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Executive Presence: Inspiration or Education

Posted on January 13, 2014 by Leslie Dickson

I have just returned from a conference in Argentina. This meeting was for the international Entrepreneurial Organization (EO), and 450 members attended from all over the world. The goal was to offer outstanding speakers, learning events and networking, and to fully experience our host city, Buenos Aries.

At one event, I sat next to a fellow EO’er, and we got to talking about our businesses. When he heard what I do, he said to me, “You know what entrepreneurs want in a speaker, right? They either want to be inspired or to have significant takeaways.”

I have been thinking about this a lot since that conversation. So often I find myself leaving presentations feeling disappointed. No, it’s worse than that… I feel as if my time has been wasted. Now granted, I do suffer from the VoicePRO® curse. It’s not that I am hyper-critical of the presenter. It’s more like I see inside a presenter, and know instinctively how and why speakers say and do what they say and do.

So, here’s the thing – it’s not either inspiration or education – it’s both. Think about it. Why not accomplish both of these outcomes? You start with a good, inspirational story and use it to give something of value to the audience. It is not complicated or difficult.

Here are Some Speaking Tips to Inspire and Educate:

  1. First, know your audience. Who are they? Why are they there? What do they need from you? The more you know about the group, the more you can spin your message, talk their language, and apply your message to their lives. When you do this, they will feel the connection. It’s as simple as that.
  2. Challenge your audience to do something with the information you are giving them. What action do you want them to take? Without a call to action, you will not persuade anyone to do anything. At the conference, one speaker who got high marks from me told the story of her entrepreneurial husband, who was bigger than life—and who died at 51 of prostate cancer. Not only did she inspire us with her story (there was not a dry eye in the packed house), but she offered a very specific takeaway. She wanted all of us to put our health first. She said to the men in the room, “Bend over and take it like a man!”
  3. Tell your story. This doesn’t mean that you have to overcome a significant life challenge to make a good story. It just means that you have to tell YOUR unique story. If it is real, it will inspire them. The significance comes when you connect your story to the action you want people to take.

My challenge to all of you is: Don’t settle. You can’t necessarily impact the presentations others give. You can, however, do it better yourself. You can choose to make sure you don’t waste other people’s time.

Inspire AND add value. Not either/or but both. When you heed these tips, your audience—whether 10 or 20 or 450 in number—will stand up and cheer.

Image courtesy of nongpimmy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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