of the Speaking Trade
by Burt Dubin
Wireless Mike, overheads or slides, laser pointer, excellent
handout materials -- these are some of the tools of the speaking
Are they the most meaningful tools in your toolbox? I think
not. Yes, they matter. They matter a lot, as do other implements.
But they're not the most meaningful tools. The 7 most meaningful
tools of our trade, tools that help you get more bookings
at higher fees, are these...
1. Your empathy
Your empathy for the concerns of the decision-maker who
hired you, for the interests of the organization paying
your fee, for the needs and wants, hungers, longings and
fears of your audience members.
2. Your attitude
Are you there to make a dollar or to make a difference?
Are you delivering your standard program much like what
you delivered yesterday somewhere else? Or do you go the
extra mile researching this organization, this industry,
the trends affecting this field now, and so forth? Do you
interview outside industry experts and key executives within
this organization -- and, most important, some of the lower
echelon folks who are to be present? Do you ask deep questions
about the core issues interesting each of these constituencies?
Then, do you probe further for emotional issues that may
affect the whole direction of your program?
3. Your program design
Do you weave your insights and findings into a tapestry of
wisdom and hope, of ideas and guidelines, of recommended actions?
Do you share new information, AHAs born during your research
for this event? Are you a conceptual artist -- like Michelangelo
painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling -- i.e. do you interlace
and clarify what others find hazy until the moment you speak?
(Do you make the ephemeral visible?) Do you articulate palpable
words and images so those present better understand -- and
know how to deal with -- the goings-on in their world now?
4. Your passion
Are your ideas throbbing with aliveness? Does your body
language match your words? Do you gaze deeply into the eyes
of different audience members, connecting one-on-one with
each if only for a few seconds? Do you radiate an emotional
intimacy with your words -- and do you express that intimacy
by the look on your face? Do you use the power of the pause,
the eloquence of silence, to let your ideas sink in?
5. Your state of being
This is your primary message. It's what your audience members
see and feel first. They get it subliminally. They get it
instantly. They see it in your stance. They sense it in
your glance. And they persist in getting it every second
of your program. Are you up? Your audience knows. Are you
here now, are you present? Your audience knows. Are you
emotionally attuned to your topic? They know.
6. Your mental acuity
Can you turn your talk on a dime if the audience mood so
indicates? Do you respond brilliantly to spontaneous questions...
saying enough to satisfy, landing on your feet and staying
on your track? Are you sensitive to the various cultures present
in the room -- to their perceptions, their expectations and
entitlements, their differences and similarities? Are you
careful not to offend?
7. Your physical energy
Do you arrive fully rested, on your toes, eager for this
opportunity to speak? Do your eyes sparkle with aliveness
as you move through your presentation? Are you light on
your feet as you move about? Do you think tall as you stand
before your audience? Here's an easy way to do this: Picture
a silken thread at the crown of your head gently pulling
you up-up-up. This visualization aligns your bones and muscles
into perfect order. It often makes you look taller, more
in command. It helps you tingle with energy.