The Customer is Always Right. And for the duration of your speech, the audience is your only customer

 

 

It has always been a challenge to maintain the view that the customer is always right – not just in speaking, but in business especially.  It can try the most patient and accommodating business owner or customer service professional.

But if we can achieve it, maintain that view, go into our speaking with that view, then everything will fall into place so much more easily.

Validating your audience in any communication is guaranteed to build trust and engagement.

One of the basic premises of storytelling is that you need to meet the audience where they are.

And yes of course our audiences have the right to their objections to our propositions.  The sooner we address those objections the sooner we can hope to succeed in putting forward our visions for them.

The structure of your presentation falls into place.

If you believe that your audience is always right, that they deserve the respect that that entails, then you will be happy to prepare all that you can to gain the understanding you need of what your audience feels, thinks, knows is right.

You will build confidence and calm because you are not trying to manipulate, you are giving respect and service.

And you will have laid the groundwork for success for yourself and for your customer/audience.

The sooner speakers understand this, that public speaking is not a manipulation, not a performance to be judged, not all about themselves, the better the standard of speaking will be.  No, we may not have great “orators”, but we will have more successful public speakers, not afraid to be authentic and of service, and more audiences prepared to come back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

Be driven by “Good > Better > Best” … your way!

 

Be the best.

You.

The best.

Successful, yes.

Getting results, yes.

Feeling good about your speaking – in flow, connecting, feeling the power.

The best.

Most famous.

Most recognised.

Admired, hired, applauded, discussed at conference mealtimes, quoted.

The best.

Better than … who … Tony Robbins, the Dalai Lama? Better than … Seth Godin, Barack Obama?

Good will not get you there, only the best.

Not your best.

The best.

That’s an exciting prospect, and certainly the basis for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Do it.

Believe that it is possible. Believe that public speaking is based not on talent but on study and learning, practice and experience, trial and error, failure and success.

 

 

Whether or not you become the best, several things will happen.

 

 

We learn from those we seek to emulate and overtake. Learn their secrets to success. Learn what works for them.

I want to emphasise “emulate” and “overtake”.  Competition can be a great driver, comparison the absolute opposite.

 

In that process we learn about ourselves. What works for others does not always work for me.  I am me, with my own style, my own talents, my own aims and outcomes.

Have you discovered, yet, what your weaknesses and strengths are, your signature style, your aims – as a speaker, as a competitor, as a striver towards excellence and being your best?

 

Finally, no matter what the outcome, whether we become the best in the world, the best in our niche, the best in the neighbourhood, we can only improve

and become the best we can be.

And out of that comes the feeling good about our speaking – the being in flow, connecting, feeling the power … being admired, hired, applauded, discussed at conference mealtimes, quoted

in the niche, in the neighbourhood.

Let’s do it!

Do the study and learning, get the practice and experience, the trial and error, the failure and success.

Be good, get better, be the best,

whatever that becomes

for you, for me, for us.

[Quotation about public speaking] Speaking with style

“People think I can teach them style. What stuff it all is! Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.”

— Matthew Arnold

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[Quotation about public speaking] Catching fire

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And that is what it feels like to own the stage, to really connect, to be in flow as a speaker.

Enjoy the special flavour of the unpredictable

There never has been security. No man has ever known what he would meet around the next corner;
if life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavour.

Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Harsh words, those, especially for those of us who like to be prepared.

“Never.” … “There never has been security.”

Still, we try to achieve it as much as we can,

prepare for all eventualities,

do our best to avoid the embarrassment of fumbling for an answer, for forgotten words, for a prepared logical flow.

And yet we know, underneath, that what Eleanor Roosevelt said is entirely true.

There will always be the unpredictable.

And we will prepare for that too.

………………….

What about the flavour it brings though?

The flavour of life … the flavour of an unpredictable speaking experience.

I like to think that being a speaker operates on at least 3 levels.

There is me, you, the speaker.

There is what I call the eagle eye – the ability we have to watch ourselves and our audiences from above and evaluate how things are going, in order to adapt.

And then there is the concept that beside the conversation we are having with our audience is another experience, the shared experience of being together in a presentation.

