What Speakers can Learn from Rock Guitar Solos

Turning a good speech into a great speech is a challenge. There might be writers who can draft a perfect speech and there might be actors skilled enough to perform it convincingly. But for everyone else the best way to make a compelling speech is to focus on structured ideas and improvise the actual words.

Once the basic outline of the speech is defined one of the best ways to take it from the good to great level is to evolve the content. Test the first version with an audience and note their reaction, especially the parts that resonate and the parts that felt flat. Now try making some changes to the parts that didn't work and do another test run with a different audience, noting again which parts worked well and which need work. Keep repeating this process until all of the parts resonate with the audience and you feel that the entire speech is at your best level.

This approach to evolving content works find when you have plenty of opportunities for testing. This could be the case when you are perfecting some kind of standard pitch. The startup founder pitching to investors will get plenty of opportunities to test their ideas on real audiences and can evolve their pitch quickly. But there are also situations where you need to design an effective talk for a one-off presentation, like a TED or TEDx talk. In this case repeated testing is not so easy and this is where the rock guitar solos come in.

THE ROCK GUITAR SOLO TECHNIQUE.  Rock guitar solos are based on improvisation, but in the recording studio many guitarists actually record several different improvised solos then edit the best parts together to make an ideal solo based on these improvisations. The guitarist then learns the edited version so that it can be repeated in live performances in the way that fans expect.

Speakers can polish the content of their talks in a similar way. Once you have defined the messages and structure of the talk simply improvise a first version using your notes and record it. Note which parts worked best. Then try recording another version and again note which parts worked best. By repeating this process after a few iterations you will have all the pieces you need to put together a version that is compelling from start to finish. At this point just make some notes of the key words and start practicing to make sure you can deliver this content effectively.

This is a method I have used myself for years and I have used it when coaching other speakers. It is not a technique for beginners, but for anyone who is already a good speaker but aiming to be even better it is the most effective way to craft a talk that people will remember.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

If you would like to be coached one-to-one in this technique, you would like a workshop on this topic or an article about this or other communication topics you can contact me by email at conseil@andrewhennigan.com or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 in Sweden, 0033 6 70 61 42 81 in France. There are also more contact details on my website http://andrewhennigan.com

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