power is reaching
the audience at
with the best possible content. But
my content wasn’t knocking it out of
the park. It lacked a winning delivery
system. Flying back from an event,
I reflected on what I could have done
better. Suddenly, I had an epiphany:
Clients want you to deliver a specific
strategic benefit, not content. We can
only serve our audience and clients
when we put engagement before
5Be more than a talking head. Don’t show up and be a babbling head in front of a room of people.
Engagement requires a genuine intellectual and emotional connection between
you and your audience. A speaker’s
power is reaching the audience at its
core. Understand their pain, obstacles
and challenges by investing time in pre-event discussions.
6Keep it fresh. Don’t recycle. If you are a keynote speaker or trainer who uses the same canned
presentation for every audience, your
days are numbered. To deliver an amazing presentation, you must have a
three-dimensional understanding about
your audience, and how to deliver a
strategic result. Every company, industry, group and marketplace is uniquely
different. You must connect the needs
and problems of that group to your
presentation’s message and theme.
Unfortunately, keynote speaking and
high-level training are not very scalable.
You cannot create half a dozen decks
and represent those if you expect
to drive quality engagement. So,
I developed a policy of erasing
any presentation I give to elim-
inate the temptation to reuse
any elements. Give it a try.
7Take risks. In my speaking practice, I do a great deal in executive leadership,
creative problem solving and innovation. You can’t speak on innovation and
creativity and not be innovative. So, I
decided to take the colossal risk of designing and producing an innovation
platform to conduct ideation sessions
for my training clients. My clients
loved it, but the big surprise was the
toy and education industry loved it,
too. As a result, I accidentally invented
Hanz, an award-winning educational
toy. Everyone likes to be engaged when
it comes to learning. Consider designing and developing your own proprietary training tools. For me, this paid
off in a multimillion-dollar way.
8Pick the right theme. Amateur speakers will often de- liver a generic theme that’s funny,
dramatic or motivational. Different industries, companies and audiences are
best served by matching the theme of
your talk to the subject matter and
Recently, a company that owns fu-
neral homes around the country en-
gaged me. You would think that would
require a somber theme. After four
pre-event meetings, I discovered that a
somber theme would not be the right
choice, so I did the exact opposite: I
made it fun and funny. Creating equi-
librium between the subject matter,
theme and audience is critical. Using
the wrong theme will make engagement
9Avoid death by PowerPoint®. Many people think Steve Jobs was a technological genius, but his real
interest was in calligraphy. He understood the power of using
icons to represent complex computer
top speaker also
principle. Rarely do my
slides have any text at all.
They are simply images.
This helps me tell a powerful
story and drives engagement. If
you're still using PowerPoint with
bullet points, I urge you to reconsider.
PowerPoint overload smothers all
hopes for engagement.
10Embrace your passion. Individuals are called to the speaking profession to help
make enterprises and individuals better.
Driving engagement is no easy task. At
times, it can take more blood, sweat
and tears than you have to spare, but
this work is a core part of our passion.
Engagement doesn’t happen overnight.
Always tap into your passion to infuse
engagement into your presentation.
Nicholas J. Webb is a busi-
ness and healthcare futurist
and professional speaker who
speaks on innovation, leader-
ship and customer experi-
ence. As a technologist, he has been awarded
over 40 patents for technologies ranging
from medical implants to consumer prod-
ucts. Currently, he serves as a partner at
Lassen Innovation, where he provides con-
sulting to some of the world's top brands.