Unpacking my preparation for a speech

I’m preparing for a new conference talk. I’ve done this exercise many times now, and I’ve developed a unconscious routine that gives me confidence and makes me comfortable. My routine is the result of actively trying to improve the way I present by reading, watching and practicing, but I never reflected on my process. I’ll try to unpack it, in order to better understand it.

Here are the types of elements I’m using for my talk.

Core concepts. Ideally, the whole talk is a coherent story, revolving around one major idea. Everything else is just a collection of evidence to convince your audience that your idea matters.
==> In this talk, I use 1 concept: Complexity antibodies

Reframing. One good way to make people change their mind is to suggest them a different way of looking at the world.
==> In this talk, I use 1 reframing: things don’t start simple, they start complex; therefore, you shouldn’t try to avoid complexity but fight it instead

Concrete applications. When people are exposed for the first time to an idea, its implications aren’t obvious. You should use your head start to help your audience accelerate their learning by allowing them to see the idea materialize its benefits in specific situations.
==> In this talk, I use 3 concrete applications: usability test, design review, and roadmap planning.

Sources of knowledge. I mention things that have inspired what I’m talking about. By being transparent about my sources, I build credibility regarding some of my statements, but I also allow curious people to go further than my talk, onto more advanced levels. I prefer to mention sources that are accessible to anyone, as opposed to conversations with people, which could be harder for anyone to look into.
==> In this talk, I use 3 sources of knowledge: Checklist Manifesto (book), Insanely Simple (book), Nothing (movie)

Elements of context. Talks can become too theoretical. Sharing the context around core insights, new concepts and concrete applications helps reduce that risk. By adding elements of context, you help people figure out if their situation is the same as yours. You provide limits to your own assertions, preventing the pitfall of sounding more dogmatic than you really are.
==> In this talk, I use 1 element of context: why simplification mattered for my company at that time

Metaphors. Introducing a new idea can fail miserably, because you usually underestimate how long it took you to grasp this idea. It’s called the curse of knowledge: once you know something, it’s very hard to remember what’s it was like when you didn’t know it. Which makes you skip steps that would help people to follow your train of thought. Metaphors are good learning aids: you take a reference people understand, you introduce an unknown reference, and you highlight the commonalities between the known reference and the unknown reference. By doing so, you create a path from existing knowledge to new knowledge, which will help people understand, store and retrieve that piece of information.
==> In this talk, I use 4 Metaphors: boat emergency #1 rule / core insight, Pythagoras cup / roadmap planning, camel-horse comparison / design process, antibodies / simplification tools

Attention tricks. Regardless of the quality of the other blocks, your audience’s attention will wander unless their brain is teased by something. The longer the talk, the more likely your audience is at risk of losing your train of thought. I spread attention tricks all across my talk to keep their attention at the highest level. My objective is not for me to be interesting, but for them to feel good about having spent their time attending that talk. Attention tricks contributes to that objective in multiple ways: it makes the talk a more pleasant moment to them, it gives them anecdotes to talk about after, and it increases the likelihood that they will leave with a piece of information that corresponds to what they were hoping to get from your talk.
==> In this talk: 5 attention tricks: giving a mental puzzle and moving on without solving it, starting the talk with a seemingly unrelated story, attacking a widely accepted piece of wisdom, making an unexpected visual comparison, making a demonstration with props

Moments of participation. To reduce the learning gap between your audience and your content, you can give prompt to the audience to make one step forward. By using their own situation as a starting point, they can connect dots in ways that you wouldn’t be able to do, because everyone’s situation is different. Your talk can only remain general, so let people personalize your content for them.
==> In this talk: 2 moments of participation: asking people to raise their hand when they identify themselves with a category I’m describing, asking people to solve a puzzle I’m giving them

Personal stories. To demonstrate your belief in the content you’re sharing, you can strengthen the link between your content and yourself.
==> In this talk, I use 3 personal stories: an eye-opening discussion with a mentor, a boat trip with a friend, an application of a work tool to fight stress

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