Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see the All Star parade in New York City. The great players of baseball waved to the crowds from their floats-Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and others. The night before I watched Josh Hamilton hit 28 home runs at the Home Run Derby. Amazing!
He was so natural and made it seem effortless as he hit the ball out of the park.
I started to think about what makes a player great. And it's the same thing that makes speakers great.
First, they look natural. They make speaking look easy. You would never know how many months and years they studied and practiced. That grace and ease takes discipline. Greatness in sports and in speaking takes hard work and focus.
In baseball, it's about the numbers, the stats. In speaking it's about the results. What is the audience outcome? Do they leave with infomation they can use or do they wonder where the value went? Great speakers provide practical tips and current information. Great speakers make an impact on the audience.
In any sporting event, the fans go on a roller coaster ride of emotions from passion, to anger, to suspense, to triumph. Great speakers know it's not enough to deliver information. Audiences want an experience. They want to be entertained. For that reason great speakers are master storytellers. They paint pictures with their words and take the listeners on an emotional journey.
Finally, great players are risk takers. They see an opportunity to score points by stealing bases. Great speakers steal moments. They're not afraid to be spontaneous, improvise, and take the speech in another direction if something unexpected happens.
You don't have to be in the Hall of Fame to be an All Star Speaker. Work on your craft, focus on results, give the audience a valuable experience, and take risks. And you'll be the star of your own speech.