Monday, April 26, 2010

Public Speaking like a Rock Star

At the beginning of this month, I gave a presentation to a large group of fellow HR professionals. I regularly present to smaller groups, but this presentation was quite a bit larger, in a lecture hall format, and one in which I really wanted to make a positive impact. Prior to my presentation, I read as many articles as I could on public speaking and even used pizza and beer to bribe a group of friends to let me practice the presentation on them. Through it all, I learned a lot and ultimately the presentation went well.

This past week I went to a performance of our local American Idol hero Matt Giraud. He’s a talented musician and singer and the concert was excellent. As we were leaving, it occurred to me that he knowingly or unknowingly incorporated the key elements of successful public speaking into his performance. What did he do? Consider this:

He chose a topic that he is passionate about, his music. He told us about his past and even performed a song that told his story, making a personal connection with us.

He made the audience feel special by repeatedly thanking us for coming, but not in the usual “We love you (fill in city name here) kind of way.” He used specific examples of what we had done to help him when he provided his praise and gave humorous examples to make his point. He said he wanted to call each McDonalds that posted “Vote for Matt G.” on their sign and say “I’m going to come buy a McFlurry from you!”

He raved about the musical talents of the other performers on his team and demonstrated his own technical competence by playing the drums, singing and most impressively, improvising on the piano while simultaneously talking to the audience.

By the end of the evening Matt had successfully befriended an audience of 1,500 people. At a meeting the next morning, the coffee pot discussion was all about his performance the night before – I obviously wasn’t the only one he impressed.

So the next time you have a big presentation to make, pick a topic that you love and are passionate about, do your homework so you know the subject matter inside and out, personalize your message for the audience, and engage them by sharing personal examples. You too can do public speaking like a rock star.

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