I never expected to be a speaker, which is, I guess, the reason I love being unexpected when I speak.
I hosted my first Unexpected Speaker workshop this past week and shared the story of how my nursery school teacher, Mrs. Thompson, told my mother that I would never make a friend because I was so shy. Not the nicest thing to tell my mother. And not the nicest thing for my mother to tell me!
"...let Clipboard Girl guide me."
But my mother made it up to me when she took me to The Mike Douglas Show when I was 14 years old. As I sat in the studio audience, I spotted a girl on the set with a clipboard. I didn’t know what she did, but she was wearing a headset, she was holding a clipboard and she looked really busy. I knew in that moment that whatever it was she was doing; I would do it one day too. I was determined not to let Mrs. Thompson’s label define me, and let Clipboard Girl guide me.
By the time I had my own career in television with my own clipboard, I was unexpectedly handed a microphone and asked to warm-up The Oprah Winfrey Show audience. It was 1987, I was 25 and The Oprah Winfrey Show was in it’s 2nd season. I had no idea what warming-up the audience really meant. I was prepared to be Clipboard Girl, not Warm-up Girl!
Luckily, my father, who was a doctor, had the gift of connection and was a beautiful speaker. So I channeled my dad, along with Clipboard Girl, and quickly learned that when you speak from your heart you unexpectedly engage your audience.
Thirty years later, I bring my unexpected moves to my first audience. We spoke about leaving the podium, having our own audience engagement moves, mingling with our audience before we speak, using compliments like cash, thanking our audience, speaking in REAL time, sharing a piece of ourselves, using mistakes to our human advantage, welcoming interruptions, letting the room determine the order of our presentation - not our script, including our audience throughout our speech, and learning how to love speaking.
"Connection is the best way to win over the audience."
Connection is the best way to win over an audience. As I connected with my workshop audience, I watched them connect with each other – MJ connected with Jetta, Peter connected with Penny, Lisa connected with Debbie, and so many more. Friendships were made, business cards were exchanged, and new speaker moves were learned.
And what brought an enormous smile to my face, was when the student became the teacher. I believe we are all teachers and when the one millennial in the group presented, she woke us up and taught us all that millennials matter and think differently. She asked the audience how they wrote in their journals. Everyone answered that they wrote vertically. Karen revealed that she wrote in her journal horizontally. It was a visual lesson that millennials think and work differently than boomers and genx’ers – an unexpected lesson that grabbed everyone’s heart in the room.