November 7, 2011

What Separates the Good from Great Speakers

"The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through."  
- Sydney J. Harris

Communication is one of the most powerful tools we have. You hear tons of messages daily, but what actually sticks? I believe one factor separates the good speakers from the great speakers: FOCUS.

Good speakers focus on themselves. Great speakers focus on their audience. 

Good speakers are more interested in hearing their own information and in the process they create a divide between themselves and the crowd. Outwardly, good speakers communicate, "I'm smart, you're dumb, listen to me."

Great speakers cater their message to who's listening. They study the characteristics and values of who they are communicating to and speak to their hearts and minds. Outwardly, great speakers make it feel like they are talking directly to you in a conversation.

Preparation to speak should be based on the 70/30 rule. Spend 70% on the presentation, 30% on the content. As a speaker, when you try to "teach" too much information, people end up leaving with nothing. The biggest mistake as a communicator you can make is speaking too long. Engage the audience with stories, visuals and conversation. Remember, when speaking it's NOT about YOU, it's about the audience. Spend more time on "how" to say it, than "what" to say.

Good and great speakers also differ when it comes to response.
Good speakers stick to their notes regardless if the audience is bored, confused or distant.
Great speakers have a Plan A, but are willing to improvise to Plan B if needed. 
As a speaker, where is your focus? Is it about YOU or your audience?

Speaking is personal branding. It's not what you think of yourself, but what others think of you. Speakers make the transition from good to great based on their focus. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Great speakers listen to the pulse of the audience, so they can prepare and perform a message that inspires action. What will be your focus the next time you speak? Don't settle for just giving out information, communicate to get through to your audience!

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