I set out to write this blog post this morning, as part of my bid to share with you some of my top tips on speaking and presenting every day this week – I’ve been doing so all week on social media, however, I quickly was distracted when I heard about the passing of my good friend and mentor, Eugene Burger. A name, I know, will mean nothing to almost all reading this – but that’s okay because Eugene is going to remembered here and I’m going to share my top tips simultaneously as without Eugene, I wouldn’t have learnt the real meaning and power of today’s tip.
I perhaps pay too much attention to those no longer living but I can’t help it: it reminds me every day just how lucky I am to wake up; to be. Eugene shared that same philosophy: life is beautiful and how so much more remarkable and amazing would it be if we understood it more and spent more time to reflect and allow the awe to at least momentarily inspire us and move us?
In just a few weeks time I’ll be running another of my Speaking and Presenting Masterclasses, teaching everything I’ve learnt about speaking, presenting and facilitating. The delegates tend to be managers, sales people, business owners and entrepreneurs and some people interested in doing more public speaking, for various reasons – a real mix of people and purpose. The key takeaway of that Masterclass is that the technical skills almost anyone can do. They are none-the-eless important but consideration should be give as to how much time and effort you place on learning them as a technical skill. Anything repeated a few times will quickly begin to become habitual and continue to repeat – or rehearse – those skills and you become, gradually, more proficient in delivering or demonstrating that skill.
However, the real magic when presenting anything to a group of people is engagement. That’s what elevates anything to another level: how much people are engaged, interested, intrigued, and ultimately enraptured. That’s all that really matters. Eugene Burger taught me that.
I have him to thank for so much of who I am today professionally. He got it. He totally understood what it was that made something an experience; that laughter is tacit approval; that engagement anchors memory and enhances the emotional connection. Eugene taught me that it’s not about the technical mastery but of what people experience. As a magician, a simple spool of thread took him around the world because what he did with that stretch of cotton so enraptured and engaged audiences that they couldn’t believe what they had seen.
Eugene and I discussed the importance of understanding humanity and psychology – the real mystery of life is life itself. And that’s today’s lesson – whenever you present or speak to a group of people, try not to get carried away thinking about what you will say but instead spend more time thinking about HOW you will say it. What will they remember? How can you engage with those people to capture their attention? If we are interested, we listen – so find something that will grab their interest and the rest will work itself.
Sincerest thanks for quite literally everything, Eugene. I don’t think you ever knew just how appreciated, respected and revered you were and perhaps we were at fault for not articulating that better. I cannot say how much I will miss you; your work – your mind.
There are some spaces remaining for my next Speaking and Presenting Masterclass – click here to see why it’s been rated 5 stars and referred to as “the best course I’ve ever been on”.