I’m fortunate to attend (and speak at) several conferences a year. I get to see many people represent themselves, both live and online. In so doing, there are lots of instances where I notice how someone talks — most often about him- or herself — where if I had a tape recorder, I imagine he or she would flinch. I’ve collected a few thoughts on it. Maybe this will help, if you apply it to how you present yourself at events or online.
Some Thoughts About Your Speaking to Consider
- “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” – David Ogilvy. Replace consumer with “audience,” and you’ll see sin #1. I see many speakers treat the audience like they’re stupid. I presume my audience is smarter than me, and they’re just looking to me for brush-ups. Mitch Joel is great at making me feel like he’s just helping me.
- There goes my hero. If your stories are about how amazing you are, they get old fast. If you want to feel like the hero, tell stories about the success of your clients or others. Rich Ullman from Ripple6 did a great job of talking about empowering others at the Inbound Marketing Summit.
- Starving? Try humble pie. Wow, it’s rough when you brag. We can’t keep this fake smile on for as long as you can talk about you. Want to see humble in action? Spend time with Mack Collier. He’s almost too humble, he’s so awesome.
- Get us on your side. Sometimes, speaking is about building the relationship before you deliver the goods. I like people who can connect with me and who make me feel like I’m with them. I like Ann Handley from MarketingProfs.
- Leave the namedropping home. There’s a fine line between calling out great people doing fine work and dropping names. Often times, I can only say that it’s all in how you relate the name. Hell, *I* do this wrong sometimes (often?). Connecting great minds to your presentation is a wonderful thing. Liz Strauss is a powerhouse of positive connectivity.
- It’s easy to sleep at events. Keep us up. It’s (almost) a requirement that you be vibrant. Speak clearly, succinctly, and be conscious of our energy levels. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Amber Naslund quite often, and she brings it. You can’t get more energy and participatory spirit.
- Payload never hurts. There are some great speakers who never say anything useful. (I do this sometimes. I get you excited, but don’t give you anything to do.) Best person for delivering actionable next steps? Christopher S. Penn. When he and I go places together, people leave thinking I’m nice, and that Penn’s brilliant.
I’m not nearly perfect. I try to learn all the time. I recently (well, a few months ago) took some advice from some well-meaning friends who told me that even though it’s interesting to watch me freeform my presentations, my audience wasn’t really along for the ride. I went back to slides, and everything got better again. Others have taught me what they like and don’t like about how I carry myself. (Believe me, I’m at no shortage of critics).
My intentions with this piece are to have you think about yourself and how what you’re saying might impact how people are perceiving you. Putting up unintentional roadblocks to your own success might not be useful. Here’s hoping that we all improve as we go.
What about you? What else are you working on with how you conduct yourself, how you speak, how you create?
Photo credit bobby-james