It’s a Friday morning when my phone rings. It’s Rachel, who I’ve been providing speaking coaching for.
“So, how’d it go?” I asked expectantly.
“Why is that?” I asked.
Rachel quickly replied, “Several things. The way they reacted to my talk. The results I got. How I felt more comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous, but then I remembered those 4 questions you gave me. Just like you suggested, I asked them five minutes before I started speaking.”
I said, “Those four have always helped me focus on the people sitting in front of me, and that, more than anything else, helps me manage those nerves. I recommend them to everyone. ** (to get the four questions, see below)
What happened after your talk?” I asked.
“That’s the best part, Michael,” she said excitedly. “One of my long-term clients, Chris, was there with a couple of friends. She pulled me aside and said, “I’m not exactly sure what you did tonight, but that was the best presentation I’ve ever heard you give. Keep doing that!
At the end of the night, I had 12 people sign up for an individual meeting with me. I usually only get about 4 people out of 20. Three times more potential clients! I’m so excited,” she said.
“All that work you did putting together your talk paid off,” I told her. “The Foundational Concept, the Big Bang Opening, the supporting points – those were critical parts of it. But, you never would have made the impact you did if you didn’t first focus on the audience and prepare as much as you did.”
“Thanks,” she said. “I really did put in a lot of time. I didn’t feel really good about it, though, until I got the responses I received. After I heard those nice comments, and saw how many people signed up for an appointment, I knew it was all worth it.”
I said, “Rachel, most people believe that great speakers just stand up in front of a group and start talking. Nothing could be further than the truth. Any excellent talk is made that way far away from the stage.
This reminds me of a quote that I have hanging up on my wall. It’s attributed to Muhammed Ali:
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Rachel, you may never become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, but the work you’ve shown me is the same commitment ‘The Greatest’ showed. If you keep focusing on your audience, preparing, and giving them a message that can change the way they Think, Feel or Act, you will succeed.”
Whenever I have these types of conversations with clients, I’m thrilled. My work is about finding people who are willing to change – behaviors, attitudes and expectations. What I teach is useless unless you’re willing to focus on the audiences that will be in front of you. Give them a speech that can offer a new perspective. Do it in an entertaining, yet informative manner, and you will create an experience that changes lives, and has people talking about you long after you speak.
** The four questions referred to are asked 5 minutes before you speak. They are designed to shift your focus onto the audience. The questions are:
What is my intent?
Am I present?
Will I have fun?
How would I give this presentation if I knew it was my last one ever?
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