My Mother-In Law use to say that there was enough stuff that we did not know to create a whole new world. There are a lot of things that we know but, a lot we don’t know too. As professional speakers, I believe that there are 3 things that we have to absolutely know in order to be successful at what we do. If you don’t know these 3 things every time you get ready to present then you should not get up in front of the room.
The first thing that you need to know is yourself. Who are you? This is one of the great questions that has to be answered by all of us. What makes you tick? What’s important to you? What are your must have’s and can do withouts? The problem that we have as society and as speakers is that we try to become all things to all people. That is an impossible task. Your success depends on you knowing yourself and not being ashamed of who you are. If you are more alert and vibrant in the morning, why would you accept engagements at hours of the day when you are at your weakest? I would suggest that when we accept engagements that we have a set of criteria that help us be the best that we can be. Knowing yourself will help you not be put in awkward, unproductive, and unsuccessful situations. Set yourself up for success.
The second thing we need to know is our audience. Your material is great. But, don’t fall into the hypnotic trance of believing that your material is so great that it never has to be tweaked for your current audience. There are over 7 billion people in the world with all types of personalities and quirks and issues and needs and wants and….you get the point. You can never make the assumption that you can just show up and the magic just happens. I believe that the successful ones among us do audience research before each speech. Knowing your audience will help you connect with them. It will let you know if the humor you used with the last audience will work on the new audience of offend them. Knowing your audience will let you know what you can and cannot say. Again, set yourself up for success.
The third know is know your material. When I say know it, I mean know it so well that you could do it backwards. You should be able to adjust your material on the fly if the atmosphere of the room requires it. Knowing your material means that you not only know what you wrote but what you read and heard about it. The masters of this craft have a freakish knowledge of their material. If you know your material, you have notes but don’t need notes. Knowing your material allows you to connect with your audience on a level that is out of this world. When you know your material you don’t get sidetracked or thrown off course by what happens during your speech. It means that you move seamlessly and smoothly in, out, and around the material with ease. This type of knowledge eases the tensions and apprehensions of the audience and allows them to receive what you are saying.
So much more could be said but, this is not a book…just a note. Know yourself, Know your audience, and Know your material. That’s a FRANK Thought! What’s yours?
Frank Simmons, Jr.
Chief Inspirational Officer, Frankly Speaking Seminars, LLC
Author of The Man of Destiny