Connexion Connexion Connexion
I've been at it for over 30 years, and I am still amazed to see professional or seasoned speakers who haven't realized that the 3 most important factors in getting their message across are: connexion, connexion, connexion. You might have great content, great technique, but without connexion, you have next to nothing. It is the most important rule and it is the most overlooked one.
Recently, I was asked to coach a bunch of non-professional speakers for a large two-day motivational public event. Four were total beginners (first time ever speaking in public), and the rest had varying degrees of experience in presenting. Given that there were 30 speakers altogether over the two days, I was really concerned about the attention span of the audience - and my reputation as a coach! However, I felt reassured by the fact that we also had 9 professional speakers (whom I didn't coach of course) so I crossed my fingers for the others, and got on with it.
Not surprisingly, during rehearsal, the least experienced were in typical beginner mode, their energy centred mainly on their inner turmoil - we all know what that feels and looks like - so no audience connexion possible here. This is Circle 1 Energy (inspired by Patsy Rodenburg's work "The Second Circle").
But what did surprise me during the event itself were the professional speakers: out of the 9, only 3 managed to create a true connexion with the audience (which is KEY when you want to inspire) whereas the other 6 were in a "performing" mode, and using theatrics to convey emotion (doesn't work): "look at me, I'm really good at this" (and they are, it's pretty impressive actually) their energy directed outwards, overpowering the audience, or casually showing them how great or knowledgeable they are.
This is Circle 3 Energy. Interestingly, this Circle 3 Energy is often powered by fear (as in Circle 1) which the speaker overcompensates with technique, but it can also be powered by self-importance - neither truly connects with the audience. And often it is simply because that is what they were taught. Circle 3 will impress the audience, for sure, but will not connect emotionally, and after a while it becomes irritating. But because it impresses, many people think that this is what excellent public speaking is all about. It ain't, and unfortunately, this type of public speaking is still widely taught, or coached...A shame really because these speakers had powerful content...
What we are looking for is Circle 2 Energy. This energy is not about me, but about us. It is not a monologue, but a dialogue, as if I am having a conversation with a friend. My intention is to share with you: we are having a common experience. It is not about being perfect or about impressing you, there is no judging either way. We are together, connected, and equal: we are in communion.
Feels so good all round when it happens doesn't it?
I'm happy and proud to say that most of the non-professional speakers I conveyed this principle to (as well as permission NOT to be perfect) actually managed a true connexion with the audience - even the complete beginners. Oh yes, for some, technique definitely needed improving, but you know what? they touched the audience's hearts, where the high performance Circle 3's did not...