Why Most Speeches Suck, and Why It’s not Hard to Stand Out

Chris Elliott talks about the reason most speeches suck on his Toastmasters blog. It’s because most people go in with the wrong intentions:

As you are speaking, you are not there to make money, sell a product, or make a name for yourself. You are there to improve the lives of the audience. Making money, making a name for yourself, and winning contests is an outcome of improving the lives of the people you speak to. When people see how you change the lives of others, they will gladly pay you for your time.

It reminded me very much of the Ignite presentation I did about networking for introverts. (You can see the admittedly low-quality video of that here.) My point there, of course, was that all it really takes to stand out among the people in your network is being willing to listen, and help, because so few people actually bother to do that. You don’t even have to be all that great at it, just by putting in effort you’ll be better than most people, because they won’t.

Speaking is the same way. So many speakers go in trying to sell something, or make themselves look good, when the best way to influence an audience is to show them how the information you’re giving them is going to make their lives better. I’ve seen far too many speakers who are there to do the dog and pony show, but don’t really think about what their audience wants. If you can go in and show an interest in actually helping the people listening to you, you’ll stand out!

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