Being a better speaker

I love Seth’s blog, I get a short, sweet email usually once a day and there’s great stuff to think about. This time I wanted to share two posts which I think will be useful to my speaker friends, one to think about what you say and another to think about how you say it – two fairly fundamental aspects of speaking I would think!

The TED imperatives

  1. Be interested.
  2. Be generous.
  3. Be interesting.
  4. Connect.

In that order. If all you can do is repeat cocktail party banalities about yourself, don’t come. If all you’re hoping for is to get more than you give, the annual event is not worth your time. If you’re not confident enough to share what you’re afraid of and what’s not working, you’re cheating yourself (and us).

These aren’t just principles for TED, of course. They’re valid guidelines for any time you choose to stop hiding and step out into the world. It would be fabulous if people who were willing to commit to these four simple ideas had a special hat or a pin they could wear. Then we wouldn’t have to waste our time while looking for those who care about their work and those around them.

[TED is a conference that started small, got big and then spawned more than a thousand local versions. Mostly, it’s a culture of connecting interesting ideas and the people who have the guts to share them. Sometimes people at TED even follow these imperatives].

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Your voice will give you away

It’s extremely difficult to read a speech and sound as if you mean it.

For most of us, when reading, posture changes, the throat tightens and people can tell. Reading is different from speaking, and a different sort of attention is paid.

Before you give a speech, then, you must do one of two things if your goal is to persuade:

Learn to read the same way you speak (unlikely)

or, learn to speak without reading. Learn your message well enough that you can communicate it without reading it. We want your humanity.

If you can’t do that, don’t bother giving a speech. Just send everyone a memo and save time and stress for all concerned.

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