Mar 01

Public Speaking: It’s All About You

I want you to take a look at this clip of 2001 Public Speaking World Champion, Darren LaCroix. The bit that I’m keen for you to focus on is the bit where he starts his award-winning speech, which is after his intro.

After you’re done, I want you to come back and read the rest of this blog. I’ll still be here….

Dum dee dum… (whistle), la, la la… hey, how ’bout them Dolphins…?

Are you back? Did you laugh? Great, good, on we go…

I attended a seminar run by two-time UK and Ireland Public Speaking Champion, Simon Bucknall. The main focus was how to build a connection with your audience. I found it very useful as it allowed me to reflect upon my recent humorous speech and know how I need to improve for next time.

Obviously a blog post cannot do justice to the enjoyable two-hours spent at the event. And I’m not about to regurgitate the man’s content here. So what I’m going to do is provide a little bit of information that you might find useful and give you some of my own thoughts.

When you’re doing a speech or presentation, or if you’ve just done one, how many times did you use the word “you”? Once? twice? fifteen or more? If it’s the last one then you’re probably 2001 world champion Darren LaCroix so you’re not playing fair. If you use the word “you” more than the word “I” you are more likely to develop a connection with your listeners.

By using the word you in place of “I”, you’re automatically getting your audience to think about your content more and how it relates to them.

That’s not to say that you can’t use personal stories that use the word “I” at all. What it means is that you should give due consideration to the material that you’re going to deliver and work out how it’s of benefit to them. By all means use first-person stories as a way to illustrate what you’re saying, but don’t forget to come back to using “you”.

It’s hardly noticeable when  it’s done.  Did you notice it when Darren LaCroix did it? I sure as heck didn’t when I first saw that clip. I just saw a very funny speech.

What you have to remember is what Simon said:

“Connection is king!”

You could be delivering the best presentation in the world. You could have the funniest material in the world. You could have the most amazing public speaking skills that has every graced a speaking platform. But…

If you’ve not connected with your audience, none of that matters.

You will lose them every time. And that’s something that you don’t want. You don’t want your audience to be uninterested in what you have to say.

The seminar I attended made me realise that I had slipped back into being concerned about how well I was doing when I did my humorous speech. Even though I won Best Speaker for it, I felt that I could’ve given my audience more and allowed them to have a better time.

What you want to do is be concerned with how well your audience is doing. I had forgotten to do that. A cardinal sin.

When you’re doing your speech or presentation maybe think about the following:

Are you being clear enough? Do your points back up your overall message? That joke that you’re using, does it tie in to what you’re saying or is it completely irrelevant? Can your audience hear you? Can your audience read the information on your slides? Can you redcue the number of slides that you have?

Sometimes, you need to get out of your own way and focus on giving your audience the best you can. After all they’re the ones that have paid to hear you. If you’re speaking at Toastmasters and they haven’t hired you, then your audience is still important because

a) you still want to give them your best and

b) you never know if there’s a guest in the audience who might be able to hire you.

If you have the opportunity to see Simon Bucknall speak or run a seminar I’d thoroughly recommend it. Not only is he a very good speaker (duh, two-time UK and Ireland Champion), but he’s a very helpful and nice guy too.

1 comment

2 pings

  1. Jeremy Jacobs

    Great blog post title!

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