April 17, 2021

There's no such thing as a dry topic, only a dry speaker



The other day someone commented on a post I wrote, saying, "Public speaking is easy if you love what you're speaking about and know it thoroughly. Then you just can't wait to stand up and tell everyone about it."

But sadly, not everyone feels passionate about their speaking topic. Many of my clients are business and nonprofit leaders who love much of their work, but have to speak (both internally and externally) about a range of topics they aren't excited about.

I also have clients who aren't passionate about their jobs at all, but they still have to go to work every day and complete their duties, some of which involve speaking. 

A client once told me that part of her problem around creating an engaging presentation is that "It's just a job." She was going to be introducing her company as a sponsor at an industry networking event, and she had no real motivation to speak. She didn't have an emotional connection to the work and therefore couldn't see how to make it exciting for the audience.

Business speakers are frequently put in the position of giving presentations they don't care much about. A department report in a staff meeting, a compliance presentation, a discussion of company financials that only 5% of your audience understands: Sometimes you just don't have enthusiasm for your topic. 

At the same time, you have people like me telling you to make your topic engaging and interesting for the audience.

What to do?

I tell speakers that your audience is always asking "What's in it for me?" In this case, I want you to ask yourself this question first.

1. What are the benefits, opportunities and possibilities that come your way when you give a presentation?

Perhaps:

You get to practice your communication and leadership skills

You get to show your boss that you're a team player

You get to demonstrate your expertise and authority on a subject

You get to learn and grow from your experience and mistakes

You get to build confidence in your abilities

You get to learn and practice a skill that you can take with you to any job in the future

2. What DO you enjoy about your job or this topic? Where do you find satisfaction? What accomplishments make you feel good about your work?

If you can figure out what matters to you, you can make it matter to your audience. If you need to persuade your audience to do something, whether it's hire your company, purchase your product, give to your cause or just turn in their forms by the deadline, you can dig down and find that thing. 

3. Now that you know what the benefits are to you, go back and dig up the benefits to the audience. 

In the case of my client, something she enjoyed about her job was teaching employees how to pass a particular test, because she knew she was helping them achieve goals to further their careers. By helping these employees succeed on the test, she was also making the industry better for all of us who are consumers of that industry. 

We talked about how to make this the focus of her presentation. If that's what she cared about, she knew she could make the audience care about it, too. And it ended up being a much more interesting speech than, "Here's what we do... we have x numbers in the industry... we are customer-oriented... hire us."

Not every speaker has the luxury of being "passionate" about their topic. Oftentimes, speaking is a mundane duty that holds excitement for neither the speaker nor the audience.

But deep down inside, we can always find the thing that clicks. There's no such thing as a dry topic, only a dry speaker!



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Are you an entrepreneur or professional who's looking for better results from your speaking? Are you hoping to build credibility and visibility for your business or cause? Tired of just "getting by" and ready to deliver truly engaging and powerful presentations? Click here to fill out my consultation questionnaire and we'll schedule a time to talk!

2 comments. Please add yours! :

chytha said...

I remember when I was growing up my mom would tell me to exaggerate my pronunciation. She said it would sound weird or excessive to me, but to those listening it would sound normal and clear. It worked both for singing and speaking. I have always remembered that as a good way to enhance vocal projection.
Bob

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Agreed - it does sound weird and feel weird to slow down and enunciate more clearly, but the audience doesn't hear it the same way we do! Thanks for reading!

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