she and I both got into this particular area of presenting after attending a conference and walking out of a particular session saying "Hmmm. We could do better than that."And so we did.
The thing is, they aren't there to be enlightened--they're there to hear YOUR particular spin on whatever subject it is. And telling them how special you are is not going to work. To quote Kathy quoting a standard writing/performing axim: Show, don't tell.
Don't tell them why they should listen to you. Just talk, and let it be obvious.