Find Your Keywords

Today I watched a wonderful speech on TEDx.  Sebastian Wernicke spoke at TEDxZurich in October and discussed distilling 1,000 TEDTalks into 6 words.  The video itself is great, but the message resonated with me because I was in the process to writing about keywords and why I always advise my clients to distill their speech into keywords.

Getting Started

Whether it’s a new exercise regimen or crafting a speech, getting starting with any project is always the hardest part. I believe in finding one or two keywords for every major topic or point you want to make in your speech.  This may sound easy; however you need to spend some time finding words that are specific or provocative enough to carry any lasting weight with your audience.

So when you are identifying your words, dig deep.  Don’t say influence when you can say inspire.  Don’t say partner when you can say collaborate.  Words have color and weight and can evoke images and emotions.  Use keywords to tell your story.

There Are Tools to Help You

Sebastian mentions Mechanical Turk. I have not tried it yet, but I will be on it by lunchtime.  I love the idea of sending someone your speech and asking them to put it into 6 words.  This could give you a sense of what the audience will take away from your speech.

Wordle is another great tool.  You simply  paste in the text of your speech and create a word cloud.  You will find the largest and boldest words are the ones you used most.  Are they your keywords?  Are they sending the right message?  If not, go back and rework your script until you are happy with the results.

Don’t Read – Remember

Keywords are also very useful on the day.  Seth Godin’s blog today talks about learning your message well enough to speak it, not read it.

So when you are up on the stage or in front of your client, don’t have a script or a 50-page slide deck.  All you need are your keywords and practice.  They will keep you on track, keep your message clear and give your audience what they need to know.

Try it next time you need to give a speech, go to an interview, or create a sales pitch, and let me know how it goes.

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