How the EPOD Theory Will Lead to Presentation Success

Review the following treatise, and think about how it can be applied to the science of in home selling…

What makes a speech or a presentation powerful, memorable and exciting? Certainly preparation plays a major role, as does setting and circumstance. Timing can also be a factor — consider the catch phrases used by:

  • President Roosevelt – “Americans have nothing to fear but fear itself”
  • Winston Churchill – “This will be their finest hour”
  • Martin Luther King – “I have a dream.”

While factors of preparation, setting, circumstance and timing are all critical, the powerful and memorable speech or presentation contains four dimensions which when effected by the speaker, leave a lasting impression on the audience. Those dimensions can be summarized in what is called the EPOD Theory:

E – Energy
P – Persuasion
O – Optimism
D – Discipline

Energy

High levels of energy have nothing to do with the age, sex or athletic prowess.

Dr. Vincent Peale, at age 90, demonstrated an energy level that could run a generator. Dr. Ruth Westheimer generates as much energy as a male twice her size, and President Roosevelt was bound to braces, crutches and wheelchairs throughout most of his adult life.

Your energy package will be perceived by people based on your enthusiasm, projection, eye contact, voice level and gestures. Don’t confuse your audience by raising your voice, yelling or speaking bombastically. On the contrary, energy is created internally. It comes from the way you feel about yourself and your audience.

Your energy level usually is determined before you speak. Don’t waste energy through hypernervousness. If your speech or presentation is prepared, you know your audience and have checked out the environment in which the speech will be made — so it is time to direct your energies internally. Relax and observe your audience. They will measure your energy level by the degree of excitement and enthusiasm you attach to your words. Your gestures and body stance will reinforce their perceptions.

Rehearsing the presentation allows the energy to flow naturally and prevents mechanical or overly theatrical delivery. The payoff for all this preparatory work is that your audience senses your energy level and theirs will increase as a result. In short, high energy begets high energy.

Persuasion

The art of persuasion is a complicated process, based largely on perception and not necessarily on reality. The eminent writer Oscar Wilde once said, “The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the person who expresses it.”

The most valuable ideas frequently fall on deaf ears because the level of persuasion is so low that the person listening perceives the idea as lacking validity. Many people simply lack conviction and sincerity when presenting their ideas.

The first condition of a persuasive speech or presentation is to know your audience (i.e. the issues they’re dealing with and why they need to be addressed). It is delivered at the audience’s level of perception and tailored explicitly for them.

Persuasive speeches or presentations also contain words and phrases selected to create feelings of “well being”. A simple rule of thumb is to reduce the number of the first party references (I, we, me) and increase the number of second and third party references (you, your, yours and they, them).

Try to eliminate value judging phrases. Words such as “should, ought, must” create a distinct psychological resistance from a listener. Instead of telling the people what they have to do, what they haven’t done and what they need to do, cite examples with which they can identify, understand and follow. Political speeches are notorious for the use of derogatory comments. This may elicit an immediate audience response, but in the long run, negativity reduces the effectiveness of what you are saying.

A persuasive message says, “I understand you. I know where you’re coming from. I can almost feel your pain. I empathize with you. Here is our common bond; I give you this idea which I hope will be of help.”

Many years ago, I was asked what single ingredient separates great speakers from ordinary ones. My answer was: “It’s how much of yourself you have in the speech that others can relate to.”

Optimism

How do you sell optimism in a negative world? Examine the front page of your local newspaper, listen to the TV or radio newscaster and you’ll note that most issues and stories are presented in a negative manner. A positive connotation of most circumstances is either deleted or given minor attention.

In a world filled with negativity, you have the option of following the crowd or selling the positive elements of virtually any set of circumstances. I’m sure that if the electric light bulb were invented today, the “teaser” on your regular evening news would start out with a statement such as, “Today an unbelievable tragedy has befallen the candle-making industry.” The news coverage might deal with candle-makers who lose their jobs and the complexity of installing electrical wiring in the average home, etc.

You have the ideal opportunity to radiate positivism and present the optimistic side of issues that most people do not think to examine on their own. “Is the bottle half full or half empty.” “Is 7 percent unemployment really 93 percent employment?” These examples are triggering devices. Certainly it is wise to beware of calamities or dangerous conditions; however, I would like to
believe that most people are interested in solutions. They would like to hear thoughts and ideas which explain how to deal with these situations.

Optimism means telling people they “can.” It means taking facts and presenting them so that they can discern an immediate advantage. Frequently, when I quote statistics as presented by the press, and prior to presenting the “bright side” of the issue, I tell my audience, “Statistics are like bikinis; what they reveal is interesting, what they conceal is vital.”

Speaking optimistically requires preparation. Avoid anything that can bring pessimism to your surroundings. Don’t read the front page of the newspaper or watch the evening news. Or, in lieu of that, take the statements from these sources and present the exact opposite.

Guess what? Your audience will love it. Occasionally you may get criticism based on lack of “fact-finding” research. Just remember, the news sources do the same thing.

I use affirmation as the principle of my optimistic feelings. I tell my audiences that optimism is a choice, and that every morning before I speak I make a choice. Each morning when men and women face the mirror to shave or put on make-up, they have an opportunity to sell optimism to that audience of one. I choose to affirm myself each and every day.

Discipline

Discipline is frequently not apparent to your audience. However, the results of your discipline before and during a speech or presentation are what make it powerful and memorable.

Discipline starts with preparation. Do you know what you’re going to say? Have you done your research? Have you put it in a format (notes or otherwise) to retrieve and deliver? Have you practiced your timing, inflections and nuances?

The fact is that when a speech or presentation begins and ends on time, it’s because the speaker has exercised discipline.

Great speakers end their speeches on time. I’ve seen hundreds of professionals exceed their time allotments, stray from their subject matters and break some of the simplest rules of powerful speaking. Why do they fail to see that anything that can upset the program or the audience is distracting?

Discipline frequently begins with a personal commitment. If your speeches or presentations are to be powerful and memorable, you have to be in the physical and mental shape to “deliver.” Any excess such as overeating, imbibing or late night reveling will reduce your effectiveness.

In my time as a professional speaker, I was invited to numerous cocktail parties and celebrations the night before the event in which I was scheduled to speak. I have seen many speakers invitations thinking the wages of dissipation will dissipate tomorrow. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

You can only deliver a high level of energy when you feel energetic, and you can only be persuasive and optimistic when you look and act that way. Discipline means knowing when to say no.

To emphasize the importance of discipline, I frequently share a portion of my personal history. I entered speech therapy in the Philadelphia school system at the age of 6, and for seven years I was tutored in the basics of sound fundamental speech, and because I didn’t speak correctly when I entered the system, my therapist hammered home the exercises (practice pieces) that I had to work on constantly. I don’t believe I became a professional speaker by coincidence, but rather by disciplined training.

I frequently wonder why thousands of people follow the same rules of training, yet only a small percentage emerge as powerful and memorable speakers/presenters. My conclusion is: to know and not to do is not to know.

The EPOD Theory is based on my observations and experience in making more than 4,700 paid speeches and thousands of presentations. A good speaker, like the conductor of a giant orchestra, can lead the audience from one emotional state to
the other. The Churchills, Roosevelts and Martin Luther Kings of the world have unconsciously formed a methodology which, when emulated, lends energy, persuasiveness and optimism.

Discipline is a matter of commitment, the level of which only you can determine.

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