Putting the Show in Showmanship
Making a great keynote presentation is about showmanship, but not quite in the way you might think. Yes, you need to engage the audience and be inspiring, but you also need to show them that you’ve answered three questions: Is this possible? Is this possible for me? And, is it worth it?
The Red Thread gives you the tools to make that happen in your keynote presentation. The Goal shows them that this is something they want and the Problem shows them the path to it is within their view if they can shift their perspective. All of this is anchored in some fundamental truth about the world that the audience already believes, the Idea. Finally, the Change and Action are the results of everything they’ve agreed to so far, so if you go through the Red Thread you’ve shown them that it’s possible.
Making it possible for them is the showmanship part, where things like stories, activities with the audience, and group sharing can come into play. These examples make it personal, and a great keynote presentation can do that because the idea is so big.
Showing the audience that it’s worth it is built into the Red Thread as the Goal, and the Goal Revisited. You want them to see that after they’ve walked this path with you they’ve not only achieved what they wanted when they came in but something else. Bringing it all together in your keynote presentation shows the audience they have what they need to do what you want, that it’s possible, and that it’s worth it, in a way that makes it easy for them.
– What’s the best strategy for taking your big idea and putting it on the big stage? How do you turn an idea into a keynote presentation? Well, you have to put on a show, and more than one kind. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com, and that’s what we’re talking about this week on Find The Red Thread. And if you’re a fan of Find The Red Thread, do me favor and like and subscribe.
First, what does a keynote do? The answer: it sets the stage. If it’s an opening keynote, it sets the stage for the rest of the day or the rest of the conference. If it’s a closing keynote, it sets the stage for what to do next, or even for the rest of your life. In other words, a great keynote leaves an audience feeling entertained and empowered to do something different.
And this is where aspects of show come in. Because yes of course, we want people to feel inspired and informed about something new or a new way to see the world, but we also need to make sure that that idea is, in fact, implanted in their head, and it’s in there like some kind of alien that they can’t get out, where they can’t unhear it. And it’s so powerful, in fact, that inaction on that idea is impossible. So how do we do that with a keynote?
Well, it comes down first to understanding that we can only act on what we have. And if we’re talking about setting the stage for change, the good news is that there are certain things that we absolutely know we need to have in order for us to be ready to do it. And what are those things? The answers to three pretty simple questions that the wants to hear.
First, is this possible? Is whatever you’re doing possible? Can I see that other people have done it? Does it make sense to me? Is it defensible? Will it work? And can you show me that it works?
Second, is it possible for me to do it? So you may have shown me that it works for that industry or that person or that it worked for you, but have you shown me that it works for me? Have I seen concrete examples? Have you had me think through something in a very personal way? Have you had me share something with one of my colleagues next to me that makes me understand that yes, I can in fact do what you have asked me to do.
And most importantly, the third piece, is it worth it? So this may all be possible, and may be possible for me, but ultimately I have to feel like what you showed me is worth it to me. Because you’re asking me to change. And if you’re asking me to change, there’s got to be a payoff.
In all of these cases, it comes down to show. We have to put on a show. We have to show them that the answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. Yes it’s possible, yes it’s possible for you, yes it’s worth it. And we need to show them in such a way that makes that adjustment to the change as easy as possible. We have to, in the wise words of Mary Poppins, give them “the spoonful of sugar that makes that medicine go down.”
And ultimately, this is what great keynotes do and what great keynote presenters do. They figure out how to show people the answers to these very tactical questions about change, while showing them in such a way that makes that change feel as easy and as inspiring as possible.
In all cases, I think that the Red Thread, in fact, I know the Red Thread gives you the tools to do that. Because when it comes to answering that question, is it possible, that’s exactly what those pieces of the Red Thread are meant to figure out and defend ahead of time.
Does this get something that people want, that they actively know that they want? That’s the Goal. Does it show them that the path to that Goal is already within their current view? It just takes a little bit different focus? That’s the Problem of Perspective. Does it anchor all of this on some fundamental truth about the world that the audience already believes? That’s the Idea. And do all of those those things add up to a Change that seems reasonable given everything that they’ve agreed to so far? Hopefully, yes. And are the Actions a direct extension of that Change?
All of those pieces should, put it together well, show the audience that this is possible. Now, how do you make it possible for them? Well this is where some of the other elements of show come in. This is where things like stories come into play. Where activities with the audience come into to play. Where individual work and sharing and group sharing can come into play.
And if you’re thinking just in that moment, you’re like, “Well, wait a minute, but there’s not supposed to be like back and forth at a keynote, that’s what a workshop is all about,” I disagree. Increasingly, I am seeing great keynotes engage the audience in a very personal level, and they can do that without it feeling like a workshop because the idea is so big.
The other way that you can make sure that you’re getting people to that point of is it worth it, is also built into the Red Thread. It’s that Goal in the first place and that Goal Revisited that we talked about before. And showing them that after they’ve walked this path with you, they’ve achieved not only the thing that they wanted when they came in, but something else.
All of these elements together come together to show audience that they have what they need to do this. That it’s possible and it’s worth it. But in a way that makes it as easy for them as possible.
So there’s a lot more to work on with turning your idea into a keynote, but that’s what I’m here for, so reach out to me if you want help with that. But ultimately, we know that the answer for it comes down to this: put on a show. Show them that they can do this. Show them that the change is worth it, and show it to them in a way that gets them talking long after your keynote presentation. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com and this was a Find The Red Thread.