How to Create a Life-Changing Presentation

This is a guest post by John Richardson. He is an author, speaker, and digital media creator. You can explore his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

The side lights dim in the auditorium and the speaker walks on stage. As they are introduced you notice something different about them. The way they are dressed commands your attention. They start to speak and you are quickly drawn into a powerful story. There is drama, tension, and intrigue.

Abstract Blue Sparks - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada, Image #15137495

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada

Soon you are tracking with them. You can relate to their struggles and you marvel at their tenacity. Soon they share how they overcame obstacles and found a way to prosper. And then they do something amazing. They offer to share their secret with you.

You want to know more. You’ve been where they are, you’ve fought the battle, but you haven’t found a solution. As the speaker goes on, they mention they have a book and a step by step course of action you can take to change your own life.

In your mind, you know one thing. You’re not leaving until you have the answer. You pick up the book, follow the instructions, and your life changes.

Have you been there? Have you heard that presentation? Has your life changed?

My name is John Richardson and I’ve been part of a public speaking organization called Toastmasters International for over fifteen years. In that time I’ve heard hundreds of speeches and presentations, from short five-minute monologues to ninety minute keynotes. Yet in that time I’ve only heard about a dozen, truly motivational presentations. Ones that change your life.

As a speaker, I’ve always wanted to be able to give that kind of presentation. To reach deep down inside and share from the heart. To actually be able to motivate people to change their lives for the better. In my journey, I’ve become a student of speaking and motivational styles. I’ve tried many different things and failed many times, yet a few things emerged that I would like to share with you today. If you are a speaker and want to change the world, you’ll definitely need SPARK.

S.P.A.R.K is…

  1. Senses: To build rapport with your audience you’ll need to activate their senses. My speaking friend, Sheryl Roush is a master at this. She starts way before the presentation begins. She knows that her audience will have three major learning styles. There are…
    • Visual learners. They intake information by what they see;
    • Audio learners. They intake information by what they hear; and
    • Kinesthetic learners. They intake information by what they feel.

    Sheryl always arrives at least an hour early. She has bright colored visuals in the form of PowerPoint slides or flip charts. She puts on background music for the audio people as they arrive. She has handouts ready for her kinesthetic guests. But Sheryl goes even further by heating up Chocolate Chip cookies and walking them through the room to add a pleasant aroma. She even adds powerful words and numbers to her slides for the analytics.

    Sheryl’s presentations are a sensory joy. She always dresses in bright colors and has a very professional and commanding presence. You know right away who the speaker is. No matter what your learning style is, you’ll come away impressed by her speech.

  2. Purpose: People need to know why you are speaking to them. They need to know your purpose. Simon Sinek in his masterful TED speech suggests that we Start with Why. Most speakers start with what or how, but if you can get to the core, and share your why, you’ll have a chance to really impact your audience.

    When you share your why, it affects the part of the brain that deals with emotion. This is a deep set part of the brain can really motivate your audience, yet that part of the brain doesn’t work with words. Your audience may be motivated to action but may not be able to formulate words to describe it.

  3. Act it out with stories: The best speakers I know are really actors in disguise. Their presentations are almost like going to a play. They come out from behind a podium and share powerful stories with emotion and action. There is drama and intrigue as they share powerful action words with passion. Their vocal variety is enormous.

    Stories like this are what will truly bring your audience in. They need to include all the senses. Your audience needs to see, hear and feel what is going on.

  4. Relate: Stories should relate to your particular audience. Make them conversational and personal. Show us the dark days. Show us your failures. Be real. Almost all of the truly motivational speeches take us into the pain and agony of a situation and contrast it with a solution or new reality. The greater the contrast, the greater the audience impact.

    Nancy Duarte illustrates this concept powerfully in her video post on Presentation Contrast. Contrast is like a sine wave, alternating between what is and what can be. As Nancy shares, if you truly want to change the world, take an idea, add contrast, and share it with others.

  5. Knowledge: The best presentations offer something new and unique. There is nothing cliché about them. They offer a take-away, whether that is a handout, book, or video. The audience member has a chance to gain further knowledge. Authors have a definite advantage here. Having a book to sell or a seminar to attend, is a great way to effect change.

Creating a powerful and motivating presentation takes a lot of time, effort, and practice. A great place to start is a local Toastmasters club where you can learn speaking and leadership skills and be able to practice and refine your speech. If you truly want to get up to speed quickly, Ken Davis and Michael Hyatt’s SCORRE conference can teach you powerful presentation skills in just a few days. You’ll be ready for the platform in no time.

Question: What speakers have you heard that truly motivated you to take action? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I’ve heard several pastors that are truly motivational.  I’d include Brian Jones, John Burke, Randy Frazee, Bill Donahue, Tony Campolo, and Francis Chan to my list.

    John, I appreciate your post this morning.  I’m heading into a meeting at the office this morning where I will be presenting to our field staff.  While I only have a couple more hours for preparation, your list gives me a few more things to consider to make sure my presentation is effective.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Good luck on your presentation, Jon. I have found that a good story that relates with your audience is a great place to start. Chocolate chip cookies are helpful too!

