Power presentation, this is a great segue. We're just going from one to the other and it all makes sense now. Notice I used that word, power. It's kind of a pun, but really this in Keynote. So a Keynote presentation wouldn't be a pun. We're gonna talk about a particular device that was invented by the Greeks thousands of years ago. They called it periodos. Which has been translated into the word, period. So what the British call a full stop, we call a period. It's the little dot at the end of a sentence. Why is that? Well it's because a sentence, they way it evolved originally was the length of a human breath. Think about this. A sentence actually begins and ends with a thought. Right? A sentence is essentially a thought. The way we write these days, sometimes not. We'll have two word sentence. But traditionally a sentence was something that began a thought and ended it. It was something that was discreet, it was on its own. So now the Greeks took it a step farther. They had this deep ...
understanding of the way the human mind worked. It's really amazing if you read this ancient literature. What makes it truly amazing is that more and more neuroscience has confirmed what these guys believed. So there is a really basic theory in ancient Greeks with these rhetoricians. I told you I'd be talking in Greek here. I warned you. Shakespeare understood this too, and cats, which is that the human body and cat bodies, are closely related to the functions of the brain. So one of the things the Greeks theorized was that a thought sustained in an audience's head was the equivalent in length to one human breath. Why is that? A thought can only last if you express it until you take the next breath. This is a little hard here, so you just bear with me for a little bit. We're getting in the weeds here, but they're great weeds. So if I take one long breath and I express a single thought to the very end in a way that allows you to understand what I'm saying and I've taken a deep breath, it's gonna last about 12 seconds. (inhales) I'm gonna try it again. I'm talking about this ancient theory that the length of a human thought in terms of seconds is about the same as the length of a sustained breath by a trained orator. (inhales) About 12 seconds. You could time me. I'm not sure I got it right. But generally here's where I can prove myself and you're thinking wait a minute, what do I mean by thought? Right? (chuckles) And do I have facts that sustain this? And what are my sources for those facts? Well I'm gonna show you. And the reason I'm gonna dwell on this for a little bit, because it's so awesome. Whether you're delivering a speech or a presentation or a wedding toast, whatever, it's backed by awesome neuroscience at the same time. So I read this theory about the periodos, the period. And I thought does this really work and what is a period and when does it exist? Well the way the Greeks came up with it is that the period is the climax of the speech. It's the climax of the speech. It's when you get the applause line and it's what people quote and remember. So that's what I meant by planting a thought in people's heads. So the period, the most important period and I'm gonna call it the period, is the climax of your speech. Whether it's a presentation or anything you're saying in front of people as kind of a speech. So I tested this. I went online and I looked at what are the biggest applause lines in political speeches. And I looked at literally hundreds of them. There are websites that do this. Like the greatest speeches, political speeches. And I timed the biggest applause lines. Okay, so you can say I was kinda cheating a little bit, because how do I tell exactly what the climax of the speech is? Then I went to movie speeches and there you can tell. You measure with scientific accuracy what the climax is of every movie speech 'cause that's when the music starts. They're giving a speech and all of a sudden there's music and the camera cuts to the audience looking awed or tears in their eyes or the football players or the hockey players really getting ready to go. So from when the music stops to the end of that climatic moment. I timed hundreds of political speeches and movie speeches and you know what I found? 11 to 13 seconds, generally 12. Now it's not like script writers and these political speech writers knew about the periodos, this theory of the period. They just through experience knew that this was effective. So this is actually kind of what makes it work. And now since then, there've been all kinds of experiments being done on people where they put the electrodes in people's brains to see how they react. And they find that in order to implant a thought and educators learn this, 12 seconds is about right. So let's give it a shot. I'm gonna orate for a little bit. This should be familiar. This is Barack Obama's speech he gave as an obscure state senator in Illinois that helped launch his political career and eventually make him president. It's at a democratic convention. There's not a liberal America and a conservative America, there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and a Latino American and Asia America, there is the United States of America. That was probably a little bit less than 12 seconds because there were applause lines right in there. It was a convention, they just love applauding. So whether you like Barack Obama or not you can really appreciate what he's done here. This is the climax of his speech and this is what people quote from that speech. This is the thought planted. If you think of how many words there are, it's 30 to 40 words. 30 to 40 words depending on how fast the speaker is and how many applause lines there are. Lasts about 12 seconds when you express it. That's a period. I'm gonna do another one. This is from Braveheart, awesome. William Wallace, Mel Gibson, paints his face blue, he's on a horse, he's talking to these totally terrified Scotsmen who just wanna run away. And I'm not gonna do the accent, I'm not sure he could do the accent actually. Dying in your beds many years from now, would be willing to trade all the days from this day to that one for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom. Hope you guys can edit the volume on that. (audience laughs) And then they cheer and they go and die in battle and it's awesome. That's a period. Again, 30 to 40 words, 12 seconds. Do it again. This is from that movie 300. And it's a speech by Dilius. The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a bright future brighter than anything we can imagine. Give thanks, men, to Leonidas and the brave 300. To victory. 