Had someone ask me today who I thought were good presenters. Having asked that same question of people who I consider to be masters of the craft, I was surprised (pleased?) to find I had the same answer — I’ve never found anyone (and certainly I include myself) that I felt had it all together. There are folks who do some things well but everyone seems to lack all the skills. I attended the NSA convention last year and was overwhelmed by the inspiring messages I heard and completely underwhelmed at how they were delivered (the mechanics).But the names that people who don’t follow communication bring up are rather consistent. I find it interesting that these people are almost all: a) well known, b) rich, and c) successful at something else before they became ‘successful’ speakers. (as an aside, name ANY World Champion of Public Speaking — see?!) Taken alone, it would seem that having the platform to speak and a message desired by the masses covers a multitude of delivery mistakes. I know my own experience bears that out. The speakers that have touched me have seldom been the best speakers — many of them were downright bad speakers who had the right thing to say.So who’s good? Jerry Weissman (the self-proclaimed world’s #1 presentation coach) says Guy Kawasaki is the demi-god. I find Guy more than a little brash/arrogant and and his mechanics and use of non-words is downright ordinary, but he always makes me think and people flock to buy his books and hear him speak. Guy in turn highlights someone “as good as Steve Jobs” and gives a list of other top presenters. But Steve Jobs ums and ahs a lot, has marginal transitions, and is stiff. But man, can he work an audience, and they LOVE what he says! Al Gore, Seth Godin, and Bill Cosby are often listed as well, and each has his own faults. And each commands tens of thousands of dollars just to show up. I can promise a lot better eye contact and a lot fewer ums and ahs, and I command considerably less than that!All this is a bit tough to swallow, because I believe with all my heart (and business!) that speaking is a skill that can be learned and the effect of the message is directly tied to how it is delivered as much as what is actually said. And it’s even more true if you aren’t a multi-millionaire or haven’t sold 15 million copies of your book. Those folks get a pass and a free invite to speak and make people go “Wow!”. The rest of us have to work at it. And work hard.
Don’t try to emulate those who gain recognition on things you’ll never have. Instead strive to deliver a compelling message in a compelling manner.