Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina & Global Preparedness Authority
Over the past several years, as a Keppler Speaker I have been fortunate to be traveling the country addressing many different types of organizations and companies on Leadership and Preparedness in the 21st Century. From my 37 years of military experience including over seeing the disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to going on the road speaking with audiences of all sizes, a “Culture of Leadership and Preparedness” is not only essential but mandatory for maximum results. I would like to share below my keys to success for commanding an audience’s attention at a public event.
1.) Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.
Not so unlike my years in the military preparing for combat or a humanitarian rescue mission, the 6 p’s as stated involves knowing the room, your audience and your material. Be familiar with the place in which you speak including arriving early and walking around the speaking area. Greet some of the audience as they start to arrive. That familiarity will likely breed a stronger emotional connection. Prepare and practice your material and running through the presentation as many times as possible has always served me well after all these years.
2.) Audience connection
A speaker’s success is also based on establishing an immediate rapport with the audience. Getting a good sense of the “temperature of the room” by greeting folks as they enter or making a point to shake hands prior to the event demonstrates a certain emotional connection that one wants to foster and a positive expectation of the speaker’s relationship to his/ her guests.
3.) Know the conference organizer’s goals
It’s important when I work closely with organizers to clearly understand the client’s definition of a successful event. Delivering on those goals of information, entertainment and inspiration creates the optimal first class audience experience. Starting with my initial conversation with event planners, the core team consisting of their “troops on the ground” is a relationship built on trust which just like in the military is the essential ingredient for all successful missions.
4.) Be succinct
Similar to the military, where establishing “a priority of work” by leaders is vital, audiences appreciate if your message is both clear and to the point. By keeping the conversation moving also shows a respect to the audience’s time as well as the event schedule which helps conference organizers.
5.) Tell stories
During my time helping to lead the nation’s rescue mission after Hurricane Katrina, I witnessed firsthand the power of stories and the messages that can help connect with audiences. Through spoken personal stories, one enables audiences to visualize a certain life happening or event that compels people to sit up and pay attention whether in the middle of a natural disaster or from a conference event stage . Stories are exciting and should always reinforce your message. I have found that many times a speaker’s stories are the part of the speech that is the most memorable.
Caring about your speech subject and exuding enthusiasm is contagious in public forums. There’s nothing more disheartening than listening to someone who’s just not interested in what they’re talking about.