ontrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a paid professional speaker to create intrigue and clout so that people want to listen to what you have to say. Public speaking is a multi-billion dollar industry in the world. Do not be fooled or discouraged though if you are not “gifted” as a speaker. Do not be intimidated if you do not have the “skills” or even the “calling” to speak.
I have come to learn that humans care not so much about how smooth a talker someone is, unless of course what the speaker is saying strikes a chord with them. In other words, if you can speak to the hearts of people, if people have given you respect, they would most definitely want to listen to you. This is regardless to the fact that you have a great PowerPoint slide, multimedia and are a smooth and polished speaker.
Now, just to be clear, there is a place of great PowerPoints and great oratory skills. Speaking of PowerPoint, Steve Jobs once said:
“If you have to use PowerPoint, then you do not know what you are talking about”
Let me move on swiftly from that and say this: Yes, we have to prepare, we have to deliver excellently, we have to find a way of holding the attention of our audiences. Much as these are important things, I have come to find that at times, they are but the icing on the cake. The following story illustrates my point:
Once there was a gathering of people who came to listen to a great orator in an auditorium. He had prepared so well to recite one of the greatest poems ever written: Psalm 23. He wowed the audience with the intonation of his voice, inflecting it at the right places and making the correct emphasis where needed. When he was through, there was a standing ovation for him.
In the same recital, there was an old Christian believer who asked to recite the same. Being given the chance, he voiced the Psalm with so much simplicity, but the authenticity with which he related to the “Poem” was unmistakable. By the time he was through, a great part of the audience was so moved to tears. The professional orator asked the old timer what his “secret” was. The old man said, “I don’t know, maybe they were moved because I know the Shepherd personally.
The following are the 7 reasons or ways in which people will never give a pass to listen to you.
We all humans love to listen to stories. Isn’t it any wonder that “a lie travels the whole world and back while truth is still putting on her boots?” If you learn to tell relevant stories, people will want to listen to you all the time. Now, there are various types of stories you can tell:
You will never go wrong with stories.
People will respect you and want to listen to you if they know that you are a problem solver. People do not care so much what you can say until they know what you have done to help someone else. Now, all of us can solve a problem. All of us are gifted one way or another. We can use that gift to solve a particular problem. The interesting thing is that the gift attracts particular kinds of problems. If you are an orator like Martin Luther King Jnr, the problem you are invited to solve is to inspire, galvanize and rally people. So if you want people to listen to you, find problems and solve them. Then when you are invited to speak, speak of how and especially why you solved the problem. General Collin Powell led the war into the Gulf against Saddam Hussein. Today am told that he gets paid tens of thousands of dollars to deliver a single speech. He never trained as an orator…that’s for sure.
If you are to get the attention if important people, learn to solve problems. Start where you are. Probably there are no Islamic fundementalists around you. That doesn’t mean that you cannot solve a problem. Indeed the easiest of problems to solve could start with cleaning your room, making up with your wife, getting discipline in your life, overcoming procrastination and so on. Now, people want to listen to you because you earned it. And guess what? You do not need to be a professional speaker to earn their respect.
We shall continue these thoughts in the next article.