I recently attended a three-day conference where incredibly successful, influential, experienced and powerful individuals presented. Throughout the conference, these leaders and speakers gave well-prepared keynote speeches, were on panels, gave informative workshops and numerous presentations. By the end of the conference, I only found a handful memorable. Sure, I could go through my notes and recall who said what and the material they covered. But for the most part, the majority of the presenters melded into a faceless sea of “good speakers.”
So why do we remember certain people while others fade? What makes someone truly memorable?
I contemplated this question on the way home from the conference because one particular speaker stood out from the crowd.
What makes someone truly memorable?
My fellow conference attendees also found her unforgettable. This speaker was mobbed by enthusiastic and supportive listeners after she concluded speaking. Throughout the remaining days of the conference, her name was frequently mentioned glowingly in snippets of conversations during breaks and dinners.
So what made this person stand out and why was she so memorable? She was certainly not the most polished nor a perfect speaker. In fact, she was probably the least “perfect”, and I’ll go so far as to say her presentation was one of the least savvy, professional or practiced of all the presenters. Instead, her talk was gritty, real and from her heart. We could FEEL her, and this made us care about her as a person along with what she had to say; we connected with her. She had us leaning forward in our seats to hear her message and we gave her a standing ovation when she completed her talk.
WE COULD FEEL HER AND THIS MADE US CARE ABOUT HER AS A PERSON ALONG WITH WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY…
Now let me contrast her talk with numerous people who spoke before her. They were great speakers. They knew their facts; they were impressive, powerful, and they were polished and technically sound. But we didn’t connect with them, we didn’t feel them, and ultimately they are now members of that vast pool of collective “speakers.”
So what was her secret to being memorable? Here are some elements that lead to success. #Best Advice
1. Check your ego at the door. If you want to connect with your audience and be memorable, then don’t treat the podium like a pedestal. Any air of superiority or being better than the people you are speaking to will be felt by them. So approach your speech, presentation, or leadership forum with a spirit of humility and service to others.
2. Let down your guard. Most of us hate to feel vulnerable and letting down our guard makes us feel open and exposed. When we present, there may be a desire to control the exchange and be guarded about what we say. Having that guard up and firmly in place not only keeps you in control; it keeps you “in.” There’s no juiciness of the real you; you’ve locked it away, and you’ve locked your listener out. Letting your guard down removes any barrier between you and your audience and opens the door to connection and effective communication.
3. Be courageous and communicate strong emotion. Before you begin to speak, take a moment to assess what you’re feeling. If you have a bad case of jitters, or you’re nervous or afraid you’re going to screw up, first acknowledge it to yourself, and then don’t be afraid to share that emotion with your audience. While it may seem like the last thing you want anyone to know, there is something about the sheer honesty of admitting what you’re feeling that disarms people and opens them up to what you have to say. It shows that you’re human and makes you more approachable.
4. Energetically step forward. This doesn’t have anything to do with your physical placement in the room. I’m referring to whether people feel distanced from you and your message. Energetically stepping forward can be achieved by consciously setting the desire to get close to your audience. See yourself standing in front of your audience or team and then picture stepping forward to close the distance between you and them. Physically leaning forward and opening your body with gestures and posture can help to create a vibrational closeness with others as opposed to standing back, pulling away, and closing yourself off.
5. You’ve gotta care. Authenticity is an amazing quality and you know it when you see it. Likewise, you know when it’s absent. If you don’t care about connecting with your audience, then quite simply – you won’t connect. When a speaker genuinely cares about their audience from a heartfelt place and wants to open themselves to reaching, touching, and connecting with them – that sense of caring cuts through all the clutter, distraction and noise that’s floating around in a listener’s head and psyche and they notice.
CRITICAL INGREDIENTS ARE OPENNESS, HONESTY, VULNERABILITY, AND AUTHENTICITY.
In summary, what draws an audience close and lets you connect as a speaker and be memorable is not your topic, technique or polish. Rather the critical ingredients are your personal openness, honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity.
When you incorporate these characteristics with the suggestions outlined above, you’re well on your way to being a memorable speaker that is enthusiastically embraced and cheered.
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