I know very well how public speaking can bring up a whole set of anxieties, from childhood traumas to real time pressure. I know what it’s like to be anxious and want to please and to impress. And I do not want to see you take your place in front of your peers and not be your very best self.
So, if you’ve been given an opportunity to stand before people, and move them to think, do, give, invest, imagine, or change … here’s what I want you to do:
Speak from your heart, not your head.
You see, I’m sitting in the audience looking for inspiration. Pleeease don’t spend your time trying to teach me something. I want to be moved. I want to feel something. I want you to make me care.
Here’s me, sitting in my comfy chair, wondering if I have any bread crumbs in the pantry for the chicken parmesan I want to make tonight and somehow, you’re going to interrupt my mind-shop to – not only hold my attention, not only think about something other than dinner but also care about your story so I carry it with me into the grocery store after I leave…how are you going to do that?
You’re going to tell me these 3 things.
1. Who You Are.
Seriously. I know you have people to thank, results to deliver and a chart to explain. But here’s the thing.
I need to know who you are. Beyond your title. If you’re going to stand in front of the room with a microphone in your hand, I need to know where you’re coming from. I need to walk in your shoes.
And the best way to help me get into your shoes, is to tell me your story.
That doesn’t have to mean your whole story, but there’s a reason you’ve stepped into this leadership role and onto that stage. It isn’t always directly linked to your story. But it probably is.
I need to hear some of your struggle, how you handled it, and how you came out the other side. That will remind me of my own struggles, appreciate how hard struggling is, imagine what it might feel like for the struggle to be over, and believe I will survive, like you.
2. Why You Care.
What in your background, in your history, makes this the thing you are sinking your time, talent and treasure into?
I mean, I hear the words. I hear the ideas. But frankly, if you don’t share with me why – if I don’t hear why it matters to you — I’m going to tune out. So please, please tell me why you care. If you don’t tell me why you care about this, I won’t care either.
This is the moment your words start to have meaning.
Now I understand you created this foundation because your mother died from this disease. Oh, so you were a proud recipient of a scholarship from this school, which changed the way you think about education. Because you felt deep discord in your parent’s seemingly perfect marriage, you’ve sought therapy early on in your own. Now that makes sense.
It doesn’t have to be serious either. Your story can be quirky. How watching Jane Fonda in tights inspired you to try out for the local swim team. Whatever!
You start to sneak into my heart. You might make me tear up. You might make me laugh. Whatever the feeling, you’re helping me feel something.
When I feel your humanity, I feel connected to you. And guess what? You have me in the palm of your hand.
3. What I can do.
Once you’ve let us walk in your shoes and revealed why this matters to you, now you can to turn it back to us. Now tell us why this matters to the world, and what we can do. It’s not fair to reveal a big truth, idea, discovery, product, procedure and leave us without a What’s Next. I know this new, important thing. Now how can I use it? How can I make an impact? How can I change things for the better? Here is where we begin to see what could be accomplished… if we all work together!
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It’s your call to action.
Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for joining me in this moment. Thank you for listening to why I care about you being your best self.
Yes, if you hadn’t guessed, one additional thing I want you to convey is Gratitude. I just gave you my time, my attention, part of my brain, and a piece of my heart. It’s appropriate to be grateful, for your audience and for the opportunity to bring them along in your shoes, in your story and in your struggle.
Gratitude lifts us up and makes us feel like all is right with the world. Gratitude stays in our heads and our hearts, when we leave, while we drive, while we stop at the the store and buy the panko bread crumbs.