We have all attended a conference or seminar where one particular speaker has stood out from the rest. They have been engaging, informative and they have left us with a lasting impression. And that lasting impression may be to make a change, to adopt new thinking or to challenge the status quo in our workplace or society. Whatever it is, it has had a strong impact on us as an audience member.
What is it that these amazing speakers have in common? Is there a secret to success? I have 6 habits that I have identified as making a speaker exceptional and you will see most of these habits exhibited in some of the great TED talks.
- Great speakers always arrive early. They are there before the crowds, they are testing their equipment and any audio visuals they may have. They are walking on the platform, getting an idea of depth, width of the stage and what the audience will look like. They are connecting with the MC’s and the audio-visual technicians ensuring that everything is good and ready to go. They even meet and greet and speak to the audience members who arrive first, taking time to connect and find out a little about them.
- They tell powerful stories. They tell stories with targeted and memorable messages, so that the audience is clear of the speaker’s purpose. And in their story telling, while maybe sharing a story about themselves, they make the audience feel part of the story and even feel as if they, the audience, are the hero of the story. Stories create visceral and emotional connections that result in greater retention and likelihood of action being taken.
- They do not read from a script, notes or a teleprompter. Successful and engaging speakers learn to present without notes. They do this by knowing their topic well, learning to mind map and telling key stories that have key points. They DO NOT memorise a script or wrote learn their presentation. The power of presenting without notes, is that you can then be 100% focused and pay attention to the audience and their needs. You can read the room, change pace, soften your stance and milk the humour all because you are free to read the audience and focus on their needs.
- They don’t do death by PowerPoint. Steve Jobs said “People who know what they are talking about don’t need PowerPoint.” Death by PowerPoint is when someone reads from their slides, has too many slides, or uses slides for 100% of their presentation. The simple rule is to ask yourself “how does this slide, or image enhance the visual learning of my audience”. Successful speakers know that the purpose of any visual aid is to enhance the experience of the audience and not to be reminder or script for the speaker.
- They are authentic and genuine with their message. Fake it until you make it does not apply to your message or your interaction with your audience or your purpose of presenting. Successful speakers ooze authenticity and genuineness and speak from the heart. They care about their message. They care about their audience. They speak and present from a place of honesty, self-belief and humbleness. They are there to serve the audience and they make their message about the audience and for the audience.
- They are Passionate. Passion, enthusiasm, energy and excitement show us that a speaker cares and is passionate about their topic. It does not have to be evangelical, chanting slogans, waving hands passion. But it does have to be passionate. The audience can tell when they have a passionate speaker on stage and even if we disagree with their particular message, we will stills admire and respect that passion.
If you wish to be a more influential, effective speaker and you want to be successful, then start to develop these 6 habits.