I went to a conference not too long ago that exposed me to a lot of different speakers.
This was one of those conferences that featured not only many different speakers but a lot of selling from the stage. Each of the speakers in question wanted to pitch us a high-ticket program of some sort.
As such, I came away from it with my head spinning a bit. I had enough content to be getting on with, and had mostly just gone for the experience itself.
But one particular speaker really got on my nerves.
Because she made us high-five each other.
Yes, this speaker would tell us to high-five the person next to us with some sort of affirming statement like, “I dare to dream big.” Somehow, this was meant to ensure our continued engagement. If we physicalized our role in the talk in this way, then we were in theory going to remain with the speaker throughout her time on stage.
Which suggests that, if she didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be engaged.
But my question then, and the question I pose to you now is, was she really doing her job if this device was necessary?
If a speaker needs to have audience members high-five each other, tell jokes, or do other things that have nothing to do with their message, then they’re not delivering that message in a way that empowers the audience to solve a problem.
In other words, we need to spend less time using gimmicks and more time fostering clarity.
We need to spend more time facilitating solutions to problems our audience cares about, and if a high-five is going to make or break that solution then we haven’t addressed the associated problem in a substantial way.
This gimmicky type of engagement with the audience goes all the way to the top. In his TED talk “Why we do what we do,” Tony Robbins asks the audience to say “aye” in response to questions he asks affirming their relatability to whatever it is he’s saying. And he does this six times.
My question is, if that gimmick wasn’t included, would the talk have achieved any less? Would his message have been less impactful? He even winds up going over the 18-minute limit, and though those gimmicks wouldn’t have canceled out all of his overage, it certainly would have helped if they weren’t there.
How does a speaker foster the kind of clarity that makes these devices unnecessary?
My clients get the kind of outcomes from their speaking that don’t generally seem believable. This includes one of them getting eight speaking gigs from a single booking and another one converting 60-70% of her workshop participants to a discovery call at the end. Still another stopped speaking for free and doubled her fee.
And the reason for these results that they all have a specific ingredient in their talks that isn’t about high-fiving or telling people to say “aye.” It’s something that 46 of the 50 most popular TED speeches have (yes, including Tony’s) and is explained in this video.