I’d like to briefly share with you 2 quick examples as to why not everyone who speaks is a speaker, and why not everyone who listens is your audience!
Not all those who speak are speakers
Whenever I’m not speaking at events or preparing material, I like to attend conferences and listen to other speakers. I’m not some crazy kind of stalker, or recluse; simply someone who enjoys being inspired by others and likes to see whats popular and ‘working’ in the industry right now.
I was recently invited to an evening event, where 3 speakers were billed (none of whom I’d heard speak before), all of whom had a well presented Speaker Bio, and 2 of whom were speaking on issues very close to me. The event was less than 30mins drive from my home, and on an evening I had little else on.
Anything but inspirational
I attended with much interest, looking forward to being inspired by others and their stories. However, what unfolded was anything but inspirational. The first speaker appeared to use her book as a permanent clip board, fixed within her hand, cover showing as if a mini sandwich board strapped to her hand! It took me a while to determine WHY (other than the continued promotion of) would she so prominently hold this book in front of her. It took me 10mins or so, to realise behind the book were a series of prompt cards for her, being cleverly hidden by the book. I could begin to excuse this slightly if it wasn’t that she was using the prompt cards to remind her of her story!
If this was the first time I’d seen this, and by someone first entering the speaking arena I might have overlooked and forgiven her for nerves in front of their first audience, however by far it is not.
I’m ASTOUNDED at the amount of people who ‘profess’ to be motivational speakers, professional speakers, inspirational speakers and yet can’t remember 30,40,60 mins OF THEIR OWN material!
I’m NOT saying speakers are actors, or actors are speakers, however IF we were to make a comparison, an actor may be required to recite 2-3 hours (4-5 if your doing the classics like Shakespeare) of someone else’s material (often using words or phases perhaps NOT common to your own every day speech) and deliver it full of emotion and perfectly.
Therefore, the FIRST LESSON in becoming a speaker – KNOW your material!
Another speaker opted to use slides to support his presentation. I’m a big fan of slides after all “A picture paints a thousand words” and images can instantly invoke powerful emotion. However, I’d prefer each slide not to be surrounded by a thousand words, which the speaker felt compelled to turn their back to the audience and read from each slide!
Perhaps they missed the vital lesson which advises LESS IS MORE. In order for the image to be evocative, it needs to stand alone and consume the entire screen. Ensure the image is CLEAR, RELEVANT, APPLICABLE. Give the audience to see it, consider it, engage with it, rather than flicking through endless slides simply because you know whats coming next!
SECOND LESSON in becoming a speaker – Use props appropriately.
The other speaker bounded onto the stage and immediately engaged with the audience. His voice was clear, the volume was just right and his tone pleasant to listen to. I sat back in my chair and began to get inspired. However, began to get a creek neck, as I found myself continually following his frantic pacing up and down the stage! Up and down, speaking faster and faster, as he himself became more excited by his content. Faster and faster, louder and louder, left, right, left…..
He had NO understanding of owning the stage, about anchoring or time lines, how to utilise the space effectively instead of thinking it was a 5-a-side pitch and he needed to deliver his presentation whilst re-enacting all 5 players moves! I quickly became distracted by is tireless movement, and found myself reaching for the Anadin before he came up for air!
THIRD LESSON in becoming a speaker – Pace, Position, Posture
and finally, the CARDINAL SIN of speaking.
However, if there was ONE thing that angers EVERY audience more than anything else. If there was ONE THING that was guaranteed to make you memorable for ALL the WRONG reasons, and confirm your unlikely to EVER be invited to speak again…
Practice delivering content to a live audience, both small and large. Know it front to back, back to front and inside out. There’s an ART I teach all budding speakers about their material, and sadly this speaker had deemed that wasn’t applicable to them! Because they were booked to deliver a 30 min keynote, and at 22 mins in, they announced,
“Now I’ve given you the background, I can begin!…”
TIMING is CRUCIAL, beyond ANYTHING else when speaking to others. Respect for people and their time HAS to be the NUMBER 1 priority with any speaker, and acknowledging that any audience, EVERY audience is only granting you access to them and their time, whilst you are worthy and respectful of it!
It’s scary the amount of ‘speakers’ that arrive with what clearly is going to take them 2+ hours to get through for their 45min slot!
FORTH and FINAL LESSON in becoming a speaker – Know when to get off!
I know there are many styles of presenting, there are numerous theories surrounding engagement and audience participation. I understand everyone has to have their own individual take on how they present their story. But a fundamental issue remains here: It’s not about you! It’s always about THEM.
The difference between someone who speaks and a professional speaker, starts and ends with the audience, and the emotion you invoke within them to empower them to do or say or think differently from that moment onwards. It’s not about the words you say or the stories you share, but the emotions you invoke within them which creates a lasting (sometimes life changing) impression.
Learning how to craft a speech that you know prior to even entering stage is an art, a craft so many profess to, yet so fewer ever take the time and consideration to master.
Listen to me…
My second quick story is the other side of speaking. Not the motivational stage stuff, but the event and management of it! The BUSINESS of speaking.I was recently approached by the organiser of an event (Not an event organiser) to enquire if I was available to speak at an event they were hosting this Autumn. She had seen a previous post I had placed on LinkedIn and begun following me, then more recently watched a video I uploaded on Youtube.
I was recently approached by the organiser of an event (Not an event organiser) to enquire if I was available to speak at an event they were hosting this Autumn. She had seen a previous post I had placed on LinkedIn and begun following me, then more recently watched a video I uploaded on Youtube.
She initially emailed asking if I might be available on the date for the event, and comments on how she had been inspired to call by my post and video. She advised me more about the event, and in return I spoke about my experience and area of expertise as a speaker, and we agreed I would be a ‘good fit’ for their audience and required outcomes.
I asked if she’d like to go through my booking inquiry sheet over the phone or have it emailed to her. She advised she was happy to progress over the phone, so I began running through the list of questions I ask every enquirer in order to ensure we are both in agreement as to who, what, where, when and how this event is going to be the success it deserves to be.
Halfway through the form, she interrupted to advise me
“Oh my god, how do you know to ask all of this stuff? I just thought you’d turn up and speak!“
It appears she had taken very little of the questions I was asking into any consideration and was mildly panicking that the event was nowhere near as far through being planned as she had first thought, based on my questions!
I offered her our complimentary guide to planning a Successful Event which she very gratefully accepted and requested I also include the booking enquiry form to complete once she has taken everything else on the list into consideration!
I privately offered feedback to each of the three speakers in my first example, and am pleased to advise all took the observations and feedback well, and we are now engaged in working to review and amend the concerns I raised, to improve and propel them and their speaking careers forward.
The event organiser has returned both enquiry sheet and payment, and I look forward to presenting on their stage.