Most speeches you give are a big waste of time. Very few people, if any, will remember what the key takeaway of your speech was; therefore, hardly anyone is going to spread your message or take any action. The reason for this is not that your speech wasn't good. It has a lot to do with your not achieving your speech’s objective. Every speech must have an objective on what you want your audience to do.
Your speech’s success depends on what the audience knows about you before you utter a single word. What motivated them to attend? Did your speech live up to or exceed their expectations? Are they going to do a search for more information about you on your website or social media? Are they going to tell other people about your ideas or products?
The true measure of a speech is some or even all in the audience take some action or inform others through word of mouth or social media. To ensure how to achieve success with your speech, you must understand the Four Moments of a Speech (MOS). The four moments of a speech are the zero moment of speech (ZMOS), the first moment of speech (FMOS), the second moment of speech (SMOS) and the ultimate moment of speech (UMOS).
Four Moments of Speech
We all aspire to inspire people with our speech. What I have found from research and experience is that this rarely happens with one speech. Most often you will find that many in the audience view a speech as "one and done" thing. To understand how you succeed with your speech, it has to be viewed as a marketing activity where you have something to sell. People tend to take their time and discuss with others or go online to see what others are saying about you before they make a decision. They are going to keep checking you out many times before they take action. This is how we buy a product. And this is how you have to get people to "buy" your speech.
The way people react to your speech is the way people buy things. If they have a positive experience from ZMOS to SMOS, then they are going to share their experiences with others. The thing you have to worry about is that people have a positive experience from ZMOS to UMOS. If you can do this, then your speech is not just a “one and done” thing, but a continuous engagement.
"Engagement with the customer today isn’t just pouring a message down on their head and hoping they get wet." -- Google’s What is the Zero Moment of Truth?
The zero moment of speech occurs before you say anything. We all want to win the audience, but sometimes you have to know who is your the audience. The audience could consist of those sold on what you have to say to those who will never going to buy what you have to say no matter how good a speaker you are. The work you do in ZMOS will determine your speech’s success with few. What you do in the UMOS will get others to start their journey---their ZMOS---to get to know you better.
The ZMOS is very important to your speech's success. It has to get people to spread your message or take action. Those who come to listen to you speak are 0% converted to 100% converted. You are going to focus on those that are 50% or above on the converted spectrum. Those that are below 50% are there to listen to you and take much longer to convert. Some may never be converted. You don’t want to craft your speech on those who are less than 50% converted but invite them to get more information about you, so they remain engaged.
Speech is a marketing activity. If it is not helping people in some way, then you are wasting your audience’s time and your time. You have to engage people from the initial stimulus, “shelf” view, and experience. People have to have a positive experience from ZMOS to UMOS for your speech to be successful. A lot of this may be outside your control, but you have to know it, so you don’t put all the focus on your speech alone.
- People sold on you before you say “hello”
- People that trust you because you are an expert
- People that are curious
- People that don’t know anything about you
- People that don’t like you for whatever reason
How do you improve your ZMOS?
The first thing you have to do is to create content, so you get people to know much about you before they attend your speech, such as free ebooks, white papers, blogs, videos, etc. Publishing content will not only help you push your ideas but position you as an expert or thought leader in your niche. You have to do this to give others you are not controlling the conversation and your brand. People want certainty, and if they are attending, then you have to make them smart by reinforcing what they already know.
The other thing you must do is to promote your next speech, so it makes it easier for those interested to get the information quickly and easily.
The last thing you must work on is to practice what you are going to look like right after you are introduced and when you say your first word. Typically, you want this to be close to seven seconds to let your body do the talking, so the audience knows that you are there to inspire them, and you are not going to disappoint them.
To practice, turn on the camera and walk over in front where you can later see your entire body and stand without saying anything for seven seconds. You have to see whether you are setting the expectation that your audience has of you, as a message, what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.
How do you like it?
