HOW TO SOUND APOLOGETIC. NO MATTER WHAT YOU INTENDED
Last week I decided to start a conversation firmly focussed on being completely UNAPOLOGETIC whenever we speak. And I definitely got your attention!
But before we take a dive deep into what it takes to show up UNAPOLOGETICALLY I wanted to share with you something I see frequently; just how you may be unconsciously apologising to your audience from the moment you take to the stage.
- You have just moments to make an impact
As you open you have just moments to make an impact to get the attention of your audience. This is not the time to introduce yourself and why you are here – ‘Hi my name is Jacqueline and I want to talk to you about resilience’. Don’t tell me – show me. Through story and experience and insight. Open straight into a story that is going to get my attention. Show me that you have the right to get my attention. Don’t open softly, telling me something I already know, because that subtly tells me you are pleading with me to listen to you. You’ve just opened with an unconscious apology for taking up my time.
- Ditch the Opening Question
At the Global Speakers Summit in Auckland in early 2018, Fredrik Haren – one of our best keynote speakers globally – left a lasting impression, particularly with one piece of advice. Do not open with a question unless you know that at least 90% of your audience will answer yes or no. I now make it an absolute with aspiring and growing speakers because it instantly made sense. In the first few moments you are working to have your audience connect in to you; to trust you; to believe they should give you their time. The last thing you want to do is have their minds going off on tangents pondering the question you just asked – in the exact moments you have to get them locked in to you. Open with complete and utter certainty – with a no apology attitude – and take me from there.
- Stop Responding to the Energy of the Room
In 2017 I spoke as the support speaker to an international keynote speaker out of New York whilst he was in Australia. After each of the 3 events he would chat me through his feedback on how and what I delivered, but the most powerful came after the final event. It was a flat room with some dynamics that were challenging, and I responded in kind; still well but not with my usual strength. His words to me were ‘you are the speaker. It is not your responsibility to respond to the energy of the room. It is your responsibility to set the energy of the room’. Don’t wait for permission from the floor – and don’t be distracted by it.
- Don’t Sweat It In Front Of Me
Don’t open with – or insert at any time – “I’m not good at this’, ‘I’m so nervous’, ‘this is my first time so please be kind’. I want your success; if I can see you are nervous I’ll work with you so long as I can hear your passion, your idea, your desire to make a difference, to share your knowledge. I am not going to work against you at any stage – unless you ask for my sympathy first, and then that is probably all I’m going to give you. Take a deep breath and ditch the apology.
- Fans Won’t Write You Cheques
I hit an unhealthy mix of frustration and amusement when I see emerging and aspiring speakers get carried away with a little bit of ‘fandom’. Suddenly there is more engagement and interaction on line and with a lot of ‘you’re so good’ (more on this in the next few weeks) the emerging speakers can often get side-tracked. It becomes more about social engagement than social proof – and social proof can only happen when you ‘do it in real life’. It is not in the online following, the likes, and the comments that you will turn speaking into a successful business or career strategy; nor in sharing stages with celebrities (there is a LOT more coming on that very soon). It is turning up, in real life, with strength and power, being unapologetic – getting real time, real world feedback so that you can push beyond ‘you’re so good’ to being booked – over and over and over again. Focus on the fans and the only way back to ‘in real life’ will be a road littered with apology and diminished certainty.
None of us are perfect; we will all default – one of my clients crafting his second keynote to build on his signature keynote sent through his draft script for review. I opened it and responded within seconds with the question – Where do you think your first mistake may be? He responded with a string of frustrated and laughing emojis and the sentence the first d^^n line! He had made the mistake of taking the first lines to introduce himself and list his background.
You will eventually eliminate the unconscious apology. In the meantime, just get quicker at catching it and ditching it.