Last week, whilst sweating my way past 4 kilometres on the treadmill, I spotted that the BBC breakfast news team were about to interview David Hasselhoff.
'The Hoff' (as he is now known) was the star of Baywatch and of Knight Rider. Indeed, because of these series he recently earned a world record from the Guinness Book of Records for being the worlds most watched TV star. Over 1 billion people a week are exposed to his programs! If you don't believe me look here.
He has also major chart hits with some rather cheesy soft rock ballads. In Germany he is an idol for having a huge hit called Song for Freedom when the Berlin Wall came down.
And now The Hoff has become an icon for the younger generation too. Google his name and you will see what I mean. An indie band in the UK called the Automatic always set up one corner of their concert halls as a shrine to the man. There is even an online campaign in Britain to get his next (cheesy) record to no.1!
In short, the man is a phenomena.
So, in deference to The Hoff, I quickly unplugged my iPod and tuned in.
His answer to one question really hit me. When asked why he had been so successful in picking both Baywatch and Knight Rider, he said that it came down to his checklist of three things. Any script must give Heart, Humour and Action.
These strike me as a great checklist for speech writers too. I think of them as such:
- Heart - the best speakers bring passion to the dullest of subjects. You are left in no doubt about their position on the subject and their belief in their position. They tell you whether globalisation is good or bad and tell you with all their might. They tell you how Aids is the scourge of Africa and you feel their pain. They tell you a funny story and you know they are excited to be telling it to you. Heart sucks us in.
- Humour - Humour should not be reserved for the best man speech. It is a powerful tool for everyone to use. This does not mean that you need to be a stand-up comic or a laugh a minute. But it does mean that your natural humour should come through. You should use your humour in the same easy going manner as you might at a wine bar or dinner party. This takes work for many speakers but with practice can be achieved. The use of props or amusing slides can help here - whatever works best for you.
- Action - no-one likes dry, inward looking, highly analytical speeches. Numbers and facts need to be brought to life. Show us what it means at the coal face. They want to hear about real stories - what you have seen, what you have done, what you have experienced. These are what interest us most.
Guy Kawasaki (a great speaker himself) recently recommended we listen to Marjora Carter speak at the TED Conference in the States. She provides one of the best examples I've recently seen of Heart, Humour and Action in practice. Listen for yourself and see what you think.
I know this will be become a great checklist for my speech writing in future. See whether it might be a good one for you too.