What do funny, cute, and sexy all have in common? I’ll give you a hint. They also have something in common with value of a paid speech and a speech contest winner. No matter what your goal, it’s important to understand. Any guesses?
“That’s not sexy. THIS is sexy!”
I’ll always remember a conversation I had with a girlfriend. We were on our way to a show in a casino here in Vegas, and as we passed a display on a mannequin, it was suddenly clear that we had very different perspectives about what was and wasn’t sexy. We both thought the other was way off-base. Who was correct? We both were. What? Hold that thought.
Have you ever had Friend A recommend a movie that they raved about and you went to see it? You were a little disappointed and definitely felt differently about the film?
On the other hand, have you ever had a different friend, Friend B, rave about a movie and you watched it and loved it just as much? Now you agree. B was right. Was B really correct this time? Not necessarily. Your perspectives going into it were simply more aligned.
I respect and admire Billy Crystal. As a standup comedian, though, he rarely makes me laugh. Does that mean he’s not funny? Nope. Most people in his audience laugh at his act; they think he’s funny. As an actor in the movie City Slickers, I thought he was very funny. I am right, and so are the people in his standup comedy audience, even though we have differing opinions.
What is the difference? What is the challenge? We are leaving off two important words. Those words are “to me.” When I say that something is beautiful, I am saying that it is beautiful “to me.”
When I say something is funny, sexy, cute, valuable, or a winner, I need to finish the sentence with “to me.”
These are subjective opinions. The perspective is conditioned by our backgrounds, upbringing, beliefs, and experiences. As we grow in our own personal development, we see things differently and often have a new perspective. If you are committed to self-development, you will have an ever-evolving perspective. This means your “to me” will evolve, too. One of my favorite compliments is when someone says to me, “I saw you speak two years ago and you were good, but now you are so much better.” We need to keep our own commitment to growing.
As you grow as a presenter, do you see how your opinion of what was good and what was amazing changes? Sometimes when we hear a memorable story by a world-class speaker, we have story envy. We wish something like that would happen to us. We must remember, though, that they may have been telling that story for years, and it has evolved. Maybe we need to look at some of our own stories and step back and look at how we can make them even better now that we have more experience to draw upon. How we can tell them in a way that they add more value for our audience. What is value in a presentation? It is yet another perspective as viewed by each individual audience member.
Was that presentation valuable? A more correct question may be, “Was that presentation valuable to me?” When you and I create presentations, we must keep this in mind. For example, if I’m creating a presentation about the fear of public speaking and have great stories and illustrations and make my point crystal clear, the value still depends on the audience. If I give that presentation to a group of new, emerging presenters and I ask them, “Was that valuable to you,” they are most likely to say, “Yes.” If I were to give that exact same presentation to a group of seasoned professionals and ask the same question, the honest reply would most likely be, “No.” Why? Because they have a different perspective. The presentation did not help them with their current needs and challenges, so no great value transferred to them.
This even applies to a speech contest. I often hear from someone who doesn’t win a speech contest that they think they should have won. “Everyone I spoke to thought I should have won!” Well, apparently you did not speak to any judges. You see, often our friends and cheerleaders know you and like you and see how hard you have worked on a speech. They may have even seen your speech evolve dramatically. That is a crucial part of their perspective. Others in the audience do not share that perspective, so they watch the speech with different eyes. They don’t know you, your history, or your sense of humor.
When you and I develop presentations, we must create a convergence of factors that bring value for each individual in the audience. We need numbers for the analytic type, we need the heart story for our emotionally driven audience members, visual models or images for our visual learners, and most importantly, clarity for all.
The same is true when we market our presentations. As Business Growth Expert Ford Saeks says, “The message must match your market.” If you are selling the reduction of anxiety to seasoned pros, your money and efforts will be wasted. You may even get frustrated and think the platform you are marketing does not work. The problem is that the message misses the market, not the platform.
Here is one more important factor to consider. Meanwhile back at the casino, when I thought something was sexy and my girlfriend didn’t, the question was, “Whom is it for?” Now, I would like to look attractive to my partner, so I would wear what she thinks I look attractive in. If she thought I might look handsome in an ugly purple velvet jacket, would I wear it? Am I wearing it for me or for her? It depends. I’m actually wearing it for both of us. Our responses are not mutually exclusive. It may depend on her reaction. If I saw a sparkle in her eyes, it might change my perspective about the jacket. If I got no reaction or if I simply felt very uncomfortable, I would probably not feel confident, and that would affect how I wore it. Why? Simply because of my own perspective about the jacket.
This is exactly why I preach,
“You must crave feedback.”
When we test new material, we need to try on a proverbial purple velvet jacket to see if it brings value to our audience and get their feedback. If they love it, maybe we need to tailor the jacket so that we can love it ourselves more. The audience may even have some helpful ideas from their perspective that may have you consider tailoring the jacket to make it fit better. Maybe you need insight from a qualified coach to do that. On the other hand, if we are doing something without integrity, that jacket will never feel or look sexy. Friend A was correct when he said the movie was great, even though you disagreed with him. Friend B was correct when she said she loved a movie, and you agreed. Someone else might not have liked that movie at all but would also be correct from their perspective.
When someone gives you their opinion, positive or negative, remember to insert the words “to me” in your mind. Look for commonalities of opinion. Listen to that. If everyone thought your opening story was confusing, guess what, it was. It doesn’t matter how good or clear you thought it was. It is an ugly purple velvet jacket, even if you felt sexy in it. I hope this article was sexy, cute, or funny to you. Only you can say if it was sexy “to me.”
Are you making any of these Top 10 Speaking Mistakes?