What is your favorite movie of all time? We all like to watch movies because we can live another life for about an hour and a half.
Imagine a movie without any special effects and computer graphics. Can it still be good? Yes.
What if we limit the number of actors to one man and one woman, place them into a room with a white floor, ceiling and walls, and remove any furniture from the room. Can the movie still be a blockbuster if the scenario is wonderful and the acting is at a very high level? Sure, yes.
But what if this man and women don’t talk at all within 90 minutes of the film? Can the movie still be interesting? Of course, not!
A movie can’t exist without a dialogue and dialogue is the foundation for any successful movie. The same is true in public speaking. The dialogue is the core of any story. The story is the core for any speech and therefore, dialogue is the core for any speech.
Dialogue is what brings that Hollywood movie or presentation alive. Dialogue is what makes your audience members active participants of your speech, because they can see actions happening in real time.
If you don’t have any dialogue in the speech, it’s not a speech. It’s a news report, an article, but not a speech. However if you only have dialogue, it’s not a speech either. It’s a theatrical play. A successful speech is a combination of both dialogue and narration and your goal as a speaker is to make the appropriate mix. This is what public speaking is all about.
But what’s the proper proportion? From my observation, 99.9% of speakers, including myself, usually have too much narration in their speeches and too little dialogue. So if you add more dialogue into your speech, you will have a perfect balance. How do you do that? Very easy! Here are few tips on how to increase the amount of dialogue and to reduce the amount of narration in your speech.
3 Ways to Increase the Amount of Dialogue
Always tell a character’s lines in dialogue
For example, in my speech “Subway car” I say, “There are too many people, Sergey.” “Yeah Andrii, let’s skip this train.” instead of saying, “When we were on the platform of the Kyiv subway, my friend Sergey and I looked into the subway car and I told him that there were too many people. He agreed with me and suggested that we wait for the next train.”
The version with dialogue makes this part much more succinct, lively and interesting. Always have your characters speak in dialogue.
Put description in dialogue
Put some of the description and background into dialogue; information that you could otherwise tell with narration. For example, if I talk with Sergey about his personal life in a speech, it would sound something like this: “Sergey, you are the 26-year-old founder of an advertising agency. You are handsome and smart and you are telling me that you are afraid to invite Julie for a date?” “Andrii, I’ve known you since the first grade. When will you stop treating me as your little brother? Let me handle it myself.”
In this dialogue, you learned background information about Sergey and also how we know each other. This is much more interesting and succinct than if I presented it like this: ‘My friend Sergey, who I’ve known since school, is the successful founder of an advertising agency. He is handsome and smart. When I met him last week, I asked, “Sergey, I can’t believe that you are afraid to invite Julie out for a date.” His reply was “Andrii, when will you stop treating me like your little brother? Let me handle it myself.”’
Remove unnecessary narration with your body
Speaking is very different from writing. When you are on stage, in addition to your words, you also have your voice and body and you need to use them! Don’t tell in narration what you can show.
For example you can say, ‘I got angry, turned to Julie and said, “You are wrong!”’Instead, you can just turn your body to imaginary Julie and with an angry intonation say, “Julie, you are wrong!”
Dialogue is a secret ingredient without which a great speech can’t exist. Increase amount of dialogue in your next presentation and chances are that for your audience members it will become their favorite of all time.
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