Have The 3Es In Place Or Get Off The Stage
Not everyone should be a presenter. We don’t need higher levels of boredom or disinterest than we have already. A big "No thank you" to those conspiring to waste our precious time. This does not mean that only a few super talented individuals can be presenters. We can all learn to become competent and become better presenters. This is "nurture" not "nature" in action. The key point is your motivation, why are you doing this?
Dale Carnegie pioneered business public speaking when he launched his first course in 1912. He proffered the 3Es as a solid requirement before we contemplate being a speaker and it still applies today. Those Es are "earned the right", " excited" and "eager" to present.
We have earned the right to speak to others about our subject because we have studied the subject and we have relevant experience. It is not limited to our direct experience, because we could be drawing on the experience of others. We should be a subject matter expert with formidable knowledge on a particular topic. We have been reading expert opinion and doing research on this subject, absorbing the key points and making them relevant to the business community to whom we are speaking.
This means keeping up to date, because there are always new findings and new ideas emerging. For many of us, what we were taught in school is different to what our children are being taught today. The reason is specialties like biology, archaeology, astronomy, mathematics, physics etc., keep pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.
Today there are podcasts, advertorials, blogs, LinkedIn articles, YouTube videos, conferences, workshops, subscription information products, etc., all expanding our world. These are separate to the traditional sources of published academic works, journalistic offerings, thought pieces in print and mainstream broadcast media.
We must remain current because for sure, there will be members of our audience who are likely to be highly informed. As we know, everyone has instant access to everything today. While we are speaking, they can quickly go on-line and search for references we make to facts, situations and people. We do this ourselves don’t we!
We need to have reserve power – this is the additional knowledge of a subject, which we don’t have time to present during our allotted speaking time. To have reserve power requires we study our subject.
Experience is the other highly valuable arrow in our speaker quiver. Telling stories, based around our personal experience or observation is very powerful. Our audience may choose to disagree with our conclusion drawn from our experience, but they cannot argue with that experience.
We need to draw on more than our own individual experience and that is where the exploits of others, particularly famous individuals, lends credibility to the story we are telling and the points we are making. People remember stories but they don’t recall disjointed facts and data for very long. We all have great stories to relate, but we forget to tell them. Instead we dole out dry facts and data, thinking this is what our audience is wanting. This could not be further from the truth.
We are conditioned from babyhood to listen to stories and nothing beats a riveting account of a total meltdown you had in your business and how you fixed it. We love to listen to learn and relating our successes and failures is hungrily consumed by our audience, because it is real and relevant.
Being excited to present because we have positive feelings about our subject is a another vital prerequisite for success. Watching the global head of a huge resources company give a presentation on what they were doing, but conducted without the slightest sense of excitement for the topic, was a brutal experience. The slides were professional, the speaking speed was good, the flow was logical, he was handsome, expensively dressed, his shoes were glistening. It was horrible. It was awful because it was so bland, so devoid of passion for the subject. It was "painting by numbers" for someone thrust into the role of global representative for the company. He destroyed his brand on the spot.
We should never overlook the power of passion for our subject. We are the one creating this talk, so we can empty our heart into the topic without any reserve. We don’t have to pick a boring topic to speak on. Even a dull sounding topic can be brought alive in the hands of the person delivering the talk. When they feel and communicate their excitement for the topic, we pick that excitement up and it adds persuasive power to what it is they are saying.
He failed the other test, which is eager to project the value to his listeners. He was robotic, boring, passionless. There were no take-aways for our businesses, redemption tales, no hero’s journey – there was just an hour of time, dull and devoid of all life forms instead. Let’s do our analysis of our audience and understand what will be of value to them and then provide it.
What could he have done? He could have asked the organisers about his audience. He would have discovered a majority of small-medium enterprises and a couple of large firms. Knowing this, he could have thought about what lessons does his mega-company have for much smaller firms. What global market trends would be interesting to his audience. He could have offered some hints on what helped him to climb the greasy pole to the top of his field. He could have shared some anecdotes on the famous personalities he had met so far in his business role. None of this occurred because he was selfish. He was just focused on delivering what his company did and not much more.
The truly sad part is he has zero self-awareness. He will continue travelling the world killing his company and personal brands for a number of years into the future, totally oblivious to the damage he is doing. In those big organisations, the Emperor may have no clothes, but none of the "yes" men and women are ever going to let him know that.
He was speaking in Japan, so given how polite this society is, nobody in the audience is going to wander over and let him know he was a total fail. No doubt he left us for the next country to carry on the work of decimating his reputation with the next international audience. The presentation will have been totally identical, with no tailoring for the different culture or conditions.
Do us all a favour – bulk up on the 3Es before you speak. And if you do, then you will project a highly positive professional image to your audience for your brand, company and yourself.
1. 1. Earn the right to speak to us by doing your homework
2. 2. Be excited about your subject, such that we feel your passion
3. 3. Be eager to share your insights, knowledge and experience with us