12 seconds. Do it again. I'm just trying to convince you here. Tell me when to stop, you get sick of this. (audience chuckles) My voice is gonna run out. I'm gonna do a couple more. This is one of my favorite movie speeches of all time, from We Are Marshall. You know this movie? It's pretty great. When you take that field today, you've gotta lay that heart on the line, men. From the soles of your feet with every ounce of blood you've got in your body, lay it on the line until the final whistle blows. And if you do that, if you do that, we cannot lose. 12 seconds. Finally, one more. Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End. What the enemy will see is the flash of our cannons. They will hear the ring of our swords and they will know what we can do. By the sweat of our brows and the strength of our backs and the courage of hearts. Gentlemen, hoist the colors. That was a hard one. Okay, 12 seconds. Now, why am I doing this to you? I had to prove to you that these are what a climax of a speech looks like. I would love to see one of you have somebody record on your phones a wedding toast that you give that's just like Elizabeth Swann. (chuckles) Hoist your wine glasses. You'd get a rise out of people clearly, especially if they had wine before that. Okay, let's talk about how you can do this in not just delivering a presentation, but writing one. 'cause this is the really cool part. A lot of times we think okay, we've gotta give this presentation, we've gotta give this little speech, whatever. Even if it's like in a public meeting in your school district or whatever. How do you even begin crafting a speech? I give workshops for speech writers and one of the biggest things they talk about is how do you outline a speech? How do you even do an outline? An I could stand here and teach you the Cisceronian outline and how to do that, and I'll tell you what, is most speech writers don't you use it. So instead, here's what I teach them. Draft those 30 to 40 words. That's what 12 seconds are gonna be depending on how fast your talker is or you are. Draft them. Just write them down. You think this is the real point I wanna make. This is the thought I wanna implant on their brains and I want them to quote me. Or at least intermise like some jingle they can't get out of their heads. Then, rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it. This is what you've gotta make perfect. Everything I just quoted to you, you know that went through a jillion drafts. You're gonna do that. This is what you're really gonna work on. One of the things that people often do is they spend a lot of time on their outlines and they try to get that first line right. Where is this gonna appear? Let's talk about that right now. Where is your period most gonna appear? If they think about these speeches, these periods, where did they appear within the speeches you think? Especially the political ones like Barack Obama. Amanda?
In the middle.
In the middle.
During the climax.
Yeah, the climax can be in the middle. More often it's during what's called the peroration and that's related to the word period. Peroration is actually toward the end. 'cause if you say hoist the colors and then I've got a few other points to make, it doesn't quite work.
But some are in the middle. In fact it's interesting, some politicians who lose elections, I won't name any, actually did tend to put the climax of their speeches in the middle and they lost the audiences toward the end. You want them running out to battle. You want them to give their lives for your particular cause. Whether it's Photoshop (laughs) or it be selling to an audience, you want them to be willing to die for your cause. That was a terrible example. Okay, let's keep going. (audience laughs) Once you get your period to be perfect, and we're gonna get back to where it belongs in there, Amanda, so we'll get to it, memorize them. That's the only thing I'm gonna ask you all day to memorize. And I'm not asking you to actually memorize anything right now, thank goodness. But those 30-40 words, you're gonna memorize them word for word. You're gonna say them a million times, you're gonna practice it in front of your cat or your dog or Shakespeare. And you're going to make sure that you can deliver them perfectly every time with emotion. And a lot of people say you shouldn't over-rehearse what you're saying and that's really true I think in a presentation. You wanna be able to just look like you're ad libbing. Those you don't. You're going to memorize them. Then what? Write down all the other points you're going to make. You've done the period, you've gotten it perfect and you've memorized it. You have it inside you firmly implanted on your brain. Now, you're going to write down all the other points you wanna make, which includes everything. Little anecdotes, the stories, the examples, the facts, the data, everything else in your little speech. Then what? Kill all the stuff that doesn't support the period. So everything you do, every fact, every example, every character you bring up, every name you check, has to support that one climatic moment. Because that speech is gonna live up to, work up to that point that you implant. That thought you implant in people's brains. Then what? Make a slide for every one of those points that support it. Notice I haven't talked about an outline or what order anything goes in yet. You're simply gonna make a slide. Then if you've got enough paper and you're gonna reuse that paper so don't worry about the environment right now or how much money you're spending on paper, print it out even if it's one slide per sheet. Or if it's two sliders per sheet, cut them in half. So it's one slide per piece of paper. Now, make sure you've got a nice floor and you don't have dogs walking all over it. Toss it. Throw it on the floor. Then crawl around on your hands and knees. (chuckles) This works. I know it sounds stupid, but it totally words and I've been teaching speech writers to do this for years and they will testify to this. Crawl around on your hands and knees and just start to look at them and sort them in what order you want. Just sort them in what order you want. Does this make sense so far? Is it just totally weird? Okay. Should be a little weird 'cause this is probably not something you're doing generally. Now you're gonna get into a different rhetorical theory. We're gonna keep going, you're not done yet with crafting this speech. We're gonna go into this other rhetorical theory called the memory palace. You've heard the expression, the memory palace. That comes from ancient Greece and Rome. What would happen is these young boys, unfortunately rhetorical education was only given to boys for the most part 'cause they were supposed to be the leaders in that society, they where told to construct in their minds a building. They called it a