Are You a Lifelong Learning Speaker?
“There are few things more pathetic than those who have lost their curiosity and sense of adventure, and who no longer care to learn.”― Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be!: 9 Ways To Be Happy And Make Something Of Your Life
Your stock-in-trade as a speaker is information. You could say a speaker is simply someone who packages relevant information and presents it to people who otherwise would not be able to find and implement the information.
With every passing year, information’s shelf life gets shorter. As a result, the information you need at the beginning of the day may be irrelevant to you at the end of the day.
Add the Internet, and I think you can see how information is bombarding you every second of the day.
Now, you have no real hope of digesting all this information; however, you can become more competent in the area in which you speak.
Are you a life-long learner? If you are not, the shelf life of the material you deliver has the real chance of being irrelevant to your audience. Your speaker days are numbered.
As a speaker, you must be a life-long learner to remain relevant to your audience.
Below are three ways to do this:
Learn Something New About Your Chosen Speaking Area Every Day
Have you ever heard the expression “Out of sight; out of mind.” Even given that marvelous computer we call the brain, you cannot begin to master all knowledge. So instead, focus on your speaking subject matter.
If you speak on how to improve your presentation skills, join Toastmasters and the National Speakers Association, read the plethora of good books on public speaking, and speak in front of audiences.
If you speak on the startling breakthroughs in cancer prevention and treatment, join the National Cancer Society, attend seminars on the latest cancer treatments, and read books on cancer treatment breakthroughs.
If you speak on dog obedience training, join the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), obtain dog obedience training certifications, and read about the psychology of dogs.
To become a person other people would want to spend their time, dollars, and emotional energy to listen to, you must be the most intelligent person in the room regarding your topic.
So, one way to become a lifelong learner is to learn something new about your chosen speaking area daily. Another way is to seek repeat and new opportunities to speak.
Seek Repeat and New Opportunities to Speak
The reason to seek repeat opportunities to speak is that since you have already spoken at the same opportunity, you can improve where you felt you fell short the first time.
When you speak at repeat opportunities, you can try out new ways of structuring or delivering your presentation. You also get to add new material .that might not have been available to you the first or second time talking to the audience.
The reason to seek new opportunities to speak is to get experience with audiences that are unfamiliar to you. In addition, you will discover fresh new ideas on how to improve your speaking.
Speaking in new venues also gives you experience in being flexible with your speaking. Perhaps you are used to a lapel microphone, but the venue only has a remote microphone or a wired mike. You cannot be sure of all the changes you will encounter at a new speaking opportunity, but you can also plan apriori for them, so when you encounter them, you have a plan to change.
So, learning something new about your chosen speaking area every day and seeking repeat and new opportunities to speak are two activities you can do to be a lifelong learning speaker.
However, you know as well as I do that thinking about something is not the same as implementing it.
Implement What You Learn in Your Presentations
Implementing what you learn will put you in the category of some of the best speakers in your area.
What does implementing what you learned do for you? One essential thing it does for you is to keep your presentation fresh and not stale. For repeat speaking opportunities, there will likely be some repeat audience members and maybe more than that. Nothing is more boring to an audience than hearing a presentation they have listened to in the past. It is about as interesting as someone telling a joke you have heard before.
You must plan to implement new ideas into your presentation content and delivery.
Start with implementing one new content or delivery idea into every presentation. Then, ask yourself the following questions, “Did this new idea work? Why or why not?” The second question is crucial because it is only through asking the second question that you will learn from the experience, decide to improve the idea, or “scrap it” altogether.
So, to become a lifelong learning speaker, learn something new about your chosen speaking area every day, seek repeat and new opportunities to speak, and implement what you learn in future speaking opportunities.
Outside the Lackland Air Force Base, Texas base library is a sign that reads, “Readers are Leaders.” I would rephrase this as “Life-long Learners are Leaders.”
Isn’t this what you are trying to be – a speaking leader?
Call to Action
Learn something new about your chosen speaking area every day
Seek repeat and new speaking opportunities to try to improve past presentations and learn new things that work and that don’t work with new audiences
Implement what you learn – a thought left unactionable is still just a thought and not meaningful action
“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.”― Samuel Johnson, The Rambler
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at email@example.com and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”