The secret to delivering a persuasive and moving performance, as Lou Heckler, CSP, CPAE, so aptly taught us, is we
have to stay “in the now.” We try not to tell and retell a story.
We strive to relive it. Are you repeating your speech or are
you reliving it? Are you on autopilot during your stories, perhaps thinking about what you are doing after the program?
Or, do you relive them in rich detail every time? No doubt
we plan our speech and rehearse our stories. But one thing
we’ve learned from Lou is we need to allow original
moments to happen during our presentation—find new ways
to connect with each audience at a specific moment in time.
In other words, make each performance a premiere.
The only thing worse than repeating your stories is repeating other people’s stories. Pros don’t go there—ever. Also, do
you independently verify the statistics you quote before you
employ them into your programs? Do you hear an interesting
quote that you think may fit well within your program and
then just add it without verifying the exact source or wording? If you don’t then you may be parroting inaccuracies to
We also can be overly repetitive of the same point again and
again. Perhaps we want to emphasize what we said with multiple examples (or maybe we’re just killing time). But our
time with an audience is limited. Keynote speakers have
between 45 and 90 minutes to establish rapport with their
audiences, entertain them, provide them with a message and leave them uplifted. Every second is valuable. When you make a point, make it in the most
vivid and meaningful way you know how. Then
move on. The audience wants to know what else you
have to offer.
As speaking professionals, we need to do better than offering “thoughts for the day.” We need to provide a new way to
interpret what they already know. Or better yet, offer a specific plan of action they can take—one that is reasonable and
achievable—to do what they already know more effectively.
We can’t expect our audiences to be able to intuit concrete
actions that apply to their life. We need to walk them
through it. We need to show them the path and then tell
them the first step to take, then the next. We need to be their
“shortcut” to learning.
There is a temptation to take our material to a point and
then stop, expecting our audience to draw their own conclusions about what to do with the information. We say a
lot of things that sound right and get confirming nods from
our audience, and then we leave them wondering “Now
what?” This happens a lot with folks who have one program
and then twist the program to fit any subject.
When we offer platitudes and universal truths without a
tangible application, we are really only telling our audience
what they already know. We may be doing it in a more animated or colorful way, but when the program is done, they
haven’t experienced or learned anything new.