How is Furniture Polish Relevant to Being a Speaker?

How to Deliver a Speech - Don't Be a Polished Speaker

What is this picture?

You’re right, it’s a can of furniture Polish.

What does this have to do with speaking?

Many years ago when I first started speaking to audiences, I was convinced that effective speaking involved looking ‘polished.’

The hair had to be perfect. The suit had to be straight and pressed. The shoes had to be shined like a mirror. And most importantly, my speeches had to be memorized. I was convinced that was the key to speaking with impact. 

Fixated on Being a Polished Speaker

And that’s what I did for my first seven years of presenting. Back then, people would sometimes say to me, “Michael, you’re so polished up there.” And that made me feel good. I thought, “Yeah, that’s right. I’m on my way.”

But then something happened that changed my perspective. I walked into a meeting one day and Beth – the organizer – walked up to me, almost in a panic. She said, “Michael, none of our speakers showed up today. Can you please speak? This meeting is going to be a disaster!   

My first reaction was, “Don’t look at me! I’m not prepared. I haven’t practiced anything, and I’m certainly not dressed to speak.”

Beth continued to talk to me and told me how much she needed help. She was new to our group and was committed to our group. She wanted to do a great job.

Guilt kicked in. I couldn’t let her down. Against my better judgment, I said, “Alright, I’ll speak today.” I then sat down and began berating myself for agreeing to do it. ‘What is wrong with you? Are you an idiot? You’re not prepared. This is gonna make you look bad! I can’t believe you let her talk you into this.”

When it was my turn, I walked to the front of the room, took a deep breath, and gave my talk. I concluded, sat down, and resumed my self-criticism. “Well, that was the worst thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know the material. I looked so unprofessional. What a disaster!”

An Evaluation That Changed Me as a Speaker

During the evaluation session of the meeting, my evaluator Chris gave me some technical feedback on the structure of the speech, and then he said, “Michael I’m not exactly sure what you did differently today, but I have never seen you be more real, more convincing, and more connected.  Keep doing what you did today.”

“What did he say? Keep doing it?”

I was stunned. Until that day, I didn’t understand the importance of being authentic, and not overly prepared. What I had talked about were some difficulties that were going on in my life. I don’t know why I was willing to share these difficulties, but I did.

And it made a huge difference. After that day I began to understand this important insight about ‘being polished’….

Nothing sticks to polish.

When you polish a piece of furniture, no dust sticks to it.

Guess what?  When you’re a polished speaker, your message doesn’t stick to your audience. People don’t remember what you said five minutes after you speak. They may remember that you looked good, your suit was great and you came across as professional, but the message is immediately forgotten.

A New Perspective on Being a Polished Speaker

After that experience, whenever somebody told me I looked polished, I cringed. I knew my message wasn’t getting through. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often now.  I’m happy to say I’m a recovered anti-polished presenter.

If you struggle with coming across as too polished, or you’re too focused on your appearance or concerned about not making mistakes, take this tip from one of my coaches…

Let it go! It’s not about you!

We’re not up there in front of an audience to look good. We’re there to give a message, to leave a lasting impact. From this day forward, put away the polish and work on your message. THAT is how you’ll create a deeper connection with your audience.

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How to Deliver a Presentation – Don’t Be a Polished Speaker ultima modifica: 2019-05-17T15:29:50-04:00 da Michael Davis

Speak Confidently to Increase Your Impact and Influence

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