Speaking with Simplicity and Power

The world has just received an unforgettable lesson from a sixteen-year-old – in both speechmaking and in courage.

Malala Yousafzai was already a great communicator and already a heroine when she was attacked on her school bus in Pakistan’s conflict-riven Swat Valley last October.

After the attack Malala came to Britain for a multiplicity of life-saving operations involving a titanium plate in her forehead and an implant in her ear.

She has since left hospital and resumed her campaign for female education at a stratospheric level.

It was fitting that Malala celebrated both her recovery and her sixteenth birthday, not with the conventional wild teenage party, but with a speech to the United Nations in New York.

She has rare courage and determination, there are several ways that her UN speech is to be admired from a performance perspective.

For a start she had a clear message…something that all speeches need, but many lack.

Malala’s message was that education is not the problem – it’s the solution.

She didn’t want to retaliate  with the same crude kind of weapon that was used on her.

Instead Malala declared: “Education is the only solution.”

And she wrapped up her message in a powerful image with the simplest of wording: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”.

Many are fearful about giving a talk to a small number of people in their own company or to a panel of prospective buyers.

Malala addressed international leaders and the world beyond with a calm inner confidence based on the quiet unpretentious certainty which underpins the wisdom of her approach.

And rather than dwell on her own troubles and pain, she focused her attention on the challenges of others.

It was all done with positivity.

Malala spoke slowly with confidence, clarity and courage.

What message will you make this week with SIMPLICITY AND POWER?


5 Great Ways to Start a Presentation


We’ve all been there before: staring at the glow of your blank computer screen with no idea on how to open or start your talk. For starters, you should never be staring at PowerPoint with no clear objective (that’s a conversation for another day), but let’s be honest, we’ve all struggled with the best ways to open a presentation.

It’s time to get unstuck. Here are 5 great ways to start a presentation:

1. Use Silence

Most people won’t be able to pull this off very easily, but if you are feeling like a rockstar during your next presentation, opt for silence. Say a few words then be quiet. Say a few more words then be quiet. It’s a quick and easy way to own the room. Just make sure you can hold your composure.

2. Point to the Future or Past

I have two simple statements for you:

– Prospective (looking to the future): “30 Years from now, your job won’t exist.”

– Retrospective (looking to the past): “In 1970, Japan owned 9% of the market. Today, they own 37%.”

The reality is that looking into the future or past always sparks engagement since that’s where our hearts live.

3. Quote Someone

The easiest way to open a talk is simply to quote someone. Think about that last presenter you heard when they opened their talk with a quote from Albert Einstein or Napoleon. A quote equals instant credibility.

4. Share Something Extraordinary

I don’t know about you, but I love Snapple. Even more so, I love their bottle caps since they always share fun facts or extraordinary insight into ordinary things. Is my life going to be improved because I know how many times a bee’s wings flaps in a second? No. Is it crazy interesting? Yes.

5. Tell a Story

Here’s the amazing thing about stories: If your presentation is based solely on facts and stats then your audience is going to react in one of two ways: 1) agree or 2) disagree. However, if you tell a story, your audience will participate with you. Still not sold? Stories have been known to increase audience retention by up to 26%.

So, what are you waiting for? Experiment. Try something new. Step outside your comfort zone. You’ll see some amazing results by trying any one of these techniques.