There’s nothing wrong with showing off your gold medals in a speech… but don’t forget the WIIFM! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
“I’m the glue that holds this organization together.”
“I have very strong communication skills, often better than most.”
“I left my previous job because I was so much more advanced than my colleagues there.”
Ah, the sound of confidence.
Whoever said those lines seem pretty confident about their capabilities… a little too confident, actually.
As a speaker, that’s a big NO-NO.
According to Chris Anderson in the book titled, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” ego emerges in lots of ways that may be unnoticeable to a speaker who’s used to being the center of attention.
These ways include:
- Stories that only seem to show off
- Boasting about one’s individual achievements
- Making the talk all about “you” rather than a message that others find useful
If you want to be successful in your public speaking career, one of the things you should learn is to “park your ego.”
This means before you present your topic in front of your audience, you must first ensure that every word you say doesn’t sound arrogant.
Here’s what TED Speaker Salman Khan said about parking your ego as a speaker:
“Be yourself. The worst talks are the ones where someone is trying to be someone they aren’t. If you are generally goofy, then be goofy. If you are emotional, then be emotional. The one exception to that is if you are arrogant and self-centered. Then you should definitely pretend to be someone else.”
Amazing reminder, right?
While we are encouraged to be true to ourselves, Salman Khan reminds us that in a public speaking setup, we should remember to balance our attitude, tone, and way of speaking to prevent being misunderstood by the audience.
Park Your Ego, Gain an Audience
In public speaking, it’s okay to use the pronoun “I” for some parts of your presentation. For example, when you talk about a personal experience. However, remember to keep that at a minimum―the topic shouldn’t be all about you.
Hearing you talk mostly about your credentials is not the reason why your audience came to listen to your presentation in the first place.
Remember this acronym:
WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?
Your audience is there for the message that will help them gain more knowledge about a certain topic, kickstart their career, improve their perspective about life, etc.
So spend less time worrying about how you look or sound and concentrate your energy on what matters more―what your audience gets out of your talk.
One of the ways speakers park their egos is through humor.
An example of that is Dan Pink’s story.
Dan is an American author and speaker whose TED talk about motivation in 2009 gained over 10 million views on YouTube.
He walked to the TED stage looking pretty sure about himself and spoke to the audience with a loud voice.
After his first few sentences, the audience was hooked on his presentation.
Take a look at what he said in his introduction:
“I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret, something that I’m not particularly proud of, something that, in many ways, I wish no one would ever know, but here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. In the late 1980s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school.”
By stating his opener like that, Dan was able to build anticipation about what he has to say next to the audience.
Dan used this kind of demeanor to get his listeners’ attention right away, not to be arrogant. It was a way to set himself up as a fun speaker with a humbling message.
If you were among his listeners at that time, wouldn’t you also be hooked when you hear the word “confession”? Wouldn’t that make you curious about his revelation?
We bet you would!
According to Chris Anderson, if you’re a “genius, drop-dead gorgeous” athlete, leader, or celebrity and you’re going to deliver a speech or presentation, it’s better not to focus too much on explicitly stating your position and other achievements.
If you want to do that, use a play on words, just like what Dan Pink did in his TED talk!
Remember that the purpose of your talk is not to show off. It’s to deliver a message that your audience will find useful and beneficial.
If you’re feeling overly joyful about what you’ve recently accomplished and you want to mention it in your presentation, try rehearsing it first in front of a friend or family member and ask for his or her honest opinion.
If that person thinks there’s nothing wrong with how you deliver all the parts of your presentation, then great!
However, if he or she thinks your presentation is so “full of yourself,” then you’ll have to tweak some parts of it to not come off as too arrogant or egoistic.
Do this process about 7 times. If everyone tells you there’s nothing arrogant about your speech, you can be confident you’ll do well in front of your audience.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of mastering your craft and connecting with your listeners!
Among the 3 important parts of a presentation―speaker, message, audience―treat yourself as the least important part.
Focus on your audience and how to deliver your message first. As you do that, they will be the ones to give you the importance and respect that you deserve.
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesday: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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