How to Avoid Losing your Audience

Have you ever listened to a speaker and at some point started zoning out? You are not alone!  If you are the speaker, this is one of the things you want to AVOID– having your audience disengage, tune you out, or worse – just walk out!Do you struggle with How do you know which content to put in a message and which to leave out

We live in an age of information saturation! The content you give your audience needs to be valuable, but not overwhelming. One of the biggest struggles I hear over and over from emerging speakers is about putting together a message . Just this week again, someone asked me,

 “How do I take all the ideas in my head and put them into a message that is concise and compelling?”

His question reveals a common frustration so many speakers face. Perhaps you can relate to this struggle? Do you have a desire to share your experience or expertise with the world but don’t know how to pull it all together? Or maybe you just put it all in and don’t know where to stop. As a result, you end up running out of time when you speak! Sure, your audience may  walk away feeling full – but are they so full they can’t move?

Do you spend hours, days or even weeks re-writing the content, and then second-guessing right up until the time you step onto the stage? Maybe, you also struggle with having so much content that often talk faster, or go overtime just to get out all the information. I remember, so vividly, a time when I was asked to speak and my time was cut in half from 60 minutes to 30 minutes because the previous speaker went overtime. (By the way- you don’t want to go over your time!) Being a new speaker, I did what most speakers would have done in that situation. I glued my eyes to my notes, spoke as fast as I could, and looked up only when my time was up. When I finally came up (for air) and looked at my audience, I realized that although I was successful at  getting out all my information, I failed as a speaker. That day became a turning point for me, as I realized that speaking is not so much about giving information as it is about evoking transformation in the hearts and minds of your audience members. I knew that I  missed the mark that day because I failed to do the most important thing during my message – I failed to connect with my audience.

A sure way to lose any audience is giving so much information that your audience doesn’t have time to process or digest it. It was not until many years after that painful experience that I learned  that speaking is not about what the speaker has to give , but more about what the audience takes away!!

I wish I knew then what I know now. After much struggle and spending lots of money, I finally found a system that transformed the way I create messages and prepare for speaking engagements. As I worked with it and modified it, I felt like I hit the jackpot!  Having this system helps me determine which content to keep and which content to leave out of a message. It also helps me to easily adapt my message to any audience, any time frame and even with short notice.  Having such a system has significantly affected my speaking success and opened more opportunities than anything else.  I  wish I had this system when I first started public speaking.

Abraham Lincoln once said ” The best way to predict your future , is to create it.”  What do you need to do today to start creating the future you dream about?  What skills can you start developing today that will equip you to become a more dynamic speaker?

 

If you want to get a head start on your speaking success, and avoid losing your audience, check out the cheat sheet I created that outlines the 4 Biggest Mistakes that Emerging Speakers Make & How to Avoid Them.                                                                                                                                  

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Avoid the 4 Biggest Mistakes Women Speakers Make!

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Shine Everyday! Embrace your Uniqueness

Recently, I have been fascinated again by the brilliance of the sunsets we enjoy living on the prairies. Sitting on my backyard deck, I frequently drink in the beautiful array of colour that lights the sky as the sun slowly goes down on the horizon. It reminds me of the beauty that emanates from a person who has come to know and love who they are and embraces their uniqueness daily. You and I are created to shine everyday and light up someone else’s life. It is not something we should try to do, but simply a by-product of resting in the unique purpose in our life and seeking to live that fully.

Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of “Lean In”  said in her commencement speech earlier in 2016 to a class of graduates at the University of California, Berkeley. She was talking to them aboutShine everyday! the lessons she learned in death – the recent death of her husband, that is.  As I read her speech, I found myself reflecting on some of the things she described as part of the shock and process of grief. I, too, lost a spouse to death , became  widowed at a young age, and found myself learning so much in the process, about myself and  other people.  Many times, circumstances of life try to take us off course and threaten to destroy our personhood. And, if we let them, they will. Disappointments of all kinds have a way of draining our energy and speaking words of doubt, trying to convince us “Its no use, just give up.”  But don’t listen to those words. They are only expressions of momentary disillusionment that cloud the truth and reality of who you really are.

You may have heard it said before that “it is not what happens to you, its what you do with what happens to you that matters.” The truth is YOU WERE MEANT to SHINE!! In every season and in every circumstance, you have a choice in how you will move forward and this will either add value to your life and those around you, or takeaway.  I am not saying to live in denial or pretension. I am saying that after every night, there comes a morning. After every sunset, eventually comes a brilliant sunrise!

