I’m attending the National Speaker’s Association Convention here in Orlando and I am happy to meet so many people whose work I admire. This industry, like so many others, is under stress, attendance is down, people look a little shell shocked, and many of the breakout sessions are about catching up to technology that threatens to make us obsolete. Speakers travel to meetings, in this economy and with new technology, there are less meetings to attend. However; there are still successful and enthusiastic speakers, what sets them apart?
Last night, over dinner, I talked with a friend from Ireland about what is working for him. He was passionate about his countrymen being sensitive to “B.S.” and how authenticity is something that is essential to winning over an Irish audience. People, in Ireland (and everywhere) can smell a canned sales pitch from a mile away. His strength is that he talks to his audience as one of them, he doesn’t “Sell” them.
It’s kind of like those people who come on Facebook and, as soon as they become your friend, start selling you something. Willie Loman is dead, authenticity is not. Our conclusion was that speakers who have a lot of flash, but not a powerful message, are doomed, but those with a strong message are always going to be in demand.
Our keynote speaker was the wonderful Wintley Phipps. He speaks like James Earl Jones and sings like an angel. Wintley’s version of Amazing Grace touched my soul and brought tears to my eyes. But, for me, a 7th Grader from Kissimmee, Florida, who read her essay about angels and horses stole the show. Not only did she have perfect stage presence, her essay couldn’t have been better if a team of professionals had written it. She was authentic. She had me at hello.
How do you find your authentic self? Through creativity, that’s how. Your unique view of the world is worth sharing, your passions, your enthusiasm are the reason you are here. Find your means of expression and share it with us, no matter what your field, no matter what your message, your audience will find you.
This song just might help you get there: