January 24, 2013

Stop trying to be a hero

Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc
Yesterday I was working with a client who will be speaking at a memorial service for his recently-deceased father. It will be a grand celebration of life, attended by many friends, family and local dignitaries.

His speech is fairly short, and in preparing to practice, I asked him if his intention was to memorize it, or if he was planning to use notes.

He indicated that he was not interested in trying to memorize the speech: "I'm not trying to be a hero."

Isn't this exactly what trips up so many speakers?

Trying to impress, trying to appear flawless, trying to look and sound like someone else....

Refusing to use notes, refusing to use a microphone, refusing to get help....

Our audience does not expect perfection or superhuman feats.

I don't know how many times I have to say it or how many times a speaker has to see it with her own eyes, but this is not what the audience cares about.

If the audience is engaged with you, intrigued by your message and taken out of their own world for a few minutes, does it really matter if you're using notes? Does it really matter if you stumble over a word or lose your place for a second?

Stop trying to be a hero and start trying to connect. Be real. Be you. Give the audience your love and gratitude.

That's what's impressive.

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