Are you frustrated because you can’t get your message to stick with an audience? They don’t want to buy-in to your new idea? They won’t embrace the change you are advocating? You just can’t get your message heard.
Let me try and turn the tables on you. When is the last time you changed your behaviour because you’d listened to a motivational speaker? I have friends who spend thousands of dollars seeking inspiration from some of the best speakers in the world – the Jack Canfields and the Tony Robbins. And when you ask if it’s changed their lives, they’ll often reply ‘We’re working on it’.
I’m not dismissing motivational speakers. These are talented, caring people who are doing their best to inspire us and motivate us to be better personally and professionally.
So why aren’t we all holding hands and singing Kumbaya together?
I was up in the mountains in India once, meditating with a guru. We were about 30 seekers after enlightenment, sitting on our cushions. The guru sighed and spoke softly: “I’ve been sitting here for 25 years saying the same thing. And you still don’t get it.”
And that’s the core of the problem. We don’t get the message and the story right away. It’s just human nature. So we have to keep hearing the message, until it finally sticks.
And if we are speakers, we have to keep repeating our message and experimenting with ways to make it stick:
- Don’t be afraid to repeat your key message within your presentation.
- Don’t try to say too much. The more you say, the less people hear.
- Make sure what you do have to say is accessible to your audience.
I was reminded of that last point recently, when I spent some time with Toronto-based motivational speaker Orlando Bowen.
Orlando is the founder and Executive Director at One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization. His passion is empowering people, especially school kids, to overcome adversity, find their passion and to use their gifts to serve others.
Walking into an inner-city classroom to encourage young people to serve their community is a tough ask. But Orlando has the life experiences to do it. He’s a former CFL linebacker who had an encounter with two undercover cops. He was left with a concussion, serious head wounds, and was charged with assaulting the police and possessing cocaine.
Bowen was acquitted after one of the officers was arrested for cocaine trafficking. The judge called the evidence of the two officers “incredible and unworthy of belief.”
Bowen retired from football because of the concussion. And while many in his position would harbour anger toward the officers, Bowen says he has more important things to focus on.
“Do I have time to channel energy into anger towards individuals when there are young people dying every day?” he asks. “I don’t have time to be angry at the officers. There’s too much work to be done.”
And right there is another clue to getting your message heard: it’s all about channeling passion and belief in pursuit of a clearly-articulated cause.
Let’s put it all together…
- don’t try to cover too much ground
- make your message resonate with the target audience
- believe in your cause and share it with passion
- don’t be afraid to repeat yourself
…and hopefully it won’t take 25 years for the message to stick. Which would make my former guru happy.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.