Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Information Needs Inspiration... much as Inspiration needs Information.

In most cases, speakers know their information - that's why they are speaking about it. They may have 25 years experience with it, they may have 25 days, but they know it. They may or may not have passion, and if they do, it doesn't automatically come out in their speaking.

I recently heard a speaker tell me all about her process of becoming an author. All of her experiences, from her formative education to her online critique group to her specific writing processes. Great information - useful and specific. I didn't leave inspired to go do it on my own though - I just felt confident she was doing the right things. She spent so much time telling me how it's done, she forgot to tell me how great it is to do it!

Passion finds many places to hide in public speaking. In our desire to put forth the best information. In our training, in places from school to the corporate world, to muffle our passion and excitement for our topic, in favor of professionalism and objectivity. Passion also hides in our fear of speaking - our fear of forgetting what we're saying in our emotion, or being seen as over-emotional, or forgetting we have emotions at all as the audience stares back at us, so we don't just turn around and walk out of the room.

The reverse is also true. Many speakers use emotion as a weapon of mass destruction - and they know exactly what they want us to do - and they use every tactic in the book to do it, short of actually providing adequate evidence to support the action. Those speakers paint with emotions, and little else. They're usually selling something that will change your life, be it spiritual salvation, a cure for Sciatica, or the next great Internet Marketing Money Machine.

While some of these speakers don't have actual information to back up their plans for us, most do. They either don't think they have enough, or get so caught up emotionally they forget that the importance of information.

These speakers also have the benefit/crutch of emotion being a more effective tactic for short-term decision making than information. Why should they change when they are often getting the results they want?

Is it going to far to say that most speakers fall into one camp or another? I'll let you be the judge of that. The more pressing question you should ask yourself is, "Is that me?" followed by "How am I failing my audience by not balancing Information and Inspiration?"

The second question is crucial, because it doesn't focus on YOU, it focuses on your audience. Are you providing enough information that your audience will feel good about their decision to buy or not buy what you are selling after they make that initial, emotion-driven decision? Or do they return home either burdened with buyer's remorse or with nothing at all, despite the fact your solution was perfect for them, because you failed to provide enough evidence to convince them?

Conversely, did you focus so much on information that your audience was too overwhelmed, or perhaps too bored, to act? Were you so devoid of passion and emotion your audience was only going to act because they were more determined and passionate about your topic than you displayed on stage?

The best speakers use both Inspiration and Information to move their audiences. They aren't afraid to show emotion, to paint a picture of success and victory, and they are just as eager to provide concrete examples and evidence to back up their claims. Brief case studies, historical anecdotes, and especially personal stories give you prime opportunities to give the information on your process needed to support your case.

Your Inspiration component lies in your results. How has this changed your life - more importantly how will your information change your audience's life?

Effective (and responsible) speakers provide both Inspiration AND Information. They give you what and why, the results and the process, the emotion and the evidence.

Don't shortchange your audience, or your effectiveness by failing to show emotion OR by failing to provide enough information. Both are crucial elements that allow you to Speak...& Deliver.

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