Sometimes the simple truth is skipped over when we are trying to do our best and get everything right! You may be wondering who Lou is. When I first started in the speaking industry in the mid-nineties, I went to every National Speaker Association convention possible. I also always invested in the tapes of my favorite speakers at the conference and listened to them over and over again. I wanted to internalize their messages. I found it powerful.
I think it was my second convention when I first heard Lou Holtz speak. He was so real and authentic, and I could not help but love him! He was brilliant, charming, funny, and he made me think. Recently his name came up, and I drifted back to listening to his keynote speech again, and one of his simple truths hit me.
I realized that so many people want to own the stage, persuade their audience, or win a speech contest. They are missing an underlying truth. I’d love to come up with a Darrenism on this, but he said it best, and I learned it from Lou. Most of the time people wish to learn the best techniques and can do just that, but they miss the mark by a mile.
“Don’t over complicate it. Have something to say and a burning desire to say it.”
He went on to explain that it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. The audience doesn’t care. Yikes! He’s right! I’m all for improving storytelling and delivery, but I’ve seen some amazing presenters who do many things technically wrong and are nevertheless incredibly compelling.
Remembering Lou’s brilliance connected me again to a question my coach Mark Brown asked me before I started creating my award-winning speech. He asked me to think of the closest child in my life, and I thought of my nephew Michael. Mark asked me, “If you were going to die tomorrow, what one lesson from your life would you pass on to Michael to help him through his life?”
Wow. That’s deep. He told me to take several days to think about it. I did. What Mark was doing was strategically getting me to see what I had a burning desire to talk about. How about you? What are you adamant about? What do you truly want to tell the world? Careers and winning speeches start right there. They start in your heart.
People always ask me what topic to speak about. There is no hot topic! What is the hot topic burning in your heart?
I love this quote by Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
What the meeting and convention world needs is not more speakers; it needs more speakers to be alive. If you ever had the chance to see World Champion Lashunda Rundles deliver her speech, you would realize how passionate she was about her message. She did not care what you thought of her. I find that inspiring.
Simple truths can be powerful. Before you work on the mechanics of a presentation, invest more time in finding your “something to say” for which you have a “burning desire to say it.” Figure out what you care about. Everything else will fall into place. And if you care about your message, you will care about its constantly getting better and stronger every time. What is your real message?
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