Why You Never Want Audiences to Admire Your Speaking Performances

Seek connection ahead of performance when speakingWhat makes you gravitate towards, enjoy and place greater value in one speaker ahead of another?

At one of the many late night networking discussions held at a bar (well, it would rude not to) during the recent annual American professional speakers’ marque conference – NSA Influence – in Florida, I was especially struck by a fascinating conversation with a collection of my fellow pro speakers from around the globe (from Ireland, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, the United States, and more).

The topic was this: Which of the event speakers who had spoken by then did we rate most highly and why?

And despite differences you might expect for cultural, topic preference or other reasons, pretty much everyone went for the same top speakers and gave remarkably similar reasons for their choices.

I was fascinated and motivated to share the 2 most important observations made that evening, which included:

#1: Be the Real You (Who is Open to Sharing Your Humanity) When You Speak

Your audiences must buy ‘you’ and ‘your apparent motivations’ ahead of any messages you’d like to share.

And, while they need to do the latter too, it was 100% clear that the most popular speakers were, first and foremost, perceived to be ‘entirely genuine’ (free of smoke, mirrors, or affectations) and therefore much easier to trust.

In other words, they were free of pretence and didn’t try to be like or to imitate other speakers.

#2: Never Trade Connection and Conversation For Performance When Delivering Talks

While there are many speakers who are of the mind (often because these folks are following advice from others who should know better!) that speeches work best when learned off by heart and are performed…

…Most audiences see straight through what they perceive to be overly polished ‘veneer-like’ speeches that are heavier on performance than connection.

Being overly performance oriented – even if your messages are valued – will cause audiences to pay more attention to ‘how you say something’ than ‘what you said’!

By all means be someone who practices and is confident when delivering talks, but if you can focus more on having personal, meaningful conversations when sharing truly helpful content ahead of being a consummate broadcaster of ideas…

…Your audience will enjoy and take more from their experiences (and so will you).

About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O'Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.

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