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Love the cookie idea. What about candles that smell like cookies?

        • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

          Great idea… and no calories!

        • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

          As long as they’re good quality. Bargain candles are torturous to people who are sensitive (even allergic) to artificial scents.

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            You’re right Cheri. I personally can’t do candles that smell like cookies or bread. They make me nauseous. 

            Maybe some that smell like a fresh laundry? LOVE those. We could have the people feeling like they’re floating on a cloud of fresh, dry towels :)

          • http://www.sonyaleethompson.com/ Sonya Lee Thompson

            Wouldn’t the cookies make everyone hungry? That could be distracting. I think the point is to have a room smelling homey and relaxing. If you want the cookie smell, leave them on the table so none has to become preoccupied with a need for sweets. :-)

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            I will be offline most of Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12 while I work on a project. If you need immediate assistance, please mark your message as URGENT or try me on my cell phone. Otherwise, I’ll reply to your email at the beginning of next week.
            Thanks!

            Michele Cushatt
            (303) 517-6651

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            Good point Sonya. 

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

         John,  The story worked like a charm!  Thanks for the timely advice.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Great to hear, Jon!

        • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

          Awesome!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Good luck Jon. May your presentation knock the socks off of those in attendance.

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

         Thanks, Joe.  Everyone was still wearing their socks when I finished, but they seemed engaged and interested in what I shared.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Great to hear Jon! 

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          Great!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Let us know how it goes…

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

         The presentation went well.  I was sharing about a couple of quality initiatives that we are introducing in our department.  I didn’t use cookies, but I did use a story from my past to introduce the topic.  The story and the presentation went over well.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Awesome!

    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      Good luck on the presentation!

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Now I know God is dealing with me about speaking–whenever He leads me in a new direction, it starts with this blog (creating a blog, writing and self-publishing my book, and now, speaking). I have “new” knowledge to share (a fresh perspective on the Bible) and a purpose. The knowledge I’ve had for quite a while, but I’ve just developed my purpose over the last several weeks–to bring joy to as many people as possible by sharing and explaining the absolute love of God. I’ve also been thinking of working up a set of hand-outs (I’m a teacher after all) and I know about the multiple styles of learning.

    I’ve already investigated joining a Toastmasters group, but the timing is all wrong during the school year. I’ll check the organization out again–maybe something new has opened up.

    Thanks so much for this post, John–it’s great information and it gives us a lot to consider.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      You have a great head start on speaking with your teaching experience. I’m sure you know all about learning styles. When used effectively, they can draw in the toughest of audiences. As a kinesthetic learner, having a handout and taking notes really allows me to retain more of the presentation. 

      My friend Sheryl Roush expands this into some of the finer learning modalities such as spatial, musical, and interpersonal. She’ll have her audience singing songs, solving puzzles, and breaking up into small groups. It’s very effective.

      • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

        One of the principles I’ve learned is that people need time to process what they have heard in order to learn the material. In my classroom, if I’ve talked for a while, I often give a two-minute break for my students to get up and move around. I have started thinking how I will structure my “speeches” in order to promote the best learning. This post has been immensely helpful to me in that quest. Thanks again!

        • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

          That is so true in seminars and longer presentations. You’ll completely lose your audience without a break.

          • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

            In addition to the three traditional learning styles, many audience members are “verbal learners” or “social learners” who need to process what they’re hearing by talking or writing about it. 

            That two-minute break could be a life-saver for a verbalizer who’s just bursting to say something!  

            (How to keep them from ruining the contemplative silence of the solo processing introvert next to them is whole ‘nother story…!)

          • http://www.facebook.com/patriciazell Patricia Hylton Zell

            Pair and share  is a good strategy. The people who want to chat can stand up and share with someone else who is standing. Those who are seated can stake out their own territory.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Awesome Patricia. You need a picture on your comment profile so we can put a face with the name. :)

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Agreed!

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        +1

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    Fantastic post John! I was captivated until the very end. Combined with yesterday’s post, I’m sufficiently moved and inspired to take my presentation skills to the next level.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      There is nothing more magic than hearing a compelling speaker. Good luck on your next presentation.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        And there’s little worse than suffering through a poor speaker.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          So true. It’s especially painful when the message is of great importance.

        • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

          Especially when it’s coupled with expectation.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Exactly!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      What specifically are you going to do to take them to the next level, Jason? I’m being pushy, I know. ;)

      • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

        Prep time. I’m pretty good at improv and extemporaneous speaking. Over the last year, especially now with an infant, I’ve started skimping on the prep time and relying on my ability to think and speak “on my feet”. Because of this, the quality of my presentations are suffering. I’ve had several missed opportunities to really make an impact. I need to do the work, and really hone my message…

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          That’s an excellent goal. It’s tough trying to manage varying responsibilities and give them each their due. I’ve been working on the same thing over this past year.

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    On the spiritual side, I’ve been moved every time by Rob Bell. Every talk is like a work of art. 

