You want to give the speech that EVERYONE talks about after the conference, to the point that you can’t eat over dinner because everyone is asking you about it?
But … you have nervous colleagues who tell you not to take any risks?
Try letting go. Try being amazing:
As Luke Skywalker in the StarWars movies, I had to let go. To throw out all I thought I knew about public speaking. Look at it differently: content, structure, delivery, pace, emotion and (above all) silence. Delivering messages on different levels simultaneously: logical/rational, and emotional/primal.
Don’t be ‘safe’.
The speech we prepared was not “safe.” Not one bullet point. Big unexpected images. Slightly abstract. It was controversial—or could be if delivered incorrectly. A great speech—or a professional death sentence! I was scared.
My team hated the speech we’d prepared: “You’re not seriously going to say these things??”
They were shocked—scared of the break from “normal” expectations. They pressed me to give a traditional speech: cover the main points, head off the usual objections, explain the details of the environmental impact. Lots of information.
… I wanted to give the speech that people would be talking about after the conference.
I rehearsed that speech 200 times, to win the space to look people in the eye and see reactions.
The pauses seemed to me much too long. But they worked.
People were unsettled, if not slightly offended. They were intrigued.
The speech succeeded beyond anything I’d imagined. I was overwhelmed afterwards. Over dinner replying to all the interest I scarcely ate anything!
Good grief. That sounds like quite a belter! What about your next speech?
Word from my success in Stockholm was spreading. Our technology was different and controversial. By the time I got to the stage, it was standing-room only. To listen to me.
There are times when you go for it. This was one of them …
I saw slack-jawed mouths gawking back at me. Other faces amused, confused, but curious. A few recognized the quote, but were bewildered to hear it in this setting.
My father always said that radio had the best images. I never grasped what he meant until that day in Oxford. I found myself enjoying the awkward silences. Not one person moved, not one interruption. Perfect silence other than my words: I could have heard a pin drop.
I ran to the wire of my time. The event organiser promptly changed the conference running order. I took forty minutes(!) of questions. They wanted more. A lot more.
It was gratifying to see hundreds of faces come with me on a journey they’d never expected when they got up that morning.
That speech was one of the most enjoyable moments in my whole professional life.
How on earth does a speaker achieve THAT?
Most of us think that knowing our subject and being able to talk qualifies us to give a good speech. It took a personal crisis—being embarrassed by being asked to leave a podium—for me to seek help.
My one recommendation to anyone fretting over an upcoming speech?
Get an expert in. This is not a DIY discipline.
Change your ambition. Don’t try to give a “good” speech. Go for outstanding. You want this reaction:
Wow—that was the best speech I’ve heard in a long time. I need to talk to that guy. I want to do business with him!
Too many people settle for “good enough.” Open yourself to the risk of being amazing.
Read the whole thing.
Then when in doubt firstname.lastname@example.org