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The Amazing Spiderman: 3 Tips For Updating Your Speech

Posted on July 11, 2012 by Leslie Dickson

Over the Independence Day weekend, audiences around the globe flocked to see the new incarnation of America’s favorite wall crawler, Spider-Man. Before the movie was released, however, critics and fans alike asked if a new Spider-Man film was even necessary. A fair question, considering the previous incarnation of Spider-Man had already been completed, granted somewhat disappointingly, only five years ago. Would the material feel fresh? Could a new cast and crew produce the same thrilling experience of years past?

Speakers and business presenters have similar problems. Unless you’re unveiling a new product or announcing a scientific breakthrough, the chances are good your material isn’t all that new. How can you hope to engage your audience if they’ve heard it all before? Take some lessons from Spider-Man’s latest adventure.

#1 Keep the Core

There are some things you cannot change about Spider-Man. He’s a teenage nerd who was bitten by a spider that gave him superhuman strength and the ability to stick to walls. He swings around New York using rope-like webs, and he embraces the life of a hero after personal tragedy. These are all familiar aspects of the character. They’re also the core of Spiderman’s appeal.

If you change your core message or tried-and-true selling points, make sure the change is a necessity and not an obligatory change. In VoicePro®’s Speak Present Influence ™ workshop, many of our clients believe critiques of their presentations are a call to start from scratch. Not, so. Unnecessary change is an easy way to lose your target audience. Instead, try honing in on your central theme (at VoicePro® we call this a Throughline) and build around it. This way your message remains not only intact, but fresh at the same time.

#2 Put Your Own Spin on It (Pun Definitely Intended)

With critics already geared up to declare this Spider-Man movie superfluous, director Marc Webb (perfect, right?) and company knew they’d have to make it their own. To do so, they gave Spider-Man a sarcastic sense of humor, put him on the run from the police, added a new villain and love interest, and delved into the mysterious past of his parents. It’s still a Spider-Man story, but it’s certainly a departure from the previous films.

When you’re speaking in front of a group, personality is the easiest way to stand out. Take Rory Sutherland, a British advertising executive and successful TED speaker. For those unfamiliar with the conference TED is a nonprofit dedicated to spreading worthwhile ideas from entertainment to scientific breakthrough. Participants now speak on a variety of issues at conferences around the world and earning time to speak is considered a great honor. Although his speeches are filled with powerful data about the power of perspective, Rory stands out because of his excellent use of humor and storytelling abilities. The end result is speeches that are likeable, memorable, and effective. If you want a more memorable speech, don’t look for statistics, look for humanity.

#3 Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Portraying an iconic character like Spider-Man isn’t easy, especially if you’re British. Although nobody doubted his acting prowess, fans were concerned about the British born Andrew Garfield donning the red and blue spandex. Thankfully, Garfield won over nay sayers during his public interviews. At the San Diego Comic Con (a huge convention that focuses on all things superhero), he entered a panel discussion as an audience member in a store bought Spider-Man costume and gushed about how he looked up to Spider-Man as a kid. On the Daily Show, Garfield revealed a photo journal he made of himself doing comical things while in costume (i.e. using a public restroom). He needed to cut loose, he told Jon Stewart, because, “no one wants to hear you complain about being Spider-Man.” He even acknowledged that he too would be concerned if a Brit were cast in this iconic American role.

Garfield’s PR was brilliant because it revealed his love for the character. He fearlessly addressed criticism right up front and displayed a great self-deprecating sense of humor.

A stiff speaker is difficult to watch or get excited about.  So set the tone and let your audience know it’s okay to have fun. One way is to tell a story where you’re the butt of the joke. The audience will realize you don’t take yourself too seriously and that your presentation will have its lighter moments.

Whether you’re touching up a sales pitch or refining your latest speech, you don’t need to start from scratch.  Instead try for a Spider-Man inspired reinvention. Add humanity and humor to infuse your presentation with memorable new life.

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