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January 15, 2007

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Dear Lisa,

I think the combination of the wisdom of content and the skill and art of presentation make for an excellent speech. What takes it even a notch higher is the connection you speak of, and I think connection is related to intimacy - being able to be vulnerable, open, and trusting with one or more people. It allows resonance to take place, wherein both the audience and the speaker are changed in either subtle or more profound ways.

Michael

Excellent post, Lisa. Alas, I don't think training is much of an answer here. There are already good programs out there that include elements of this. Bert Decker's programs come to mind.

The problem is that the would-be speaker or consultant or writer has to want to connect enough to do the prep work it calls for. If you ask folks if they want to connect with audiences and clients, all the hands go up. Everybody's in favor. But when you tell them what's required, the "yeah-buts" begin to emerge.

I tell other speakers that we really earn our money in the prep stage. Here's an example.

Last month I spoke to a group of engineers at a public utility. I am not an engineer. I have only had one other utility client in my career. But I still had to learn language, culture, legends and issues for the client.

I had to find out that Philip was not just a great engineer, but known for his gregarious style. It was important to know that management had recently changed and how. It helped to find out that the stories the people tell in the organization revolve around a few specific things, including a giant windstorm from a few years back and building a network substation for the first time in 20 years.

How do you find that stuff out? You dig. You talk to people. You read. Then, when you show up and it's showtime you've got people you can call on and incidents you can reference. You use language correctly. You tell relevant stories. And you make a connection.

If you make that connection, as you implied, something magic happens. Alas, not everyone wants to do the work. Many celebrity speakers can generate big fees without it

Like most forms of excellence, excellence in speaking is about mastering the basics, having some talent and doing the homework. Connection is part of the key and that grows from good, rigorous preparation.


Michael - I agree that one must be somewhat vulnerable to really connect. Like the word resonance.

Wally - Good example! I don't think that the training could be traditional. I'm thinking about a class that is at its core connecting.

Thank you for another great reminder of why audiences pay attention to a speaker. They want to feel connected, sometimes almost regardless of the "Content"

I wish I could keep your reminder in my hip pocket the next time I speak. That way, I would concentrate on the connection with the audience and relax about getting my content perfect.

Bill - try putting a bit of gooey stuff - like glue, on your fingers. That will remind you to focus on connection. Just a goofy idea...

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