We can leverage that with little moments of quirking an eyebrow at the audience as if to say “See what I did there?”, or less subtly discussing what is actually going on. We can create a shared experience in this level.

If the experience is unexpected, this is where we can really capitalise on that flavour Eleanor mentioned – enjoy the moment together with the audience,

forge a bond of shared experience,

of response to the unexpected

with humour, with pathos or with jointly created action.

So while those un-predictable events can be challenging, especially if we worry too much about them beforehand, or label them failures afterwards,

they can also be the source of some of the most powerful and enjoyable experiences a speaker can have.

[Quick Public Speaking Tip] One of the Secret Ingredients that Create Memorability

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Memorability is important for us speakers, as it is for anyone building a brand, creating change, inspiring action, or wanting to be rehired.  

If you want your audience to remember your message, there are several wonderful ingredients you can add to the mix.

Today let’s look at this one

… create an emotional connection. 

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying   “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

When you make an emotional connection, you open up the pathways in your audience’s brains that facilitate recall.  Whatever you associate with that emotion will be retained along with the emotion, in their memories. 

If you want to introduce a new way of thinking or doing for your audience to adopt, create an emotional connection.  Having already researched your audience, you should have some idea of what excites them, what they cry about, what their problems are.  And you can use that information to connect to their emotions.  Use examples that will push those buttons, appeal to what matters to them most. 

Tell stories that create an emotion.

Use words that heighten emotion. 

Use emotive verbs.  Rather than “she said” use “she screamed”, rather than “he went” use “he raced”.  Give your adjectives and adverbs the same treatment. 

You can watch your audience as you go, and get a feel for what moves them.

It is also a fact that while statistics and logic and facts and figures are useful in supporting a point, they will not have the power over your audience that emotion does.  People will make decisions (and give you their attention) based on emotions … and justify them afterwards with logic.

So create an emotional connection with your audience and mix it in and around your facts, statistics and testimonials to engage your audience, have them remember your message and be open to making changes in their lives. 

A promise of success – The Official guide to TED Talks

ted_talksTED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking Hardcover
– May 3, 2016
by Chris Anderson

At long last – what promises to be the definitive guide to public speaking, well to TED talks anyway (and no, I haven’t read it, and will wait for the Kindle edition, I think. It should be worth waiting for.)

Who wouldn’t want to be a speaker for TED? The whole system provides wonderful exposure. The discipline of being limited to 18 minutes ensures a tight, well constructed speech. There is professional coaching for all speakers.

Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge, and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience’s worldview. Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form.

Many people have shared their understanding of the magic behind TED talks, Carmine Gallo especially.

And now we can all share in the secrets behind the speeches. I guess it will be disappointing to some that there is no formula, but heartening, nevertheless since we become inured of formulae. No two speeches should be the same.

As Sir Ken Robinson said,

Is there a single recipe for a great speech? Of course not. But there are some essential ingredients, which the TED team sets out here with concision, verve and wit (which are also some of the ingredients). An inspiring, contemporary guide to the venerable arts of oratory. Sir Ken Robinson

‘Nobody in the world better understands the art and science of public speaking than Chris Anderson. He is absolutely the best person to have written this book’ Elizabeth Gilbert.

He coached her, along with the other TED speakers who have inspired us the most, Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy, Bill Gates, Salman Khan, Dan Gilbert, Mary Roach, Matt Ridley, and so many more,and has shared tips from their presentations.

Anderson lists his five key techniques to presentation success: Connection, Narration, Explanation, Persuasion and Revelation (plus the three to avoid). He also answers the most frequently asked questions about giving a talk, from ‘What should I wear?’ to ‘How do I handle my nerves?’.

The promise …

For anyone who has ever been inspired by a TED talk…

…this is an insider’s guide to creating talks that are unforgettable.

I suspect that it very well might be and look forward to reading it.

You can buy the book from Amazon, The Book Depository , Fishpond

What to do when you present in a boring, repetitive monotone – follow TED speaker Robert’s example

This is a TED Talk by Robert Ballard, deep-sea explorer.

If you can, watch it without listening to the words, just to the pitch of his voice, especially about half way through the talk, at about 7.30.

The majority of his speech is incredibly monotonous.

