April 24, 2007

Grab 'em with enthusiasm, not perfection

I went to a book publishing workshop recently (yes, I have two books in me that are desperately trying to get out) where two speakers were featured.

The first speaker was very polished and professional. He had a warm, friendly personality, but I could tell that this presentation had been done many, many times before. He had a certain cadence in his speech that let me know that much of it was, if not memorized on purpose, memorized out of habit. There was a ton of great content, and he was not robotic in anyway. Still, there was a slight disconnect for me in terms of building a relationship with the audience.

The contrast between the first and second speaker was stark. The second speaker was excited. I don't mean excited like polished motivational speakers whose excitement is actually well measured and controlled. I mean, she was jumping out of her skin excited. She has a particular method for writing a book, and she could not wait to tell us about it. She was still beside herself for getting her own book published!

She was not a perfect speaker. She got off track sometimes with personal stories, her hair was slightly disheveled and falling out of its clip, her flip chart notes were a little hard to read due to her scribbly handwriting.

But which one do you think was my favorite? Yep, the one who couldn't hold back her enthusiasm for the topic. Passion is contagious - her passion for the process of writing and publishing a book made me feel excited, too. She was excited for us - she was excited about the journey we were about to embark on together.

Sure, I also enjoyed the first presentation, and came away with lots and lots of valuable information that I will be able to use. But I was inspired to action by the second presentation, and that's the mark of a successful presentation, whether the speaker says "uh" a few times, or jangles some bracelets, or forgets her place once or twice.

Don't try to be perfect. Focus on engaging the audience with your own passion, carrying them along on your wave of excitement. You can't help but succeed at motivating your audience to action.

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