Here are 3 fun facts from neuroscience that explain why Speech Parties are so effective.
#1. Be like James Bond: Neuroplasticity
Pretend you're James Bond. You have a friend who wants to fight bad guys as well as you do and asks you what skills are needed. You make a list of James Bond skills and give it to them. Are they now as capable as you? Absolutely not. Here's why and how it relates to public speaking:
Neuroplasticity & Growing Public-Speaking Muscles
As James Bond, you spent countless hours practicing all of your skills. Not only did this affect your physical body, it also affected your brain. The brain has "muscles" for each skill it can perform (obviously it's not really made of muscle, but this keeps the explanation simple) and those "muscles" get stronger as you practice each skill. This is called the brain's neuroplasticity and the brain actually changes with repeated effort.
Awe-inspiring public speakers are like James Bond because they have practiced extensively the long list of skills needed to produce legendary presentations.
Solution 1: Learn by Doing
Speech Party's first solution is to offer an alternative to on-the-job public speaking training while still providing the opportunity to learn by doing. Professionals usually develop these skills over time with repeated public speaking experiences, perhaps with some successes and some failures. We provide an environment to practice and build skills quickly with repeated test audiences. Because speakers have an audience that's easily accessible, they can practice body language one day and vocal variety another until those skills are thoroughly developed. This allows speakers to be prepared for high-stakes presentations instead of using them as public speaking practice sessions. Check out our Solutions.
#2. Crowdsourcing: Future of Creative Thought
The first ingredient of our secret sauce involves practicing the best techniques. The second ingredient uses the power of crowdsourcing to exponentially increase the effectiveness of how we practice, guiding us to use speaking techniques, like humor, successfully and infusing our presentations with creativity.
Crowd collaboration or “crowdsourcing” is the future of creative thought and we harness it for our presentations. For example, scientists spent over a decade trying to figure out the folding structure of a specific protein using high-tech equipment and FAILED. In a “last ditch effort” they developed an online competition including non-scientists to see if they could solve the mystery through crowdsourcing. It took them 3 short weeks to figure it out. A 10 year mystery was SUCCESSFULLY solved in 3 weeks using the power of the crowd.
This may explain why the presentations that have gone viral were the result of many practice rounds with people who provided feedback. The creative input from all of the individuals shaped the presentation to be the perfect presentation.
Looking in a Feedback Mirror
Feedback serves as a mirror we don't have when we practice alone.
Test audiences are like a disco ball made of many mirrors reflecting a variety of angles. They provide a diversity of new ideas, but also a common sense of what works and what doesn't in the speech. We know when the story we told was pretty good or when the audience was on the edge of their seat and how we can improve.
Solution 2: Use Science to Make What you do Even Better
In addition to the natural creative element that crowdsourcing introduces to presentations, we train some of our audiences in the science of public speaking and the techniques that maximize audience engagement.
We know from scientific research the speech elements universally interesting to audiences. In theory, speakers don't have excuses for boring presentations because research indicates when audiences are most happy and engaged. But in practice, knowing what works is only the beginning and the ability to deliver a universally engaging element requires practice and feedback. By having access to Speech Party's scientifically-inspired feedback, speakers can use science to most successfully communicate with their audience. Check out our Solutions.
Who Uses a Feedback Mirror?
Carmine Gallo* asked speakers whose TED Talks went viral what their secret was. They said feedback. They took the concept of feedback well beyond what most speakers do and would repeatedly seek it out.
Aimee Mullin's TED talk has gone viral with over 2.3 million views and she explains her final speech was so popular because she was constantly seeking feedback whether it was via Skype or from her seatmate on the plane. (source: C. Gallo's Talk like TED)
"Lean In" turned into a book and then a worldwide movement after Sheryl Sandberg delivered her TED talk. Her original presentation was packed with data when a friend suggested she share the personal story about Sheryl's daughter crying and not wanting her Mom to go to the talk. (source: C. Gallo's Talk like TED)
Steve Jobs would use a test audience and ask for feedback in conjunction with lots of practice for his renowned keynotes.
The power of feedback may be familiar to you. Perhaps you remember changing a presentation based on someone's suggestion. Most experts on the subject explain feedback tweaks their best presentations in just the right way. The main challenge is having quick and convenient access to the right type of feedback, which is why we developed the concept of online and offline test audiences.
#3. Survival Trumps Logic
Survival, sexual arousal, and public speaking all stimulate the brain in the same way and produce a heightened physical state that makes thinking difficult. To be able to function as a public speaker, we need to get used to being in front of a crowd.
We have an ancient survival mechanism in our brain that during primitive times served the purpose of saving us from being eaten by lions. In this state, our body's resources are directed to helping us physically escape a perceived a threat. The stress hormones we produce in this state make it difficult to access the parts of our brain related to remembering our speech and successfully delivering it.
When we stand in front of a crowd, that same survival mechanism is activated. This is because another part of our primitive (and modern-day) survival involved making positive social impressions.
Solution 3: Practice Under Pressure to Perform Under Pressure
The third solution that Speech Party provides is access to audiences conveniently online, enabling speakers to experience the "all eyes on me" sensation from anywhere. Awkward practice alone, that makes it difficult to practice the real speech, is now not the only option.
In addition to becoming accustomed to the feeling of a crowd, speakers can also try out different relaxation and speech memory techniques to see what works best for them under pressure. When speakers have experience in front of crowds, they can more easily focus on their presentation and successfully access the parts of their brain that will help them deliver it. Check out our Solutions.
*Many scientific sources were studied before the birth of the Speech Party concept and special credit goes to Carmine Gallo's book Talk like TED, which served as one valuable resource on the science of public speaking (C. Gallo is not directly affiliated with Speech Party).