Some speakers have the X-factor. That thing that makes the audience just fall in love with them even before the speaker opens his mouth.
One of the most extreme examples of that that I have experienced was when I was speaking at the same conference as Matti Bergström.
Professor Bergström is a Finish brain scientist, who focuses on children’s creativity and play. He looks like Gandalf and sounds like your favourite grand-dad.
The audience just melt when he is on stage talking about the need to let children develop their ability to play.
I shared a taxi with him after the conference and asked if he was aware of himself having this unique likability ability.
He smiled and told me that he had once done a speech in Stockholm and after 20 (!) minutes of speaking someone in the audience had finally raised his hand and said “I am so sorry, professor Bergström, but you are giving your speech in Finnish…”
(For you who do not know, Swedish and Finnish are TOTALLY different languages!)
The audience has been so mesmerised by the professor that the audience would not let the fact that they did not understand a single world of what he had said interrupted their experience!
It’s hard to pin down what creates this “x-factor” but the speakers who possess it has been blessed with a gift.
But speakers who have this ability also risk developing content that is less powerful. (It falls into the same category as the beautiful girls in school who doesn’t have to try so hard because she gets whats she wants in life thanks to her beauty.)
Today I coached a speaker whom I personally think has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest speakers.
His “likability factor” is through the roof and as soon as they see him on stage the audience connects with him as if their long-lost best friends just stepped into the room. After hearing him speech audiences will give him raving reviews. But when you do a print out of his content and go through his current content word by word it becomes apparent that it is actually quite weak. Most people do not notice, because they liked the speaker so much.
There are three kinds of speakers:
1) Weak speakers with Weak content.
2) Strong speakers with Strong content
3) Weak speakers with Strong content
4) Strong speakers with Weak content.
The person I coached today was obviously in the last category.
The good news is that can easily be fixed.
It is probably easier to fix “weak content” than “weak speaker” – and when Mr X with the X-factor whom i worked with today gets his new speech done and the content is as good as his delivery it will be one hell of a speech that will probably end up at TED.com and get millions of views.
Which brings us to you:
Which kind of speaker are you?
If 1) – then you have a lot of work to do. Get to it! 🙂
If 2) : then congratulations (I hope you were honest with yourself when you came to that conclusion…)
If 3) : Your biggest challenge is discovering your true speaking style – something that can be very difficult, but will be very rewarding if you take the time to do it
If 4) Ask yourself if you are really speaking on the subject that you should be speaking on. There is a big chance that the reason you do not have good enough content is that you are not passionate enough about the topic.
After a few hours of talking through his current speeches and discussing what he is really passionate about we, together, unlocked the theme he should be speaking on. I can not wait to hear that speech.
I think the speaker was happy too. He just messaged me: “Thank you Fredrik. I am brimming with ideas after seeing you.”
Lesson: Understand which is your weaker side: your speaking style or your speaking content. Then work on fixing it.