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I’ll have to check out his presentations. One of my favorites is T.D. Jakes. He takes a simple point and hammers it home. You won’t forget his sermons.

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        His story about Eagles and their calling to fly is still with me from the moment he preached it at Hillsong conference 2006.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Rob does have a way with his presentations. When I worked at a bookstore, his Nooma series had a huge following.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Andy Stanley and Jim Collins at the Catalyst conference. Both put on an amazing presentations that encouraged and inspired me to take action.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      One of the best speakers that I’ve seen at a Catalyst conference is a guy named Michael Hyatt. Very interactive and professional.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Ha! Thanks, John.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

         Haha, you’re right John. I wasn’t able to attend the labs this year so I missed seeing him in action. But I was able to purchase the labs and just listened to his presentation on Tuesday. It was great stuff!

  • Anonymous

    John,

    As someone who is always analyzing the effectiveness of speakers at church or at work, I followed your line of thought easily.  I love the acronym.  That is the way I think and will give me a great template for my own talks in the future.

    I especially agree with the speaker exposing their own mistakes to the audience.  That is truly a connection point that sets apart the great communicators.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Sharing mistakes makes us human and adds contrast. A speech without contrast is BORING.

      • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

        I’ve realized that I “play it safe” and avoid “extremes.”  Didn’t think of it as “avoiding contrast” and “being boring” ’til now!

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        I like the way you share it! Blunt and Honest!

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    We’re designed to connect with one another.  I’m sure we’ve all sat through our share of presentations that bored us to tears.

    I hope this post helps us all be better presenters, so we can connect with our audiences and enrich their lives.

    Have a blessed weekend everyone!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I’ve been in way too many of those presentations. Great help for insomnia!

  • Alan Kay

    Brilliant. I’d add one thing. Our presentation isn’t about how smart we are. Many presenters start out confidently – or anxiously – assuming that the audience needs to be clear on how clever, unique, etc., the speaker is. 
    The presenter’s job is to be useful and provide value to the audience – their way. As you help them understand ‘purpose’ find out where they are on the topic. Ask a question to draw them in. That way they will see how useful and clever you are.     

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      So true, Alan. Questions are an ideal way to draw your audience in.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      So true. It’s really about the audience not us as presenters. Thanks.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Great point Alan.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Speaking the language of the audience is also key. If how you’re saying what you’re saying doesn’t grab their attention, it is wasted.

    • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

      Alan — While it’s not always feasible, I aim to survey an upcoming audience two weeks prior to a presentation. 

      Often, I axe an entire section of a talk and expand on another based on their perceived needs. 

      Each survey question has the option for comments and questions, and I add many “one-liners” and examples that have been provided by “experts” sitting right there in the audience (and acknowledge them as such.) 

      As the survey results come in, I find myself more and more eager to meet the individuals who have been sharing with me. Such a difference from showing up to face a room of strangers!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Excellent insight, Alan.

  • Stevkaka

    awesome stuff

  • http://markgredler.wordpress.com/ Mgredler

    Andy Stanley gets my vote.  His message given at his father’s church, Application Makes All The Difference, led to positive changes in my life.  It started with his book The Principle of the Path, but my first reaction was how much someone I love and wanted to fix needed to read it.  I knew I needed to take action in my life, and some of the actions.  I knew reading a good book, highlighting and taking notes in the margin wasn’t enough.  Then I learned from that message that I needed to make application.  Finally, I got a wake up call and was willing to change, to ask the Lord to change me, and He is changing me.

    I don’t see any way to insert a link, but can put my blog – my Dec. 30, 2011 post has a link to the Application Makes All the Difference presentation by Andy Stanley.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I’ve heard Andy speak. He definitely takes after his father. One of the best Christian teachers on the planet.

  • http://4mpmanagement.com/ Manoj Kotak

    Simplified but very accurate article. You have narrated the process in 5 effective points which easy to remember and execute.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I find it helpful when speakers can arrange their points into a word or acronym that is easy to remember. It makes it so much easier to recall the individual topics.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll, Joyce Meyer, Francis Chan, Beth Moore. Those are just a few that have made an impact on my life.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I picked up one of Francis Chan’s books. Powerful. Hits you right between the eyes!

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        He’s good like that. I’ve listened to his talk from the Passion conference this year several times. It hits you between the eyes too!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Just picked up Francis Chan’s Crazy Love last night. Can’t wait to read it.

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Great book. Let me know how you like it. I need to read it again. 

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Will do. The youth pastor at our church loves Francis Chan. He was so pumped to see him when we attended Catalyst.

          • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

            That’s where I saw him. He was powerful!

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

            Awesome. I thought he had a lot of passion behind him during his presentation this year.

            Can’t wait to see what Catalyst has in store for us this year.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for months. Should probably read the thing!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I love all of these speakers, Sundi Jo. My favorite, though is Stanley. He has a great book called “Communicating for a Change,” where he describes his basic technique of preaching. Good stuff.

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        I’ll have to check it out. He said at Catalyst this year, “Do for one person what you wish you could do for everyone.” 

        That has stuck in my mind. 

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Good book.

