Over the last couple of months, I have been inspired by some amazing speakers. It wasn’t necessarily their topics that have captivated me, but rather how they engrossed their audience. This has happened mostly in professional settings such as conferences and workshops, but also from a rabbi as part of some religious exploration that JB and I have recently embarked upon (more on that in a future blog — talk about balance!).
Anyway, I want to be like these speakers. I want to capture an audience’s attention and not lose it. I want there to be a topic that I am so informed and comfortable with, while also possessing genuine emotion for, that I don’t need a PowerPoint or an activity to keep listeners engaged. Basically, I started thinking, “For what type of conference or event would I like to be a keynote speaker?” In what would I like to be a “perceived expert?”
One of the speakers who inspired me last month was Marlee Matlin. If you are not familiar with her and don’t want to click on the link, she is an actress who won an Oscar in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God. She’s also deaf and a recovering drug addict.
As the keynote speaker at a workshop for those who work in addictions counseling, Matlin signed her entire speech, while her interpreter spoke her words from the audience. She was so engaging, after about three minutes, I completely forgot that the person I was staring at was not the voice (and a male one at that) I was hearing. I was also trying to not hate her for looking so absolutely incredible in skinny jeans and stilettos after four kids, but mostly it was the speech. Being able to communicate a message like that, much like looking good in skinny jeans, is a gift.
It’s more than just knowledge. Yes, you have to be competent in your subject, but you could tell me you want me to present on the 10 ways that cloud computing will change the world and I could dutifully research the topic and put a presentation together. Maybe even a good one, though doubtful, seeing as I have yet to understand a definition of “the cloud.” I mean, how is it different from a server? Sorry, topic for another day. But I would want my keynote to also be about something I have experienced and lived. Something I truly believe in and would authentically and enthusiastically want to share with others.
I might not ever become a keynote speaker for anything other than something I organize (but of course!), but thinking about it in these terms helps me gain a better grasp of what is important to me and where I would like to focus my professional and personal goals. I haven’t figured it out completely yet, but I have a few ideas. I’ll let you know when you can book me 🙂
Have you ever thought about what event you would like to keynote? What speakers have you seen live who have just captivated you?