I was recently speaking in Virginia where I had the good fortune to be booked at the same convention as one of my favorite Colorado speakers, Susan Carnahan. (Susan is based in Monument, Colorado.)
I got to see one of her two breakout sessions (on networking) and she absolutely killed. She is a charming and wonderful trainer, and the audience totally responded.
She is skilled, articulate, agreeable, talented, lively and experienced. But to be honest, my favorite moment had something to do with her hair. She was making a point for her audience when she made a gesture with her hand to her hair which resulted in her hair style looking a bit funky. Not bad… but not as perfect as I bet Susan would have liked it.
A few women from the audience (who loved her, I remind you) laughed with her and pointed out the hair foul.
Now a less relaxed and professional speaker would have freaked. But not Susan. She just said, “Oh, what? My hair is goofed up?” They nodded. She fixed, smiled, laughed, thanked them, and went on with her breakout session.
What was the result? The audience loved the fact that she was so “normal.” All of us get our hair messed up, our shirt collar bunched up, a bit of broccoli in our teeth, whatever. And most of us would prefer for these kind of things NOT to happen in front of an audience.
We loved Susan because she was so like us. She has the same problems that the rest of us have. And she handled it so gracefully that we loved her all the more for it.
What’s my point? If you’re looking for professional speakers pick one that the audience can relate to. Speakers who are “too perfect” and “too polished” may have great speakers’ skills, but if they don’t connect to the audience they leave everybody with a hollow feeling. Audiences today are way to sophisticated to be fooled by people they perceive as plastic.
But when pro speakers demonstrate their human-ness (is that a word?) the way Susan Carnahan did, the connection is solid, strong, and totally attractive and lovable. We connected to Susan because she proved she is so much like us.
We all can learn from Susan. Next time you have something go wrong, just remember that we all goof up. And what will separate you from the rest is the way you handle it. Just be humble, honest, and smile. And the world will love you for it.
Way to go Susan!
PS. I am great at making these human mistakes. But to be honest, I’d KILL to have a bad hair moment like Susan. I’d kill to have hair. Period.
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