In 1989, my first semester of college, I learned a valuable lesson. I was taking a calculus course, but I learned a lesson in public speaking. The professor was quite intelligent and could solve any integral on earth. Her calculus was perfect, but she forgot one small detail - the audience. The professor spoke too fast for us to learn the subject. She was most concerned with presenting the greatest number of problems in the least amount of time with 100% accuracy.
I learned a powerful lesson in public speaking. I learned that it's more important to strive for connection with the audience than to have technically perfect information that the audience does not fully grasp. Dale Carnegie and his Carnegie Institute of Technology pointed out this interesting fact as a result of extensive research. "Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one's financial success is due one's technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people." When done correctly, speaking can open doors that pure academic information alone cannot.
For starters, it opens the door that separates teachers from students. In my calculus class, for example, many students were unable to follow the lessons. Personally, I believe the students who enrolled in the class have a certain responsibility to adjust to the professor's teaching style - even if it's difficult. In the real world, it is often the many employees who must adjust to the one manager. From a practical perspective, it takes a lot less energy for me as a speaker to lead by example. If I want my students or employees to adjust, I have the opportunity to show them how to discipline myself to change - even when I don't want to do it. This is the first reason to focus on connecting over perfecting.
Speaking can also build a solid reputation more rapidly. Again, referring to my calculus course, when the professor chose perfection over connection, it built her reputation rapidly. It just wasn't the reputation that best served our education. When you are presenting an idea, you are essentially selling. You want the audience to convert from lookers to listeners and from listeners to buyers. When I say, "buy", I mean they accept your proposal. You persuade them to share your position. They learn what you are trying to teach. A favorable reputation makes the task of connecting easier.
Finally, speaking can help you to increase your income. I realize that everyone doesn't want to become a professional speaker. Besides, people don't pay for speaking. People pay for solutions to problems. You are more likely to increase
income in any business when you can succinctly tell people what you do and how you can help to solve their problems. If they believe you can solve a problem for them, they will gladly contribute to your increase in income.
Here are some tips to help you connect with any audience to whom you speak.
1. Know your material - this fosters confidence - a major key to connecting.
2. Order - Study the sequence of your thoughts instead of perfecting every sentence word for word. This will alleviate stress and allow you to focus on connecting.
3. Eye contact - Looking at a person while you make your point(s) helps to develop trust between you.
4. Tell stories - Stories do more than entertain. They also endear you to your audience.
5. Blend in - Meet the audience before your speech. Get to know them and your 'speech' can feel more like a conversation among friends.
6. Act enthusiastic - if you are not excited about your topic, don't expect anyone to stay awake.
It doesn't matter if you are teaching calculus to college students, strategies to salesmen or the value of commodities to consumers, you must connect if you want others to learn from you. As you build your reputation, connecting becomes easier. Ultimately, you give others a reason to hire you or send you opportunities to increase your business. Connecting is the bottom line. When you prepare for your next speaking opportunity, don't practice to perfect. Prepare to connect.