Actors want to direct. Directors want to produce. And consultants want to be kick ass speakers. And why not? The pay is good. It doesn't take much time. And it's a lot less heavy lifting than most consulting gigs.
Easier said than done, however. Delivering a kick ass keynote is not as easy as it looks. If you want to get in the game, begin by reviewing the following guidelines to see if you have what it takes.
1. Be in Tune With Your Purpose: If you're going to hold an audience's attention for more than 5 minutes, you've got to begin by holding firm to your purpose... your calling... what gets you out of bed in the morning. If it's missing, all you can ever hope to deliver is a speech -- which is NOT what people want to hear. If your purpose is clear, you're home free and won't need a single note card.
Mark Twain said it best: "If you speak the truth, you don't need to remember a thing."
2. Be Passionate: Realize that you are on the stage to let it rip. Completely. People are sitting in the audience because they want an experience, not just information. They want to feel something, not just hear something. So play full-out. Pull the rip cord. Jump!
3. Connect With Your Audience: You may know a lot of stuff. You may have a double Ph.D, but unless you know how to connect with your audience, your knowledge ain't worth squat.
If you were a tree falling in a conference room, no one would hear it.
So tune in! Establish rapport! Connect! And that begins by respecting your audience and realizing you are there to serve.
4. Tell Stories: That's how great teachers have communicated since the beginning of time. Storytelling is the most effective way to disarm the skeptic and deliver meaning in a memorable way.
"The world is not made of atoms," said poet, Muriel Rukyser. "It's made of stories."
No bull. Parable!
5. Have a Sense of Humor: There's a reason why HAHA and AHA are almost spelled the same. Both are about the experience of breakthrough. And both are sparked when the known is replaced by the unknown, when continuity is replaced by discontinuity.
Hey, admit it. At the end of the day, if you can't find the humor in business, you're screwed. So, why wait for the end of the day. Find the humor now.
6. Get Visual: It's become a corporate sport to make fun of power point, but power point can be a thrill if it's done right. A picture really is worth a thousand words.
If you want to spark people's imagination, use images more than words. The root of the word imagination is image.
7. Have Confidence: Do you know what the root of the word "confidence" is? It comes from the Latin "con-fide" -- meaning "to have faith." Have faith in what? Yourself.
That's not ego. It's the natural expression of a human being coming from the place of being called.
So, if you're about to walk out on stage and are feeling the impostor syndrome coming on, stop and get in touch with what is calling you. Let that person speak.
8. Trim the Fat: When Michelangelo was asked how he made the David, he said it was simple -- that he merely took away "everything that wasn't."
The same holds true for you, oh aspiring-kick ass-presenter-at-some-future high-profile-conference (or, at the very least, pep-talk-giver to your kid's Junior High School soccer team).
Keep it simple. Or, as one wise pundit put it, "Minimize your jargon footprint."
9. Celebrate What Works: If you want to raise healthy kids, reinforce their positive behaviors -- don't obsess on the negative.
If you want to raise a healthy audience, give them examples of what's working out there in the marketplace. Feature the "bright spots," as Chip Heath likes to say. Share victories, best practices, and lessons learned. Save the bitching and moaning for your therapist.
10. Walk the Talk: Good presenters are genuinely moved. Being genuinely moved, it's natural for them come out from behind the podium and actually move around the stage -- as in, walking the talk.
Don't hide behind the podium. Forget your notes. If you have to depend on notes to give your presentation, guess what? You're not being present.
People aren't sitting in the audience to watch you read from your notes. They're sitting there to watch you blast off and inspire them to get out from behind their podium and accomplish the extraordinary.
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