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The Welcome Surprises of Storyboarding A Speech

by Jill Foster on February 24, 2011

[Ed: we hope you enjoy this post either by watching the video, or by reading the written summary below... or both!]

What is going on?

What am I going to learn?

How is this relevant to me?

These are driving questions an audience immediately wants answered when you or any speaker takes the stage to give a speech.

The first question is the biggie and represents the audience’s natural craving for orientation to the speaker’s purpose.

Lead ‘em to clarity

An audience wants a sense of partnership with us, trust that we the speaker will lead them to some level of understanding. This was really crystallized for me when collaborating with a colleague this week on her speech. She was exuberant about her story; her content was great too.

She was in the initial storyboarding and brainstorming phase. And she wanted to inspire specific reactions in her audience. We were writing ideas on a whiteboard together when…

She stopped, looked me in the face, and said:

“But I really love this particular story. I think the real thrust of my message is right here.”

That’s when I asked we stop for a minute and said: “You just answered the driving question for the audience of ‘what is going on with this speech!’ ”

It was the needed gravity and purpose that the audience would seek.

It caught us both off guard.

When we first started storyboarding, both of us assumed other stories and anecdotes would be priority for her content.

But the storyboarding process led to a certain memory, a professional experience that was more conducive to her audience’s expectations. She became more alive when focusing on this perspective; and her clarity of mind heightened too.

That was a welcome surprise (pay dirt!) in preparing the rest of her content.

It was the driving momentum for this speech; in light of her expertise and her specific audience, it’s definitely the story her audience needs to hear.

What about you and your approach to speech prep? Does storyboarding ever produce unexpected surprises regarding content?

More from Women Grow Business:

TEDxP 2010 Jill self head shot jimmyCited by ForbesWoman as one of 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter, Jill Foster is principal of Live Your Talk and founding editor of Women Grow Business. Believing strong communities come from strong conversations (and thus public speaking skill), she specializes in speech coaching for women in technology. A social tech enthusiast, she co-founded DC Media Makers – a peer learning community that teaches digital technology. Jill won the Apps for Democracy Social Citizen Award for a co-produced project on how technology could help Washington, DC neighborhoods. During the 2008 presidential election, she fulfilled a lifelong dream by serving as a “Big Tent” credentialed blogger for the Democratic National Convention.

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