It’s not exactly cheap and being away for a week can really cramp your style.
Meeting online friends was great and there’s something to be said for the experience and buzz you get from just being there.
But why attend? I wanted to observe bloggers up on the dais. To see if their speaking style matched their online personas. Could they hold the audience’s attention and teach? Entertain? Inspire?
I focused on content of course, but was really there to see how they worked the room. Developing my own speaking platform I sought to capture every nuance of each speaker’s own special form of genius.
In all honesty, the talks ranged from so-so to extraordinary. So here’s my short, sweet description of the better sessions I attended and what I learned regarding delivery, creativity, timing and mechanics.
We’ll call this lessons in speechcraft.
Michael Hyatt: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
I started reading Michael Hyatt’s blog a few short months ago. He has built an amazing platform and his speech was about that very topic. As a former CEO you might call him a taskmaster general, and I certainly came away with that feeling. Here’s someone who exudes confidence and controls the stage. Polished, filled with detail and timed oh, so perfectly, he never left the lectern, but delivered. Well structured and following an outline which defined his mission, I came away with a full page of notes.
What did I learn?
Speak with authority, but cut the chaff. It was obvious he sliced, diced, whittled and refined his talk, so the most salient points where all that was left. Concise, to the point and inspirational, I think Mr. Hyatt could coach a few former CEOs on style, delivery and mechanics.
John Falchetto: From Being Hunted by Tribes to Building One: Lessons From the Desert to Build a Tribe Online
John did something different. The talk became more of a discussion and the room was very involved. I think we call this “social,” so how fitting for a conference with “blog” in the title, eh? He engaged with many in the room with an extended question and answer session and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t roll like this. I’m introverted and get quickly overwhelmed. I need to rehearse and I need structure. The more you involve the audience, the more extemporaneous it becomes, but it’s obvious he welcomed this.
The tone was friendly, instructional, but not preachy. Calm and engaging, I often call Mr. Falchetto a Sensei and I mean it. He has some great lessons and what you see on his blog is what you get in person.
What did I learn?
If I could only be so relaxed. Put your audience at ease and never let them see you sweat. I need to get back to Toastmasters and work on impromptu speaking right about now.
Erik Deckers: 10 Professional Writing Secrets to Create Killer Content
To be honest, I didn’t really know much about Erik before attending the event. And when it came time for his session I was waffling between two talks, deciding to attend his at the last minute. Boy am I glad I did.
The talk was engrossing and this guy knows how to weave humor into a speech. I felt like I was back in college listening to one of the really cool professors. Remember those? Engaging talks full of humor, insight and lots of a-ha moments. He also crafted one heck of a slide deck. Frankly one of the best I’ve seen.
What did I learn?
I’m not big on slides, but now realize how effective a well thought out series of slides can be. Also, good comic timing is a difficult skill to master, but can make a good talk great. Try to weave in some comedy for good measure and make those slides count.
Marcus Sheridan: 10 Critical Business Blogging and Content Mistakes That Are Killing Profits and Brand Growth Worldwide
Most of you know about The Sales Lion. And if you’ve viewed any of his videos you know how he engages the audience. He even wrote a post about bloggers as speakers opening a great discussion on the introverted nature of many bloggers. This describes me and I’ll be honest. Sitting in Marcus’ audience knowing he might be up in my grill at any moment made me kinda nervous.
But here’s the thing. The energy in the room was palpable and a style like this is captivating, amps you up and certainly keeps you focused on the speaker. I remember a high school math teacher with a similar approach. I was never 100% comfortable in his class, but I sure paid attention. Marcus does this extremely well and he also packs a ton of emotion into his talks.
What did I learn?
I’m not sure I could ever pull this off, but he makes me think of more creative ways to engage the audience. If nothing else, there’s something to be said for the energy it creates.
When it comes to the art of public speaking, it’s fascinating to see so many different styles in such a short period of time. All I can say is I absorbed it all like a sponge and can’t wait to apply some lessons in my world.
What makes a great speaker?
What about you? Were you there? If so, what did you learn?
And what speakers have delivered for you?
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