Do you know Tai-chi?
One of the agents I deal with is asking for a special interest cruise ship speaker to cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore and back.
The special interest? Tai Chi.
Do you know Tai-chi? Can you teach others?
We have helped others and we can help you get this gig and others like it.
At a recent meeting of National Speaker Association members, professional speakers and wannabes we had a brainstorming session with the aim of coming up with a list of qualities that are desirable for the cruise ship speaker and others who find themselves up on the stage.
High on the list was – improve listening skills.
This puzzled me a bit because we are not professional listeners. If I were, I’d have become something that starts with psych — Or a preacher maybe.
But … the professional cruise ship speaker does need to be a good listener. But maybe not in the way that might be first thought.
I am a fiddler. I tweak my presentation almost up to the last minute. I also pace, that is walk back and forth, not pace myself and think and rehearse my opening lines right up to the last minute, too.
There is one other thing I do … I go to the sessions that are leading up to mine. I stand around in the hall and I eavesdrop on conversations. I try to get a feel for what people are talking about, looking for, hoping to gain from my or any other session. I want to know what they have been hearing up to the point where I go on stage.
In this sense, I want to be a good listener. I want to be sensitive. Not a few times have I made reference to a talk earlier in the day and even right before my own.
I think this practice brings immediate relevance and context to my presentation.
The more the professional speaker hears what his audience has been hearing right up to the moment s/he goes on stage, the better the presentation.
Try it and let me know how it works for you.
It’s not about the speaker anymore. It’s about the listener.
The attendee doesn’t care as much about what the speaker knows as they do about what they will know when they leave.
“How will my life change for having given you (the speaker) 18 (Ted talk), 30, or 45 minutes?”
Today’s listeners want:
“It’s all about me!” The listener wants to hear/see something cool, that makes them feel fuzzy inside.
“It’s all about me!!” The listener wants to be compelled to act for reasons they may not have thought of.
“It’s all about me!!!” The listener wants to enjoy the experience of being inspired and motivated.
“It’s all about me!!!!” The listener wants to actively participate, to get his/her questions answered, to have the speaker change direction at will – the listener’s will.
“It’s all about me!!!!!” The listener wants to be spoon-fed, to be told what to do next, to be given actionable steps, to make an immediate connection. It’s not delayed gratification. It’s about me and right now.
My dad (I am old so my dad is/was really old) went to a movie with a friend. They were watching a love scene when his friend leaned over and said, “Love scenes sure have changed since the cowboy kissed his horse.”
So have audiences.
Be up to date, or be out dated and find yourself sitting and listening and wondering, “What’s this presentation go to do with me?”