Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tales of Speaker Man

It can be tough to completely quantify who Speaker Man is, and he can show up within all of us, inhabiting our body on stage as we strive to give the audience the best show we know how. And yes, Speaker Woman is ready to pounce as well, ladies. While concisely defining Speaker Man may be difficult, it's likely we all recognize him when we see him, even if we don't always recognize him when he possesses our own presentation.

While Speaker Man views himself as a Presentation Hero, he is actually an insidious villain, undermining speakers around the world - unintentionally destroying credibility and connection.

Speaker Man Signs to Watch For:

1. The Costume - not everybody can rock a green suit on stage. If you're wearing clothes that aren't 'You', you won't be comfortable when you speak. This doesn't necessarily mean going up in blue jeans and cowboy boots, although that approach has worked for a few... Buy clothes that make you comfortable and confident, while being appropriate for your speaking engagement. The more well known you are, the more you can get away with, but regardless of your status, if you are wearing a suit you hate just to impress, or incredibly uncomfortable high heels just to add power to your look, you are veering into Speaker Man territory.

2. Flexing Those Muscles - Speaker Man loves to strike a pose, and use gestures that truly look other-worldly. If you are planning dramatic gestures, and worse, holding them long enough to 'impress' the audience, you are definitely setting yourself apart. Apart from your listeners. Gestures need to be a natural outgrowth of your speech. Getting out of your comfort zone by using exaggerated gestures is a good thing, but when they are there simply to show people you can do them, Speaker Man is again rearing his not-so-heroic head.

3. The Megamind Myth - Speaker Man craves approval, and wants to show the world how smart he is, and how many quotes and statistics he can throw into a speech. He doesn't realize that by the end of the speech he's channeled so many great minds, no one actually needed him on stage at all, they just needed to buy a copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. If only he realized great concepts and ideas can almost always be recreated within our own personal framework, and presented to audiences in fresh ways they'll remember instead of dismiss as 'oh - yeah, that Einstein quote'.

4. Super Voice - this is the most universally recognized power of Speaker Man, as once it takes over, all hope is lost. Sometimes it's an overpowering used car salesman voice. It can be an overly plaintive and emotional voice. It can be a rapid-fire monotone at high-volume. When Speaker Man grabs control of our voice, we no longer become amplified versions of ourselves giving the audience a piece of our lives - we instead become preachers, politicians, and often overly pompous in our persona. When Speaker Man comes on, the audience turns off. Speaker Man, as desperate as he is to give the audience a great show, forgets to be conversational - to sound the same onstage as off. Instead of amplifying the natural, he's driven to deadly distortion.

Don't let yourself be victimized by this wanna-be superhero. Be comfortable and appropriate. Be naturally demonstrative. Bring your own experience to the stage instead of a steady stream of statistics and expert statements. And PLEASE - just talk to us - if we wanted a performance we'd have gone to the theatre.


  1. Great points, Rich, and very creative analogies.

  2. I was just trying to describe the "Speaker Man" style to a friend who competed in the contests this season... couldn't figure out what words to use, so I did a google search.

    And, OF COURSE, your blog post came up, Rich! This is perfect. Thanks for posting!


  3. Good to know the search engines like me! - Thanks for the comment :)



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