What the Best Speakers Provide to Audiences
Look carefully at the picture to the right
What do you see?
Some people see a beach.
Some see an aerial view of a desert.
Others see waves.
I see – a treasured memory with my son Brenden.
This picture is a close-up of a tiny patch of wind-blown sand in the Dunes near Felicity, California. Brenden and I – along with my Dad – recently visited this site. It’s a beautiful landscape of rolling sand dunes that is constantly being altered by the Mexican and Southern California winds. Rumor also has it that George Lucas filmed a portion of ‘Return of the Jedi’ there, so, it has religious implications for science fiction geeks.
Brenden and I picked the tallest Dune and painstakingly trudged our way to the top. From there, we could look far off and see into Mexico. Beautiful mountains and farmland spread out as far as our eyes could see. It will be one of our treasured moments, especially for me because, when 53 year old Dad got to the top, he wasn’t huffing, puffing and turning red in the face, like 20 year old son – but I digress.
What does this have to do with speaking?
Why do speakers give a presentation?
Over the years, my response to this question has changed. However, I now believe that our purpose is to provide unique perspective to our audiences.
With the exception of inventors, no speakers are talking about new subjects they just thought up. What the best presenters are doing is providing their particular take on existing topics. If you don’t believe this, check out the most popular TED talks:
- Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about education
- Amy Cuddy’s presentation about body language
- Susan Cain’s insight into introverts
None of these speakers invented his or her topic. What each did was offer their point-of-view and experience. They were so good they changed how we think about their subjects. They changed our perspective.
When I’m asked what meeting planners and organizations are looking for in a speaker, the number one answer is the speaker’s unique perspective. You will not be paid in today’s world strictly for motivation, inspiration or information – these are easy to find on You Tube.
When you looked at the picture above, your only frame of reference was the small image on the screen. I’m not the first person to take a picture like that, or talk about sand – a fairly ordinary subject.
I am the first person to talk about my experience with Brenden in that sand, and the importance of the moment for us. My perspective might help you in many ways – experiencing the value of exploring, spending time with family, or exercise, to name a few.
As you prepare your next presentation, remember that it’s your unique perspective that people will pay to hear. Give them this, and you will make a lasting impact, and create more opportunities to speak.
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