Watched a speaker open a few days ago with the phrase, “Let me tell you about my life…” Short of opening with, “I’d like to show some pictures from my vacation…” there are few things that could be more self-centered or more poorly received. An audience doesn’t much care about the speaker’s life, unless the speaker is compelling or famous. This speaker was neither. To the audience, he was a complete nobody/unknown to the audience, despite an impressive string of letters and a resume that seemed impressive.Phrases that include “me” and “I” as a speaker are almost always either in direct conflict or dangerously close to being in conflict with Rule #1. It’s not about you. Remember?This particular speaker went on to describe his academic world and try to explain what the pains and pressures were like. Most of the audience just stared back blankly — it was a foreign world that was not really interesting to them. Rather than trying to explain the speaker’s world and highlight the differences between it and the common man (I read of a comment about some star — maybe Paris Hilton? — who didn’t know what Walmart was. Talk about no identification with the audience!), a speaker should strive to connect with the audience and make it known that there are similarities. Then spend the time together building upon the common ground and making the point(s).
Talk about the audience’s needs. That topic seldom is the speaker.