I was the co-chair of the Les Brown mega event sponsored by the NYC chapter of National Speakers Association on February 15th. Les mesmerized 150 audience members as he taught us how to tell transformational stories that change lives. Les Brown is one of the top celebrity motivational speakers and made a rare appearance for the benefit of local professional speakers.
In the afternoon session, he gave an interview from the stage and spoke about the business of professional speaking.
Les warned professional speakers that focusing on back-of-the room sales is the wrong strategy. "It's impact that drives income," he explained. People have emotional memory. While content is important, it doesn't move people to action. When speakers create impact through stories and passion, the audience will want to do business with them. A powerful public speaker creates special moments. The best public speakers create an experience for the audience. Les revealed that "the power is not on the stage; it's in the seats." He spoke about the rhythm of speaking and advised public speakers to pay more attention to listening than to their speaking. "Never let what you want to say get in the way of what the audience wants to hear", he stated.
His passionate presentation flowed seamlessly, appearing effortless and spontaneous. But he demonstrated that there is a structure to storytelling and public speaking. Using his storytelling structure of It's Possible, It's Necessary and It's You, he demonstrated how he could use this template for any industry.
He taught a storytelling technique called pivot and bridge. He then demonstrated the skill using story topics from volunteers in the audience. "Never make a point without telling a story and never tell a story without making a point." But this doesn't give public speakers license to drone on. Les explained, "The best speakers use the fewest words to go the furthest".
Les left the audience of professional speakers, toastmasters, and guests cheering on their feet and wanting more.
"The goal of a speaker is to give the audience a larger vision of themselves", he said. "Surrender to the story and speak from the heart."