palace, but it was really the way they described it it was more like a shopping mall. (laughs) It was one level, lots of rooms, it's like a maze of rooms. And what they would do, it's really interesting and this is what you're gonna do, you're gonna build your memory palace. Now memory palace worked in a particular way. They didn't memorize speeches, they memorized throughout their entire lives. Particularly rooms with thoughts in those rooms attached to really powerful images. And what happened in ancient Greece in particular was you think of these long, really important speeches and people in togas or whatever, they didn't wear togas in Greece, giving these uninterrupted speeches for hours at a time. They didn't. They would speak for maybe four minutes at a time in Athens and they were heckled the entire time. If you've ever been in Athens and you take a cab, that's the way they were as audience for thousands of years. A cab driver will literally turn around and lecture you about America. That's what Greeks are like, at least traditionally for thousands of years. Romans, same thing. They would give these speeches and people would be shouting at them. So, they would loose their train of thought or they'd have to answer a heckler. And what they would do is instead of trying to remember what they were supposed to say, they would change their route through their memory palace that they developed over years. They would literally practice every day. You don't have to. Your memory palace is gonna come from several things, but it's gonna be related to attaching really strong images to particular concepts. But only within your speech, not for your lifetime unless you want to. Pair each of those slides that you created, now you've already thrown them on the floor and you sorted in some kind of order, now just sort of keep that 'cause you're gonna wanna reuse the paper 'cause your good environmentalists, but you're gonna put on the slide in PowerPoint or Keynote or whatever program you use a really strong image related to that thought. Then you're gonna print it out again, only this time with the image. Throw it on the floor and resort it. 'cause you may find that you went in a little different when you see the images. It's gonna make you think differently about this. So what have we done? We started with the period, we're memorized it so you've got that all in control, you've written down a whole bunch of points and stories and facts and everything else that will go into this thing, you've thrown away everything that doesn't support the period, then you've attached these ideas and images that are left to specific slides. You've printed them out, you've cut them out if you need to and you throw them on the floor and resort them. You're making an outline, it's just doesn't feel like it. It's really fun crawling around the floor. You're not working that hard, you're just having fun. Read it a million times. Once you've got it in order with the right images, they don't have to be the right words by the way, they're just expressions, thoughts, notes, but read it. Go through it. m ,illion times. Then start thinking about how you'd want to express each slide. Say them aloud. If you want to you can write it down, but I don't recommend it. I think it's actually better to have the thoughts in your head than the words. As long as the period is the perfect 30 to 40 words that you've memorized. Then, print those slides smaller. Read them again. Like 20 times. This is for a really important speech by they way, or if you're bored and just wanna do something that's fun. Print them even smaller. Repeat the whole process. Then print them so that only the pictures show up, you can't even read the words anymore. Why am I doing this? Because what this is doing is you've already read the words, you have then kind of in your head, they don't have to be exact words, they're thoughts, you're now gonna attach them to images. And what that's gonna do is build a cluster of synapses in the brain that are gonna make the thoughts more memorable to you. Are you gonna use those pictures? No. Ideally they should be horrible pictures that you really remember, but just make them strong, memorable images. Print them out so you only see the pictures. And you're not really reading them, you're now just looking at pictures which is really kinda nice. This isn't so hard. And then, review it a million times. What have you just done? You have crafted a speech, you have come up with 30 to 40 amazing words that are gonna plant themselves in people's heads and you are going to deliver a speech that leads up to that. And Amanda, you can do that in the middle. You can, people do. This big period. But actually think about what is gonna make the people leave the room just not able to wait to use what you've told them. And it's easier to do at the end, but it doesn't have to be.
Well, I meant the climax. Which I know is more towards the end, I actually meant the climax even though I said middle.
Yeah, and I'm picking on you, you shouldn't let me (Amanda laughs)
I knew, but yeah. (laughs)
This is for speeches, right? Is this adjusted for modern attention spans? We have conferences and events and things where people need to be gripped right away and that attention needs to be maintained so that you can get to that climax at the end. And a lot of people, they'll check out quickly if they're not consistently entertained in their brain.
I'm glad you brought that up, Louis. Remember we talked about the hooks earlier? Those hooks should be among those things you're writing down and attaching powerful images to. So it's not a matter of just droning on and being boring with all your points. You do need to sustain their attention. But here's the thing. Attention is one thing. Memorability is another thing. So you're not going to say 20 memorable things, you're just not. The human brain doesn't work that way as you know. One thing that's led up to by a bunch of really entertaining or compelling things. You think about what these hooks are, I have something you want, this is really fun, I understand you, there's a gap in your life or there's a problem and I'm gonna fill it. You can tell a story. You lead people from one step to the next, which is where you build a frame with you or somebody as the character and you lead them on a journey. That can be another way to sustain their attention so they wonder what the suspense is. All this though, the really important thing, is to lead up to those 30 to 40 words you've memorized. That are amazing 'cause you've rewritten it so many times. Even if you struggle as a writer, I'll tell you rewriting makes you a great writer. I can speak to this personally. I am not a born writer. I am great rewriter.