A Best Public Speaking Idea: Bring on the Soul and the Savvy
The best way to speak passionately is of course to choose a topic that you're genuinely excited about. If you're an engineer with a natural passion for sport-car engines, then perhaps next weekends event where you've been invited to give a 30-minute talk on the varieties of German cheeses might not be the perfect fit for you. And if you're a dairy fanatic, then consider turning down the invitation to address a crowd of rally drivers.
Its easy to speak passionately about things that naturally excite you, because you love to share it! There's no need to psyce yourself up or try to appear interested, it just naturally flows and shows.
But what if I'm forced to speak about something that I hold no natural interest in?
Of course at times, especially if you're speaking at a corporate or business event, you'll be asked to address a crowd on some generic topic that you either find flavorless, or just genuinely doesn't fall within your category of interests.
In that case, I'll still contend that its better to present a passionate talk, even if it means adding some drama to your delivery. If you're speaking in front of an audience who's being generous enough to give you their time, sit still and listen while there's a hundred other things they probably could be doing, I believe its worth infusing some passion into your delivery, even if it means acting the part, to make it worth their while. Take that as a rule for best public speaking.
I once attended an educators orientation event in Asia where groups of teachers like myself where treated to 4-5 training sessions a day, from mostly excellent and engaging instructors who obviously knew their stuff, and loved sharing it.
But towards the middle of the week, our last session of the day was presented by a middle-aged lifeless expert of some sort who was obviously bored out of his wits, with the material he was presenting.
The contrast was stark: While the other instructors spoke with passion and energy, their excitement bubbling over to the point where their energy rubbed off on us, the students, this particular instructor de-motivated everybody with his obvious lack of interest in us, and his material.
Naturally, towards the end of the course, when we were asked to give feedback on the instructors, most people gave a negative report on this particular lecturer, and I'm pretty sure he was not on the following years list of invites.
Passion makes for the best public speaking. It's a powerful weapon on stage and speaking with soul and savvy is sure to get the attention of the crowd. So you need to learn to utilize it properly on stage.
If you're not sure whether you're coming over as an exciting and passionate speaker, or if you're a natural sleep-inductor, then video-tape yourself and watch a recording of your talk with your better-half, a trusted friend, or anyone who can give you honest feedback.
Passion is contagious. And as a public speaker, passion is your best friend. Anyone who's employed in a field where 'being on the stage' is a regular occurrence, will testify to the power of passion. It's essential for the best public speaking performance.
Theatre actors employ enormous amounts of passion while on stage. Singers and rock-stars exude passion to the point where they're absolutely exhausted after a show and end up taking 12-hour recovery naps. Even comedians, preachers and politicians know that passion will get your message across, and then leave the crowd hungry for more.
I'll be willing to bet than an audience will learn more from a passionate and energetic speaker with mediocre content, then from a boring, lifeless one who delivers his world-class content in monotone 5-syllabic words.
So speaking without soul and savvy is definitely a big no-no. It should go without saying, and yet, when you look at the majority of public speakers, especially those in political circles, you'd think that no-one has ever spread this piece of powerful anecdotal advice.
People will listen to you when you speak passionately.
Audiences are drawn to passion, and a passionate public speaker is like a magnet that draws the crowd in, and seems to magically maintain their energy as long as he maintains (and varies) his passion on stage.