You can tell within the first couple minutes of a presentation whether you will be able to stomach the remainder of the presentation.
It is so frustrating to be stuck in the audience with nothing else to do when the speaker is just plain bad.
Unfortunately, as professionals, many times we have to sit through boring content because it’s mandatory for continuing education. It has to be done though.
Why are most of the public speakers for mandatory continuing education dry and boring? Just because the topic is boring doesn’t mean the presenter has to be.
A person with great presentation skills can make just about any topic interesting, or at least tolerable.
So what is the difference between a bad public speaker and a good public speaker? What’s the difference between a good and a great public speaker?
We’re not even going to look at bad speakers. We know them when we hear them. They are obvious.
However, there is one primary difference between a good public speaker and a great public speaker.
What is the primary factor, then, that constitutes a great public speaker?
My wife and I are on our way back from a conference as I write this. The conference was a very encouraging, uplifting and educational conference and experience for us.
From attending so many conferences in my almost 15-year public accounting career, I’ve heard many bad, several good and a few great public speakers. Even keynote speakers are not always great.
At the professional conferences, many of the presenters speak on stage several times a year. This is especially true of the keynote speakers.
But at this conference, not a single speaker was a professional speaker. I doubt a single presenter speaks often enough to even qualify for membership in the National Speakers Association.
I wasn’t expecting much from this conference because I knew none of the speakers were professional speakers.
I was mistaken because I got so much out of the conference. And, to my amazement, the speakers were incredible!
My speaking career
One of the activities I enjoy most in my career is the public speaking aspect. I’m by no means a professional speaker but I wouldn’t mind being one someday.
Public speaking, to me, is an opportunity to change lives.
Sure, speaking about generally accepted accounting principles or banking compliance matters are not necessarily life changing. In fact, most of the time they are quite dry.
That doesn’t stop me from trying to change lives through those public speaking opportunities.
In a span of 33 days, in which I’m exactly at the mid-point, I will be or have given a total of 10 presentations. That’s a lot of public speaking!
I don’t take these opportunities lightly. I want to make great speeches.
What is the primary factor?
So what is the primary factor that makes a good presentation great?
Is it an innate ability to be comfortable in front of an audience? Is it hours and hours of preparation and rehearsal?
Is it an interesting topic? Is it a Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones voice quality?
No, it’s none of these things.
The primary factor for giving a great presentation is PASSION.
A public speaker with a passion for his topic can change the mood of an entire audience. She can lift everyone out of the doldrums of a day-long conference and get them energized and excited.
I’ve known for several years that passion is the secret sauce to a great presentation. Having the passion is not always easy, depending on the topic. But, great public speakers find a way to have that passion.
Passion trumps everything.
Like I mentioned, none of the presenters at this conference were professional speakers. All were good. Many were great. None were bad (surprise to me!).
The few who were great public speakers had a passion for their topics. That passion oozed out of them.
Of course, their words rang with passion. But, that’s not always the case. Two people can say the same words but the manner in which those words are presented can make one bad and one great.
The passion was evident by the presenters’ body language, facial expressions and voice pitch.
The best speaker of the weekend was a good ole’ boy from the South. His passion outweighed his use of double negatives and improper grammar.
Typically, these speech flaws would turn me off to an otherwise good speaker. In this case though, while I did notice those flaws, I ended his presentation thinking he couldn’t have been better.
As my wife said to me when I pointed out the double negatives and grammar mistakes, “That makes him more relateable. You’re probably one of two people in this arena who even recognized those grammar mistakes.”
You know what? My wife is right. Yes, I said it Denise. You were right.
His passion for why he was presenting and what he was saying trumped my perfectionistic tendacies.
Have you given presentations at work, conferences, your church? If you haven’t, are you willing to?
The fear of public speaking is the number one fear in the world. In general, people fear public speaking more than death. Now that’s just crazy.
I used to be one of those people though. It made me nervous to speak to one person whom I didn’t know, much less 50, 100 or 1,000 people.
Now that I’ve come out of my former comfort zone and have been willing to put myself out there, my confidence is growing. With each presentation my confidence grows. Yours can too!
Take the opportunity to give a presentation whenever you’re asked. I guarantee if you have passion for what you’re talking about, you will be great.
Your passion will hide any other flaws you may have. Your passion will get others excited.
Excitement is contagious. Don’t you want to change lives with your words?