  • http://www.joyinthisjourney.com Joy in this Journey

    This post was so practical, and also very moving and inspirational. It’s a great example of how to do what you describe in written form — I’m hovering my mouse pointer over that SCORRE link because I NEED the information shared there! Now, to figure out how you did it!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Come on, you can do it. Just click on the link (-;

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson
      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        You can also use a full anchor tag like this: What HTML tags are allowed within comments? I use a keyboard shortcut with Typinator to insert the link on the clipboard with a few keystrokes. This is one of the many reasons I love Disqus.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

    .

    Here’s a presentation that literally changed my life:

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-great-book-of-romans-chapter-8.mp3

    Just give it 10 minutes. It may do the same for you. You may never be the same.

    .

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

    I gave a presentation yesterday to a small group of professionals on strengthening their blog presence…

    I had a story I really wanted to tell that was relevant from a question asked about halfway through.  Up until that point the audience had been attentive but lethargic as it was first thing in the morning.

    So I came out from behind podium acted out the conversation/story I was telling… 

    Immediately the crowd got into it and actually started participating in the story by adding filler lines…

    It was an eye-opening experience for a young speaker.

    Thanks for confirming I’m not crazy for doing that!

    Ryan H. 

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Podiums and lecterns break the energy from the speaker to the audience. Coming out from behind really builds rapport.

      • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

        John completely agree… I’m going to try and avoid podiums from now on!

    • Jim Martin

      Ryan, I think that one of the most amazing moments in a presentation is to witness the change in the response of the listener’s after you (as the presenter) make a simple adjustment.  Good for you!

      • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

        Jim, it really was a defining moment as a learning experience.  I’m still relatively new to speaking as a career and I’m learning every time out.

        Thanks!

  • Biljana

    Thank you John, the class presentations that I am working on will definitely get more SPARK after reading your post. I am very happy to say I am truly blessed for having opportunity to count you among my teachers and speakers that motivated and thought me a lot. 
    Best wishes for your continued success, looking forward to all your posts.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Hi Biljana, great to see you here. We miss you at Toast of the Valley. Hopefully you are knocking them dead with your presentations in Texas!

  • http://www.suttonparks.com/ Sutton Parks

    Doug Wead is my all time favorite speaker.  His stories on David and Goliath and Gideon are unsurpassed

    Great timing on this post.  My first book signing is in a week and I want to give a short presentation.  It is at a coffee shop and it will be about coming back from depression, foreclosure, despair, addiction and homelessness by using gratitude and taking action.  Thank you for the tips!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Good luck on your presentation. Powerful topics!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I remember hearing his re-telling of David and Goliath years ago. I love his emphasis on the prize. I have told and re-told that story. I even gave credit to Doug—the first few times. ;-)

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    John, thank you for sharing your knowledge on speaking. This was a great post! I have considered joining Toastmasters, but have heard that have minimum speaking requirements (such as several times a month) to maintain membership. As a busy mom, my first ministry is my family and I cannot make that type of time commitment to speaking at this season in my life.

    I am excited that I am going to the SCORRE conference in April, thanks to Michael’s post yesterday. I registered this morning. 

    Thanks, John, for your post today.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Congratulations, Kelly. I am looking forward to meeting you!

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Thanks Michael! I  look forward to meeting you as well. 

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Hi Kelly. After you attend the SCORRE conference, you may want to find a local TM club to practice at. We have a few members in our club that keep their memberships active, but only come sporadically when they need feedback on a speech or presentation. It’s not ideal but it works.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        I will look into TM after SCORRE.   There is a local TM group in my area that seems to focus on ministry speakers called the Testifying Toastmasters.  Currently, 
        I am working with Stonecroft Ministries to become one of their speakers.  

        Thanks again for your post!

  • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

    Love the S.P.A.R.K.! Also appreciate the detailed examples and the references. You really underscore the fact that there are great examples and mentors out there that we can learn from. And I so like the chocolate chip cookies! If I may be so bold as to add that Sincerity is such an important part of making an impact. I have found that the audience has to feel that you are sincere and not just saying things to sell a book or a consulting or speaking engagement. Thanks John.
    Enrique
    Fiallo

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      So true! That’s why it is so hard for many people to share products or services with their followers. You have to do it in a sincere and helpful way.

  • Tom Bolton

    John Maxwell has often really motivated me over the years–he is a great story teller.  Adam Hamilton motivates and moves me to action in my spiritual disciplines these days.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Maxwell is classic. I listen to his audio books while driving. It is a little hard to remember all 21 points of leadership, even though I’ve heard it numerous times…

    • Jim Martin

      Tom, so true.  Maxwell is an outstanding storyteller.

  • Don Hart

    Among the best (and most useful) presentations I have experienced was by Herb Cohen, whose book, You Can Negotiate Anything, was the teaser and draw.  What he taught about cross-cultural negotiations, about listening before talking, and about getting your negotiating opposite invested in the process have been useful in my business experience, and in church work.  I bought his book and more usefully, his audio cassettes (this has been a while back), and enjoyed and learned from them.

