April 26, 2010

Be the guy no one wants to speak after

I introduced Kip Fulbeck in my post on TEDxSB the other day by referring to all the other speakers who didn't want to go after him.

Have you ever said this? "I don't want to go after THAT GUY." Ever felt concerned that, by comparison with the previous speaker, you would come off lacking?

I'm not going to try to make you feel better here and say, "Oh, you were probably fine. Everyone's forgotten about THAT GUY already."

No you weren't, and no they haven't. You really did come off lacking. So did I. And so did everyone else who ever spoke after THAT GUY.

We've all been in that position, feeling intimidated because we don't think we can possibly live up to the audience's standards of great presenting after THAT GUY speaks.

You have some options.

1. Feel embarrassed because you're not as good as THAT GUY. Slink up to the stage, hanging your head and apologize in advance for not living up to his excellence. And then watch the energy in the room dissipate as you contritely begin your presentation like you've been reprimanded. Give up on yourself.

2. Be proud of who you are and what you bring to the event. You wouldn't have been invited if there weren't something special about you or or content. Hold your head high, do NOT apologize that you can't possible follow THAT GUY. Just get on stage and do your thing, with confidence, authority and enthusiasm.

3. Take #2 a step farther. BE THAT GUY! Be the one that no one wants to speak after.

How do you do that?

Believe in yourself
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Make your content relevant
Use emotion: humor, shock, anger, surprise... get the audience emotionally involved
Build a relationship with the audience by understanding them, their needs and their wants
Practice, practice, practice
Care about your topic
Care about your audience
Be accessible and understandable
Find your passion
Hire a coach!
Videotape yourself and learn from your mistakes
Bring something fresh to every audience
Be real
Love and appreciate your audience
Have a conversation, not a lecture
Come early and stay late
Take risks
Develop your own style
Be your best self

Stop complaining that you can never be as good as THAT GUY. Stop whining that you don't want to speak after THAT GUY. Stop worrying about what someone else is doing and do what you need to do to become the best YOU you can be.

Never give up. Never stop trying. Never stop learning. BE THAT GUY.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Lisa. Very inspiring and very true. Following a great speaker is not the end of the world - it is an opportunity to push yourself to go farther than you thought you could.


John Zimmer

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you for your comment, John. I love the way you put it.

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