The T-minus seven seconds are very important. Right after you are introduced, people are going to judge you entirely on your body language. You have not spoken a word, so you are communicating with your body. After you start speaking then how you use your voice is also used and then it is the words you use. According to a research conducted by Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology from UCLA, found that when you are trying to communicate feelings and attitudes when you are speaking, people process 55% from your body language, 38% from the tone of your voice---volume, speed and emphasis and 7% from the words you use. From this the rule I follow when you want the audience to feel is the following: “More words you use, more people you lose.”
“At first sight, his address is certainly not striking; and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived.”
― Jane Austen, "Sense and Sensibility"
The most important part of speech is the ZMOS. You want people to have some idea of who you are, what you are all about, what you are going to say. The only thing they should not know is how you are going to say it. The familiarity of you or your message is the reason people are coming to see you.
Your introduction is very important since you are going to start losing your audience, so you have to capture their attention quickly. In the introduction where you have to tell the audience what is the main message they are going to get out of your speech. You have to convey your key message in a soundbite that they can repeat after the speech. You have to start with it, repeat it and end with it. If this is all they remember, then you did a great job with your speech.
You have at most thirty seconds. You may have lost some the seven seconds the time between you were introduced and the time you said a word.
No matter how good a speaker you are, you are going to lose some in the audience. We have all been on the receiving end of this. Here are some of the unpleasant thoughts that have crossed my mind when someone was speaking:
“When will this be over so I can hit the bar?”
“Why are all public speakers tend to be old, bald, fat and ugly?”
“Why I will never be able to get the time I am wasting here?”
I just hope they are not going to say any of these things when I am speaking, especially the one about being old, bald, fat and ugly. That really hurts my mom, I think.
To avoid people from paying attention, you have to “feed” them and keep feeding them. You almost have to treat your audience like you are at a Westminster Dog Kennel show where the dogs are so well behaved and obedient. The dogs are not stupid; they know they are going to be fed if they are in their best behavior. They have been trained. Similarly, your audience is trained to be fed. You have to feed the audience members if you want your speech to succeed.
One thing you never screw up when you are inviting people to your party is not feeding them with excellent food. They will not forget you if you screw this up. The one thing you can’t screw up when you are giving a speech: You have to be NOT BORING no matter what otherwise you are not going to connect. You may not be a good speaker; you may not have good content. People will care less about these two, but if you waste their time by being boring, they will never attend your speech again. But worse, they will have tweeted the world before you are halfway into your speech.
How do you do practice FMOS?
You have to take the "lean" approach that I explain where you start with one word that will convey your message. Next, try to get people curious with a six or seven seconds pitch. If this is compelling, then they are going to want to know more; you have to get them to pay attention to your thirty seconds pitch.
You have to speak with people the way you speak with friends. If you are not speaking to "friends," then you have to close that gap since you are not going to come across as authentic.
"Word of mouth is stronger than ever. For the first time in human history, word of mouth is a digitally archived medium." -- Google’s What is the Zero Moment of Truth?
The way you deliver your speech is completely under your control, but the effectiveness of your speech depends on what the audience takes away from your speech. Your audience has a certain expectation that you have to meet. They are attending the speech since there are probably three things that they are often looking for in your speech:
Will it save me money?
Will it save me time?
Will it improve my life?
The second moment of speech (SMOS) is how people feel after you are finished. They may have already be quite familiar with your speech topic. What did you say and in a way you said it that made your speech memorable or perhaps even inspired them to know more. If they are not talking or thinking about your speech after you are finished, then you missed the SMOS and people will not share your message to others. You don’t want your audience to say “I came, I puked, I left” as it often happens when people have a bad experience with a product on your website.
The expectations were set by high ZMOS and FMOS, but it has to continue to live up those expectations into SMOS. People have to be inspired by your speech and is not viewed as “one and done” speech.
How do you practice SMOS?
Again if you can explain your message in less than three minutes, then you know that you have a message that is going to stick. I explain a “lean” speech methodology you can use to develop your message.
