Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Be a Starfish Speaker

One day this summer, while walking with my family on the Santa Barbara pier, my son excitedly pointed out to me a large starfish floating in the water.

We talked that day about the starfish's amazing powers of regeneration. We couldn't help but wonder, wouldn't it be great if people also could grow back lost limbs?

But then it occured to me that in a metaphorical sense, we can!

Many of my clients express anxiety that they will forget part of their speech and that this will get them off track and ultimately ruin the whole speech.

To address this anxiety, perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the starfish.

You see, most starfish are able to regenerate limbs only if they have their central body intact.

Next time you prepare your content and each and every time you practice your speech, first review the central message of your presentation. You should be able to state this in no more than one sentence.

Then if you "lose a limb" during your speech (i.e. forget a point, lose track of your direction, etc.), as long as you return to your central message, you can always regenerate that portion of your presentation. It may not look exactly the way it did before, but it will get your point across.

From the Green Room: Visualize your presentation as a starfish. Your central message is the middle and your main points radiate our from there. If you get off track, just return back to the center.


Anonymous said...

A brilliant analogy. Thank you!!!

chernikoff said...

This makes a lot of sense and it's a really reassuring image to carry with you in the likely advent of the butterflies before public speaking!

Andy Bachman said...

I wonder why the starfish is so evocative? You hit on something here. Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University, used to talk about starfish when he was President of Hillel. Worth contemplating. Thanks for the post!

Sarah Gershman said...

Thank you to everyone for your comments. And I never thought about the Richard Joel connection!

Rowan Manahan said...

Lovely analogy Sarah. I use the 'handful' structure for a lot of client talks and illustrate with extended fingers, but the central idea is a great one.

Sarah Gershman said...

Thank you for reading, Rowan. I appreciate your comment!

Sharon Edem said...

Elegantly simple & spot on! Appreciate yr succinctness!

Sarah Gershman said...

Thank you for stopping by Sharon!