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Public speaking isn't easy for everyone. It can be nerve racking and even scary. But, in this episode of Crash Course Business Soft Skills, Evelyn talks to us about S.U.C.C.E.S and how we can use it to help us be prepared to speak to a group.


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You know that nightmare in all the TV shows, where you're standing in front of a podium, you look down, and you're not wearing any clothing? That split second of terror when the audience is laughing at you and you feel unprepared, helpless, alone, and so cold is excruciating. We're here to help you avoid that feeling in real life, whether you're on stage or in a one-on-one meeting with your boss. So take a deep breath, and get ready to improve your public speaking skills to make sure your ideas stick. I'm Evelyn from the Internets and this is Crash Crouse Business: Soft Skills.


We've all survived book reports and group projects in school, but public speaking isn't always standing in front of a slide deck. Depending on your job, you may need to sell and idea with a pitch or give a talk to a crowd, but you'll also need to contribute to meetings or just chat with you co-workers. And, if you're in your mid-twenties, you might even be giving a speech at a wedding soon. Every time I go on Facebook, I feel a little more single. 

No matter how confident you think you are speaking in public, there are ways to improve and gain the trust of your audience. A big part of this is how you speak. Like, think about some of the most well-known speeches of all time. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" would have been way less effective if he had stared straight down at the podium.

If you're giving a presentation, this means you should avoid reading from the slides or straight off a page of notes; this keeps your tone casual, and makes sure that you avoid sounding like a robot. If you have slides, they should be visual-heavy. If your audience is reading a ton of information, you could have sent a memo instead.

Let's say you were trying to convince someone that Lemonade was one of the most visually compelling albums of all time and propelled Beyoncé to new heights as an artist (like anyone would really need convincing). You could tell people that her song "Formation" won a Grammy for Best Music Video, but it would be better to show a clip of Queen Bey in all her glory.

And, since you're confident in what you're saying and not reading off your notes, put those eyes to good use! Make eye contact with your audience. Just like on a first date, it shows you care, and it keeps you from fixating on that fake plant that's in the back of every office meeting room. If you're uncomfortable making direct eye contact, looking at people's foreheads can be a good way to fudge it.

Remember how we said content matters more than formatting in written communication? Well, when you're speaking, what you say is just as important as how you say it. So, always remember to aim for S.U.C.C.E.S. (two C's, two S's). It's a six-step framework that helps you deliver your points clearly and concisely. 

First up, a simple 'S' or, the K.I.S.S. method; keep it simple, silly. Identify the one thing you want your audience to come away with, and stick to that core message. You might even craft a memorable sound byte that summarizes your main points. For example, if you were trying to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show, you might say that "Stranger Things is like Stand by Me, but with aliens" or "Psych is like The Mentalist, but with shenanigans!"

Next, us the unexpected. You know those YouTube videos where some screaming ghoul pops out of nowhere? Yeah, I'm not going to do that, and neither should you. But, do something memorable! Maybe crack a joke to make a mundane topic fun, like that one Southwest Airlines flight safety presentation. Or, highlight a knowledge gap; make the audience feel like they need to pay attention by creating a scenario where they have to know the answer. How will this product help me save 15 minutes during my morning routine? Why is 42 the meaning of life? But, be careful to avoid gimmicks or misleading people. We've all been frustrated by click-bait articles that aren't what they promised. Your audience will feel the same way.

Third, anchor your work with something concrete. Founders of the S.U.C.C.E.S. framework use an analogy called the Velcro Theory of Memory. The more hooks you have, the more an idea is going to stick in your brain. You want to explain your main point using examples your audience already knows or can understand, without confusing language. For example, JFK didn't say he wanted to "increase scientific funding for exploration of natural satellites in order to increase the reach of homo sapiens," he said he wanted to put a man on the Moon. And, if you're explaining tricky business concepts, like emotional influence, you might use pop culture references, like Harry Potter, to make analogies your audience will remember. 

Fourth, to show you did your homework, keep it credible. Facts, figures, and experts will help people understand what you're trying to say. Your audience might want to hear from people with external credibility, like Ivy League professors or high-achieving professionals, like CEOs. You also need to think about internal credibility, or the appeal of your argument. You'll have low internal credibility if your message conflicts with the way your audience sees the world. So, if you're a broke college student surviving on ramen but trying to convince your friends to eat healthy, you could cite a nutritionist to explain why the peppers on that Domino's pizza do not count as vegetables.

Fifth, make it emotional. Make people care. There's a reason that those commercials with Sarah McLachlan are so effective. To make your message memorable, use something that pulls on the heartstrings and makes people think about their own identities. Are you a kind person who wants to help a dog in need? Or, deep down, do you love cats enough to adopt another?

Finally, make your speech legen-wait for it-dary by telling a great story. Stories act like motivators. Think about how inspired you might feel after watching a movie about a ragtag team of underdogs trying to make the playoffs. And, a well-crafted story can also show people how to act by providing a template or example. So, for instance, if you were soliciting funding for the Li'l Sebastian scholarship, you could tell the story of a Pawnee student who overcame all odds thanks to the generous donations of community benefactors.