Author Sarah Beckman
I was excited for the lesson – even more so because I wasn’t teaching it. Friends said the speaker was good. I knew she had taught many times before, so I figured she must know what she was doing. My expectations were high.
That might have been my first problem.
Is it wrong to assume that people who are given the privilege of teaching others should teach them well?
Not even two minutes into the content, and I knew we were going downhill. I was left grasping at the slippery surface the whole way – trying to catch any meaningful insights I could between the tangents and the deluge of knowledge she threw like snowballs the entire session.
Ever been there?
Frustrating to say the least.
I’m a speaker too. So I understand the difficulty of paring down a bounty of valuable information, finding the time to do so, and then actually delivering the goods in a compelling, memorable manner.
However, as speakers, we owe it to our audience to constantly evaluate and make our process better. We have been given a privilege — they have taken the time to show up and are ready to listen and take action. If we use a process in our preparation that forces us to think about what we are trying to achieve – what we want our audience to DO when they leave — we are halfway there.
I use the SCORRE™ method in my speech preparation, and even though I am completely sold out on its effectiveness and power, I too, can be tempted to circumvent the process and head for the hills.
But the problem is, without a trail map, you will end up going places you never intended. Your audience deserves better.
You speak to make an impact. And it’s important to know that if you don’t choose a process, and stick with it faithfully, you will end up with three unintended outcomes.
Unintended Outcome 1: Distracted Audience
I showed up that day READY to learn. I expected to be nourished spiritually, and to get new insights from a reputed teacher. However, when the material was more like a stream of consciousness than an outline, I became distracted. (In fact, I wrote down the objective and rationale for this blog while she talked.)
When we don’t do the hard work in advance to create a cohesive message with clear rationale, we end up with disinterested listeners. We want to engage our audience, not distract them.
Unintended Outcome 2: Overwhelmed Audience
When that speaker flooded her message with every single scripture she came across related to the topic, I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose! I have no doubt she was smart and knew her Bible, but her vast knowledge overwhelmed me. It also made me feel inadequate.
When we impart all our knowledge instead of only what is essential to achieve our objective, we lose our listeners. We want receptive listeners, not overwhelmed ones.
Unintended Outcome 3: Unmotivated Audience
No matter how much I wanted to “get something” out of the message that day, my speaker couldn’t take me there.
Why? Because she didn’t know where “there” was herself.
When we don’t create a crystal clear objective by forcing ourselves to answer: “What do I want them to do when they leave?” our audience has no clue why they came to hear us in the first place. We want to inspire our audience to action, not leave them unmotivated.
Circumventing an often tedious, but necessary, speech preparation process, will leave us settling for outcomes we never intended.
As long as we have been given the stage, the podium or the conference room, we need to take that privilege seriously. The work needed is worth doing, so do the work! You will have engaged, receptive and motivated listeners…who will certainly be glad you did.
What is your speaking preparation process?
If you don’t have a process already, consider attending the SCORRE™ Conference coming up May 4-7, 2015 in Orlando, FL.
Sarah Beckman is a Speaker, Writer and Communications Coach. She also speaks to audiences across the country on topics including loving your neighbor, sharing your faith, safeguarding your marriage and digging up your talents. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Craig and her 3 teenage children. She loves the mountains and eating green chile.