Whether you’re running your weekly staff meeting, delivering a new business pitch, or presenting a keynote address, your intentions will show. So before you take the stage or begin crafting your words, pause for a few minutes and consider your intentions. What are you really trying to accomplish? Beyond ending the meeting on time or winning the business, what is your goal?

For many people, the honest answer is to show how smart they are or impress others. Whether they realize it or not, that line of thinking puts the focus on the speaker rather than on the audience. Not only is that a bit backwards, but it also put a huge onus on the presenter. Rather than perceiving a speaking engagement as the job of entertainer required to spin plates and juggle swords to keep the attention of the audience, how about looking at it a little differently?

I invite you to consider the wise words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” With that in mind let’s revisit the mission of your time in the spotlight.


Of course you need to provide the required data. But you can do more than regurgitate facts and figures. You can tell a story, you can explain the “why” behind the information, or you can provide context that will increase understanding in a way that’s far more meaningful. Providing information may mean providing your perspective and being a little more human and accessible than might be comfortable for you. Reassess your speaking style to see where you can transform facts into something more than the sum of their parts.


Look for a way to connect with those in the room. You may ask for their insights, acknowledge their expertise, or empathize with their plight. You may be amazed at the wisdom in any given room. Whether you’re asking for a solution to a problem or just looking for a new way to articulate a situation, asking your audience to contribute eases your workload. In addition, meeting an audience where they are engages them in your presentation and leaves them feeling as well as thinking.


Inspiring your listeners can feel like an elusive task but it’s worth the effort. Find a way to spark their interest, provoke them to dream bigger, or reconsider the status quo. Sometimes, simply acknowledging their struggles and expressing faith in their progress can have an almost magical impact. When they are still reflecting on the way you made them feel, they’ll remember you for igniting the flame.

Next time you’re on deck to deliver, give a little time and space to deciding how you want to do you your job. I hope you’ll choose to go deeper than just the facts. Your effort can make a world of difference for those in your orbit.

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson


Cover of Amber Nelson's book, "Talk to Me"

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