Tootsie Roll Pops. Oreos. Twinkies, may they rest in peace.
They hold inside of them the secret of your best speech. The gooey center in each completes the experience. Sure, the candy shell, crunchy cookie, and spongecake is good, and some even say it's the favorite, but for most, the chocolate, white frosting, and whipped cream filling are the payoff. And for the sake of today's post, I'm not going to split cookies - or hairs.
Lets face it - some speakers never get past the wrappers. They'll tell you something without any style, dialogue, or humor. They preach, teach, and train you until you decide whatever's inside isn't even worth getting to any more.
Good speakers, use stories, dialogue, humor, changes in pitch, volume & meter, and occasionally even a little acting to keep you involved, and stay memorable. We enjoy listening to them - but if they stop there, it's like biting into a filling-challenged Twinkie - empty and disappointing.
What's the Gooey Center, then?
It's the part of the speech that actually MEANS something. The part of your message that transforms and moves your audience. At first glance, you probably won't even see it. Remember your first Tootsie Roll Pop, before you knew it had a Tootsie Roll in the middle of it? You can't even tell it's there at first glance.
You have to break through the surface.
Why are you afraid? Because you might die? Fair enough. Then what? Kids have no father? Then what? You didn't prepare them financially? Then what? You didn't say what you always wanted to say? Go deeper. You don't know if your kids know you love them? That might be it. You never taught them to love themselves? Oooh. You might be there. Or it may lie even deeper. Ask Shrek said - Ogres have layers. Speakers better have them too.
You can't always find your Gooey Center alone. Even the average round of feedback isn't usually enough. Find a coach who's willing to ask you the hard questions, and be willing to answer them. My best speeches all came because I had my coach, Tom Cantrell, and several World Champions of Public Speaking, including Randy Harvey, David Brooks, Jim Key and Darren LaCroix asking me questions at various times.
Now that I'm spending most of my time coaching - I'm the one asking the hard questions, helping my clients find their Gooey Centers, so their audience gets the complete experience of the treats they are sharing. It's not easy. Sometimes it means dealing with issues you don't want to deal with, or sharing stories and ideas you'd forgotten about. Being a speaking coach is the next best thing to being a bartender, or occasionally a psychotherapist. Just ask my coachees :)
Don't stop at the wrapper, or even the crunchy or spongy exterior. Dig deep. Take a big bite. 1 - 2 - 3 - CRUNCH. When you taste the Gooey Center, you're ready to Speak & Deliver!