"Within all of us is a divine capacity to manifest and attract
all that we need and desire."
Destinations are quirky things. They are often incubated in a vacuum, isolated from a myriad of variables and then adopted with blind ambition and dedication.
For aspiring speakers, the destination might manifest itself in a desire to be on a stage in front of a larger audience mesmerizing them with your profound observations and wisdom.
The urge to take to the stage without first determining the content and value of what you will say once you get there often proves to be a harsh reality, best experienced in solitude rather than in public.
The awkwardness of wanting something without assessing what you may need to acquire to obtain it is a dilemma I regularly find aspiring speakers struggling to overcome.
To get from where you are (the desire to speak) to where you need to be (having something worthwhile to say that is both deeply profound and well developed) is akin to choosing a destination and then figuring out how you will actually get there.
For every worthwhile destination, you must be willing to embrace the journey to get there.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRIP AND A JOURNEY
We all know (at least you should after this blog) that life is not about the destination, it is about the journey. So, it makes sense to learn not to trip through life, but to enjoy the journey as you go.
A trip is an act of going to a place and returning. A great experience, but you have the tendency to end up exactly where you began. Trips do have destinations, but they limit themselves because of the expectation of returning to where you began.
If you are like most people, you take a trip to one place and back again nearly every day. Whether it is the commute to work or the “taxi” trips to and from dance lessons, sports, or the grocery. Most of these short-run, quick-return experiences happen in a nearly rote manner. Sometimes we complete the cycle with such detachment that we wonder if we actually have completed them.
But a journey offers you so much more in the pursuit of a destination.
A journey is an act of traveling from one place to another. It can also be a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.
What can elevate a trip from the mundane into true “journey” status is what happens to you along the way. Most importantly, what happens to you along the way is what will become the foundation of the value and wisdom you will share when you are speaking. So, ask yourself:
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- What did I learn from it?
- What am I going to do differently?
The process of becoming a successful speaker, whose theme and message offer value and substance to your audiences, requires the creating of a road map to assist you on the journey to your destination. Your road map needs only have three way-points:
- Defining Your Destination
- Discovering Your Intention
- Designing Your Presentation
DEFINING YOUR DESTINATION
The speaking world consists of six tiers of speakers. I call this list “The Speaking World’s Hierarchy”.
Regardless of where you are as a speaker within this list, there will be things you must do or obtain to get to where you need to be. The tier you choose becomes your destination. You will need to study the destination and assess where you are and how much you will need to do to reach your destination. This assessment should include the level of your speaking desire (commitment), the depth of your content (foundational message development), and your platform delivery skills (stage presence). You will need all of these, extensively developed, to become a successful speaker and reach your destination.
DISCOVERING YOUR INVENTION
I’ve often heard a speaker encourage an audience to become more tenacious by citing the story of Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb as the result of nearly one thousand attempts. While this is true, is it hardly original content. Which leads me to wonder how many attempts at an original example of tenacity did this speaker make?
Becoming a successful speaker means you will need to discover your foundational message as the result of your own invention. It will exist after you have challenged yourself to pursue a line of thought or interest to its deepest level. From that valley you will rise with a powerful understanding and the “voice” and passion to share it.
To become a successful speaker, you will need to find your “voice”. This means you must find a way to refine all of what you know, feel and have experienced into a themed presentation that is uniquely yours. You cannot pretend to be something or someone you are not. Therefore, you cannot vastly copy or borrow from others. You must find and extract every piece of original precious material from the “nuggets” within your mind.
This process requires time, temperament and tenacity. It is not easy, especially when you have a lifetime of achievement, experience and wisdom you wish to share with your audiences.
It is at this stage of development that you might become bogged down in the mire of your own thinking. You can become overwhelmed by the torrent of thoughts streaming from your mind. Understanding how to extract and refine relevant and riveting content is the most essential step in becoming a successful speaker.
How can you reduce the “fire hose” of what you know, feel and have experienced down to the sprinkling of ideas you are compelled to share with an audience?
To succeed at this process, you will need to learn how to use mind mapping and story extraction tools. Many successful speakers also engage the guidance of a personal coach, as well, to help them through this stage.
Once you pass through this stage you will discover the invention of a foundational message you can trust and so will your audiences. Your new invention will speak to your core values, inspire others to action, motivate people to change thoughts and behaviors, and positively transform their lives.
DESIGNING YOUR PRESENTATION
The ultimate goal of every successful speech is for their speech to become memorable and repeatable. Your speech, no matter how essential the content may be, will not succeed if you do not reach these two critical outcomes.
So, in order to become a successful speaker, you will have to study how audiences think, listen and learn. It is not enough to have something to say, you must know how to say it effectively.
Here is a short list (from a much longer list) of some things you must do to successfully design your presentation.
- Choose each word with clear intention and understanding.
- Incorporate as many speech and pattern devices as you can to further your audience’s understanding and their desire to act on what you say.
- Place the stories you will tell to drive home the point you want to make in just the right spot.
- Know how to take and hold the stage with confidence in yourself and your content.
- Use your voice as a powerful communication instrument enabling your audience to embrace not just what you are saying, but how you are saying it.
- Use the speaking area to your fullest advantage to promote understanding and help lock in retention.
- Control all technology so that is enhances what you are saying without detracting or distracting the audience’s focus from you, the speaker.
DELIVERING ON DESIRE
To become a successful speaker requires you to take control of the whole process. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said, "Within all of us is a divine capacity to manifest and attract all that we need and desire."
If you desire to become a more successful speaker at work or as a profession, I urge you to stop thinking about where you are, and start focusing on where you need to be. Intensify your focus on obtaining all that you currently do not possess in order to reach your desired destination.
Change is a process and it will require time, temperament and tenacity from you to achieve it. While it is prudent to “keep your eyes on the prize”, remember the finish line comes at the end of the race not at the beginning, so focus your intention on every lap.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity of sharing how you can define, discover and design your journey towards becoming a successful speaker. I trust you will embrace this journey for all of the glory and exhilaration it can offer. I appreciate your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on this post or suggestions you might have for a future blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz