I am just back from Seattle, Washington where I had the good luck to speak to a group of Microsoft folks.
It went well. Really well. But for me one of the coolest things was watching the audience change from the beginning to the end of my program. They ended off great, smiling, laughing, and really appreciative. But to be honest, during my introduction and the first 2 or 3 minutes of my speech, they were skeptical at best. At worst? Some of them hated me. :)
Why? Why did this group… and so many groups today… hate the thought of a motivational speaker? And what changed their mind? Glad you asked.
Let’s face it, if you poll a group of modern corporate workers today and say, “Hey Everybody! How ’bout a motivational speaker!??!” nearly all of them will roll their eyes and groan. They don’t want to see a motivational speaker. They think they’ve seen it, and been there already.
Yet at the same time, I’m convinced that all of us can benefit from regular doses of motivation; we can benefit from an outsider help us see our lives and jobs from a different perspective.
So…. what does this mean for us? It means that we need to understand that our audiences have a healthy dose of skepticism. They are wary and not easily fooled by crappy speakers. (And let’s face it… there are plenty of crappy speakers.)
What’s the solution? In my case I think success comes with two components. First, humor. If they are laughing their butts off there is a pretty good chance they won’t boo you off the stage. So I work hard to be funny…. really funny.
Second, I work hard to be authentic and genuine. I don’t spend a bunch of time with cliche’s or other typical “motivational speaker” material. I believe deeply in what I’m saying, and that authenticness shows. The audience can see that I’m not trying to fake them out, and they respond. And they laugh even more.
If there is any doubt that folks are not tripping all over themselves to see a speaker, check out this video testimonial. It is a totally back-handed compliment, and I love it.
Thanks So Much, Microsoft.
Check out the motivational keynote speech I did for Microsoft here.