From 1994 to 1997 there was an animated show called The Tick about an unlikely superhero with the brawn and intelligence of, well, a tick. In one episode, excerpts from which are shown below, The Tick and his sidekick Arthur are teaching future superheroes the tricks of the trade.
From these short excerpts, I’ve derived the following important lessons for public speaking:
Every speaker has an origin story
The Tick mentions that super villains are often created by a single event that forever changes them. Public speakers, too, usually have some sort of origin story (although not as disfiguring) that led them to be the expert and person they are today. This story can often become an integral part of that speaker’s marketing materials, introduction and presentations. What’s your compelling back story?
The ABCs of superheroing include action … public speakers are all about action. They create presentations that are active and engaging. They inspire their audiences to take action. And they are active self-promoters.
The second two letters of the ABCs of superheroing are for battle cry. This is akin to a public speaker’s signature phrase. This phrase becomes an integral part of their branding. It is an audio identifier. Sometimes this is an acronym they always use in their presentations. Sometimes is is their traditional way of ending a presentation. It can be anything, as long as it is natural to who you are as a speaker and supports your public speaking brand.
Embrace Who You Are
Like The Flying Squirrel, public speakers embrace who they are and what they are interested in. One thing that several of my featured speakers mentioned as a key to success is to focus what you speak about on something that you are interested in and good at. You will book more engagements if you become known for your expertise in a specific area, rather than being a Jack or Jane of All Trades.
As you can see from Mr. Exciting, there is such a thing as too much enthusiasm. Public speakers know how to temper their passion and excitement about their topic so that it doesn’t overwhelm their audience. They know how to sprinkle a bit here, dab a bit there so that their speech is engaging, but not over-the-top.
You Must Market Your Services
The Tick says that supervillains don’t want to get caught, so “you’ve gotta go out and get ’em.” This is true of speaking gigs, as well. You need to actively market your public speaking services, get yourself in front of those who hire speakers and win them over.
Organize Your Presentation
As The Tick teaches his students, he presents his lessons in a logical pattern. Public speakers organize their presentations so that they follow a logical sequence. For example, The Tick instructs, “I want each of you to introduce yourself, tell me a little about your superhero-ness and then shout your battle cry and take your best shot at me!” This is a very good way to organize a speech:
- Open with an introduction
- Add a little back story so people know why they should listen
- Go into your signature phrase, acronym or information
And do this all with the best of your ability.