I’ve been on the road a bit lately. It’s not my favorite place to be but I’m always amazed at what I learn when I break out of my normal routine!
A couple of the meetings I attended had terrific speakers. A few others had less than terrific speakers. OK, let’s be honest. To quote Charles Barkley, most of the speakers were “terrible.” This got me thinking about all the terrific, very capable people I’ve worked with over the years, and how many of them were truly great speakers? Maybe one out of ten, but more likely, one out of a hundred!
Why is that? Why do so many accomplished professionals kill us with Powerpoint or bore us to death with a less than impassioned speech? Just last week, Seth Godin blogged about speakers who “don’t say anything.”
Perhaps my friend Nick Morgan has the answer. Nick is the author of “Trust Me – Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma” and has spent a lifetime teaching people to be more “authentic” in their presentations and speeches. Nick recommends rehearsing your speeches with these four aims in mind:
1. BEING OPEN TO YOUR AUDIENCE
Nick suggests practicing your speech by envisioning what it would be like to give your presentation to someone you’re completely comfortable with. This is the emotional state you want to be in when you deliver the speech.
2. CONNECTING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
I attended a Nick Morgan workshop and he taught me a great little technique that allowed me to draw in attendees that may have “slipped” away. I also worked with an actor that suggested imagining a bubble around you and the same audience and that you should try to feel the emotions in the bubble. Learning a few techniques that can help you connect with your audience will make the presentation more meaningful to you and your audience.
3. BEING PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR TOPIC
Nick says that while rehearsing, ask yourself what in your topic you feel deeply about: What’s at stake? What results do you want your presentation to produce? Focus not on what you want to say but on why you’re giving the speech and how you feel about it. I once listed to a CTO of a company give a speech that said the difference between his firm and all the other tech firms in the market was the passion with which they delivered their services … and he said it with passion! I was convinced!
4. “LISTENING” TO YOUR AUDIENCE
I think this is the toughest aim to fulfill. Nick suggests thinking about what your listeners will likely be feeling when you step up to begin your presentation. Are they excited about the future? Worried about bad news? As you practice, imagine watching them closely, looking for signs of their response to you.
Try these suggestions the next time you prepare for a speech or presentation. They may not turn you into Tony Robins or even Tony the Tiger, but they will make you more authentic and more apt to move your audience to change.