  • http://cavemanreflections.blogspot.com/ Michael Mulligan

    I followed the links to Simon and Nancy; they fit into the category of speakers who motivate me to take action.  Thanks for the S.P.A.R.K., John.  I’m ready for action.  Nice work.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I really like the simplicity of concept of both presentations. One is a simple target, the other is a sine wave. Easy to remember, with truly profound results.

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  • Popes

    Jon Acuff did a great job at catalyst.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Funny, with a compelling message.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Yes he did. I enjoyed listening to his presentation.

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    I love Patsy Claremont. She’s a story-teller par excellence, but can she ever drive home a core point with those stories!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Patsy is a great story-teller, one of the best. She and Les also live one block away from me—literally. She is as lovely in person as she is on stage.

      • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

        I’ve been watching her Women of Faith DVDs and thinking, “I want to be just like Patsy when I ‘grow up’!”  

        More than that, I’m struck with how intentional she is with her words, movements, expressions, etc. without coming across as over-practiced/slick/plastic. 

        Does the SCORRE Conference teach how to get THAT good? Or at some point, is it back to “10,000 hours”?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Get this: Earlier this week, Women of Faith brought in Ken Davis, my partner, to teach the speakers the art of story-telling. Moreover, He and some of our teammates are doing the whole SCORRE conference for the WOF speakers in April. That’s how much they believe SCORRE will help them.
          The reason it takes most people 10,000 hours is because they don’t have the SCORRE framework. I am not saying you don’t have to practice or pay your dues, but SCORRE will dramatically reduce the learning curve. Can you tell I am excited about this content?!
          Thanks,

  • Andrew Maulding

    John, thanks for you post. I found this post very insightful as it appears to be geared towards presentations that are made at conferences. Being a graduate student, I don’t attend many conferences. That said, if and when I do attend a conference , and I’m a presenter, I hope to implement these skills. Furthermore, who says I can’t already implement them into my graduate school courses at school? Wouldn’t that be fun? Again, thanks for the wisdom, John. 

    • Jim Martin

      Andrew, you make a good point regarding implementing this during graduate school.  So much of what John recommends in this post would be useful in a variety of presentations before a few or many.  

      Thanks.  Wish you the best in your studies.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Being able to present your ideas to others is a skill that will serve you the rest of your life. It’s also very helpful for job interviews and performance reviews.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree with your last thought. Who says this can’t impact every day life? If you communicate at all–in writing, in conversation, etc.–these skills can be used. I keep thinking how my every-day relationships could be impacted. Communication can be just as life-changing off the stage.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Love the idea of SPARK!  Evernoted!

    Thinking back, I can identify a handful of speakers who had this, and many who didn’t.  I will be keeping this idea in front of me as I prepare my messages.  Thanks!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Many times it’s hard to tell what makes a speaker so good. You know it when you see it. I know one thing… powerful stories with a purpose are so much better than bullet points read from the screen.

  • Jim Martin

    John, I appreciate your post.  S.P.A.R.K. is very useful and you made several points that were good reminders for me.  So glad you included several links and examples.  Thanks.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    My two favorite speakers, and right now two favorite podcasts, are Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio. Both of these men help me shake of my sluggishness and inertia and help me see into a different world. Great post, John. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Both speakers you mentioned have been noted over and over. Can you pinpoint what makes them so good?

  • http://www.sonyaleethompson.com/ Sonya Lee Thompson

    I’m surprised only a handful of speeches have motivated change in your life. Do you feel Toastmasters ever gets old? Sometimes being moved by a speech comes from being active in their talk. I do this by taking notes and coming with an attitude of expectation. I’m excited to say that I just registered for the SCORRE conference in May! Thank you for these important speaking tips. I’ll write them down and put them in my binder.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I will be offline most of Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12 while I work on a project. If you need immediate assistance, please mark your message as URGENT or try me on my cell phone. Otherwise, I’ll reply to your email at the beginning of next week.
      Thanks!

      Michele Cushatt
      (303) 517-6651

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Sonya. I am so glad you registered. I look forward to meeting you!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I will be offline most of Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12 while I work on a project. If you need immediate assistance, please mark your message as URGENT or try me on my cell phone. Otherwise, I’ll reply to your email at the beginning of next week.
        Thanks!

        Michele Cushatt
        (303) 517-6651

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Great points, Sonya. I learn new things from almost every speech that I hear. But every once in a while there is a speech or presentation that is so moving and so memorable, that a profound change takes place in my life. What makes these presentations different is they stick with me weeks, months, or years after you I’ve seen them. When you combine profound and memorable, those words can institute lasting change. 

      Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book called Made to Stick, which outlines six principles of a memorable speech. You can have the best material in the world, but if your listeners don’t remember it, change won’t happen. Making a lasting impression is not easy, but when it’s done right, people may remember your words for the rest of their lives… For example… Martin Luther King’s powerful “I have a Dream” will stay with me forever.

