When speaking in public and discussing your own experiences with an audience, how does one do so without sounding arrogant and egotistical? Recently I attended a speech just of that kind. I believe the speaker’s goal was to inspire his listeners to join his industry by sharing his success story. But there were several problems.
First, the speaker had only achieved moderate success in his industry and spoke truthfully about how hard he had worked to get there. To his great credit, he was honest and earned an honest living. On the other hand, he didn’t achieve much in terms of making his industry sound more enticing than any other.
Second, the speaker spent his entire time onstage speaking in “I” statements. “I did this, then I did that, because I felt….” I hope you see my point. An endless series of “I” statements can be off-putting to an audience, especially when combined with a bullet-laden PowerPoint. The speaker did come across as self-involved as he shared a detailed timeline of his career’s development.
Audiences don’t come to hear speakers that simply extol themselves, even if it’s a celebrity speaking. If the speaker is famous, or someone who has an awe-inspiring story to share about their lives, these stories must serve their audience in some way. They’re unique, extraordinary, entertaining- a tale of a great adventure of some sort. By the end of the speech the audience is inspired to do something for themselves, face and overcome their own obstacles, and so on.
In short, when you are asked to give a speech about some aspect of your life, please keep the following in mind:
1) The messaging in your speech must be structured to serve your audience, not simply be a testament to yourself.
2) Construct your story so that it is unique, original, and inspiring to others.
3) Keep the “I” statements to a minimum.
4) Eliminate the bulleted text in PowerPoint. If you use slides, put images on them only. A quote or two can be an exception.
Last but not least, always remember your goal in a speech such as this: inspire and motivate your audience!
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Lily Iatridis of Fearless Delivery, has a proven track record and knows the key elements in effective and engaging presentation. Her expertise is in supporting professionals to get their message expressed clearly to deliver the biggest results in their live and online presentations. Secrets and strategies such as “how-to” shortcuts, personalized instruction and even packaging the presentation are just some of the skill sets that Lily brings to her audience to create a fearless and effective delivery.
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