I want to talk about something that stops a lot of people from getting out and speaking, and something that people think is a liability can actually be used as an asset.
And it’s about drawing attention to the obvious.
For example, I broke my wrist and I’m actually speaking a couple of days in front of a live audience.
Now, I can could have said “No” or wait till it had gotten better. Or, I could go out there and speak and pretend that everything’s fine. That is probably not going to work, everyone is going to be thinking, “Hm.. what happened to her arm?”
The best thing for me to do is talk about it right up front. There are a few different ways:
I could just say “I broke my wrist snowboarding early this year.”
I could make a joke about it. I’m still working on the best way to do that.
One of the reasons I bring this up is because sometimes I have clients who have different kind of accents, and they think that is a deterrent to speaking, that maybe people wont understand them. The best thing to do is talk about your accent up front.
I’m an Australian and based in the U.S. here in Hawaii, I DO have an accent. It makes a great talking point, I can bring up the fact that I’m Australian and there are a few little stories I van share about that. Instead of keeping them guessing, it helps to build a relationship with your audience.
The best example I saw of this was Roger Hamilton (from Wealth Dynamics), introducing right at the beginning of his talk, “I speak funny” and he started to share with the audience his Chinese and Scottish heritage. It’s an opportunity to share a bit more of you with the audience.
Some other examples that might be the “elephant in the room“, something you can bring up, stating the obvious.
- If you are the only female in the room speaking to a group of men or visa versa.
- If there a whole lot of older executives and you are a younger professional.
Rather than having it hang in the air, you want to bring it out and bring meaning to it. Put a positive spin to it. Say why it is good that you are young, or a female or stand out.
There are three things you can do:
1. State the obvious, bring attention to it.
2. Make a joke about it. Make it fun, ease the tension.
3. Make it something good. Show that it adds to the presentation in a positive way.
I’m definitely going to use my snowboarding incident in different ways in upcoming presentations.
There are three things this does:
1. Puts the audience at ease, allows the audience to focus on what you are talking about instead of the “elephant in the room.”
2. It helps put you at ease. Know that you are comfortable and can get on with what you are there to talk about.
3. You are taking control of what it means. It is a good or it is fun, etc. You take charge of the meaning rather than it taking charge of you.
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