- Answering a question: A simple "yes" or "no" don't work for me. I want to hear more, even just a little bit. Help complete the thought for me and reinforce the point that's being made. So if I ask whether you enjoyed speaking in Italy at a major conference, don't just say "yes." Tell me why. Describe something. Use the opening to tell me more. (Media interview tip: Answering more than yes-or-no is essential in a news media interview, and will help get your answer into the story--just keep it brief.)
- Agreeing or disagreeing: Likewise, if you're going to agree or disagree--whether it's with an audience member, the speaker who preceded you or a fellow panelist--tell me why. Add some data, share perspective, and use the opportunity to enlighten me. Please don't assume that I know, or that your point is obvious.
- Telling me a personal story: Personal stories can rivet an audience--if you give them room to do so. Think through the pacing and the plot. What hints can you drop early on that let me get the moral of the story later? What makes it funny or touching? Don't skimp when telling an anecdote.
- Telling me a technical story: Sometimes, explaining the technical will talke longer, or more words. In that case, just be sure to give it to me in manageable bites, if I'm part of a non-technical audience. Start with three key points, then elaborate on them one at a time.
- Explaining why speaking here matters: It may be just a formal stop for you: cutting a ribbon, opening a new facility, marking the organization's anniversary, an historic event. Make it sing for me by telling me why your being here today is significant to you, or better yet, to all of us in the room. Are you at my chapter meeting on a special anniversary? Tell me what else was going on in history the year my chapter launched. Give me something to make the experience even more meaningful.
- When my question is circumspect: Maybe I'm a shy questioner, or just don't want to take up too much time, or I don't want to give away my position up front. If you're not sure where I was headed, talk to me before you answer, and use the time to ask me some questions about my question. I guarantee we'll both get more out of the experience.
- If I don't normally hear much from you: The quieter you are normally, the more I'll want to hear from you as a speaker--and the more power you'll have, because I probably will sense that you choose your words with care. Give me more now, and you can keep mum later.
Speaking as your coach, the list above is not your excuse to talk all you want. Check out the equal number of reasons I want you to talk less in the links below!
Related posts: Who talks more: Men or women?