What exactly makes a speech so great and memorable? Its impact on people and how it makes them act or take significant action. When asked about great speeches, there are some obvious names that come up often. Yes, Martin Luther King, J.F.K., Al Gore and so many more have made an impact on people through the years. They stepped up and spoke their truths when people needed it most.
Do I want to choose one of those influencers’ speech as the greatest in history? No. Simply because I think many inspiring “unknown” people have also had a great impact through the years, but they just did not get the same visibility for their message. I don’t mean that those great speeches of the past should be ignored. We should just see them as sources to inspire us to spread our impactful messages and make this world a better place.
So, I challenge all of you to share your most powerful and impactful messages to change YOUR world, whether it’s locally, nationally or internationally. We can all make one of the greatest speeches in OUR history. And just to make things clear, greatest does not mean perfect. It means having the guts to assume we are humans with flaws.
To help you with that challenge, I encourage you to watch Brené Brown’s speech about The Power of Vulnerability. First, because with over 45M views of her talk, I think we can say she knows how to have an impact! Secondly, because she will make you think deeply about yourself and being real. And to have a great impact, it’s all about learning to be real and authentic.
What’s the greatest business presentation / sales pitch and why?
Again, so many great examples have been mentioned by other Big Five Questions authors before me. After my previous answer, you can probably guess that I’ll go in a totally different direction!
For me, a great business presentation or sales pitch is one that will be remembered for a very long time, changing our ways of thinking and triggering action. If it triggers specific emotions, it’s even better! Some of the great presentations I still remember, even after a long time, are from some of my very talented peers from the presentation industry, during The Presentation Summit conference.
Here are two examples, out of many I could have mentioned. In 2010, Nancy Duarte delivered her keynote titled That Resonates With Me, based on her findings from her book Resonate. I was captivated by all the findings and how we could craft better speeches and presentations by following some patterns. But what really struck a chord at the time was her story about how her children thought that a Suavitos Spices poster depicted her, being on a mission to change the world of presentations. I was feeling at crossroads in my business at the time and that specific example sparked me back into the game. (We do not have footage of her Presentation Summit talk but the content is very similar to this talk she deliverered at TEDxEast the same year.)
In 2012, I was attending a session by Ken Molay about audience engagement in web presentations. I had no clue how interesting the session would be since I did not know him at the time. I first noticed one of the branches of his eyeglass frame was missing. Then he started the session with a low, monotone voice, very unsure about himself, VERY bad visuals, and seemingly very novice with a presentation remote. I remember thinking that the session would probably be the longest hour of my life! I had just started to tune-out, maybe 1 ½ minutes in, when Ken’s posture changed and he put a smile on his face saying something like “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how NOT to start any presentation!”. We laughed a lot. He had already made an incredible impact on the audience solely with his introduction. To this day, he still holds 1st place in my mind in terms of unexpected and memorable introductions! And that’s why I have always challenged my own or my clients’ presentation intros for many years.
My goal with my examples was to make you realize that there is no need to be known by the whole world to have an impact around you. Dig into your memories for presentations that gave you the chills or urged you to hit the ground running with new ideas and think about how you could do the same with your own presentations in the future.
Who’s the best political / cause orator today and why?
A few years ago, I stumbled on Emma Watson’s speech, as a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations, on gender equality. What struck me was how vulnerable and powerful she was at the same time. Even though we might think being an actress might make it a breeze to deliver a speech, we can hear a little shakiness in her voice. At the same time, she kept her composure and delivered a powerful and well-structured speech, always looking at her audience. Everyone can feel how inclusive her message is and how much she cares about it.
“If not me, who? If not now, when?” – Emma Watson
Amidst all the political craziness we are all experiencing around the world, there is another talk I think is worth watching. It is Sam Richards TEDx talk A Radical Experiment in Empathy. His storytelling skills take us on a journey where we are forced to see the other side of the story. Is it “the best” talk? Maybe not. But I feel we must give his incredibly powerful message more exposure if we want to make everyone’s world a better place.
What’s the one most important thing that anyone making a speech should do more than anything else?
For the ones that have read all my answers so far, this one will come as no surprise: Be your unique authentic self!
Yes, we need our message to be audience-centric and make them care. But if we play a game, our impact will not be the same.
Yes, we need to craft a compelling story and create a great presentation structure. But if it’s only pixie dust, the audience will not believe it. Humans usually have a great B.S. detector!
Yes, we also need to be well prepared and rehearsed to show respect to our audience. But if our only purpose is to be “perfect”, we won’t be relatable. Humans relate better to others who don’t seem to be inhumanly perfect.
Who inspired you when starting out in the business? Who inspires you now?
Like many others, Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte have inspired the way I think about the presentation industry and my work for a very long time. Their lessons in simplicity, structure and storytelling have been part of how I have worked ever since I started my business.
And now, I must say that many of my peers keep inspiring me to be the best presentation designer and speaker coach I can be. Boris, Dave, Echo, Ellen, Emma, Geetesh, Glenna, Heather, John, Julie, Mike, Nolan, Ric, Richard, Sandra, Steve, Troy, Ute, Yulia and all the ones outside of the MVPs that I meet and talk to frequently, thank you for being my daily inspiration. 😊