I recently listened to a speaker who had an excellent message. Unfortunately, it appears the presenter had given the presentation many times and despite the old saying about familiarity creating contempt, in this case it didn’t create connection. The disconnect was that the speaker seemed glib.
Here are some other things I was reminded of while listening:
It is good to be culturally relevant, but too many references to contemporary culture comes across as showing how hip the speaker is, not how interested in the audience he or she is. Another disconnect.
Periods and pauses create thinking space for listeners and improve impact. A speech that is one rapid-fire run on sentence is neither natural nor easy to listen to, not matter how insightful it may be.
There is a fine line between clever and cute. Both run the danger of focusing on the speaker’s knowledge rather than the audience’s interests; cute is the bigger disconnect for many because it can be so annoying.
All of the above points to a key concept in successful speaking: the focus should be on helping the audience rather than highlighting the speaker. Audiences do want authenticity; they want to know enough about the speaker to understand his or her perspective. Beyond that, they have questions, desires and needs they are hopeful the presenter can help them meet. The audience isn’t that interested in what the speaker has done or even learned. The audience wants to know what they can learn from the speaker’s experiences and expertise.
My friend Dr. Terry Paulson says a quick prayer before he speaks that keeps him focused and can do the same for you and me: “Lord, help me remember that I’m here to serve, not to shine.”