I spent my whole day listening to 30 eminent speakers and panelists at a conference recently. It was a mind opening session and the content was consistently world class. What wasn't consistent was the delivery of the speakers.
Some of them had me glued to their every word and some of them were such that I found myself disengaged. As I realised this, I made it a game of observation. I started paying attention to what was it that made me listen intently to some speakers and lose interest in others. I learned a lot through this game.
What the Powerful Speakers did:
They exuded warmth with a smiling and happy face. They looked really happy to be talking to the audience, full of enthusiasm and energy.
The way their eyes moved, I actually felt they looked at me a few times. I don’t know if it is true or even possible considering that there were two rows of cluster tables ahead of me, but that’s what I felt.
They asked questions to the audience... wanting a show of hands or multiple choice questions. Kept me glued and guessing. The information delivered through MCQs helped debunk many myths.
They knew their subject cold. They came across as experts, and their passion for their subject was palpable and contagious.
They used humor effortlessly, making us smile, giggle or laugh out loud.
They told stories...personal ones, global ones. I noticed how my curiosity went up as I waited for the speaker to complete the story and see how it ended. I was emotionally hooked.
Most importantly, they were extremely vulnerable. They made jokes on themselves. They spoke from the heart. They gave us a peek into what their challenges had been. I would say that their authenticity led to their likability score skyrocketing.
These speakers impressed me and left me inspired. They opened my mind, challenged my current thinking and delivered information that I can recall now even though it has been a few days. In short, their talks had great stickiness. Another thing that I observed was a line of individuals wanting to talk to these powerful speakers in the breaks. In a matter of minutes, these speakers had created so much credibility for themselves!
Actually, isn't it true that every time we stand in front of people and express ourselves, in a gathering, a meeting or a conference we have the opportunity to build our professional brand? However, the fear of public speaking is also recorded as one of the biggest fears we have. And it keeps most people away from developing the skill of Hi-Impact communication. Here's an upcoming practice- based workshop designed to equip you on some of these critical aspects of making Powerful Presentations.
It was so enriching to reflect on the craft of speaking in public. Being in the audience helped me understand the audience's point of view better. It gave great insights into how the one-to-many dynamics work and what one can do to create deeper connection with the audience. Can’t wait to try some of these ideas. Which of these would you like to start doing more consciously?
p.s. Keep watching this space for my next article titled "How to Bore your Audience"