      • http://www.sonyaleethompson.com/ Sonya Lee Thompson

        I’ll check out the book, John. I heard Lysa Teurkhurst speak at a P31 conference last summer and her advice was to have a sticky theme or word.  Sounds like a similar concept. Her theme (and I’ll never forget it) was “let God chisel.”  I hope to learn how to incorporate this kind of concept at the SCORRE conference and then will look into joining a local TM.

  • http://jeffvankooten.com/ Jeff Vankooten

    I heard Ravi Zacharias speak when I was in Seminary. No one knew much about him then. But as he worked through his series over two days, the room became more and more full till it was standing room only. A great speaker interfacing deep intellect with deep emotion.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Now that is a great Trifecta!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Yes.
      I could listen to Ravi read the phone book.

  • Anonymous

    The person who motivates me every time I listen to him is John Maxwell, he is such a great communicator and leader. I think being prepared for the presentation is essential this means preparing and practicing. Great post.

    • Jim Martin

      Dan, your point regarding preparation (and practice) is so important.  You are right. It is essential.  A good reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/keithferrin keith ferrin

    Couldn’t agree more. As a communication coach, I always tell my clients, “I don’t want to talk about any of the details until you can clearly tell me WHY you are giving the speech (or running the meeting, sending the email, etc.) in the first place.” Terrific article.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Putting the “Why” into words is not easy, but essential.

    • Jim Martin

      Keith, this strikes me as such a helpful discipline for anyone who does public speaking.  Thanks.

    • Rachel Lance

      The “why” was the piece that stood out to me as well and I love how you take that point one step further and apply it to meetings as well.

  • Anonymous

    Very well written John. I could tell from the first few sentences that you have been in Toastmasters. I too was in Toastmasters and found it extremely helpful. I had to quit due to some circumstances, but the lessons learned have been very valuable.

    Ken and Michael’s SCORRE conference is very interesting and I would love to attend in the future.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      One of the most moving speeches I’ve ever heard was from a student at a local special needs school. Our Toastmaster’s club set up a junior Toastmasters meeting there, and the students who took the program had to write out and deliver a speech. A few of the students were chosen to give their speeches at our TM club meeting.

      This young girl’s story of living in multiple foster homes and the horrendous conditions and events she went through, left everyone in the room in tears and shock. It wasn’t a well polished speech, but it was from her heart and was full of emotion. All she wanted was for someone to care about her.

      Sometimes the most profound speeches or presentations come when you least expect them. I will never forget that day and that powerful speech.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a great story. Probably the best TM speech I got to listen to was a member of ours was preparing to speak at his close friends military retirement party in SF. The friend was an officer and there were a bunch of influential people at this party. He used our meeting to practice and knocked it out of the park and I’m sure that his friend was deeply touched at the ceremony.

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    I’ve heard several pastors and evangelists that come to a conference every year at our church called “The Holiness Comference”, some really amazing speakers. One person that sticks out the most was when I saw Dave Ramsey speak, after we saw him, the next day we were selling everything to pay off debt!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      He’s a great speaker, as evidenced by the number of people whose lives have changed significantly as a result of listening to him!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      If you enjoyed Dave’s presentations on money, you need to see him speak on leadership. AMAZING!

      • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

        I have to now!

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Great post, John. This past Sunday our speaker preached from Luke 2, talking about a 12-year-old Jesus who stayed behind in Jerusalem because he wanted nothing more than to be in His “Father’s House.” At the end of the sermon, the pastor called a small child to the stage to stand next to him. As his conclusion, he simply recited Matthew 18:2-4 from memory, with one hand on the little boy’s head:

    “He [Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

    The entire room of 1000+ was silent. A simple visual, but his presentation hit it’s mark, and we left changed. A great example of using the senses and story to deliver an excellent presentation.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Great illustration, Michele. One of our pastors (Chris Brown) gave a great illustration of the Holy Spirit by using two “Ironman” action figures. One was just a doll and the other had batteries in it and lit up. Chris held up the static doll, and said, “This is a person without the Holy Spirit. You have to do everything yourself.” 

      Then he held up the one with the batteries. He turned it on and lights flashed, limbs moved, and the eyes glowed. He looked at the audience and said, “This is someone with the Holy Spirit inside.”  It made a memorable point that I will never forget!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Oh, wow! That had an impact on me in just the re-telling!

    • Jim Martin

      Wow.  I like that, Michele.  Simple but very profound.  Obviously, this was very memorable as well.

  • http://www.CrazyAboutChurch.com/ Charles Specht

    Public speaking is a challenge and a nightmare.  Getting people to pay attention and follow with you is quite difficult.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

    Great post, John.

    My favorite section of SPARK is “A”—act it out with stories.  I think presentations with GOOD storytelling are going to become more important than ever before because of our proclivity to “screen media.” There is, and will continue to be, a real power with live story—enhanced messages. 

    Your point about being “Real” is also great. I heard Phil Vischer, of Vegi-Tale fame, give a message about how he lost Big Idea, the production company Vegi-Tales, and it was one of the most amazing messages I have ever heard.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Our minds are setup to relate with stories. Tell a compelling story and you’ll instantly connect with an audience. Put up 5 or 10 bullet points, read the screen, and you’ll slowly put your audience to sleep.

