Good Speaker or Great Speaker; Your Choice!

Do you know we sometimes settle for ‘good’ when we can be ‘great’? O yes we do. Sometimes we don’t put as much effort into what we do because we think we have nothing (physical) to gain. However, when we invest ourselves into any activity, the knowledge and experience we gain become ours for life. We have to develop the attitude of being the best at whatever we do, whether we are rewarded or not. Excellence is not an action but a way of life. If you are given any task, do it so well that little or nothing can be added.

Excellence is the best bargaining chip you can have. I heard the true story of a man who chose to engage in vigorous self-development and to put his best into all he did at work. While his colleagues stylishly escaped responsibilities, he gladly took them up. While his colleagues mocked him for always “being available,” he was busy developing himself. Without them realising it, he was becoming indispensable in the organization. One day, he told the management of his place of work that he was quitting and there was confusion! An emergency board meeting was convened and he was asked to renegotiate the terms of his employment; the board was willing to give him a raise and even a better position just to retain him in the organization. Imagine that!

In relation to public speaking, you also have a choice to make. You either go the extra mile to become outstanding or you vanish in the crowd as ‘yet another speaker.’ I listened to a speaker some time ago and I was left unsatisfied after his presentation. He delivered a good speech but I wished he had made it a great one. So, instead of writing the points he was making, I found myself writing what made him good instead of great. Here are my observations:

1. Facts without proofs: the speaker made brilliant points, but he couldn’t convince us that the principles actually work. If he had cited examples of those who achieved success by using those principles, we would have benefited more from the presentation. Fact without proof is like wind without rain.

2. Expression without experience: the speech was eloquently delivered. The speaker was quite expressive, but he obviously didn’t have any experience to fall back on. It is actually easy to know when someone is speaking from a wealth of experience and when he/she reads up the topic just for presentation.

3. Presentation without passion: when a speaker is not passionate, there is no way his/her speech can ignite fire in the audience. An unmotivated speaker will turn a great speech to a good one any time any day; in fact he can do worse.

4. Definition without depth: if a speaker has 15 minutes to speak and he spends 10 minutes giving definitions, when should we expect the substance of the speech? Depth is not only how much you understand your subject matter; it is also how much you can make your audience understand it. Always speak from an overflow and never from reserve.

5. Volume without Value: public speaking is not about how much you say, but how valuable your words are. Someone can deliver a 20 minutes speech with only 2 minutes value with someone else can deliver a 5 minutes speech with 20 minutes value. It is not about the number of points you make; it is about the relevance of your words to your listeners.

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