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I learned from George Howell, an anchor on CNN with Anderson Cooper, a technique to speak concisely, whether on TikTok, answering questions in the media, handling Q&A, or giving a Toastmasters table topic, public speaking, or speaking extempore. It’s using a three-part framework; similar to what we teach in our 15-second course, which is key to TikTok.
Pro Tips by George Howell: Three-Part Framework
- You have your intro: that first sentence or two when someone asks you a question, and you’re about to start into something;
- You have the body, where there’s the meat of what you’re saying; that’s where most of us can talk all day long, give examples, and whatever, and
- The third part is the exit, where you’re finishing.
When I was with George Howell, I was going to be on CNN Live in front of millions of people. He asked me some questions about Cambridge Analytica, security, data privacy, Mark Zuckerberg, and whether Facebook should be regulated or not.
I started rambling on and on, and he said, “Nope, nope. You can’t do that on TV like you’re used to giving these 50-minute keynote speeches. On TV, you have a sound bite, you have 30 seconds max, usually like 15 seconds, to give a response.”
He taught me the framework and said that when you are giving an intro, the first sentence should already have the exit planned. If not, you risk rambling in the middle of your body.
Most people start talking, then keep going without knowing how to end. Be sure to have your exit before going into the body.
Mastering Seamless Topic Transitions in Public Speaking
Effective Techniques for Seamless Topic Transitions and Bridge Building
Most people, when giving a presentation, simply read the slides. However, to effectively transition to a new topic, it’s important to think about how to bridge the current topic and smoothly enter into the new one.
When people have trouble making a transition, they may abruptly change the topic. However, it’s important to think about an intermediate topic that can smoothly connect the two subjects. If done well, the transition will feel natural.
For example, to transition from SEO to gratitude, you could say that 90% of the power of SEO comes from backlinks. But why would people give you links? The best approach is to appeal to their ego, by saying positive things about them and showing gratitude. This can encourage them to link to you or offer guest posts. See how I transitioned to that topic, and it was completely smooth.
Having the ability to fluidly change topics is a powerful skill, similar to lifting weights. The more you practice, the better you become.
Transitioning from talking about food to talking about New York City may come naturally to some, but it takes practice to master. It’s important to start with topics that are easy to connect and then gradually challenge yourself with more difficult transitions.
Mastering seamless transitions in public speaking is not a natural charisma, it takes practice. I did not know how to speak at all, but with practice, I learned how to do it. It doesn’t take that much time, just practice. Many people think they are bad at public speaking or on TV because they are nervous; but the truth is, they all struggled until they had the spotlight of public speaking that unveiled their problem.
When you learn how to speak more clearly, everything you do for clients, webinars, phone calls, talking to your team, becomes smoother and more powerful. This exercise improves your overall speaking skills in any communication you do.
Strategies for Effective Public Speaking and Presentation
Anticipate and make shifts without stopping the flow of your speech. When you’re on TV, they put an earpiece in, and the producer is talking. It can be tough to listen to both, especially if the producer is asking you to wrap up or cut to a commercial while you’re still talking.
A great public speaker can transition smoothly between different topics rather than clicking to the next slide and waiting three seconds before speaking. This type of transition is obvious and feels like someone is just reading from a script. The more practice you have, the more fluid your transitions will become.
The Importance of Practicing Concise Communication in Public Speaking
This is not only for those who will be on TV or doing public speaking. Everyone can learn to communicate no matter what their role is. Everyone has to be able to communicate, especially if you’re working in a team. I believe that communication skills are critical.
Most problems in a company occur due to a perceived issue, which is 90% due to a lack of communication, and 10% due to miscommunication. Effective communication can prevent most issues from escalating. I learned this from Tommy, the founder of Tommy Boy Records, who pointed out that adopting practices such as radical transparency, as taught by Ray Dalio, can help resolve problems before they become major issues.
Communication is crucial, especially in a team setting, and the larger the team and more powerful the leader, the more important effective communication becomes. This is evident in the success of agency leaders, as those with strong communication skills tend to be more successful.
Overall, it’s important to show up on time for meetings, submit statuses, and keep clients informed to foster a smooth working environment. It’s not that they are more intelligent or that they work harder, or that they are more good-looking, it’s that their communication skills are better. And the higher you move up in leadership, the difference is a combination of emotional intelligence (EQ) plus communication skills. The good thing is that both of these can be improved.
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.