Month: January 2017

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In one of his most famous speechs Ronald Reagan stood infront of the Berlin Wall on June 12 1987 and said: “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.

I do not specifically remember him holding that speech (it’s apparently did not have such a huge impact at the time, but has later been seen, by some, as a speech that helped, in part, push the Berlin Wall to fall.)

I am mentioning this line from Reagan’s speech because today a man came up to me after my speech and said: “Thank you so much for your speech, it was the best one I have ever heard. You were able to break up the barrier between the speaker and the stage!”

Turns out that the man who came up to me was the sound guy …

A man who, in his job, has listened to hundreds, and hundreds of speakers.

I thanked him for his kinds words and asked him what he meant with that part of “breaking the barrier”.

He sighed, and complained about how so many speakers arn’t able to reach out to the audience they are speaking to.

He explained that it was not about the sound (his job was to make sure that they were heard, after all).

But no matter how well the mic is transmitting your words, it will not help unless you, as a speaker is not breaking through to the audience.

I asked him what he thought was the best ways of breaking the barrier between the audience and the stage. He had after all heard so many speakers in his career.

He said:

1) Energy.

So many speakers go up on stage and just say the words that they had planned to say, but without the energy needed to get the audience to feel that they should  really pay attention and listen

2) Lack of purpose.

So many speakers do not seem to know why they are up on the stage to begin with.

3) Drifting away

So many speakers go up on stage, start their speech, but then drift away in directions that they had not planned to go, leading to confusing, non-logical, or scattered messages.

I also asked him what it was in my speech that had made him like it so much, and how I had been able to remove that invisible barrier of distance between speaker and audience.

He replied:

1) Humor

Makes sense, laughter is the great barrier killer after all.

2) Audience participation

Taking cues from things that someone in the audience is saying and play with that for a while is a great way to create a feeling of “togetherness” between the speaker and the audience

3) Making the message simple to understand.

By making the message clear and simple the audience can easily understand it, and spend time on thinking about what your message has been, instead of spending time on thinking about what the message it about.

Lesson: Take it from the sound guy: if you are not able to reach out to the audience you might as well not have a mic at all.

 

 

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Every star has the “it” factor, but what is it that gives someone that “it”?

That was one of many conversations I had tonight with dr Boy Abunda over a three hour long dinner.

If you do not know who Boy Abunda is I can guarantee that you are not from the Philippines. In the Philippines he is Oprah, David Letterman and Ellen DeGeneres combined. He is “the King of Talk” and has interviewed everyone from Deepak Chopra to Miss Universe over an almost 30 year long career.

But tonight he was not interviewing anyone, if anything I was interviewing him.

Because a part from being a tv-talk show host he also runs a series of other companies including a talent management company that mangers all kinds of celebrities, from basketball players and actors to a celebrity dentist (!).

And it was from the perspective of both interviewing stars and celebrities, as well as helping to create them (as a talent manager) that I wanted to hear Dr Boy Abunda’s view on what it is that creates the “it-factor” – this elusive characteristic that makes someone have “star quality”.

I asked him to define this “it-factor”.

His first respons was that it can’t be defined. “That’s why it’s called the “x-factor”.”

That, of course, was a correct observation.

But I wanted to get an answer to a question that was not easily answered. I wanted to get closer to the truth. Catch the rainbow around being a star, if you wish.

So Dr Abunda kept thinking.

And then he replied: “It’s what radiates from you.”

“What is it that radiates?”, I inquired.

His answer surprised me and then delighted me.

He said: “Your story.”

He then elaborated: “People who have the “It-factor” have a deeper awareness of who they are. They are comfortable in themselves, in who they are and what they stand for.”

He continued to explain how he told the talents which he managers why no-one should ever try to copy some-one else’s singing style or acting style in an attempt to become a star, because it will never work since you do not have the background that made the person you are copying who they are.

The same is true for speakers.

Look at great speakers, learn from great speakers – but do not copy great speakers.

Instead dig deep into who you really are as a speaker, a person, a human being – as a soul. Then build yourself up as a speaker from there.

