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About a year ago, I had a revelation.
As a part of my job, I spend time teaching at a lot of conferences. I found myself teaching the same concepts over and over, most of which were basic concepts.
I was bored.
I wanted to teach the stuff I was good at.
The stuff I could uniquely teach. The fun stuff.
But then I had that aforementioned revelation.
Do the Work In Front of You
I remembered something I learned a long time ago. Do the work you have in front of you, and then (and only then) will the work you want show up.
Why would you move on to the next thing, when you haven’t mastered the current thing?
So I set out to get better at the current thing. I tried to figure out how I can teach the stuff I’m currently teaching-better.
Yes-it meant re-doing my keynote, but that wasn’t what made an impact. It was finding a framework I could use to filter everything I taught through.
It meant asking when it worked–why did it work?
When it didn’t work–why didn’t it work?
Could I make this more systematic?
Could I make this a structure that I could apply to anything I’m teaching-no matter the topic?
Well, I believe I did that. It’s not revolutionary. It’s nothing new (I sure as heck didn’t come up with it myself) but it’s what works for me.
Here’s the framework I use for every topic I teach now.
The Four Questions
I once taught a session about using Ableton Live that was a basic overview of what you could do with the program. When I got done speaking (which I felt like I did a pretty good job) someone came up and said, “You never told us what Ableton Live is?”
I realized I spent my whole time showing what it could do. How it would be beneficial, why you should use it, but I never gave them a foundation to build upon.
What is it?
What am I talking about?
What can you expect from the talk today?
We all come from different backgrounds, so clarifying what we mean and what exactly we’re talking about is going to help with that uncertainty people feel as they’re wondering if we’re talking about, what they think we’re talking about.
A lot has been said in the past few years about the value of why.
We’re all selfish people.
What’s in it for me?
Why does this matter?
This is where you have to win people over to the idea you’re discussing. It matters almost more than any other piece of the framework. If you never explain to them why they should care-they’re not going to.
This is where you’re going to hook them.
We understand how. We’re a world of Googlers and You-Tubers.
If we need to figure out how to do something, we search for it and get all the steps we need for free.
This is where we get really practical.
This is the note-taking portion of the talk.
You should give people very clear, precise steps on how to make it happen. Do the work to figure it out for them and share your info.
This is what makes your talk effective. People will walk away feeling like they got something from your talk if you can answer the now question. You’ve clarified what you’re talking about, why they should care, and how to do it. What do you do now?
What’s the one thing they can do right now.
What’s the one step that people should do right now?
Download the demo?
Sign up for your newsletter?
Note the emphasis on one. It can’t be two things.
Nobody cares about your message as much as you. Make it easy for people to understand what you want them to do.
It sounds simple enough, but it’s revolutionized how I plan every talk, presentation, and class I do.
Use it, apply it, and let me know how it works for you!
-Stop worrying so much about your keynote. Can you give your talk without keynote? That’s all that matters. Add some pictures, delete text, and read as many articles, books that you can on the subject. But in general-stop stressing about your keynote file. The life-changing talks you remember didn’t have a keynote presentation.
-Plan your talk on one page. Start with these four questions and fill in the info. Add three points under each question, and continue to refine from there.
-In an hour, you can only talk about 3 big things. That’s max. If you need to talk about a lot, organize it all around 3 main points.
-Be yourself. This is perhaps the most important thing. If you’re a nerd-be a nerd. If you’re funny-be funny. People are attracted to authenticity-or better said, people, can detect fakeness from a mile away. Don’t be that guy.