I just returned from an exciting key note presentation and an inspired crowd. As I near the final editing stage of my latest book, The Innovation Gap, I want to share with you my thoughts on one of my creative principles, Becoming a Master Presenter. The power to communicate is a very effective tool when engaging people around you. As a professional speaker, it does not start and end on stage with me, it continues through one-on-one conversations. So often when I arrive at an event for which I am the key note speaker, I am amazed as to how the delegates avoid approaching me or one another for that matter. To often we enter a room and head directly to our seats instead of engaging in some meaningful conversation. What is even more interesting for me is upon completion of a key note presentation, members of the audience then approach me wanting to give them personal advice? We as a soceity put to much emphasis on roles and validation. I personally love when members of an audience approach me ahead of time and we get into a deeper and engaging conversation as opposed to waiting to hear me speak.
Having said that, my recommendation is to ask great questions when connecting with someone. Put aside the ego and avoid talking about your success, rather get to know the person that you are speaking with by asking them questions. This demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. It also allows you to [frame] your response more accordingly. You never know who you are going to meet and what this person could do for you in the immediate future. These are just a samples of the types of questions that I like to use at events:
- What is your name? (Then repeat their name back to them, it helps you remember it).
- What are you excited about most this evening?
- What was the best thing that happened to you this week?
- What are you hoping to get out of this evening?
- What are you most excited about in your present career?
As the answers start flowing in, really focus on what the person is saying to you. Try and avoid thinking of your response as they are speaking, we all do that. Rather, look them in the eye, keep the BB in your pocket and respond with what you heard them say. What you will find is that the conversation is much more gratifying and the outcomes might just surprise you.
My final recommendation for anyone introducing a speaker, take the time to meet with the speaker and review their profile/bio that they furnish you with. Many speakers have a wealth of experience and successes which are briefly high-lighted in their introduction. Introduce your speaker slowly and with enthusiasm, it helps build momentum with the audience and also is a sign of respect for the speaker. It also provides the audience with a great overview that they typically would not hear from the speaker since we typically don't like to talk about ourselves! Remember, as a speaker, I am here for you, to inspire the audience and give you as much as I can so you can walk away feeling inspired and lifted to whole new level.
Sadly for the audience, several key note presentations that I recently delivered including last night, the presenter decided NOT to formally introduce me to their audience.