(Dr Abunda then added that this radiation that comes from knowing deeply who you are has to be nurtured with the tools of the trade, kind of like how a diamond has to be cut to shine to its fullest potential.)

What does star quality have to do with being a great speaker you say? And I say: A lot.

The ability to walk up on a stage and capture an audience requires a skill that is quite similar to possessing this “it-factor”.

Lesson: So as a speaker, try to dig inside to find your true story, the one that makes you radiate, so that you then can reach out with your message because people are drawn to what you have to say.

Bonus information: I also asked Boy Abunda about all the people he had interviewed and what made someone good to interview, and he replied that some people “have the gift of clarity”.

I found that profoundly insightful – and, I might add, very clear. 😉

The ability to get a message a cross in a way that people easily understand and take to their hearts is perhaps the most important skill a speaker can have. And to have it is truly a gift.

In all the speeches that you give, try to deliver them using the gift of clarity.

And then combine the two messages from Boy Abunda and you will have something truly powerful: A person who radiates while delivering a message that is communicated clearly.

I think you will agree with me that if you heard about a speaker who did that you would rush to get a chance to hear that speech.

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Used right the word “resolution” is powerful.

But I think most people use it wrong.

The word “resolution” means: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

But many people seem to look at a a New Year Resolution more like a dream, almost a wish, something we hope will happen.

“I am going to loose 10 kg (I hope…)”
“I am going to (try to quite smoking, (again)…”
And so on.

But a resolution is not a vision to hope for – it’s a firm decision to do something.

And some also seem to think that a resolution limits our options because it somehow would hinder us from changing our mind in the future as some new opportunities might arise, or the world might change.

But to not take a decision, to always be standing in a crossroads keeping our “options open”, and being “flexible” means that we never start to walk down any path.
And that means we never get anywhere.

And to be clear, making a firm decision does NOT mean that you can not re-evaluate your decision later on. To me it just means that you make a decision that you really, strongly believe in.

There comes a time when we need to make a firm decision, choose a road and walk down it.

And when we do we usually feel much better.

You see the word “resolution comes from the Latin “resolvere” which means to “loosen” and to “release”.

If your New Year Resolution doesn’t make you feel a sense of “release”, is not making you excited, inspired and feel like a stone has been lifted from your shoulders then I think it is safe to say that your resolution was the wrong one.

My resolution as a professional speaker in 2017 is to dive deep into the world of online marketing.

I have made a firm decision to study it, learn it, understand – and, yes: master it.

Not because I feel that it is “trending”.
Not because everyone else seems to be doing it already.
Not even because I think that I need it for my business (If you follow this blog you know that I believe that as a speaker the only marketing you need is to make such great speech that at least two people come up to you after the speech and ask to book you for their conference…)

And not because it is a topic I am speaking on or thinking of speaking in (it is not)

No, but because I fell in love with Internet Marketing more than 20 years ago.

Internet Marketing was the first thing I was an expert on, the first thing I really knew as a professional – and the first thing I spoke on.

I wrote my first book – called “Internet and Marketing” way back in 1995 (Time flies!!) and because almost no-one in 1995 knew anything about the Internet I became, at the age of 27-years, an “expert”, which led to invitations to speak at conferences. And so my career as a professional speaker was born.

Over the years I got interested in other things and my love and interest for online marketing subsided, for some reason.

This year I have decided to revive that old love of mine.

And in deciding to do so I feel inspired, excited and full of energy.

Will it make me better as a speaker? I doubt it.

Will it help my speaking business? Probably.

But I am doing it because I want to do something outside my focus on my speaking and the topics I speak on that would add some inspiration to my day.

I guess you can say I have gone back to one of my old hobbies. 😉

When I see the new year fireworks I see a symbol of the power of firm decisions: Someone made a firm decision to light the fuse of that small fire-rocket and the result is a beautiful, sparkling artwork in the sky.

What is your firm decision that you have taken for this year that will make you better as a speaker, better as a business person, better as a person – or just generally something that will inspire you more each day?

What fireworks are you setting of inside your mind this year?