Inspiration for public speaking tips I share can sometimes come from peculiar places! Here’s a for instance:
You’d have had to be living under a rock not to know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s fairy-tale wedding last weekend. And while I wasn’t one of the reported one billion folks who tuned in to watch the pageantry, pomp and glamour of their big day, my missus Mindy saw the whole thing and loved it.
So what did you think were the best things from the day? I asked her (hours after the fact).
Oh, that’s easy. Said Mindy
Meghan’s frock was fabulous — so simple and elegant.
And, even though it should have been shorter, I loved Bishop Michael Curry of Chicago’s homily — it was refreshingly human
Judging by the highlights I saw later in the day, that was a perfect summary of the event and I was especially struck by two of the phrases Mindy used: ‘simple and elegant’ and ‘refreshingly human’…
…Hmm. Now those are things you should want said of any talk you give. Here’s why:
Why Embracing Simplicity and Being Human is a Winning Formula for Speakers
#1 – Simplicity is powerful and attractive
If you go into most any successful, high end clothing store there’s something you won’t find: clutter!
In fact, their store designers go to great trouble to make sure they highlight wares in ways that you can instantly see and value them in their best light (without having to root through a bazillion rails to find something that might, just might, catch your eye or being distracted by competing garments).
And it’s not just purveyors of haut couture who have long understood the power of simplifiation…
…The late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, had only one sign in his office with the following words penned by Leonardo di Vinci: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
As far as Steve was concerned, he wanted these words to be true of every product Apple sold. He succeeded and, to this day, that mentality is still a demonstrably good plan.
And as a speaker, here’s why having a relentless focus on simplicity pays:
- It helps you to only focus on what your audience will care about most and find attractive
- You and your audience will experience less distraction when you share your powerful message
Plus, you’ll make your audience’s job and your job, as a communicator, easier if only have to remember one message and concentrate all your efforts on helping the power of that message to shine through.
#2 Sharing your humanity will earn you greater trust
The day after the royal wedding, I made it my business to go back and watch a video of Bishop Curry’s homily – as I was especially interested in why my missus found his words so appealing.
And while I’m not going to critique the speech (which was indeed too long) – there are a number of things he did that made his speech feel so relatable.
In addition to: a) speaking to a single, core theme (ie ‘why you should seek to discover the redemptive power of love’), and b) finding ways to challenge his audience…
…he also achieved connection with his audience by exuding presence, passion and plain language.
In doing the latter he shared his essence and vulnerability – which was wonderfully human.
And the reason this matters?
The more human an audience finds you, the more trust they’ll place in you and your messages.
With that said, and in case you’re curious about what the good Bishop had to say, here’s his homily:
Over to You
What lessons would you draw from speakers who have most inspired you over time?
Do share. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo credit: Gareth Milner