Rule # 1 to Rock Your Talk

22nd March, 2014 - Posted from janebeard

Every speaker wants to rock the room with a talk that’s compelling, memorable and talked about. But if you look to other speakers for how to do that, you might get it all backwards.

Let’s assume you have a picture in mind of what “rocking it” looks like. In our experience, your picture is based on an idea of what you want either to avoid (disaster and mediocrity) or achieve (universal praise and acclaim). That picture of what you want probably is based on what you’ve seen happen for (or to) someone else, rather than what’s actually required by, and possible for, the specific talk you’re about to give.

That’s where the problem starts.

The meeting and speaking culture around us has only a few models to follow:

– The rockstar, “wish-I-could-do-that!” model of Steve Jobs, Rich Fairbank or other charismatic corporate leaders
– The inspirational speaker with the revival call-and-response patterns and big energy
– The 1999-style information and status update, with the “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em…” and rhetorical cue devices
– The thrown together, dispassionate slide presentation where the audience reads the slides along with the speaker
– The boring middle grow where most speakers live
– And more, the TED Talk-style short, punchy 15 minute Big Ideas talk

Speakers imagine themselves up against those models – the ones they want to emulate and the ones they want to avoid. They want to be like the “good ones” and be the opposite of the “bad ones.”

And that’s all backwards.

Because you don’t actually want to be like them. What you want (or want to avoid) are the results you see them get (the crowds love them/loathe them/are indifferent to them). And people think that the way to get them is to emulate (or refuse to be like) them.

Truth #1 You can’t do it like them. You have to do it like you.

Because when speakers are really good, when they’re really delivering well for the audience, they’re doing it from a wholly authentic place. They aren’t trying to be something or someone other than themselves. They know they are sui generis (one of a kind).

And so are you.

To rock your next talk, you have to let go of how someone else did it. Then make sure you deliver what the audience wants. But as you, not as Steve Jobs.