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How to Explain Anything to Anyone Easily: 8 Spontaneous Speaking Structures

How to Explain Anything to Anyone Easily: 8 Spontaneous Speaking Structures

Do you get in your own way during a job interview or while giving a presentation? If so, you might be wondering:

“What can I do to quickly explain something when in the moment?”

Thankfully, there are ways to do this and they are very simple ways. Author of Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident and Compelling Presenting, Matthew Abrahams informs us, “When you are in a spontaneous speaking situation, you have to do two things simultaneously,”

  1. Figure out what to say.
  2. Figure out how to say it.

Let’s examine 8 spontaneous speaking structures that allow you to become comfortable and respond immediately to any speaking situation.

What are Spontaneous Speaking Structures?

A spontaneous speaking structure is a way to tell a story. It is a way to explain anything quickly by using simple structures to frame a story.

“Structure sets you free.” – Matthew Abrahams

Here’s why structures set you free:

Speaking structures help you explain anything ad lib. They provide an easy way to structure our thinking and prevent us from freezing in the moment.

Abrahams informs us,

“You need to set expectations and structures do that.”

I highly recommend watching the following video (the video is long so I recommend you skip to 41 minutes in where spontaneous speaking structures are discussed in more detail):

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8 Spontaneous Speaking Structures

Let’s now examine 8 spontaneous speaking structures:

1. What? So What? Now What?

    Terry Borton’s Development Framework was constructed in 1970 and is a simple approach involving only three questions: What? So What? Now What? [1] I recently wrote about this framework in Razor-Sharp Thinking: the What-Why Method. This framework provides us a formula for answering questions.

    • What? What happened or what is emerging?
    • So What? Why is it important or what lessons can we learn from it?
    • Now What? What are we going to do next or what should we do moving forward?

    2. Who? Why? What?

    Abrahams provides an easy way for us to use Borton’s Development Framework when introducing someone by simply changing the What to Who.

    • Who? Who they are.
    • Why? Why the person is important.
    • What? What we are going to do next (i.e. listen to their presentation).

    3. Problem/Opportunity – Solution – Benefit

      Another powerful, yet extremely simple technique is the Problem (or Opportunity) – Solution – Benefit structure. Abrahams explains that this is a great technique to use when pitching or persuading someone.

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      • Problem/Opportunity. What do you want to solve or what do you want to capture?
      • Solution. What are the steps to achieve it?
      • Benefit. What is the benefit to their organization?

      4. ADD

      Abrahams illustrates a simple approach to use during a question and answer period of a speech, presentation, or interview.

      • A: Answer questions concisely (condense your information into a few succinct words).
      • D: Detail the answer through an example (illustrate an example through the use of a metaphor or analogy).
      • D: Describe the value of your answer to the asker.

      5. TAKE

      Yet another example of a simple speaking structure offered by Abrahams is TAKE. This is a great approach to use when accepting recognition.

      • T: Thank your audience.
      • A: Acknowledge the award/accomplishment.
      • K: Keep the momentum going.
      • E: End with impact.

      6. 1-3-1 Speech Structure

        The authors of The Secret Memory Booster in Public Speaking offer a powerfully simple approach to learn, remember, and present information using the 1-3-1 approach.

        • 1: Idea The first step is to structure your idea through Prep (get their attention with questions, a story, a quote, or a startling statistic), Promise (specifically the benefits to your audience), and Path (indicate how they will get the promise or preview the main points).
        • 3: Themes or Main Points Next, outline your main points through the use of the following: SHARP, Power Phrase, Reflection, Application, Power Phrase, then Transition. SHARP = Story (anecdote, metaphor, or analogy), Humor, Activity, Reference/Quote, Photo/Prop
        • 1: Conclusion or Call to Action In your conclusion, use the following: Summary (call back to the main points), Q&A, Memorable (tie to the intro).

        7. STAR

          This next technique is perfect to use when answering the typical behavioral interviewing questions asked during a job interview. Behavioral interviewing is an approach used to assess a candidate’s past experience and to judge the response to similar situation on a future job; thus, it is used a predictor of future performance. [2] For example, say you are interviewing for a job and the interviewer asks,

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          “Describe a time when you had to…”

          • Instead of rambling through the question with an incoherent reply, try the STAR technique:
          • S: Situation Detail the background. Provide a context. Where? When?
          • T: Task Describe the challenge and expectations. What needed to be done? Why?
          • A: Action Elaborate your specific action. What did you do? How? What tools did you use?
          • R: Results Explain (quantify) the results: accomplishments, recognition, savings, etc.

          8. What – Why – How Feedback

            Lastly, the perfect structure for growing from feedback is the What – Why – How structure. Pay attention to the feedback you receive (from all around you – people, environment, etc.). Then ask the following:

            • What? What is going on? Which leads to an understanding of the Why.
            • Why? Why is this happening? Which leads us to invent new things (the How).
            • How? How can things get better? This then leads us to change our actions; thus, leading back to the What (for which the cycle never ends).

            By following these 8 simple spontaneous speaking structures, you will find you can easily explain anything off the cuff. Each one of these speaking structures helps you structure your thinking and allows you to respond confidently in any situation.

            They allow you to tell a story, set expectations for your audience, provide you a way to figure out what to say and figure out how to say it. Thus, a spontaneous speaking structure sets you free.

            Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Reference

            More by this author

            Dr. Jamie Schwandt

            Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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            Last Updated on July 18, 2019

            What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

            What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

            Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

            They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

            It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

            1. They Manage Their Expectations

            They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

            2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

            Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

            3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

            Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

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            4. They’re Not Materialistic

            There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

            5. They Don’t Dwell

            They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

            6. They Care About Themselves First

            They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

            They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

            7. They Enjoy the Little Things

            They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

            8. They Can Adapt

            They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

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            9. They Experiment

            They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

            10. They Take Their Time

            They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

            11. They Employ Different Perspectives

            They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

            12. They Seek to Learn

            Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

            13. They Always Have a Plan

            They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

            14. They Give Respect to Get It

            They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

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            15. They Consider Every Opportunity

            They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

            16. They Always Seek to Improve

            Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

            17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

            They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

            18. They Live in the Moment

            They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

            You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

            19. They Say Yes

            Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

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            20. They’re Self-Aware

            Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

            We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

            Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

            Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

            Final Thoughts

            The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

            For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

            More About Happiness

            Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

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