As Sandberg said in her speech, “the seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.”  As you learn to process disappointment and pain with an eye for growth and gratitude, you will find yourself shining in every season of life.

This often comes down to understanding of how precious every single day is and choosing to savour the moments as if they were the last minutes of your life , or someone else’s close to you.  Whatever else you do on the earth, know that you were meant to shine everyday, so embrace life fully !!

 

Lisa Vanderkwaak.  is a Best -Selling Author, Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and believes in embracing life fully and living your uniqueness with freedom and joy!

 

The 2 Skills That Will Set You Apart and Lead to Greater Success!

Have you ever wondered why some people go farther in their career, or attract more doors of opportunity  than others in the same industry?

Is there something one is doing differently that we can learn from?

Twenty to thirty years ago, having a  degree from university or college almost guaranteed you would be able to land a good job. In fact, not long ago, it was your educational credentials that gave you the edge over others applying for the same job. However, that is not the case for the millennial generation.  Studies show that today, if two people who are highly educated and equipped with the same technical skills applied for a particular job position,the person with highly developed “soft skills” would most likely get the job.

2 Skills Blog imageWhat exactly are these soft skills and how do you develop them? Communication is ranked as  one of the top soft skills most lacking in people seeking jobs or wanting to advance in their career.  Yet, it is one of the first skills employers notice and look for in the hiring process. Some organizations classify oral and written communication  as “hard skills’ , some put them in the “soft skill” category. No matter what category you put them in, according to a Forbes  online, and a recently released article by Caroline Ceniza-Levine,   public speaking and writing proficiency are consistently reported as two of the top five skills most lacking in every industry.  Yet it is these same skills that are said to be THE skills that boost average income  by 20 % according to a recent report by  Payscale, and are necessary skills to develop for those wanting to advance in their career and achieve higher levels of success.

Ironically, programs that offer training in these skills are not often viewed as not worth the investment for companies and individuals. Even though, studies show that possessing these skills move women leaders, in particular, into higher levels of success and increased income brackets faster.  Soft skills are defined by Oxford Dictionaries as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Toastmasters rightly claims that, In addition to  a few others, communication, is one of the skills most desired in nearly every occupation.

How can you attain these skills? You can do what most people do, and take a one-day course that gives you a certificate so you can then say “Been there, done that” , and give you a false sense of confidence that you are now equipped to be a more effective communicator. However, you and I both know that the real sharpening of speaking skills come through constant use AND constructive feedback from someone more highly trained in these skills, such as a speaking coach. Author and leadership expert, Ken Blanchard says that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Practice alone can actually lead to developing bad communication habits. Having someone to give you feedback and train you in how to fine-tune these skills will give you the edge above your competition and lead to increased income. This is especially true for women leaders who are heads of associations, hold a C-suite position  or who are entrepreneurs committed to growing their profits and expanding their impact on those around them. A few years ago, I was listening to an interview with a high profile event planner who confirmed that the biggest challenge for most event planners is finding women speakers who have highly-developed speaking skills. There is a huge vaccum for any woman willing to do what it takes  to fill that gap.

To help you get started in developing these skills download my FREE Cheat Sheet, 8 Things you Need to Know to Prepare for the Platform . Take a moment to honestly assess your preparedness and level of proficiency in public speaking. Where do you need to grow in this highly sought-after skill set? I want to encourage you to make a plan in the next 30 days to find someone who can provide the high-level  feedback you need to help you fine-tune your speaking skills. Through intentional movement forward, you will soon find yourself being viewed as one who truly stands out in your industry,  and beginning to enjoy greater levels of success in your area of expertise.

 

Lisa Vanderkwaak MSc., has spent over 25 years training and coaching leaders in how to stand with confidence, speak with clarity and lead with transformational impact.  In addition to being a best-selling author and a certified speaking coach, Lisa has been in the speaking industry since 1996, and is often referred to as a transformation catalyst. As well as giving seminars and keynote, locally and internationally. Lisa recently founded the Emerging Women Speakers Academy, an online training school for women who want to stand out as speaker and expand her influence. Contact Lisa for your next event.

 

 

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How to Lose your Audience

4 Biggest Mistakes Women Speakers Make and How to Avoid Them!