He gives the impression that he is ashamed of what he is saying, that his audience will find it boring and that it needs to be hurried, get it out of the way as soon as it can be done.

There were times when I thought I would stop watching.

It was that bad!

I didn’t stop watching.

Why?

Because …

he compensated with some fabulous, very successful strategies that had his audience engaged despite the monotony.

What were these strategies and can we use them ourselves?

There were six that I noted, and all of them are powerful – they needed to be!!

1. The message is simple and strong

He has a very simple, well articulated message. Why are we spending so much time and money on space exploration and so little on exploring our oceans? It is repeated. The whole presentation supports it. And the fact that it is regularly stated as a question keeps it hooked into his audience’s minds and hearts.

2. He uses the unexpected

Several of his statements stand out for me but there are others. The first that aroused my attention was the one about how everything he learned at school in his field was wrong. The second was about the map. Normally when we see a blank space on a map we assume it is just an area of similar topography. A space like that on a map of the sea is blank because it is not mapped. Life under the sea exists in ways no life should. Water is upside down. Volcanoes work in ways volcanoes shouldn’t. He sets his audience up and hits them regularly with the unexpected and each point made that way hits strongly.

3. He uses images.

There are 57 image slides in this presentation with no words. There is no conflict in his audience’s minds between spoken and written words. The images reinforce what he is saying and his audience is more likely to remember a point made and supported by an image than one that is only made verbally. I can still see in my mind’s eye the little girl with her mouth open in amazement.

4. Humour

He’s not exactly a humorous speaker, nor a comedian, but he uses subtle humour, and again often the unexpected. There is self effacing humour, and his use of the name Easter Bunny, the statement “I would not let an adult drive a robot. He doesn’t have the gaming experience.” just three examples. And the audience laughs. But they laugh and they are acknowledging the humour but they are also being drawn to the point he is making at the time. The humour simply highlights it.

5. Clever use of Pause

Robert uses pause to highlight a particular point and his uses it powerfully, interspersing it between questions and single words.

He also uses pause as an antidote to a long session of fast-paced narrative. And that is powerful too.

6. Repetition

He repeated the main message. He repeated his main points. He repeated his humorous “Easter Bunny” statement. And it wasn’t saying the same thing over again. It was calling back to it, later in the speech. It’s a powerful technique, puts the segment just completed, monotonous though it may be, into perspective and creates support for the point he is making, or the idea he has introduced.

7. Passion

This man believes in what he is doing.

He is excited by it.

He is passionate about the possibilities it offers and about creating excitement in his audience and in the world, about his project.

And it shows, when he allows it, in his use of pause, in his enthusiasm, and in his energy.

These are not rhetorical devices he just inserted into his speech. They are the result of his enthusiasm and dedication and excitement.

He left the best for last when he talked about being able to ignite that same enthusiasm and excitement in middle-schoolers, when he talked about “creating the classroom of the future” and how you “win or lose a scientist by 8th grade”.

This is what we want.  This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game.  She's watching exploration thousands of miles away and it's just dawning on her what she is seeing.  And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind ...

This is what we want. This is a young lady not watching a football game, not watching a basketball game. She’s watching exploration thousands of miles away and it’s just dawning on her what she is seeing. And when you get a jaw dropping, you can inform, you can put so much information into that mind …

And he had a standing ovation.

Monotonous, maybe, boring no!

[Quick Public Speaking tip] Accepting an award? Shift the spotlight

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It’s very gratifying to be given an award … or to win, to be given first prize.

The spotlight is on you – your achievements – your win – your prize – your award.

Shift that spotlight.

Humility is called for here, not crowing.

Obvious, isn’t it?

You can thank the other team or the losers. Thank your parents, your friends, your dog, your kindergarten teacher.

Where is the spotlight?

On you, still. On you, surrounded by all your helpers to whom you are grateful, certainly.

Shift that spotlight.

Turn it right around and on to the presenter and the organisation or group or business that is presenting.

Be grateful to them. Laud them. Highlight their value and excellence. Establish your sense of belonging to them, but highlight them.

You have successfully established humility without any falseness, or compromising of your value.

You have created a valuable sense of community.

And you have made them feel good.

[Public Speaking Quotation] The success of your presentation

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.”
— Lilly Walters

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