(IF YOU WANT TO…)
Recently a good friend invited me to speak at a conference she organized, an event having both prominent speakers and audience.
The conference focused on a subject with which I had been professionally involved in the past, so in any case it would be an interesting event to attend.
My speech was scheduled for the afternoon, so I arrived earlier in the conference room to hear the preceding speeches.
But very quickly I felt something about the speakers I was watching, and it was not the first time that this happened. I have listened to speeches and presentations by established professionals, people holding positions of responsibility and certainly with deep knowledge of the subject presented. But most didn’t win me with their presentation and their overall image.
They spoke very quickly (perhaps they were trying to push a lengthy presentation to a time that was obviously not enough), a few were simply limited to reading from a paper they held, even in the case of panel coordinators (it was obvious that the questions they made were written in advance), they seemed as if they were not interested in connecting with the audience. For most of the audience, the presentation would have exactly the same impact if its text was shared via email.
It was not the first time I met this, and I think most of us have also experienced it. I always wondered “Why”? People with undeniable professional standing and background, but in front of an audience they gave a very poor experience. The answer I initially gave was that they had not invested in developing their presentation skills. But I realized there was something else behind it. Something else was missing. And it is exactly this missing element that prevents speakers from doing their best and really utilize their communication skills so they can actually win an audience.
Many speakers miss having a goal. Rather, they are missing the right goal.
If you have the opportunity to reach out to an audience, you can see this as a unique chance to win this audience over, get its interest, make it “buy” you. And if some say this has no value, then they probably don’t realize that a speech is indeed a unique opportunity for boost your network that may be left unexploited. For those of us who use the term, I find Diane Darling’s short definition the most accurate:
These people did not have such a goal. Because I’m sure that had they had it, they would have surely invested in achieving it, as they certainly invest and will continue to invest in many other goals they define themselves or others define for them.
If they did not have this particular goal, did they have another? Had they no goal whatsoever? I will not dare to answer. I can say again though what they definitely didn’t have this particular one.
One of the basic pillars of effective communication is that we need to start by having a clear view of what it is we want to achieve. What is our goal. And this is a fundamental principle, because by knowing what we are pursuing (by others), we can be more focused on how to achieve it and be mobilized to prepare properly, make the necessary effort. This principle does not only apply to communication. It is generally applicable. But its application and importance for communication is certainly great.
If someone thinks like “I do not have the gift of communication”, “I am not born to be a public speaker “, “it’s just how I am, whether they like me or not” or alike, I say “Think again”. It takes effort, preparation, time and determination, but if you want it to happen, you can make it happen it. You can win any audience.
Next time you plan to put yourself in front of audience, think in advance: “What is my goal?”, “Do I want to capitalize on this opportunity?”, “I see my upcoming presentation as a unique opportunity;”. If not, then you will certainly not care how your speech will look like in the eyes of the audience. But if you answer “Yes,” in the above questions, then invest in the preparation, structure and style of your presentation, your voice and your body language. It is certain that we can all learn to use the language of communication and be captivating speakers.
Begin with the right goal in mind.
Read more about the other key elements behind the language of communication in my book.
A simple learning formula for the language all of us need to know. Communication.
Available on Paperback and Kindle edition