When the stakes are high, giving a kick ass presentation
is of utmost importance!
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SOUND CHECK Ep. 1 - "Attention Is A Precious Commodity"
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You’re listening to the “Sound Check” Podcast, episode number 1. “Attention Is A Precious Commodity”
Welcome to “Sound Check,” a podcast by a speaker for speakers. Are you looking to knock your next presentation out of the park? Well then you’ve come to the right place! And now your host, Sari de la Motte…
Welcome to “Sound Check!” My name is Sari de la Motte. I’m a presentation coach, speaker and trial consultant and I couldn’t be more excited about the launch of this brand-new podcast for speakers.
For those of you who are new to my work, allow me to tell you a little bit about myself; I am, first and foremost a speaker. I LOVE to be on stage. I work with speakers of all kinds and specialize in working with trial attorneys. Why trial attorneys you ask? Well, for a few reasons. First, I am a total trial junkie. I love that regular everyday people, the jurors, get to decide big things that impact our society. And that their ability to do that all comes down to how well a trial attorney can communicate or present the information to them! That is just is so fascinating to me. Second, I am drawn to high stakes communication. Personally I think all speaking is high stakes in that speaking has such an impact, which we’re going to talk about in today’s podcast, but trial is definitely high stakes. These attorneys have spent months, if not years working up cases that jurors will get to participate in for just a few days or weeks. This means the attorney’s presentation has to be spot on or that’s months of work down the drain. That’s exciting to me. Figuring out how to put together a trial presentation that engages jurors and entices them to want to help is what I’m all about. Finally, I think trial attorneys have been unfairly judged. Here’s a group of people who risk everything to take these cases to trial, because they don’t get paid unless they win (not sure if you non attorneys knew that) and they’re called ambulance chasers, they’re blamed for our insurance rates going up and worse. I think it’s really unfair. So I like working with the underdog. The misunderstood. People who continue to do right even when everyone and everything else is against them. I really believe in that kind of work.
Now, if you’re not a trial attorney, never fear! You’re still in the right place. Working with trial attorneys are my niche, but I work with speakers of all kinds; politicians, people preparing for Ted Talks, executives who have to present at meetings as well as small business owners who want or need to speak to get their name out there. If you want to knock your next presentation out of the park, I’m your gal.
So, a little bit about me. I’m based in Portland, Oregon but work all over the United States and Canada. I’ve been doing this work for over fifteen years and during that time I’ve helped create every kind of speech imaginable. But I don’t just work with speakers on their presentations, I’m a sought after speaker myself. I’ve spoken on stage in almost every state in the United States. I’ve headlined conferences, I’ve led seminars, and I’ve worked on the inside with major corporations. I’ve spoken to groups as small as 10 people and to groups of thousands. I’ve done 30 minute lunch and learns and, conversely, multi-day seminars. I’ve spoken for the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation only group of the top 100 trial attorneys in the United States, I’ve been profiled in magazines and in newspapers and Trial Guides, the leading legal publisher in the United States just released my brand-new DVD: The Power of Presence last year. Now, I don’t say any of that to impress you, or to brag, but to help you understand, that when it comes to speaking, I’ve been there. And I hope to share everything i’ve learned along the way for you speakers listening out there today.
Funnily enough, I’ve been on stage since I was four years old. But not as a speaker; I started playing the piano at age four, continued through high school and went on to get a Bachelor of Music and Master of Science in Teaching. But I never felt comfortable on stage as a pianist. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I found my true love; I LOVED speaking! Ask me to play a piano piece I’d practiced for three months and I’d get so nervous I’d almost throw up. Ask me to talk to a group of people with little to no preparation and I’d jump at the chance. I loved loved loved connecting with a group on stage.
Over the past 15 years I’ve gone from a piano teacher teaching piano out of my home to owning a national communications firm. So what I’m here to do in this podcast is help you become the speaker you want to be whether that’s making a living as a speaker like myself, or just making sure you rock your next sales presentation.
In this inaugural podcast we’re going to start by talking about what’s at stake when you don’t speak well.
At first glance you might think this is an odd topic to jump start this podcast. This is a podcast by a speaker for speakers, so don’t those of you listening already understand what’s at stake? You’re speakers!
But that’s the thing: I think most people view themselves as a public speaker or…not. Meaning, you either give presentations as part of your job or if you’re a weirdo, like me, for fun, or you don’t.
So let’s define “presentation” first. What is a presentation? And how long does it have to be to qualify you as a “public speaker?”
