I always ask my clients, what do you want to experience when you are speaking in public?
The answers vary from "I want to feel like I’m doing a great job." "I want to get a standing ovation." "I want to feel like I know what I’m talking about."
But my favorite answer was, "I want them to think I’m great! I want them to be really impressed!"
Now, that was an honest answer. Because if you distill the other answers down to their essence, it all comes down to, "I want to be liked." Or, "I want to them to be impressed."
Now, there is nothing wrong with this desire. It’s an honest desire. But it’s also a desire that can really mess you up when it comes to feeling confident and free when you’re speaking or communicating in any way. If you are doing it to get someone to like you, or to be impressive, you will forever be at the mercy of someone’s good or bad day, their opinion or their state of mind in that moment. And it will drive you crazy.
That’s why I love the advice that world champion speaker Darren LaCroix gave to Eric Feng of The Public Speaking Blog about his purpose in being a speaker. Darren was commenting on Eric’s desire to WOW his audience, which is, again, a very honest desire.
Here’s what Darren told him:
"First of all, I must comment on your purpose. You say that you want the audience to go “wow” after the end of my speech… to me that implies that you want the audience to be impressed by you. Then you say that you want to be at the level of a champion. Do you understand that to speak like a champion, you must think like a champion?
Champion speakers do not aspire to getting a wow. We aspire to get the audience to do something for themselves, or to think differently about your subject or themselves when we are done. You need to think the same way. You cannot worry about what the audience thinks of you…that is an amaturish way of thinking. Think bigger. What will they “do” as a result of you speaking… make sense?
I love that Eric had the guts to share this feedback publicly so we could all benefit from Darren’s comments.
Now, I’ve never been an advocate of getting an audience to DO something. It reminds me too much of watching these evangelical, hypnotic marketing gurus speaking in such a way as to inspire the audience to buy thousands of dollars worth of their products.
But what Darren is saying is that it’s about inspiring your audience to do something FOR THEMSELVES, or perhaps even think differently about themselves.
What I also appreciate about this message is this: it’s not about you, it’s about them, your audience. It’s not about you being revered and admired and adored. It’s about your audience benefiting in some way by spending that time with you.
Now, as Lee Glickstein would say, just sharing your authentic presence is enough. That in itself can inspire and move people to a different place, a sweeter space.
So, don’t feel like you need to get your audience to do something huge, grand and dramatic. Remember, that just showing up with the purpose to be present, to be available to your audience, to be real, and to share what’s true for you is in itself inspiring and will move your audience in the direction they want and need to go.
Your authenticity and your ease in fully being who you really are gives the same to your audience. It awakens within them their owning knowing of what they need to do to move closer to that which will be in their best interest.