Tactical Speaking Tips
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My goal each issue is to deliver valuable insights and also share what’s going on with me. If that resonates with you, I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.
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Let’s dive in.
Before I get started with today’s issue I want to highlight an event I’m doing with Jason Yeh. He’s a fundraising genius. He was a VC at Greycroft, hosts a podcast around founder stories with fundraising, and runs a cohort based course to help founders successfully fundraise. He’s helped people raise a ton of money (over $100 million to date).
We want to share the secrets we’ve learned for current founders and future founders when it comes to a successful fundraise. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to succeed…we want to help you.
It’s completely free and if you sign up, you’ll get a copy of the recording.
Unlocking Fundraising Secrets.
Let’s get tactical today when it comes to speaking.
Creating a powerful and memorable talk isn’t easy. If I told you it was I would be lying.
How do I know this?
It was my 102nd jury trial. After 7 years as a trial lawyer, I had given thousands of talks in a courtroom. I had created content that taught every new prosecutor in Texas how to try certain cases at what they call Baby Prosecutor School, and I had coached the national mock trial team for 3 years. You would think I could do this stuff in my sleep.
But this trial had huge implications for my client, our firm, and myself. It was a murder case where I was defended the man who had killed his brother. No doubt about it. On video. Confession. Game over.
Except I believed that he 100% acted in self-defense. I knew the brain science to explain his actions. I knew the law to use it to my advantage. This man did not need to go to prison…especially for 30 plus years for a tragedy he would have to live with for the rest of his life.
I had the case from the moment I joined my new firm in December of 2019. Before that I had spent 100 jury trials as a prosecutor. Putting away murderers, gang members, and child abusers.
Here I was tasked with doing the opposite. And I believed that justice meant he should be found not guilty of murder.
So over the coming 3 months as we prepped for trial I kept struggling with one thing.
What can I say to convince 12 people that a death that they watch on video should be forgiven?
I didn’t figure it out until the night before I delivered the closing argument.
Because powerful and memorable talks are a combination of content and delivery.
I knew the content I needed to say but I didn’t know how to frame it. That night before I delivered it though I had a breakthrough. I found my tone. I saw the whole board and could envision exactly how to deliver every single moment.
So what are those pieces of delivery you need to focus on?
You need to build in dynamics to your talk. Simply put, you need it to sound like music. I call this musicality. It’s what JFK, MLK, and Amanda Gorman all deliver.
Things like tone, volume, rhythm, cadence, and speed all need to change throughout your talk. That’s what makes it sing. It’s why people won’t forget what you said.
The best way to do this is to think like you write.
Bold, Italics, and Underlining can help you visualize volume, tone, and emphasis.
Periods, commas, and …
Help you play with cadence, rhythm, and pauses to build proper tension.
Even the way you space words or phrases can matter. Just look at how I wrote this piece today. Some longer paragraphs. Some shorter. Questions and repetition. When I write I want to build cadency, rhythm, and memorability when you read it.
But when I speak it gets taken to a whole new level. Speaking lets you paint in colors.
So think about speaking like writing. And if you need to, write it out. Then use all these tools to help you see the dynamics come to life.
Once you have that, go and find examples and inspiration sources. It could be a moment in the Hunger Games, a talk by Brene Brown, or even a song by Kanye or Mahler. You have to be willing to think differently, prepare differently, and be different to stand out in today’s world.
That’s why at the end of that trial the jury came with two powerful words I’ll never forget.
I had won. My client went home.
Every second of stress and preparation paid off.
It can for you too.
A few weeks ago I wrote on why people fear public speaking. The simple truth is it’s a failure of our education system. But the good news is that you can learn the skill and develop your speaking style.
A classic clip from The West Wing that can teach you a lot about speaking and debating.
One more reminder to sign up and join Jason and myself for our FREE workshop on Wednesday at 11am pst.
Until next time I’ll be making pasta here in Italy.
Cheers to you all,