I absolutely love coaching speakers. First, there is the delight in hearing a new story. Second, there is the audience connection. All great speaking is not a telling, but a showing of where the speaker is and where he/she wants to take the audience.
I recently was in the preview audience for a private session of a Tedx practice. And this wasn’t’ his first practice session. Even the most accomplished speakers need to practice. Why practice? Because knowing your script, your road map, gives you the confidence and the flexibility in the moment. It relaxes you, empowers you, and enables you to concentrate on the most important person in the room – your audience.
Tedx speakers get assigned anywhere between 3 minutes to 21 minutes. With the clock ticking, the speaker used his assigned 12 minutes to share his story of vertical farming and making an impact as a climate tech entrepreneur.
“Nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” ~ Hugo
His illustrations were strong. He showed how the upcoming Olympic community, senior centers, and cruise ships were all using this technology to grow healthy, economical food. He spoke of community, collaboration and consumption.
He shared his personal experience of growing up on a farm in Europe and bringing this idea, his passion to places that typically you would not connect with farming – like Kenya – which was his first venture.
The success story was amazing. But, it rather sounded like a lecture. What was missing? The conversation with the audience. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions of your audience, either rhetorical or actual. For example, to start out his talk on growing greens, he might ask, “How many of you have a bag of wilted lettuce in your refrigerator? Yea, it was me, too! . . “ Authentic. Real. Funny.
It’s hard to put together a great talk. It’s messy, too. But practicing in front of an audience, a coach, can help your clarify your communication and take you (and your audience) where you want to go.