BY JANET LAPP, PhD, CSP, CPAE
Do you remember who won the 2006 American Idol television singing
competition? It was Taylor Hicks. Were Katharine McPhee, Chris
Daughtry and Elliott Yamin better singers? Perhaps, but Hicks won
because he made people feel absolutely fantastic about themselves.
The outcome of a pop-culture talent show is a reality lesson for all speakers who
are coasting on good, but want to be great. While your skills might qualify you as a
professional speaker, the litmus test in being declared a winner on stage is to know
how to make people feel spectacular. Even if you think you connect powerfully
with your audiences and deliver messages with huge impact that make a significant
difference, you may still not be the winning speaker who makes people feel fantastic. The reason could be that you’re in the grasp of demons.
Yes, demons. At the January 2007 NSA University’s Ultimate Keynote Workshop, Robin Creasman, Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, Kelly Cresap, PhD, and I
had the opportunity to observe and evaluate all level of speakers, from brand
new keynoters to advanced presenters. Everyone had the potential of becoming
great, and clearly all were motivated to improve. We brought in a real-world
meeting planner, American Idol-style, to evaluate selected speakers on various
dimensions including their “hire-ability.” Our pact with our group was that we
would call it as we saw it—we would give honest, objective feedback about what
we felt the speaker needed to do to become powerful on stage.
We saw brilliance. And we saw common elements in speakers who fell short of
greatness, who fell just short of 100 percent connectivity, who were being less
powerful than they could be. And when we gave feedback, we received the same
predictable reactions, because one or more of “The Three Demons” had gotten
in their way.