Over the years, how many hours do you think you have spent at conferences listening to numerous and varied speakers?
If you work in a technical field – law, tax, audit – I imagine that most of these speakers have spoken about some very complex subjects. Funds, the banking sector, valorisation, IFRS standards, VAT exemptions, private equity, hybrid instruments, data protection and regulation, maybe even a few talking about QI, FATCA, Blockchains or cyber security if you want to get really funky …
I want you to think about those speakers you have listened to.
How many of these speakers have truly inspired you and got you excited about the subject they were talking about?
How many speakers have left you feeling completely under-whelmed and more interested in your iPhone or the upcoming networking drink than what they have to say?
What made the difference between the speaker who excited you, and the speaker who sent you to sleep?
I would imagine that the speaker who excited and inspired you:
- Had clear and precise ideas, that they were truly passionate about, and conveyed their passion in a genuine and authentic way;
- Spoke your language – I don’t mean English, French, German, or Luxembourgish, I mean your everyday language, not one with a bunch of technical terms; and
- Helped you relate to the subject by using concrete examples, stories and analogies that you can connect to.
I firmly believe that the most truly effective speakers are those who can step out of their world of expert, into our world of mere mortal, and make their subject seem almost easy.
What kind of speaker do you want to be?
So, let’s think about that conference coming up where you are going to be the speaker. You know the one – your boss has asked you to speak – or wait a minute, maybe you are the boss and you have no choice but to speak.
It’s about a subject you really enjoy but all too often when you have spoken about this subject in the past, you have looked out into the audience and seen the audience disinterested and looking at their phones.
Maybe you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that this subject is so complex that non-experts are never going to understand it, so what’s the point even trying?
I am here to tell you – it doesn’t need to be like that. I firmly believe that with the right preparation any speaker can make any subject interesting and understandable to any audience.
A big claim I know, but I want to let you into a secret and tell you the one thing you need to do if you want to make your technical subject interesting.
You need to stop thinking that this talk is about you, and start to realise that its about them – your audience!
Now I know this seems counter intuitive – after all, you’re the expert in this field – otherwise they wouldn’t be asking you to speak, right?
But if there is one thing I want you to realise, it’s that it is YOUR responsibility to step off stage and into the audience, and tell your story in a way that they can understand it. It is not for the audience to start to learn your techie speak and understand you.
You need to shift out of your shoes as speaker, into the shoes of the audience.
Ok, fabulous: but how do you do that …. ?
Well, so glad you asked. Tune in for my next blog post when I will give you 3 steps to do this…. 🙂
(Based on an article I first published in the May 2017 edition of AGEFI Luxembourg www.agefi.lu)