Have a Hook!

Most business speakers who represent their companies as they speak to clients do not have ambitions to become motivational speakers. You, however, can learn to improve your own business presentations by learning from successful motivational speakers. A key to be effective in your career presentations is to have a “hook.”  Paid motivational speakers often have some unique challenge that they have overcome, so they use that event as a "hook" to share success ideas in their speeches.

For example, in March of this year Anthony Robles won the 125-pound NCAA Division I championship in wrestling. The unusual feature of this feat is that he has only one leg. According to Jason Gay in a Wall Street Journal article, "An Inspiration Moves Off the Mat," Anthony has not been home often since his victory because he has been on the road most of 2011, "…building a profession as a motivational speaker. He's spoken to companies, schools, halfway houses and pro teams."  In his speech he tells his personal story of being born to Judy Robles, a 16-year-old mother who raised her son "…telling him he could do anything, and watched him go out and prove it." Anthony Robles








We all have had unique experiences in life that have brought us to our places in our careers. Think about obstacles you overcame, or an event that changed your life forever. Perhaps you had an unusual job at one point that might dovetail into the content of your presentations. I grew up in an auctioneer family and learned to deliver the auctioneer's chant at age 14. I worked as my uncle's assistant until I left for college. I sometimes incorporate the chant in a speech—especially in the introduction.

When I was a boy, my dad and I had one of the largest rabbit farms in Indiana with over 350 in our rabbitry. That is an effective hook I use to talk about different ways to multiply your investments of time or money.

Think about unique life experiences that might make you stand out from other speakers vying for a business contract from a prospective client. Perhaps you need a special way to keep the interest of your employees as you explain a new benefit package or a new software program you are initiating. What is there about your background that might work toward that end? 

In basketball, the hook shot is common for a tall person to shoot within ten feet of the basket; the main reason is how hard it is for the defensive player to block it even when he or she knows the player is about  to shoot a hook. In like manner, a hook in your next speech will demand the attention of the audience even if they don't want to listen. Whether in fishing, basketball, or a presentation, the hook is indispensable.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at steveboyd111@gmail.com.

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