What is the “X factor?” You’ve seen the show (or at least heard of it). You hear all the “cool kids” in the entertainment world referring to it. You hear artists saying they have it, but you don’t ever hear anyone defining “it.” If you are an aspiring public speaker, it’s vital that you know what “it” is and how it applies to your speaking. Because in the mind of your audience, having “it” is what determines if you are worth the investment of taking the time and energy to listen to you.
Emotionally, public speakers with the “X factor” have a way of pushing all of our buttons on a psychological level. . They make us feel a myriad of things: inspired, happy. pissed off, aggravated, validated or challenged. Regardless of how these speakers affect us, they engage us emotionally. The “X factor” that lives within them, speaks to something inside of us, often times, something that we are not even in touch with. Call it magnetism, je ne sais quoi, or some other indefinable/elusive quality, public speakers that can rock a stage have “it”.
But how do I get “it”? (you ask) Well… I’m glad you asked…
We all have that little certain something that makes us… wonderfully different. Take these four steps to find your very own public speaking “X Factor”.
The first step to the “X Factor” is to become aware of precisely what you’re doing when you speak. If you are able to master the basics and develop on your strengths, you will fill your audience with the confidence that you are a speaker who can be relied on. If your audience has this confidence in you, they will focus on the bit you want them to focus on – your message – rather than any quirks of your public speaking skills.
Without awareness, you simply don’t know whether you’re wowing or boring your audience.
Awareness is the conscious space for choice. With awareness you begin to distance yourself from what you’re doing, so you can start to choose which bits of your performance function well and which don’t. From there you can begin to change, to give the audience greater openness to your message. If you’re aware, you are:
– Conscious of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, as you’re saying it.
– In control of your body and speech, so that it doesn’t detract from what you’re saying.
– Able to use your body and speech to enhance your public speaking message.
2. Tell a Story
Audiences show up for information, but they stay for the stories. What might surprise you is that the more personal the story, the more universal it becomes. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable and authentic the audience will be able to locate themselves in your story – even if your life experience has been very different to theirs.
- Stories draw upon our universal need for connection; in some fundamental sense weneed stories.
- One of the most powerful ways of inspiring others is by using the one tool you have that no one else has – your life story. Your individual experience of the world is the most valuable asset you possess.
- And, despite what you may have been told in business, these days character trumps credentials.
- Telling your story – with all its challenges, mistakes, failures, pain, setbacks as well as its joys, successes and victories – says something about what it means to be human. Telling your story can even inspire others to take the first step on their path to becoming a public speaker!
3. Servant Speaking
A servant speaker realizes that they are not the most important person in the room – they are there to service the audience. This simple shift in perspective dramatically decreases presentation anxiety because you focus on more important things than yourself. When you only focus on yourself, you see only your own nerves, instead of the audience feedback which could very well show interest and acknowledgment.
The more you focus on yourself, the less you connect your subject matter to your audience’s needs – and the smaller the chance you’re giving them what they need. It’s a vicious cycle bordering on a self fulfilling prophecy; the more you focus on how nervous you are the more nervous you become.
Simon Sinek changed the lives of thousands of people when he shared his phenomenal TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Sinek exudes generosity by freely sharing information. Holding nothing back, he gives everything to the audience, including his secret to success in business and in life: “Start with why,” he says. “Tell people why you do what you do before you tell them what you do or how you do it.” Simply brilliant. Because of his ability to be generous with himself through servant speaking, he has built a life-long tribe.
Most public speakers stress and struggle about trying to “seem confident” and “look fearless”, irrespective of how they’re feeling inside. They often fall into the trap of pushing nerves away to show the audience a plastic sheen of confident public speaking. Many believe that fake confidence is the public speaking “X Factor”. But so long as you’re pushing away your fears and nerves, you’re acting, rather than connecting with your audience.
Being fearless is not about a lack of fear. It’s about taking that fear and transforming it into excitement and energy around your message. It’s like fire. We can either look at the fire and say “oh, that might burn something, I have to put it out…” in which case we end up with a sad pile of cinders. Or we can stick a barbecue on top of the fire and turn it into something useful for ourselves and our friends.Truly powerful public speaking starts not with 100% confident public speaking, but with talking from the heart.
Take Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk, for example; not the most confident public speaking ever (he walks around too much, flaps his notes and clearly looks nervous!), but a deeply powerful and deeply moving speech nonetheless. Passion is what we remember about a speaker – not their confidence. Audiences are enthralled by delicious, humble, genuine, and emotional public speaking experiences, so if you really want to move your audience, that’swhere you need to live as a speakers.
The good news is that finding your very own public speaking “X Factor” is easier than you think… join Ginger and we can show you the way!