Newsflash: ANYTIME you speak in public you’re a public speaker. That includes simply standing up and introducing yourself. And lest you wonder who on earth would have trouble introducing themselves, I just, last week, had my first coaching session with a new client who told me she’s so nervous to speak in public that even introducing herself in meetings can go horribly wrong.
So...unless you’re living in a cave somewhere without human interaction of any kind, you’re a public speaker. And well, maybe even then. If you’re talking to yourself in front of your animal friends that still counts. And don’t animals deserve good presentations too? Hello?!
Alright. So we’re all public speakers. But, unfortunately, we don’t all do it well. So my aim in launching this podcast is two fold: first, to help speakers knock their presentations out of the park, and that includes the simplest presentations like just saying your name in front of a group of people AND, ridding the world of bad speakers one at a time. Not for your sake, but the audience’s.
Look, we’ve all been there. Sitting in an audience listening to the WORLD’S WORST SPEAKER, unable to leave, feeling uncomfortably glued to our seat. It’s the absolute worst, isn’t it? If you’re like me, you begin praying for an earthquake, or a power outage or even a fork to stick in your eye when forced to listen to a bad speaker.
But let’s look more closely at why that is. WHY is it so maddening to listen to a “bad” speaker?
Here’s why: ATTENTION IS NOW THE TOP CURRENCY in our society. The top. Because it’s so damn scarce.
Think about that for a moment: advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions in some cases to get your attention. Even for a second. There are now ads in places that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Whereas before most ads were in magazines and TV, making it fairly simple to ignore should you wish to, now you can’t get away from ads. They’re everywhere: on FB, on Netflix, on the free app you downloaded to help you navigate the new city you’re visiting, everywhere. Advertisers are desperate, DESPERATE to get your attention because they know you’re being asked to give your attention to so many things every day. One article I read said that the average American was exposed to about 500 ads per day back in the 1970’s. Today? Between 4000 – 10,000 ads per day.
And it isn’t just advertisers vying for your attention. It’s our kids, our spouse, our boss, our coworkers, our friends, that article we saved last Sunday that we didn’t have time to read and so on and so on and so on.
Attention is a precious commodity.
So is it any wonder then, why most of us would rather tear our hair out than listen to a bad speaker? And why it is so important, essential, even, to KICK ASS when it’s your turn to speak?
Listen, if you have the INCREDIBLE opportunity to get the undivided attention of a group of people in today’s day and age you’ve GOT to nail it. There simply isn’t any room to half ass it. Because here’s what: when you’re in a position to speak to a group, you have incredible power. Power that can propel your career forward, power that can advance your ideas, power that can literally change the world.
Speaking well has the power to change EVERYTHING. I’ve seen groups of hostile participants conversing and laughing with each other within 20 minutes after a great speaker takes the stage. Look at the great orators through history: Dr. Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy, Maya Angelou, hell, even Adolf Hitler. All of these speakers changed the course of history, not because they simply had a vision of a world that was different that the one they were living in, but because they could communicate that vision to a group in such a way so as to get that group to follow.
Maybe you’re thinking, well, Sari, the kinds of presentations I do aren’t meant to persuade anyone or change anything necessarily, and that’s a fair point. But I challenge you to think about this a bit differently: that tech presentation to your team on the new roll out of the software? You better believe that presentation has power. Sure, maybe you’re simply just giving an overview of the process or alerting your team to where you are in the project. But every time you step in front of a group your credibility is at stake. Every presentation, regardless of the content, is an opportunity to increase your standing. And don’t forget; even if you don’t have the most exciting, engaging presentation planned you still have the attention of the group so at the very least you don’t want to squander that very precious resource. You owe that group something in return for them giving you something of theirs that is in such short supply.
So to recap there are three big things at stake when you neglect to increase your speaking facility;
Change. Credibility. Confidence. These three things are at stake when you can’t speak well.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that increasing your ability to speak is essential, not just for us “self identified” speakers either. But I also hope I haven’t scared you. Public speaking isn’t hard, there’s just a few tricks and tips you need to learn to be able to do it well, and that’s exactly what I plan to share with you as we continue together on this journey.
Between now and the next podcast, I invite you to visit my website saridlm.com, and join us on Facebook at facebook.com/saridlm.
Have a presentation coming up? Schedule a free 30-minute discovery session with me to see if it makes sense for us to work together. I’d love to chat with you. The link to do this is on our website on the coaching page and is also included in the show notes.
Thanks everyone for joining us, and until we meet again, I invite you to Find Your Voice and Speak it Powerfully.
Sari de la Motte is the host of "Sound Check" a podcast for speakers looking for tips on how to increase their "executive presence" and ability to confidently connect with their audience.