  • Myrna Walters

    Loved this blog.  I’m checking out Toastmasters next week.  Thanks.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Have fun, Myrna. Many areas have multiple clubs. With the online club finder, you can usually find one close by that meets at a time that’s convenient.

  • Ron Briley

    Thanks John, for your informative and interesting blog, and thanks Michael, for inviting the recent guest bloggers.   All have done well in stimulating our thinking towards being more effective in our writing, speaking and the overall objective of reaching others with the message of God’s love.

    As for those who have stood out in motivational messages, for me, the messages of Max Lucado, Tony Compolo, and of course, the daily motivation I receive from Michael’s blog.

    I see Michael allows bloggers to post links to their blogs, and I would like to see others who make comments give their blog address.  I would like to be able to see how they utilize their blogging talents and receive ideas from their work.  As a new blogger (ronbwriting.blogspot.com) I welcome fresh techniques and suggestions.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    John, thanks for sharing the information and helping me prepare for my next opportunity to speak (whenever and wherever that might be). As I read your SPARK points, I applied them to possible ways to present a message. I think passing around warm chocolate chip cookies will definitely get you a return engagement as a speaker. Well done.–Tom

  • John Wodka

    Michael, thank you for sharing John with us. I especially think the ‘relate’ portion is impactful. It’s difficult to relate to someone who seems perfect. Lifelong friends are many times connected through shared brokenness.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      As Nancy Duarte shares in her TED speech, the contrast between “what is” and “what can be” is what makes a speech memorable and motivational. The greater the contrast, the greater the impact.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I remember one story that Bishop T.D. Jakes spoke at Hillsong conference about the Eagle and its calling to fly. He told it as a story in his sermon, adding acting through the way he communicated, and then the final crescendo of the highest point. The keys player behind him was playing some piano following the story. It was sensory heaven and had an eternal message in mine. It definitely impacted me in a way that I have been motivated to live higher.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      T.D.’s presentations are like a well crafted stage play. I love how he hammers a point home!

  • Matt Harmon

    John do you have a book that dives into more detail on this? Or might you know of some good resources?

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath is a great book for making your message more memorable. Digging into learning styles and multiple intelligences with a book like “So Each May Learn,” is very helpful for crafting practical exercises and creating a conducive learning environment for a diverse audience. Finding out how people really learn and take in information will make you a much more effective presenter.

  • Brielle Hoffman

    My senior pastor, Chris Hodges, is an excellent communicator. He pastor’s a church of close to 20,000 people and does exactly what you communicated in your blog above. The church is called Church of the Highlands and is located in Birmingham, AL. He is a role model and example to me as I desire and believe God has called me to be a communicator. Thank you for sharing, this blog post was extremely helpful!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Pastors and other religious leaders can really benefit from emotion and story telling in their presentations. Bullet points alone don’t cut it. You have to bring us into the story and give us something we can relate to.

  • http://www.sayaprayerforme.com/ Ryan

    Hi, My name is ryan and I am trying to promote my new site called http://www.sayaprayerforme.com Please check it out. Thanks.

  • Jessica Zirbes

    How timely! I’m doing my first speech tonight at my local ToastMaster’s club. Your post was very helpful.

  • http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/ Juliebcosgrove

    As a member of Toastmasters for three years, I can agree that the skills you learn in this organization has greatly enhanced my speaking to women’s groups and in the promotion of my books.  I have also made clsoe friends who are supportive. Each wqeek, I treat myslef to Toastmasters as my postivitu boost.

     I was priviledged to spend an evening listening to Darren LaCroix, the 2001 International winner in Toastmasters. He now charges up to $10K for a keynote speech. But, he spoke to our Toastmaster district pro bono because he thoroughly believes if you have a triumph over struggles and are willing to speak and write about it well, they will come.  I can honestly say for one evening I sat at the foot of a master.

    Julie B Cosgrove
    Chrsitian author, speaker
    http://www.juliebcosgrove.com

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Darren is amazing. I’ve seen him at the District 12 speakers bureau a couple of times. If you want to learn how to do comedy, his CD’s are a great way to learn the structure and delivery necessary to make an audience laugh. His motto is “stage time, stage time, stage time.”  So true!

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    John, great article!

    Most articles on speaking are as boring as the speaker writing them! :) This is solid, meaty, usable content.

    “The best speakers I know are really actors in disguise.”

    So true. Once we’re comfortable, our speaking reveals our core.

    Example: I love life. Love to laugh. But I just took it for granted.

    Then I started hearing over and over after presentations… “You ought to be a comedian.”

    Of course, I was just being me. I always concentrate on a challenging or serious result for the audience, but laced throughout are stories. Quick one-liners. Fast banter with the audience. But that’s just the way it is in real life too.

    Our presentations should be extensions of our life, not a fake compartmentalization.

    Peace,
    Paul

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I like the 4 H approach to speaking…

      Head: Make them think.
      Heart: Make them feel.
      Hands: Ask them to take action
      Humor: Make them laugh

      Put all four together and you have a powerful presentation.

