Become a better speaker by setting correct motivation

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I was having dinner the other night with one of my coworkers, and we were discussing a talk I had delivered at a recent conference. During the course of the conversation, I related one of the biggest breakthroughs I had as a speaker that totally changed public speaking for me.

In the beginning of my public speaking career, I was up on stage mainly to promote either the business I was working for or my own personal brand, and while the talks I gave were substantive enough, they were neither inspirational nor terribly educational. I also struggled with things like imposter syndrome and even stage fright.

MFA Buddhist Art

What changed the game for me was a seminar I took in 2007 with my meditation teacher, Stephen K. Hayes, on setting motivation. During this training, we envisioned ourselves as these heroic archetypes whose very words touched the people around us and healed suffering, made the world a better place. From that training, I took the lesson that my motivations for being on stage were not what they could be. If I changed from a perspective of “the audience is here to serve me” to the perspective of “I am here to serve the audience”, then my motivations would set my energy and enthusiasm.

With the right motivations, the right energy, and the right enthusiasm, I now speak confidently and happily on stage, knowing that I am there for the right reasons. I am there to be helpful, to do my best to encourage, inspire, and help make everyone who sits in the crowd in any given talk a little bit better at their professions. I am there to do my part to help the world become a better place, and that perspective is incredibly energizing, exciting, and inspiring, which makes me a better speaker.

Call it karma, balance, or common sense, but my talks now achieve what I had originally set out to do as well: help grow the businesses I work for and my own personal brand, but by focusing on how I can help you, not how you can help me.

Om padma udbhavaya svaha! Every word helps the world become a better place if our motivations are correct!

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


One response to “Become a better speaker by setting correct motivation”

  1. Love this thinking, Chris. Thanks for sharing it.

    I studied improv comedy with Second City many years ago. I also performed in a weekly comedy improv troupe. Learning improv has helped me become a better speaker, because you can read the audience and react accordingly. Also, when things go wrong you can be quick to save yourself instead of running backstage in fright.

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