True Success as a Professional Keynote Speaker Requires More than Skill
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Successful business keynote speakers must embody a range of skills, talents and a mindset, but I believe that one attribute stands above all others. It is the requirement that professional speakers – Love Their Audiences!
Sound trite? Possibly, but it is however, TRUE! I have been speaking professionally since 2000 to corporate, association and government audiences globally. During this time I have heard and shared the stage with numerous speakers. There styles and content or lack thereof, varied widely, but one attribute always came through loud and clear. Their reason for speaking professionally. It was either that they had discovered a great way to ‘make a living’ by pitching them self, their other services and products from the stage or they were doing it because they ‘loved their audiences’ and wanted to help them to survive and prosper in the wake of the post 2001 and 2008 economic crashes.
Many Audiences Today Are Overworked & Highly Stressed
Professional speakers are no different than anyone else in wanting to earn a good living by being compensated for their services, as does every true professional, but for the best professional keynote business speakers, that is not the primary motive for their speaking. Today’s business audiences, corporate or association, are frequently comprised of people who are ‘stressed to the max’ by global competitiveness, long working hours, stagnant wages, down-sizing, right-sizing and a multitude similar influences, which are not positive. All of these combine to create enormous emotional STRESS!
Understanding these real world stress factors and honestly empathizing with the audience differentiates the true professional from the ‘hired man or woman,’ for whom the fee and their ego are the primary drivers of their speaking career. Certainly content delivery — providing value in terms of insights and information which the audience can use to increase their own personal as well as career performance and value, is critical to every keynote. But there is more to professional speaking that just excellent content.
Empathy Requires Investing Time to Understand the Audience
When a speaker truly ‘loves their audience’ they take the time to understand where their audience is coming from and what are their listeners needs. This goes beyond speaking to their ‘general’ business needs. During the heart of the Great Recession, I had the privilege of addressing two large audiences a few days apart, both comprised of retail store owners in the floor coverings business. As part of my preparation, I visited several of their members’ stores and spoke with the owners as well as a day at the parent organization’s corporate offices.
I came away understanding that these people were hurting! Hurting badly! Nearly a quarter of their group had gone out of business during the preceding several years and many of the others were literally hanging on by a shoestring, praying for an economic turnaround miracle. I made a point of having breakfast with each group the mornings of my keynotes. Typically these types of annual industry meetings of business owners who have known each other for years are ‘fun’ affairs, with much laughter and joking. Not these two groups. They were ‘bruised and bleeding!’ And SCARED of what the future held!
The content I provided in my keynote was similar to what I would have typically provided, ‘How to Use Strategic Innovation to Grow Your Business!’ But the way I presented was much different.
This group desperately needed my content on how to grow their businesses, but they couldn’t hear it until they realized that I understood and identified with the pain they had been experiencing during the prior several years. They had to ‘know’ that I was there because I really wanted to help them, not because they were my ‘meal ticket.’ When they understood that I was truly for them, then they began to listen.
Keynote Speaker, Forget Yourself, It’s All About YourAudience!
As a professional keynote speaker, loving your audience means that as I walk up the stage stairs, I forget about myself. My sole focus is the audience. Professional speaking is NOT about the keynote speaker! It’s about the audience! Is Efficiency
by John Di Frances
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