Ultimate Moment of Speech
"What was once a message is now a conversation. Shoppers today find and share their own information about products, in their own way, on their own time." -- Google’s What is the Zero Moment of Truth?
The true measure of your success is what the people are saying about your speech to others? If nothing, then the speech had no impact on the audience. You want people to take some kind of action whether it is spreading the message on social media, telling others through word of mouth, purchase a book, attending a seminar, inviting you to speak, or hiring you as a consultant. What happens hours or a days after the speech is given is extremely important on what kind of success you are going to have with your speech.
Have you ever met people on a plane or at an event that you had a good conversation with. You exchanged cards and then nothing happened. This means that the conversation was very transactional and it may had some impact which is hard to know. But if you don’t hear from them, then it had no lasting impact. Your interaction had no UMOS. This is fine. It may be that the person had other priorities so don’t be hard on yourself. Most of us are all set in our ways; that’s why people and companies spend so much time advertising, marketing and selling since people are so busy with their life that they are not going to pay attention to you. You have to “hit” them on the head so many times before they pay attention and take action. If you have children, you already know this. You have to often ask them few times to get them to do something.
This is the key to any speech. What did it achieve as the day past the speech? If it didn’t achieve your objective then you made noise or just gave information, albeit in an entertaining way. You did not move the needle. You have to find out how you can change this. You have to dissect this since a speech has to meet your objective otherwise why give a speech.
You have to see whether you knew your audience well.
You have to know what the audience knew about you well.
You have to know what the audience knew about the topic.
Did you make the speech easier to understand?
What do you need to do right after your speech?
What did you convey that is actionable?
Naturally you want to do all parts of MOS well, but the most important is UMOS. Now it is hard to do UMOS well if you did not have a high ZMOS, FMOS and SMOS. People will not just start spreading your message or take action if they did not go through the journey where they are inspired by your message.
Movie “Jerry Maguire”
You are not going to see a situation in real life like you see in the movie "Jerry Maguire" when Jerry is fired from Sports Management International (SMI) and makes an impassioned farewell speech. In the speech, he is trying to recruit his colleagues to join him in his new venture, but only Dorothy Boyd, a single mom, is persuaded by Jerry’s plea. The reason Dorothy was sold had a lot to do with her belief in the mission statement that Jerry wrote on how to do business ethically that got him fired. Jerry had Dorothy at ZMOS; Jerry had her at FMOS; she took the action; hence, Jerry had her at SMOS; she was telling about Jerry’s vision to others so Jerry’s speech had a high UMOS as she joins Jerry’s company.
What you want is engagement and according to Brian Solis in his blog “The Ultimate Moment of Truth and The Art of Digital Engagement,” could consist of “actions, reactions and transactions.” Depending on where people are in the conversion spectrum, you want at the least get one of these three engagements. By thinking about your speech like the way a good marketer thinks will help you achieve your objective.
How do you practice UMOS?
This is about providing them information about the speech so they can access the recording and additional information that will help them spread the message. You have to have a good pre-game, which takes a lot of time, game (this is the speech you are giving and the tweets that you are sending while you are onstage), and post game (which could include recording of your speech with a place where they can get more information that will make them share the information with others.
You can’t view a speech as one and done since you have to have an excellent pre-game, game and post-game to succeed in your speech. It can’t be just a speech alone since people remember very little when you are giving your speech.
You have heard the 80/20 rule. It is used widely, but in business, it means that 80% of your business is going to come from 20% of your customers. I believe with social media the split may be 90/10 to more like 99/1 for some things. Because of this, you need scale today to be successful since people have a lot of options that they can easily get to.
Now you may be saying that this is a lot of work. I would agree with you, but one speech does not lead to success. If that were the case, then a lot of people would be successful. But you know that is not the case. What leads to success is looking at a speech the way a marketer looks a the four moments of truth. If you adopt this to speaking that I refer to as the four moments of speech, then you will be very successful with your speech for any setting, audience and occasion.