Start with the heart | Then the head
Here I was, up front with a group of other professional speakers at a speaker’s showcase. A speaker’s showcase is basically American Idol for speakers. 20 speakers ready to strut their stuff in front of one hundred individuals that consistently hire speakers for their organizations.
Was I nervous?
Honestly, I was intimidated because these were proven speakers who had competed in this setting before. For me, speaking is just one facet of the work that I do and I was early in my journey to becoming a professional speaker. I was sixteenth out of twenty speakers which I thought was unlucky to have to wait, but it turned into a breakthrough learning experience. I was able to see how other experienced speakers performed.
Each speaker has his or her own unique style but what stood out to me was the focus of their presentations. It was not on the content of their message, but rather it was the way they delivered it. It was about connecting with the audience. They connected through laughter and story-telling. One speaker actually had the audience dancing in the aisles!
What makes a great speaker?
Their objective to connect with the audience at an emotional level stood out to me. The speakers that received the greatest response started by going after the heart.
As a consultant, it is all about increasing client performance through unique content and process. But speaking is almost the opposite. Speaking is having impact through the delivery and the content is frosting on the cake. The pros in speaking connect with both the heart and the head. Unique content delivered through an emotional connection.
What comes first, impactful content or connection?
As I sat listening to the speakers in the showcase, I realized that most people want to connect with a speaker first, and then take in the message. Unique, impactful content is certainly critical if you want to stand out from other speakers, but I could see that the connection must come first. To get an individual to believe and take action you must start with the heart, before the head.
This lesson not only applies to my speaking career, but to all aspects of my life. It applies to your life, as well. Whether you are a speaker, a company leader, husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, colleague or friend: start with the heart. Content is better received when you have connected with the other person, or the audience, first.
Most of us head into a conversation or discussion with our content, message or objective in mind, but we pay very little attention to how we are going to deliver that message. I recognize now that I have been guilty of this approach.
What were my takeaways from this experience?
I will never forget the impact of my first Speakers Showcase. I discovered that emotional connection is so important in your communications that I since have hired a speaking coach to get better at it. My stop selling vanilla ice cream message was very unique but my approach wasn’t.
The last couple years have been an incredible journey as I learned how to emotionally connect in all of my work; especially my speaking. I am hoping you have sensed that in my columns as well.
So next time you have an important conversation, focus more time preparing the delivery. The content is usually the easy part. A story, joke or a conversation about a mutual interest will create that emotional connection needed for your message to be better received. Start with the heart, then the head.