As I walked into the room, there we no people there. There was, however, a good size stage and about 300 chairs, silent in anticipation of a future audience. I decided to step up the stairs to the 12X24 foot platform, and ponder giving a presentation in front of an audience filling that room.
I thought about 2005 World Champ Lance Miller’s presentation the day before, and how his chairs were filled and even after they brought in more there were people standing anywhere they could. I had no presentation to give at that event, but as I stood in that empty room and gazed at those 300 seats, I imagined them filled with an audience waiting to hear a well-designed (and hopefully well delivered) presentation. Just one word came to my mind. No, that word wasn’t fear, paralysis or even whatamIdoinghere.
That word was responsibility. It’s funny how a bigger crowd, even an imaginary one, can change your perspective on things. I’m not saying that I don’t feel responsibility when speaking to a 20-person Toastmasters club, or a 50-person lunch and learn. But that room really crystallized the depth and meaning for me.
What hit me there on that stage, in that empty room with those unfilled chairs was that when you speak to Humans, you have to be ready to take responsibility.
Responsibility for knowing your audience. What do they need, what do they want, and what are their expectations?
Responsibility for your content. Is it accurate, is it specific enough, and is it credible? Most importantly, will it help?
Responsibility for your self. Have you prepared to be professional, are your handouts professional, and is your delivery professional?
This responsibility can feel like a very heavy weight if you aren’t ready. But when you are, it can be a wonderful gift. Because on the other side of this responsibility is another word: Impact.
By meeting this responsibility, you can have a tremendous impact on your audience and their lives. What is it you want them to think, do or feel after your presentation?
Another convention presenter, Rory Vaden, talks about self-discipline and how we should “Take the Stairs.” One visual is of a line forming to wait for an escalator going down when the stairs next to it go unused. I know there were people that looked at those escalators differently after hearing his presentation. That’s impact.
Next time you have to address an audience of any size, consider that responsibility you have and how you’ll use your skills and your message to make that impact on your audience. It’s your responsibility…