October 4, 2019 ~ 3 min read

Energy Trumps Structure

Weekly TipsSpeaking

It's really easy when you start to geek out about speaking to try to do everything right.

Try to structure your talk perfectly, with the perfect intro, perfect outro, and everything in between.

Try to come up with exactly the right stories and jokes to tell.

Try to find the perfect cartoons to include that will not only show your point but also make everyone laugh.

I get it - I obsess over these things too, and I've definitely spent hours or even days looking for just the right supporting graphic.

But here's the thing - energy trumps structure every time.

We are drawn to energy

We know that we perceive things wholistically, and that if we admire or are attracted to someone we are more likely to like what they have to say. This is the halo effect.

Here's another fairly universal thing about people: We're drawn to energy.

Charismatic leaders are almost always high-energy people. And when it comes to speaking, particularly on stage in front of an audience, energy communicates more powerfully than any story, joke, or graphic ever will.

Embrace your own sense of joy

The best way to project that incredibly high energy is to speak about something that energizes you.

One of the most popular TED talks in history is this talk by Hans Rosling on a set of data debunking myths about the developing world.

The talk is solid, and while the material would probably be interesting no matter who presented it, what makes this talk AMAZING is the energy than Professor Rosling brings to it.

You can tell throughout that he absolutely loves what he's speaking about, and it brings him joy to share it.

Ask yourself who you're serving

The level of joy that Hans Rosling brings in that video is incredible, but how do you bring the energy if you're talking about a subject that isn't as personally exciting? Or one you've spoken about so often you're almost jaded?

The most powerful way I've heard to do this is to remind yourself of the 'why' behind your talk, and more importantly the 'who' you are trying to reach.

Who are you serving?

Is there someone in this audience that needs to hear your message? Is it going to save someone's time? Or help them grow? Or help them deal with a difficult situation?

And if you're not excited for yourself, and there's no reason someone else would need to hear it... maybe pick a different topic. Or a different lens on this topic that will help you be energized.

Because if you're not excited by your talk - it doesn't matter how perfect it is on other dimensions, your audience won't be excited either.

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Kevin Ball

Hi, I'm Kevin Ball (alias KBall). I'm a software engineer turned trainer and coach focused on communication and leadership skills. You can follow me on Twitter, or check out my software-focused work at Zendev.com.