Consider Your Gift

The next time you take to the stage to speak or to present, consider your gift.

“Giving a gift” by asenat29 (flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

The gift I’m speaking about in this article is not your commanding voice, or your motivating gestures, or any other of the many skills and traits that go into making a powerful speaker. The gift I’m talking about is the core message you’ve brought to share with your audience.

We live in an age of overstimulation. At every turn we are being wooed, cajoled, charmed and distracted by people and things vying for our attention. Combined with the fact that the average audience member possesses, in the form of a smart phone, the ability to tune you out or replace you with information and tasks more relevant to their daily existence. If you turn up without a gift, you will lose that battle.

So, what kind of gift should you bring? Well, how about something that will enhance or improve the lives of the people you are speaking to. The gift can be in the form of information, or entertainment or inspiration. The point is that it has to be for your audience, not for you; and, it has to be offered magnanimously, with generosity and a real care and concern for those listening to your message. In short… it has to be a gift.

The problem with finding the gift in your presentation is that it isn’t always self-evident. It can be hard to lead to a frustrating search, and it can be hard to find, but finding it is worth every moment of the time you spend searching. At Sliding, when we work with a new client, a good portion of our opening sessions are often spent helping the client bore down to the crux of their message. Our credo is that you must be able to state your core message in fifteen words or less or you’ll risk losing your audience.

That fifteen words or less that constitutes your core message will be your gift. The truth is; if what you want to say to your audience doesn’t seem like a gift to you, you probably shouldn’t be standing up to speak to them, because they will have no reason to listen and you will have no reason to speak to them.

The great thing about “the gift” is that it not only benefits the audience; it also provides practical and tangible benefits to the presenter, particularly in the area of delivery. Here are three such benefits:

  1. Speaking and presenting can be a daunting experience. Many people actually say they are less afraid of death than they are of public speaking. By having a gift to offer it helps to shift the focus of your presentation from you to the audience. It also gives you, the presenter something to focus your thoughts on other than how you’re doing or whether the audience is receiving you well.
  2. Having a gift will turn your presentation from an “inny” to an “outy.” Having a gift that you fervently want to share with your audience provides you with a mission to accomplish. The mission will in turn inject a sort of motive force into your presentation that will help you to reach out to your audience and connect with them on a more personal level.
  3. Having a gift gives you something to be excited about. It’s like the unwrapping of presents on a Christmas morning, when you’ve got something really great for someone you just can’t wait to show them. Having a gift to share with your audience will help you to find, and share, that same type of enthusiasm.

Consider your gift. If you prepare a presentation and can’t find the gift within it, it may be time to reconsider the presentation. When you do find the gift within your presentation hone it until you’ve made it absolutely clear, concise and compelling. Then, when you take to the stage to share your gift, do so with enthusiasm, generosity and love. It’s your gift to share.

Cheers, Patrick

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