I recently attended a keynote of the Swiss-born British philosopher Alain de Botton and the British-American motivational speaker Simon Sinek, both events took place in Amsterdam.
These two speakers had one major thing in common: they both spoke without visuals to back their story and to rely on. I had almost given up the idea it was done in keynote-land. And no, not a 20 minute TED talk but a one hour keynote.
To me - being an actress in theatre- it was a great relief noticing that an audience can still be inspired, fascinated by the simplicity of a human talking.
But what looks simple isn’t that simple at all.
Most speakers are not able to deliver an excellent performance without it. Reason? It takes a lot more work studying the material, practicing the delivery, tapping into talent, experience than most professional speakers are willing to invest.
In my work as a speaking mentor and founder of Thought Leaders Academy, my speakers mostly practice without a powerpoint. In my philosophy, they must be able to deliver their message without visuals.
So, let's analyze what makes De Botton en Sinek succeed in their performance and how you can get there too.
Frankly, you need the same qualities as when you speak with ppt, but they must be 100%. You are no longer able to hide behind your visuals, all eyes will be on you and not on that moving image you use to distract and misguide your audience. So stop using your audience as an excuse.
Talking without a ppt, means YOU need to work harder to gain the trust and attention of your audience. That's it. So stop being a lazy speaker (and use visuals for what they are really intended to)
The master speaker is he or she who can fascinate an audience with AND without ppt and props.
You have to know your keynote inside out, outside in. Knowing your keynote is not the same as knowing your topic of expertise. A keynote is a structured script with a clear outline, storytelling and purpose, meant to inspire, motivate, inform an audience. Your knowledge should go far beyond your keynote, but when speaking, you must be able to strictly follow and maintain the structure and content of your keynote during your performance.
If you go 'off-road,' you know perfectly how to get back on track AND keep time.
An audience doesn't intimidate you. You can be nervous, have some stress, but that will not make you hesitant. You will not get a trembling voice, and your body is in control. You are in control of your inner critic.
You are a verbally strong speaker, you take care of the language you use. You know the power of storytelling, of style figures of well-formed sentences. You have studied rhetorics.
You have a great voice, almost radio proof. Be honest with yourself, if nobody has given you compliments on your voice in your life, or people told you they loved LISTENING to you, think twice. Your audience needs to fall in love with your voice.
A good voice comes with good pronunciation and an understandable accent. If you are a non-native speaker and your native dialect is too dominant, people will understand you less and lose interest. Learn how to use a microphone at your benefit. 'Seduce your audience with your sound."
Be soooo aware of your body language. It is the only thing we can look at. Move, and I don't necessarily mean jumping up and down the stage. If you are that kind of energic person when you're off stage, be my guest. If not, be truthful of who you are, and explore how you can improve your moves and body language without acting out.
Now, you might think: 'you are telling me nothing I do not already know'. And you're right. But are you performing at 100%?
Challenge yourself. Next time when you're on stage, don't use your ppt. Perform. See what happens. You will discover there is still a lot of work to do.
If you are a professional speaker, and you ask a fee that is more than 3000€, in my opinion, it is your job to spend hard work and a significant amount of your time in rehearsing, prepping and becoming better in your craft as a speaker.
Having a great story is absolutely necessary, but if you suck at telling it, 'you ain't worth the dime' nor the audience.
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