Want to have a highly enhanced version of your speech? Want your message to be on steroids? If I asked that question, most presenters would interpret that to mean having a greatly improved version of that speech. If you love what you do and having that amazing connection with your perfect audience, you probably are on the lookout for anything that will help you achieve that more often and at a deeper level. We all want an enhanced speech with minimal effort.
Athletes in competitive sports are always looking for advantages. They train, read, educate themselves, and get coaches. Some even cross that line into illegal enhancement substances. Why? They want to win and are willing to sacrifice integrity to get that victory. Do you really want to win that way?
Though your body naturally produces different kinds of steroids, athletes sometimes enhance their performance with the synthetic ones. The word steroid is often used to mean an anabolic steroid. The definition of anabolic steroid is as follows:
A synthetic derivative of testosterone, sometimes used by athletes to help increase weight and strength.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your speech or presentation. That’s good. The challenge is that there isn’t a single way to enhance your presentation. There are many strategies and techniques you can incorporate and internalize, and many of them will give you your desired result. In order to master anything, however, it requires time, direction, and effort. If you lust after finding just that one synthetic shortcut, you could be disqualified.
The key to great enhancement is small adjustments over time. For example, each time I go through one of my slide decks with the intention of improvement, I find tweaks to make. Last year when I was working on a new keynote, my slides changed immeasurably between version 1.0 and the final version. The great enhancement was made possible only by a multitude of tiny tweaks from several run-throughs.
Where could you start first to make tweaks that will give you the greatest impact? After years of coaching, two ideas come to mind. First, I’d look at being more authentic and present. If you look at the rise of the popularity of TED Talks, they tend to be more conversational. This authenticity creates more emotional impact and change than a great performance ever will. Though performance can be entertaining, it is not usually life-changing.
Second, broaden your depth of experience. Audiences don’t want a great speaker; they want to learn from your experience. Want to help people more? Experience more. If you are a true expert on your topic, you are never finished learning. Read books, mentor more students, and help more clients. The more people you help, the more experience and examples you can draw from. The more experience you can infuse into your presentation, the more impact it will have.
Personally, I’d rather listen to someone who has accomplished what I would like to accomplish, even if their delivery is below average, than to someone with amazing platform skills who never lived it. Though the second might be more entertaining and feel good in the moment, the first has more of what I truly want and will make a more lasting impression.
Though we all want a single shortcut to success, even if we find one, it rarely lasts or sustains a massive effect. Always be mindful of authenticity and your depth of experience. If you want to greatly enhance your presentation, don’t look for the single strategy or technique. You’ll find it in a series of small tweaks.
Please share your thoughts and read other comments below!
Darren LaCroix, CSP
World Champion of Public Speaking