Presentations: As a Leader, Are You A Motivational Speaker?: Speaking
I saw an uninspiring speech. “So what,” you say. “Flat speeches are commonplace.” Yes, but this was delivered by a chief executive complaining that her institution lacked public support. Think about it. An uninspiring speaker complaining that others were uninspired about her organization!
The speech failed on several levels. It relied upon complicated PowerPoint visuals that were difficult to absorb. The order was disjointed, and the narration often didn’t match what was on the screen. So, you immediately had this visceral conflict: do I listen to her or look at the slide? Between the non-linear flow and the discordant verbal and visual, it was darned hard to pay attention. Anecdotes could have offset some of that, but only one was used. Worst of all, the speaker, the senior executive for the organization, talking about serious matters, exhibited the passion of a gravestone. There was no call to arms. It all seemed the work of a subordinate having many facts, few feelings, and a disengaged leader. Color it gray.
That lackluster presentation led me to this thought:
Motivational speakers are not just professionals hired for a lot of money to deliver keynotes at conventions. YOU, as a leader or top manager, should be a motivational speaker too – not to inspire strangers for a fee but to mobilize those you lead and those whose financial support you require.
Since I run my own business I certainly appreciate why busy executives often regard speech-giving as an annoyance to endure with little personal effort because they have more pressing issues. Better to read a speech written by an aide than log the hours of preparation. This is unfortunate and counterproductive. Effective presentations can seem a laborious challenge but they don’t have to be. Furthermore, any effort is worth it when you consider the payback.
Rather than reprise familiar steps for creating presentations, let me offer fast-paced professionals an approach to exploit your innate strengths and be a more motivational speaker without inordinate toil.
I believe the characteristics of powerful presentations are variations on the same personal qualities required for successfully starting or running a business:
Energy – A high-octane metabolism that fuels the persistence and determination necessary to excel.
People skills – The ability to interact with others, encourage them, and generate enthusiasm for you, your product, or service.
Special knowledge – A deep expertise that the marketplace needs and willingly buys.
Almost everyone I know with the above traits succeeds in leadership. I suggest you use them to transform speeches.
Energy – Prepare a presentation that taps your passions. The best way is to insert stories from your past. They don’t have to be funny, just interesting to others and having a beginning, middle, and end. We all have such experiences that we can readily recount without memorization. Ideally, they are natural metaphors for the issues you want to convey. Sometimes, as professional speakers know, terrific personal stories do not have to tie directly to a point you want to make. As long as the story is compelling to the audience, a clever person can almost always find a way to connect it to almost any important point regardless the story’s precise content.
Position these stories strategically to illustrate and enliven abstract information. One formula is make a point, tell a story, make a point…. etc. Once in place and rehearsed, your natural energy will flow through these stories and into the rest of your speech. Better yet, you can tell these without looking at the script.
People skills – Connect the content to the interests of your audience. As a leader, you wouldn’t think of inspiring employees with dry information presented in lackluster fashion. Think of what matters to your listeners and connect to them.
Specific Knowledge – This is the depth that others expect from you. Provide it. Again, the key is to link this special knowledge to issues that matter to your audience. Look at the topic through their eyes rather than yours. You can only persuade others when you can convince them that it is in their interest.
So tap into your natural gifts as a top performer, and give presentations as powerful as your personality. You have it in you to be a motivational speaker as well as leader. It surely is for the greater good of your followers and you.