“Singapore has been ranked sixth in the world – and top in the Asia-Pacific region – on the annual Global Innovation Index by Cornell University & INSEAD” – Don’t worry, you’re not about to be drowned by global finance & economics or science & technology statistics, analyses or reports. We are still on the topic of striking your imaginative flint stones to spark communication ingenuity. My point is this – the piece of data furnished at the very beginning is not a shameless and boastful advertisement for my country’s achievement but another strong testament to my belief that it is always “Nurture Over Nature”, when it comes to both Creativity and Public Speaking.
It wasn’t always the case; for the past few decades, Singapore has always been scorned at for its innovation-stifling, law-abiding, stability-over-risk way of doing things.
FROM being mocked as dull, rigid and unimaginative TObeing ranked as highly innovative and productive…
The key here is the possibility of progressive transformation! Verily, your effective communication CAN be creative and out-of-the-box on a consistent basis. Allow me to share with you 3strategies out of the 5-point blueprint to become the “never-seen-before” public speaker!
We all know this is potentially a make-or-break when it comes to establishing a spectacular first impression in your audience’s minds as it is aptly encapsulated in the saying “You don’t get a second chance in making a first impression”. The first thing to keep in mind is not to let yourself take the “safe” or “tried-and-tested” route. Let’s take a trip down the World Championship lane; Darren Lacroix falling flat on his face?! Ed Tate engaging in audience involvement (in a tight seven-and-a-half-minute speech)?!, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi’s rose as a prop?!, and of course, Mohammed Qahtani lighting a cigarette onstage?! These are risky and arguably discouraged by many yet refreshingly unique speech elements. It is also crucial that your uniquely “loud” opening must be umbilically linked to your core speech message else it may be construed as a gimmick. Ultimately, do not let anyone tell you that it won’t work; that’s because it hasn’t been tried before, and that’s precisely why it WILL succeed.
I’ve to be honest with you, there is a myriad of ways to deliver an innovative, attention grabbing and impactful opening. However, here’s a technique that is my personal favourite – The Unconventional Interpretation
The unconventional interpretation hinges on creativity breaking your audience thought patterns and pre-conceived notions on a particular subject matter because let’s face it, we tend to “switch off” when we either can anticipate what’s going to come our way or assume that we are not going to learn anything enriching.
If I’m an environmentalist and began my speech with “The right way to save mother nature is to bring your own mug or tumbler for your coffee fix”, I’m sure you would be thinking “Well thank you for the breakthrough thought…”.
How about “I’m sure many of you would agree that using recyclable paper cups, like those from Starbucks, are environmentally friendly. But how many of you know that it could be more damaging than Styrofoam cups? What if I told you that only 10% of the paper mills in Asia are able to process the laminated or wax lining that help make the cup water-resistant? And because it takes more raw materials to make one paper cup compared to a Styrofoam cup, shipment of heavier paper cups incurs MORE greenhouse gases?”. The definition of “recyclable” immediately gets a wholly new angle of perception in your audience’s minds. “Whaaat?! How is it possi…why?!”. Now, you’ve their fullest attention…
2. Innovative Humour
Here’s a proven framework that I’ve been using to generate humorous speech messages – wait a minute, “framework”? Isn’t the whole idea of creativity to be free from procedural shackles or think outside of a “frame”?If this is what you’re thinking, you’re quite right. However, I believe that ideating humour doesn’t mean plucking humorous punchlines out of thin air. The following framework is certainly not the only one available but it provides a general direction in your search for proprietary humour: Valid Statement à Laughable Premise. I recommend starting with a general truth. For instances:
“Nobody is perfect except when a person is filling out a match-making application form!”
“Honesty is the best policy the policy forgot about one crucial clause – not applicable within a marriage!”
“Insurance is like plain water; dull and tasteless but potentially lifesaving but no one ever mentions the premiums!!!”
3. Innovative Connections
The spotlight focuses on the stage. The chattering from the audience dissipates. Heads turned to you with unfamiliar expression. Ready? Speak to connect with your audience. Go! (Easier said than done…)
The key to giving a successful speech or presentation is not just the conveying of your core message or voluminous information but rather the connection with the audience. Your audience probably could have gotten the information you are about to share from the Internet or through reading a written report that you’ve prepared. So why do people continue to attend talks, seminars, presentations, webinars or public speaking competitions? Your audience is seeking creativity in the delivery of neglected information that allows them to feel more connected with both the speaker and the speech messages.
You may question “Must it be wholly new and never seen before?”; the answer is no. Creativity isn’t just about creating something totally unprecedented; I believe that it is about repackaging past information and experiences into today’s context as well as the audience circumstances. Take for instance my speaking engagement with a commercial bank one day – while trying to put across the nuances of customer service communication, instead of droning on about “…personalizing your communicative patterns with each unique client…” which is not exactly ground-breaking, I repackaged that into my audience’s lingo “Interpersonal Communication with your clients is like the Automated Teller Machine, despite having standardized steps and procedures, every single transaction is like a unique client, each with a different password to get through to them!”. Begin with your audience’s context in mind and your speech propriety as well as creativity will follow.
Creativity is still being perceived as an abstract notion whereby many continue to believe that innovations or uniquely refreshing speeches are spontaneous epiphanies or “Ah-ha” moments that appear out of thin air. Worse, the idea that “Creativity can be cultivated or taught” is still being disparaged and derided.What many people don’t see is the behind the scene where prominent innovators and public speakers brainstorm using “frameworks” and processes to generate creative outcomes. With that, I hope, with certain humility, that the abovementioned strategies will be able to assist you in igniting your creativity for all your communications!