      Sounds like you incorporate all four in your speaking!

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    Wow! Great post. You shared a lot of ideas I had not thought of. I think business presentations could use a lot more color and life and you’ve shared some tips on how to do that. I love the idea of acting out the presentations. I can see now the reasons it the SCORRE conference would be valuable because of the various ways you can be creative in speaking.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Some of the members of our local speakers bureau have taken Improv classes and stand-up comedy training. It really makes a difference. 

      • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

        Awesome! Thanks for sharing this info.

  • Indrajeet ‘Inder’ Pawar

    Greatly appreciated the creativity and ideas presented here. Since I speak mostly in India the point about ‘storytelling’ was most relevant. However I am also aware that the greatest need in public speaking or preaching (which is what I most do) is the ‘anointing’ of God. That style is secondary to unction as underlined by Leionard Ravenhill when he said, ”
    If God has called us preachers to the ministry, then we should get unctionized. With all thy getting–get unction, lest barrenness will be the badge of our unctionless intellectualism.” (
    http://www.puritanfellowship.com/2008/08/with-all-thy-getting-get-unction.html)

  • Kjreusser

    Joining Toastmasters made the turning point in my career as a speaker/author of chn’s books. Everything I read said I’d have to become a public speaker to progress my career and reluctantly I joined TM, terrified everyone would make fun of me. They did not and it was one of the friendliest groups I’ve ever been in. I was in it for 6 yrs and finally felt good enough to go on my own as a speaker. I’m no longer afraid of groups and have booked several meetings this yr to speak to children and adults. I’m excited about it! Thanks for this post as a reminder of what TM can do for someone.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Toastmaster’s is a great organization. I’ve seen amazing changes in people after one or two speeches. To overcome the fear of speaking in public is very enabling. For me, it gave me confidence that I didn’t know I had.

  • http://elisafreschi.blogspot.com elisa freschi

    Thank you for the post, Mr. Richardson. I disagree with most of your points and would be very glad to read your answer to my doubts concerning your method. Personally I dislike being distracted by something which has little or  nothing to do with what I want to learn from a presentation. Hence, please no cookies, no music and no pictures of landscapes or the like (if I arrive early, I want to focus on the topic, read my notes, finish reading a book, tipping ideas on my laptop, etc., thus, please no distractions!). Further, I do not go to a presentation as if I were going to the cinema. I do not want to be *chiefly* entertained (entertainement might be needed in order not to fall asleep, but is not the main point). Last, I am not interested in the story of someone who is not a friend or a relative. Why should I bother listening to someone’s conjugal problems or the like? I rather prefer to hear about the general point which is being made. Stories can be told to small children.
    I wonder if this attitude of mine depends more on the fact that I was trained in
    Europe or more on the fact that I am an academic. Anyway, I do not like being treated as if I were a child who needs everything to look nicer than it is. My favourite presentations have been challenging and intellectually intriguing rather than entertaining.
    Do you take into consideration this kind of expectations?

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      As a technical person, I can see where you are coming from. It’s kind of a Joe Friday approach… just the facts please. I’ve been in a lot of frustrating presentations that I imagine you are thinking of, where the speaker stands in front of the audience and reads each and every one of their slides. They add clever animations and maybe even a sound effect. It takes an hour to go through and wastes your time. In that case, just give me the documentation. I can read it myself and get back to work.

      On the other hand, can you imagine Steve Jobs just reading a fact sheet about the iPad, iPhone, or iPod. “This is a tablet, running at 1 GHZ with 16 gig of Ram”… No… He added emotion, stories, and a personal touch. He described products that no one had seen before, and showed everyone how they could be used. Each of his presentations was a sensory delight, with colorful visuals, incredible sound effects, and hands on demonstrations. 

      For example, when he showed Garage Band, music filled the air. Music you could make yourself. He showed children using the software as well as students, teachers, and musicians. I was absolutely blown away how cool that program was. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t have the talent. Now I could have a tool that would enable me to make my own music. That’s why I stood in line for three hours to get one.

      Had he just given the facts… ho hum.. and iPad is a net-book without the keyboard. But Steve gave us a life changing, emotion filled, sensory enabled, experience. He shared his vision with us. As someone in education, I see how this vision is changing the lives of children in a very real way, everyday!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Well said, John. Thanks.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the suggestion of Toastmasters Club. I heard that they are active here in India too.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      TM has clubs all over the world. It’s interesting that many of the members of our local TM club are from India. They come to Toastmasters to learn to speak in front of groups and better communicate in English. Many are technical people that have to give presentations as part of their jobs. Through practice, and helpful evaluations, their presentations have become masterful. I don’t think I’ve seen a greater change in any group, than my friends from India. 

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks John! That was encouraging.

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: How to Create a Life-Changing Presentation

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  • http://www.BethanyJett.com/ Bethany Jett

    I’m leading two workshops next Saturday, and can’t wait to use your advice as I prep. I’m even more excited now that I have some concrete ideas to include. I know it’s going to be great! Thank you so much!