Have you ever been out to eat, asked your server for a recommendation and had him describe a dish in such vivid detail you could almost taste it? Oozing with anticipation, you confidently close the menu (with your mind made up) and excitedly ask him, “How do you like yours prepared?”
Looking as if he saw a ghost, he turns to you and sheepishly replies, “Ahh, I’ve never tried it.” Stunned by the juxtaposition, your fiery excitement is suddenly drenched by a sense of betrayal. This phenomenon is not limited to a dining experience, a more nuanced version shows up in many forums, including presentations.
An audience’s energy can make a speaker do crazy things! Both desperation and inspiration have been known to lure speakers beyond the fringes of their expertise. Whether you lost the audience at hello or have them eating out of the palm of your hand, it’s critical not to cross the line that separates expert from imposter. The minute you start selling your audience an idea or concept that you haven’t bought, your confidence will dip, your demeanor will shift and they will smell it. If you’ve ever been wowed by a speaker only to get to the end of their presentation to hear your gut say, “don’t buy it,” more than likely you witnessed a speaker who was selling ideas that they had not bought.
Here are two ways to make sure you’re sold before trying to sell:
1. Be original
Create original ideas that are congruent with your personal and professional identity. Know the story behind your ideas and be clear about how they fit into the big picture of your area of expertise. Trust your perspective!
2. Speak from experience
Validate your ideas by examining them through the filter of other people, places and things. Let them fly freely out into the world to discover how they can solve problems. In the face of praise and criticism continue to embody the heart of your ideas.
The “do as I say not as I do” model only works with kids. Now they are even beginning to question it. When you speak from a place of deep seated authenticity your audience will see, hear and most importantly feel your passion. The world is full of sayers but the doers claim the lion’s share of the followers. As a speaker you may get paid to say but you earn respect by doing. How do you plan to practice what you preach?