Signposting for Speakers

This month’s challenge is focused on something super useful, that we really don’t talk about enough when it comes to speaking…SIGNPOSTING

In every day life, signposting quickly catches our attention and communicates meaning….I know to watch out for frogs here in Feb-Apr. (Or is it a toad? I’ll watch out either way!) 

How does this relate to you as a speaker? And what am I asking you to do?

Well, let’s think about your audience for a moment. If you want them to travel down a road with you, it’s not enough to just have the map in your head. They need to actively understand the direction you are taking them in, and why. Without this they can tune out, or feel confused and arrive at an arbitrary destination thinking…huh?

If you signpost effectively along the way – using not just slides, but VERBAL STATEMENTS they can actually enjoy and be part of the whole journey.

In the simplest sense you are orienting them, and flagging up importance. For example you are indicating…

  1. This is where we’re starting.
  2. Now we’ve arrived here.
  3. This is where we’re turning off for next.
  4. This really matters, and here’s why.

Let’s look at how we can engage with this practically in this month’s challenge.There are two parts:

If you want to see signposting working in practice, in a way that still feels natural and conversational, Brene Brown is brilliant at doing this, and you can watch for examples here. She uses phrases like:

  • ‘I want to tell you some stories about…’ 
  • ‘And this is where my story starts…’
  • ‘But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to…’
  • ‘So this is what I learned…’
  • ‘But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this…’

They are markers that catch our attention, and help orientate us and focus our attention along the road.

Review one of your talks, and check – are you catching and directing your audience’s attention through short verbal statements? Would they know where they are on the road, and where the focus is, so that they can enjoy travelling with you?

  • Are you signposting relevance?
  • Are you helping them orientate themselves?

Until next time…