Monday, August 31, 2009

The 2 Secret Ingredients of Top Speakers

Audiences connect to speakers whom they know, trust, and like. But, wait, that's three things, not two....what is Her Smartness up to now?

Well, for your audience to know/trust/like you, you need to have 2 secret ingredients.

They are credibility and vulnerability.

At there are so many great talks it's hard to pick the best ones. However, Dan Pink's talk about the failed use of incentives at work, is top notch.

He begins his talk by telling us he studied law. But, to cast that decision in a positive light, he tells us he graduated in the part of the class that makes the top 90% possible. He never practiced law. We see he is not Mr. Perfect, and we feel like we can relate to him. But what could a C law student have to say to us?

Dan Pink is the author of several top-selling business books. He was also a speech writer for Al Gore. But that's not where his credibility comes from in this talk, although it surely was critical in his getting an invitation to speak at TED.

Mr. Pink does the intelligent thing. He borrows credibility from scientific studies done by people with lots of letters after their last names. Easy as pie.

He takes studies, which were not recent, btw, and simplifies what happened in those studies (like he doesn't mention which statistical tests were used), made cute illustrations for his slides, and make the studies relevant to the audience.

One of his points was that business often ignores scientific resources. His primary argument was that financial rewards/incentives do not result in better results when the task is complicated and requires creativity, they only work for simple jobs.

Fear not telling your audience that you never read newspapers, that you're a recovering people pleaser or that you really like Tabasco sauce on your scrambled eggs. Your credibility is only enhanced with sincere vulnerability. Nobody relates to Ms. Perfect.