James Bond’s public speaking lessons

The superspy movie series offers chase scenes, explosions, martinis—and also some good advice for speakers.

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There’s a lot of mayhem. A prodigious tally of explosions, an innumerable body count, and a huge, huge pile of wrecked machinery, including an astonishing number of expensive BMWs, Audis and of course Aston Martins.

All good fun. But what, if anything, did I learn about public speaking while watching Bond save the world, drink his martinis (shaken, not stirred), and finish off so many mad evil geniuses?

I learned three things that speakers can put to work immediately, upping their game, perhaps even lifting it to Bondian levels:

1. Skip the preamble.

What was fresh about the franchise was that, rather than beginning with a set of credits, Bond plunges us right into the action. We start with a murder, at the very least. Frequently a chase involving some of those expensive cars. Often, lots of big things are blown up in the process.

Bond starts with a bang, and you should too. Don’t begin with an introduction. Preferably, someone else does that for you, but if not, resist the temptation to say, “Let me tell you a little about myself (or my organization).” Nothing is more tedious for an audience. They care about what’s in it for them, not you.

Sorry. But that’s the way it is.

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