“Did you hear about the opera-singing grocery store clerk in Massachusetts? Wow! He’s amazing. It was on the news.”
While enjoying holiday time with family at my sister’s house, the story came up on the local news. Gilly Assuncao, 23 years-old and from Brazil, delighted customers in Watertown, MA, while working at Russo’s. He gained national recognition for singing Christmas carols over the store’s sound system, right in front of the poinsettias. Wow. Amazing. Clips of his singing went viral. Check out this short clip, and listen for a minute. This has everything to do with your presenting skills.
OK, let’s back up. How did a grocery store clerk get national recognition for his singing? Gilly was not on America’s Got Talent; he was at work! He was helping test the store’s new sound system. He started to sing. Shoppers were blown away, and the manager of the store said that some customers even cried. Think deeply on this: There was an emotional reaction to his singing. People pulled out their phones and started recording and uploading videos. Those went viral, and news reporters came to the store and started covering the story. Assuncao is super talented and was a professional singer in Brazil before he came to the United States.
So what does this have to do with you and your speech video? More than you may think. There are at least two great lessons for us from Gilly’s story.
First: He’s super talented and seized an opportunity. He was already a trained professional when they decided to test the sound system in the store. He was not just discovered as a prodigy. Talent met opportunity.
I remember hearing Brian Tracy quote Abraham Lincoln, “I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come.” You and I need to be preparing continually for the day when opportunity comes. We never know where it will come from. Who would have thought this young man would get national attention for his voice while working at a grocery store? No one.
For you and me, opportunities can happen by chance. Most opportunities, however, are created. If you are thinking about giving a TEDx talk, go apply today. Don’t apply to just one TEDx event; apply to ten of them. If you want to be an Accredited Speaker, apply. It may not happen this year, but, as Patricia Fripp says, “The answer is always no unless you ask.” Ask more. Apply more. As for your own speeches on video, upload them! We can’t see something that hasn’t been filmed yet or is sitting on your hard drive.
Second: Right now social media is simpler and faster. Ten years ago Gilly was the talk of Watertown and even made the local newspaper. Five years ago it would not have been possible, without video smartphones, to shoot a live-action video of something like Gilly’s performance. Someone would have had to run home and get a video camera and hope he was still singing when they got back.
One of the biggest platforms for speech videos right now is TEDx talks. I heard from one highly-paid professional speaker friend that his biggest competition on the paid speaking circuit now is speakers who have given viral TEDx Talks. These are free talks, but the viral nature has made those speakers famous. For example, Brene’ Brown’s TEDx speech has about 8.5 million views! Yep, that many views make you well-known. Note that my speaker friend said viral TEDx talks, not just any TEDx talk.
The social media is the great multiplier. Things are shared if they are shocking, extraordinarily good, or bad. So, again, we go back to the quality of your speech. Think about it. Many, many people want to give a TEDx talk. Many people have given them. Congrats to them for being selected
The problem is that giving a TEDx talk alone simply means that you gave a free speech. If you give an awesome talk, and people love it, you get more views. The TEDx website promotes the ones with the most views. So, more views equal more exposure and, in turn, more views.
I just jumped on their site and dug deep and found some talks that have been up for four years and have not hit 300 views yet. Don’t imagine that giving a TEDx talk alone is going to make you famous. It’s a great thing to do, but you have to give a GREAT TEDx talk. It will help the world more, and the side effect is that it will make you famous. Quality matters.
Think of TED’s theme: Ideas worth sharing. It’s not I Wanna Give a TEDx Talk. It’s not An Idea That I Think Is Cool. “Worth sharing” means many people think it is cool. They also don’t focus on the talent of the speaker. They focus on the value of the idea. Great speech videos share a new perspective and make viewers think. Do yours?
There are no guarantees about your talk on video, whether it is your own or a TEDx talk. Well, actually there is one 100% guarantee. If your video is never posted, by you or anyone else, it will never go viral. I have over 1,000 videos of my own on YouTube. Some of them have gotten tens of thousands of views. Some of them have gotten only hundreds of views. The interesting thing is that I never really know which ones will go viral, no matter how much I promote them. They do not go viral because I promote them. They go viral because they are good enough to be seen, enjoyed, and passed along to friends. Their popularity is based on quality.
Is your speech good enough to evoke emotion? If not, get a coach or find a great teacher. I was a Toastmaster for seven years before I got a coach. I wish I had not waited so long, but either no one told me or I simply did not listen.
All the people who win the World Championship have coaches. Many contestants think that if they win a few contests, then they will get a coach, but I know of people who are getting coached now for the next contest, and the season has not even started.
I’m working with a coach right now on a new story I’m honing. Here is a secret you may not know. At the major TEDx events, speakers are assigned coaches, whether they want one or not. It is mandatory. Why? It’s mandatory because, just like most conferences, the success of the event is based on the effectiveness of the talks.
If you have a message you want to bring to the world, get a coach. If you care about your message, why wouldn’t you take the time and energy to hone it so it will go viral? If it does not evoke emotion or make people think, it will not spread. Your viewers may not even watch it through to the end.
As in Gilly’s story, viral rarely happens by accident. In most cases, like his, preparedness met opportunity. How prepared are you? David Brooks, 1990 WCPS, told me, “Let no one out-prepare you.” Great advice.
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