Maybe Your Audience Doesn't Want to Be Impressed
I’d made the final round of an international speech competition and was killing it. The hotel ballroom was packed with nearly 300 people hanging on my every word. Then, in the blink of an eye, the spell was broken. They were gone. I wasn’t sure what happened, but as I soldiered on I knew I was going to lose.
I would later learn that I had said what is basically a four-letter word in the world of competitive public speaking – ‘um’.
Human beings say ‘um’. And ‘ah’. They cough. They twitch. They sometimes pause to find the right word. But a professional speaker can never do any of these things. A professional speaker should be polished and confident, flawlessly delivering their presentation exactly as written and rehearsed.
Sadly, too many of us hold ourselves to these standards when presenting. Consider how you approach your presentations. Is your aim to deliver an impressive performance or to move your audience? If you want to impress, go for perfection. But consider that what your audience really wants is an authentic connection. They want to be impressed with your passion and ideas, not your well-rehearsed hand gestures.
To build connection, focus on being:
Open to engage
Passionate about your topic
Willing to listen and respond
If they sense you are authentic and really care, not only will they forgive your imperfections, but they will be more open to your message and more willing to follow your lead.