Being a Gifted Speaker

I found my way to Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog this morning and found it to be very interesting. I’m going a bit off topic, but we all want to empower and motivate audiences when we present (especially when we present about new technology).

The Blue Skunk post begins with a great reference from “Being a Gifted Speaker Isn’t a Gift” by Frances Cole Jones (ChangeThis Newsletter)

The primary concern of most public speakers is, “what am I going to say?” But how you say what you’re going to say, and what your body is doing while you are saying it, are just as important.

If you’re doubtful, consider the following statistic. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, did a study stating that there are three elements to any face-to-face communication: words, tone of voice and body language, and we are influenced by these things as follows:

  • 7% of our influence comes from the words we say
  • 38% from our tonal quality while saying it
  • 55% by what our body is doing while we’re saying it

Doug wrote a very interesting post about conference sessions and what makes a good speaker.

…my observation is that the reason face to face time is so powerful is simply that passion is easier to convey. A really good concurrent session does not need a smooth delivery, great PowerPoint slides or even radically new information. But it MUST have excitement and enthusiasm. The presenter has to convince me that she/he truly has something important to say. If that happens, I am engaged and learning. And inspiring such passion is awfully hard to do in impersonal media.

Maya Angelou once observed:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The “feeling” bit comes through when human beings interact in person. Somehow electonics drain it away.

In summary:

  • We need to take advantage of face time at meetings
  • Build relationships so we can keep in touch electronically in between those meetings
  • Only speak at conferences if we are passionate and have something worthwhile to share with others
  • Focus on key messages when presenting (science meetings can get way to technical)

I’m learning this on my journey.

“Don’t ask what the world needs.

Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

Because what the world needs is

people who have come alive.”

~Howard Thurman

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