Over my 30 year career being a professional speaker and trainer I have heard many a story of professionals’ who would talk about how much angst this work is and they are not having much fun. Yes I have also heard that public speaking is the number fear among people, who hasn’t. My intention here is to provide a model to allow you in the speaking profession to have more fun.
So you want to have fun. If you notice the people who have genuine fun in any profession are good at what they do. It is amazing for those who are good at what they do seem to work hard. Well one may ask what does working hard in the speaking professional really mean. It means a great many thing, that is the conundrum. For example learning how to organize a speech whether it is for 3 minutes or a training class for 3 days. Being able to connect with an audience. The skill of crafting the words you use so you are understood by your listeners. Using you voice to convey the right message and you body for visual reinforcement. The ability to use technology in presenting your message, while not to overpower the audience with it.
Malcolm Galdwell, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” explains quit eloquently the “10,000 Hour Rule.” Most people fail for they are not will to put the time and effort need to master the chosen field of endeavor. Let examine the model in reverse. If you work hard, you will become good at what you do. When you become good at what you do you will Have Fun doing it.
To bring this home, Brian Tracy said “What is easy to learn is physically hard to do, and what is hard to learn is easy to do.” Think about it!
Lets master our endeavor and go and have fun.
You have a great presentation that you deliver: people enjoy it and organizations pay you to present it. But what else do you have? Chances are, quite a lot.
Does your audience have to experience you live and in person, or would a video suffice? Whether or not the messenger is the message, if the theatre is not necessarily the medium, a video may suffice. Could your words be printed on paper and travel in book form rather than via sound waves? Probably so, which brings permanence to your words. If you are an expert in your given field, you could share more information about your field of expertise in reference materials, rather than have that material cluttering up your presentation? Of course you could. The number of things you can create to enhance your message is vast.
Each one of these items becomes a potential source of revenue to you. Collectively, they become your “Table at the back of the room” where participants can purchase “you” in a variety of media formats. The purchased items become reminders of you to the buyer, and may also act as “calling cards” identifying you to new people and audiences. Purchases are not limited to tables at speaking venues: your “Store” should be part of your web site and social media.
The next time you attend a keynote, check out the speaker’s “Table at the Back of the Room”. Check the pricing and do the math; your mind will do the rest.
So how do I become a better conversationalist? It is fun being a great speaker standing in front of 300 people but how do you talk to anyone, one on one. These are some simple but effective ideas.
First, you need to be interested in what people have to say. Start by asking questions and then listen to the answers. One great way to learn how to listen is by learning how to evaluate a speech. Evaluating speeches teaches you how to listen. Listening allows you to get to know people and what is happening in their lives. Most people want to be understood and tell their stories.
People like to receive compliments. If you tell someone how great of a job they did in a particular event, people respond favorably.
You need to avoid debates. You can have a discussion back and forth but don’t try to change someone’s opinion. It doesn’t work!
Work on your humor skills. People like to talk to people who are funny. Again a learned skill.
Use these ideas and the next time you are sitting on a plane, you can have a great conversation with the person next to you!
Last week I was standing in our reception area and I began to briefly speak with my Facility Director. As I finished the 30 second conversation, we were approached by our Regional Security Director. He is a great guy but Alpha male to the extreme. What should have been a 3 minute quick conversation turned into a 30 minute conversation. All because the security director was more interest in telling his needs and recommendations rather than listening to his intended audience, the Facility Director.
You as a speaker must realize that as you are speaking to your audience, your audience is speaking back to you. Hopefully, your audience is not doing that by heckling which is the verbal form of communication. The majority of time your audience will communicated to you non-verbally. You can see in their body movements, lack of interest or constantly looking at their cell phones. If you see that your audience is not interested in what you are saying, you must change your speech. Either leave out parts of the speech or add more passion. Whatever your course of action, you need to change something!
Gestures can enhance the value of your speech. Or and more importantly, they can detract from the value of your speech. The choice is yours to make. A gesture will let your audience know how tall someone is or how wide the door was as you walk through it. Gestures can help emphasize your points and on what point you are speaking on.
One key ingredient is to always keep in mind the size of the room you are speaking in. Gestures that are wide and exaggerate will overpower your audience in a small conference room. On the other hand if you are speaking in a large auditorium, your gestures need to be seen at the back of the room.
The best way to analyze your gestures is by recording your speech. The benefit of recording your speech has been address in many prior nuggets. This is the power of a recorded speech. By simply reviewing your recorded speech with the sound off allows to you to look at your gestures and see if they are natural and will fit the occasion.
So go ahead, make that gesture and realize the power of its simplicity!!
If you are performing an experiment (delivering a speech) and need to know a critical outcome along the way (audience reaction/awareness) you have to measure it (video or audio record your speech) to see the results.
Just as a scientist would do in his/her lab, you must do in your lab, and, in this case, your lab is your speaking environment, your lab is your speech delivery, or maybe your lab is the experimental process you follow so you will know where you are along the way in your speech and where you need to add, delete, or change (adjust your speech volume or intonation) to get to the desired results you want (audience reaction, understanding, or Call to Action).
If things don’t work the first time, go back and review the audio/video recording and see where you can tune your message by making it shorter or more succinct and to the point, by observing body movements or vocal inflections, and by critiquing your overall message segueway(s) paying close attention to your ‘transitional’ words from point to point.
Today, data storage is cheap. Make the investment in a good recording device of some sort and start recording your speaking experiments so you can measure your speaking success along the way!
Video is a key component in the success matrix of your speaking business. Use video well and you should perform well; ignore it or use video badly and you will probably do badly.
There is no middle ground with video: it hides nothing and forgets nothing. Your speech, recorded by the brain, may, over time, lose verbal errors and platform irregularities leaving the good parts to be savored. Video provides no such relief: a gaffe on video remains for the life of the file; however, a flawless performance remains flawless on video forever.
Take a two sided approach: first, use video to help develop your material and enhance your platform persona. Over time this eliminates tongue twisting word combinations and awkward platform habits. Second, accumulate segments worthy of keeping and showing to others. These segments provide the basis for advertising and demonstration videos. Remember that professional quality demo videos may require professional quality video assistance.
The more you video, the more comfortable you become with “the red eye”. This will show in interviews and spontaneous conversations, further enhancing your marketability.
Finished video products can also generate their own revenue streams, in addition to, or in conjunction with, your speaking gigs.
How you use video in your speaking business will go a long way to determining how successful your speaking career will be. Use it early and use it often, keep the exceptional, seek professional help.