From listening to seven speakers an evening at many MoMondays in Toronto, I have figured out the magic formula to giving truly motivational talks.
I’ve learned just as much from the folks who look they have never before held a microphone as I have from the people who earn their livings as keynote speakers. Here goes:
- Tell a story. Lists, acronyms and other presentation techniques do not work in motivational talks. Your point, the motivation, will flow from the story.
- Include enough details so that we can relate but not so many that we are grossed out. For example, the speaker who disclosed his childhood sexual abuse told us just enough that we could feel his pain and marvel at his forgiveness. The woman who complained generally about her crappy year did not win our sympathy or entice us to follow her formula for success.
- Be funny. Almost all the best speakers have opened my heart with laughter, then punched me in the gut with their truth.
- Paint pictures. I can still see the woman who talked about making a successful sales call in a cat woman costume. Seeing as PowerPoint is not available and props are seldom used effectively, the speakers chosen by my judging panels rely on their words to create lasting images.
- Avoid “early Oprah,” as my friend Leslie called it last week — woo-woo words, pseudo scientific jargon, meaningless certifications and other high-fallutin’ terms most of us are reluctant to admit we don’t really understand. Plus “early Oprah” does not mix well with alcoholic beverages and macho men.
- Be yourself. We don’t want to hear a canned speech; we want an intimate conversation with you.
Although it’s natural for us audience members to compare the speakers, Michel knows that turning motivational speaking into a competitive sport would deter people like to the teacher who moved us about the joy of amputees in Rwanda.
Still, I’m scared. You see, I submitted my speaker application. It’s easier to give advice than to take it.
Got any tips for me?
A version of this post appeared earlier on www.stickycommunication.ca/blog.
This blog post was written by Barb Sawyers. Catch Barb at MoMondays on 06/24/2013! Get your advance tickets here: Buy Tickets
Toronto writer Barb Sawyers helps people improve their business writing through her book and online course called Write Like You Talk Only Better. For more about Barb, visit http://www.stickycommunication.ca.