As a speaker and trainer, I frequently have to remind myself and others to avoid a common problem that keeps us from sounding unique and fresh:
When we use clichés, we plant seeds in the minds of the audience that we’re not original thinkers, that we’re simply an imitation of someone whose unique ideas we’ve borrowed.
In the entertainment field, it’s why original artists like Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles made mega-millions, and their impersonators make a pittance.
One clichéd idea that has lost much of its impact in the speaking world is the standing ovation.
I know, I just lost half my audience.
This Is Heresy!
How could I possibly criticize this most treasured of audience reactions to the brilliance I and my fellow speakers have provided to the world?
Because it’s become a clichéd overused response to nearly every speech I see.
Admit it, haven’t you sat in an audience, listened to a speaker, and when the person concluded thought, “Meh, it was OK” and sat patiently, waiting for the next speaker when, out of the corner of your eye, you saw one person stand and begin clapping. Then another. And another.
Then this thought pops into your head, “Dammit, I gotta stand or I’m gonna look like an a@@hole.”
C’mon, you’ve done it. We all have.
Since we’re being transparent, haven’t you also been on the receiving end of one of those and thought, “That wasn’t my best work, but, OK.”
I’ve attended far too many events where every speaker received a standing ovation. Many of the presentations were cliché-filled, unoriginal speeches that I’ve heard from dozens of other speakers.
When I experience an event with these types of reactions, it reminds me of the old saying, “If everything is urgent, then NOTHING is urgent.” Which, come to think of it, might also be a cliché.
I’m Not Anti-Standing Ovation, I’m Pro-Audience
My biggest issue with the standing ovation is that it’s centered on the speaker. Yes, I get it, this the audience’s way of thanking speakers for their hard work.
But, as presenters, what should our end goal be?
Them thinking about us, or us touching their lives in a way that changes the way they think, feel, or act?
What if, and I know this is a new way of thinking, instead of standing and clapping for us and focusing their energy in our direction when we’re done, the audience instead became reflective? What if, instead of thunderous applause and cheering, you walked off stage to thunderous…. silence?
The quiet of people seeing, hearing, or feeling their lives in a new and better light. Understanding that they don’t have to be stuck in their old ways of thinking, behaving or living. Lost in thought.
Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Isn’t that the outcome we should each strive for as speakers?
The hard question to answer is this:
Do I have enough self-esteem and self-worth to speak not to feed my ego, but rather to focus on serving my audience?
Rather than give our speeches thinking about all of the love that will cascade down upon us when we’re done speaking, why not imagine the domino effect of a silent audience which has been stunned into envisioning a new and better life because you were there to truly serve them?
Let’s stop focusing on standing ovations.
Would you like to ensure your presentations are providing the most benefit to your audiences?
The biggest challenge to writing presentations is you usually cannot see the power or the message in your own experiences because you’re too close to them. You lived those through those events and it’s difficult to see how they can positively impact others.
Even world-class speakers have coaches to help them see the gold in their stories and experiences.
If you’d like to talk with Michael about ensuring in your presentation is audience focused, schedule a 15-minute call to determine how he can help you.
Schedule your no-cost & no-obligation ZOOM call: https://calendly.com/speaker017/15-minute-call.