I reached back to slip my right arm into the other sleeve. I kept reaching back and trying to stick my hand into that sleeve, with no luck. I finally had to stop, set down my briefcase, grab my coat with my left hand and maneuver my right arm into the sleeve. I felt ridiculous. 49 years old, and I couldn’t even dress myself anymore!
I know what you may be thinking. “My God, this guy has lost his mind, and any fresh ideas for material. Instead of speaking tips, he thinks he can teach us how to dress ourselves”.
I understand your concern. It is possible I’m losing my mind, but, I’m not out of fresh ideas. There is a speaking point to this, I promise.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve put on my coats, shirts, and jackets right arm first. It’s a habit. Making a simple change with how I put on my sports coat, I felt completely awkward. Don’t you feel the same way when you try to make a change?
As a presenter, you have developed habits. You are comfortable with the tonality you use, the movement of your body, and even phrases or words.
And this can be a problem. Many speakers, even highly paid professionals, can get too comfortable when they speak. When this happens, they may become bored, unenthused, and even feel that speaking has become more of a chore than a joy.
How do you break out of this rut? Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp talks about the idea of “Falling in love with your material all over again.” What does this mean? Review your speech, and inject new ideas into it. There are several areas you can review. Two of the more important are:
1) Review to see if your main points are still relevant. For years, I told a story called ‘Find Your Mud Puddles’. The central idea was to find your stress relievers. In my case, it was jumping into mud puddles with my young son.
Six years after I first told that story, I shared it during a speech in Ottawa, Canada, I realized it didn’t have a strong impact on the audience because it didn’t have a strong impact on me. This was an excellent story, but had outlived its impact. Never tell stories that you no longer have passion for. If you don’t care, your audience certainly won’t.
2) Do you have a central story which demonstrates your main point? Find a story which best illustrates your main point, and you’ll reach your audience at a deeper level.
For example, if you sell life insurance, you’re more likely to persuade your client to buy if you tell the story of a widow who was able to stay in her home and send her kids to college because of life insurance proceeds, than you ever would by bombarding your client with statistics and data about the wonders of life insurance.
Reviewing these two parts of your speech are an excellent first step to rekindling your passion for your stories and speeches.
Each of us can get caught in ‘the comfort zone’. When you feel stuck in a rut, it’s time to change your routine. Just like making a change to how you put on your shirt, jacket or coat, it will feel awkward at first. But isn’t a little discomfort worth it if you can Fall in Love Again?