I don’t want to be an Inspirational Speaker.
Not now, not even when I’ve made my millions. NOT EVER.
It’s not that I don’t want to inspire people when I present – I do. I want to change their lives in lasting ways that make a real difference. It’s that just that the phrase “Inspirational Speaker” sends a shudder down my spine.
Hundreds, if not thousands of people are listed as Inspirational Speakers.
And my honest reaction is “so what?”
Inspirational yet Interchangeable
Inspirational Speakers tend to be people who have achieved extraordinary things – climbers, business people, politicians, writers, Big Brother winners and athletes. A job description that will no doubt swell by a few hundred retiring Olympians keen on sharing their secrets with you for a bob or two. And we hire them and listen to them because they know about succeeding against the odds, about commitment, about dedication, about motivation and blah blah blah.
Every single one of them is unique.
Every single one has a unique story to tell.
Yet they do themselves the injustice of branding themselves alongside everyone else as (just) A.N. Other Inspirational Speaker.
Want to hire one and they’re busy? No problem, just book someone else instead.
What Does A Warm Glow Solve?
The trouble with selling yourself a speaker who inspires is that inspiration is hard to sell. What permanent difference do you make in the lives of those listening?
Bicycle sales shot through the roof after our success in the Olympics, but how many of those bikes will be for sale on eBay in a few month’s time? Will an inspiring story get you out of bed at 6am on a dark, cold, wintry morning when the rain is pouring down to go for a cycle?
I’ve nothing against Inspirational Speakers – I’ve listened to hundreds and I’ve loved that warm glow that I get from listening to them.
The trouble is that warm glow soon wears off.
Have Your Say
Do you think inspirational speaker is a great job title?
Do you aspire to be one?
Post your comments below…..
Have you been glued to the drama unfolding at the Olympics? The opening ceremony was an amazing spectacle, coupled with great story telling about British history, and ever since I’ve been oohing and aahing over the sheer single-minded commitment of these incredible gifted sportsmen and women.
The drama of the opening ceremony was a dramatic and vivid tale of British history, told using few words. The glorious English countryside came to life with sheep, geese, watermills, country cottages, an idyllic scene…Then came the Industrial Revolution with serious Victorian men in their suits and top hats who rebuilt Britain with tall foreboding chimneys that rose from the ground. And that was just the start of the journey…
For me, the opening ceremony was a triumph of visual storytelling that any presenter or speaker can learn from. But what made it great storytelling?
1. The Journey
The contrast between the green countryside and the dark chimneys provided a simple, yet stark, contrast between our lives as farmers and our lives as workers. But it went on beyond that into the present day, celebrating all that was wonderful about Britain.
2. Simple Strong Images
Cows, sheep, geese, watermills, fluffy clouds. These are strong, simple images that need no explanation. Neither do great dirty chimneys that rise from the ground and belch out smoke. Then sparks rose as they poured steel to form an Olympic ring…
The countryside was populated by down-to-earth folk engaged in everyday tasks, baking bread, sewing seeds, talking to each other. The Industrial Revolution had men in top hats and suits giving orders and being very serious. There was also a modern romance between young people played out by text and music.
Throughout the ceremony, I felt an array of emotions. I felt sadness as the countryside was destroyed, uplifted as the sparks flew as they poured the steel for the Olympic ring, I laughed as the nurses and children danced, I was excited by the powerboat ride of the Torch to the stadium, I felt proud of the NHS and all the sportsmen and women and finally overcome as the flame light an incredible torch representing all the countries present…. It was captivating. I was captivated.
It’s said that a story needs just 3 things: a hero, a struggle and a resolution. But all of these would have meant nothing if I hadn’t been touched by the story, if I hadn’t of cared.
When you’re storytelling, think of the Olympic Opening Ceremony and see how you can create a story full of emotion, of meaning, so that the story you tell is remembered for years to come.
Then you may just get a gold medal in storytelling!
And just in case you didn’t see it – the clip shows what a great sport even our beloved Queen can be…
Being Naked is about being authentic, being yourself and the reason my A-Z is dead is because its….
- uninspiring to write (and therefore unlikely to be inspiring to read)
Being a Naked Presenter is about walking the walk. What I do in my business needs to be an authentic expression of who I really am, not what I think you want me to be. Or I’ll come across as fake. So my blog needs to be innovative, creative, fun and unconventional. And an A-Z just doesn’t fit.
So today I am deleting all my drafts and leaving Dullsville behind. I am going all out to ensure my business is an expression of me -which means it should err on the side of bonkers (according to one of my closest friends).
If you want to grab people’s attention, then anything that could fall into the category “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” is not going to cut it. Clip art (yawn), Word Art (a crime against Art if you ask me), the inbuilt templates (which are all gopping), your logo on every slide….. They are all instantly forgettable.
The thing is as humans we are created as one-of-a-kinds (even as an identical twin, I know I am unique). So why on earth should our presentations become so samey, so predictable, so boring? It’s easy to stand out in a sea of boring presentations – just be yourself.
Purple Zebras beat Purple Cows (sorry Seth!)
Let’s try something a bit different. A zebra. (better). Ok, think of a tiny purple & white striped zebra, about 2 inches tall. She’s stood in the palm of your left hand (did you hold it out and look?), looking at you with her big black eyes and neighing excitedly as she shakes her tail.
When you are communicating with people, through public speaking, or presentations, you can talk about cows until, well the cows come home. But will anyone remember what you said? The minute you talk about a tiny purple striped zebra, then your audience will sit up, wake up and listen. Think how much longer you’ll be remembered if you create a vivid image in their mind….. How soon will you forget the tiny purple zebra?
There’s no doubt about it. A vivid image will last much longer than anything hum drum, mundane or predictable.
How do you create something vivid? Make it unusual, colourful, close to the person (standing in their hand is optional) and use all the senses such as sound, smells to create something lasting.
So ignore the hum drum, step away from the PowerPoint templates, lay down your A-Zs and your Top 10s. Try something different: instead of an A-Z, why not a D to X? Instead of a Top 10, why not the Top 7 ½?
Be different or be beige.