A few months ago, I was hired by two CEOs who were new to their job. Each had a big speech on the books to external clients – folks other than their employees. Both of them contacted me because they wanted to kick off their tenure as a clear and compelling speaker.
During our first few meetings, my conversation with each of them circled around to a common denominator. That’s what I want to talk about today. Specifically, answering the question of ‘Who you are on the stage (or who do you want to be).’
In both cases, the speakers were unsure of the image they wanted to project. They were too new to the job and unfamiliar with their organization. They had dozens of other tasks on their to-do list and hadn’t yet considered their relationship to the audience.
If a speaker is presenting herself as a peer, for example, she might call the audience “colleagues” or “friends.” She might also decide not to stand on a stage but at eye level (if everyone can see). Other options, depending on the audience and event, might be cheerleader (urging them on) or coach (kicking them in the butt).
In this case, one of my clients decided to position herself as a kind of maverick in the field. Then I asked how she wanted to be perceived. We brainstormed answers (confident? humble? accessible?) and landed on enthusiastic and hopeful.
As you work through this process, it’s important to note that I’m not talking about acting. The best speakers are natural in all aspects of their delivery: how they use their hands or move around the stage. They aren’t trying to be someone they aren’t.
Next time you accept a speaking invitation, consider your relationship to the audience. Once you figure out who you want to “be” on the big day, you’re sure to be a more successful speaker.
Need help figuring that out? Please reach out. – Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org)