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.
“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
I don’t like it.
I like Florien Mueck.
If you can get to his YouTube channel, do, he’s worth watching.
But I wish he hadn’t said that, or hadn’t been quoted as saying that.
Starting with a negative.
No, there is no perfection.
I live in a household of sporting people, and the shelves are lined with trophies. In any sporting competition, there are distinct winners and losers. A swimming race, say, takes a measured amount of time and the fastest wins. Simple and cut-and-dried (usually!)
A speech on the other hand … well! I have won many speaking competitions since about the age of 12. I have lost just as many. People come to me afterwards and tell me they thought I won. Sometimes I agreed, sometimes not. Despite the number of very well articulated criteria, there will always be that element of subjectivity involved. I know. I also judge!
So if there is no cut-and-dried “best” speaker, how can there ever be a “perfect” speaker, or a perfect speech?
Perfect according to whom? Perfect according to what criteria?
What if, on the other hand, we went to the second part of this quote and look at a speaking high.
What does that look like? What does that feel like?
To me, it feels like being in flow
– speaking fluently and with enthusiasm
– connecting with members of the audience so that they respond with emotion, or they participate
– it can feel powerful
– it can feel gratifying
– it can feel something close to perfection
And if we looked at the audience members after the speech, they would be doing what we, as speakers, aimed to have them do – repeating, remembering, rehiring, buying, changing, being motivated, or any number of other things we had designed.
It’s what keeps me speaking, meeting the challenge to be the best I can be, to climb higher and higher towards
no, not a mountain top,
not a peak
not perfection even, whatever that may be,
but certainly to more highs and greater heights.
And of course the corollary is that we all need to avoid becoming complacent, thinking that there is no better in us, no better experience we an provide, no need to strive or create anything new or better.
So, yes, Florian, I agree with you, and the quote stirred me to do that!!
And it’s what I want for all of us here – you, Florian, me and all of our fellow speakers and readers.
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“As long as there are human rights to be defended; as long as there are great interests to be guarded; as long as the welfare of nations is a matter for discussion so long will public speaking have it place.” ~ William Jennings Bryan
In my current obsession with storytelling, I have discovered a Hopi Proverb which says the “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
Leaders everywhere are those who give their followers something to believe in, a narrative that explains the present and paints a future.
And leaders are not just those in government or religion.
They lead in business, they lead in our institutions, they lead in our families.
We all have the capacity to be a leader at some time.
I am only thankful that the skills of public speaking are there to give us the power to lead and to create a world with values that we can uphold.