Ep #68: Lit Up On Stage: Where Your Most Impactful Speaking Comes From

by | Podcast

Do you wonder what it is about Brené Brown, Sir Ken Robinson and other relatively low key yet powerful speakers like them that makes their talks so captivating?

It’s hard to analyze their talks to fully explain how they’re creating the kind of impact that makes millions of people want to watch their talks, often more than once. 

Sure, you’ll find self-deprecating humor that resonates so perfectly for the audiences, and you’ll hear really great storytelling. But that doesn’t add all the way up to their impact. There’s something bigger going on. 

That’s what this week’s podcast is about. It’s about the almost-impossible-to-describe way that some world-class speakers create connection and rapport with their audience. 

I’m so excited for you to listen in on this idea – and share what you think!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Where the lit up on stage feeling really comes from and how it helps you impact your audience
  • How to take a finite speaking opportunity and turn it into an offering that really does allow for the full transformation that your audience members are looking for
  • How to contribute from a place of credibility, contribution and a lot of heart
  • What influencing your audience to action might really look like and why it’s your job to show them what's possible for themselves
  • How your ability to create powerful and deep impact with your audience is actually built into you

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you're on a mission to make a difference in the world with your message, you are in the right place. I'm Michelle Barry Franco and I'm thrilled that you're here. Hello, hello my Thought Leadership friends. So we are upon our fourth and final episode in the Lit Up On Stage Series and I am just so delighted by this whole experience. I don't know how you're feeling about it, but for me, I feel like this process, this last four weeks or the last three weeks and then today is really allowing me to look at this deeper place that I know after all these decades of being in public speaking and communication and teaching college courses and working with over a thousand like way over a thousand people individually on crafting their talks. I know that this is the stuff that really matters and I think about all the different things that I've taught over the years and there are so valuable.

In fact, next week I'm going to talk some brass tacks staff about, you know, putting together a talk and all of that. It's not to diminish those valuable nuggets and pieces of information for you to take into your world and use as you see fit, but that's the key thing here. That's what I am really hoping that you're seeing through this series is that you are the one who knows that in spite of the fact that I am an expert on public speaking specifically and I know the best practices, whatever, or anyone else who you're consulting about, any other thing that you're doing, trying to do, learning in this world, all of that. It is not in any way to minimize the value of that, but it's really to point you in a direction that's so much deeper, so much brighter, and yet also so much more grounded than all of the grabbing of that information because when you see this place in you that really helps you just light up on that stage.

You know what to draw from all of the zillions of resources that you have available to you. So I'm just so excited that we have this. Now that you're hearing it that hopefully you're seeing this place in you, maybe even a little more like getting that glimmer in that glimmer is brightening because from there is that fire. That's where that lit up on stage feeling really comes from. That's what I want to talk about today is where impact, where high impact on your audience, on the individual, beautiful human souls that you want to serve with your speaking, where that impact really comes from and it's probably not going to be this huge revelation because you've heard me talk about it for the last three weeks and really longer than that because the more and more I see this, the more and more this is the only, or at least the primary thing that I'm going to keep coming back to.

Even when I give you all of the strategies and tools and best practices, I just always want you to keep coming home to this place in you that where your call comes from, your call to serve that deep knowing in you that says, I'm made to do this. I cannot tell you how many people say almost the exact same thing to me when we talk about working together just happened again today. They'll say something like, you know, someone asked me what my greatest vision is for my business, or if I wasn't afraid, what would I do or what's my biggest dream for the difference I want to make in the world? And their answer to that question is I see myself on stage inspiring hundreds or thousands of people and they'll say things like, I don't know where it comes from. I was surprised to have that vision or see that for myself.

And there's another subset and it's not a whole lot smaller that says something like, I just see myself out there sharing this message and they'll describe, you know, being in living rooms or small, beautifully lit, you know, kind of retreat rooms, sharing their message, changing people's lives, really offering a kind of deep transformation with their message. So I know that if this is you, if you've got some version of that, the words might come to you differently and the vision might have a different feel to it or it may be even different details. Actually, probably the feel at the center of it is really quite similar than I want so much for you to see that that same call, that same place in you is actually where your greatest source of impact lives and from there any learning that you take in around how to craft a talk, how to deliver a talk, how to put together the right offerings so that the people in the room who you are serving in a way that really lights them up, that they say, Oh my gosh, I can't wait to work with you more.

How can we keep going? That's the way it lines up when you tap into that deeper grounded place in you. It's amazing when we think about, and this isn't really what the focus is today, but it's amazing when we just think about the of the depth and breadth of what you can offer in the world to serve those people that you're meant to serve as a speaker. We have this opportunity, this sort of finite period of time, right? Where we're invited onto a stage or to the front of a room or two, someone's retreat or workshop and you know, we get to serve the audience for maybe it's 10 minutes, maybe it's 25 or 40 or an hour, and sometimes when we're lucky we get the three hour sort of opportunity to really give them an experience of moving through some of that, you know, transformation, some part of your process.

It's amazing when we have that opportunity, but it's even more incredible when you think about how you can expand that impact beyond that room with the right kind of offerings. This is actually one part of our ability to make an impact that isn't talked about enough in public speaking and in Thought Leadership, and that is how do we take that more finite opportunity and turn it into an offering that really does allow for the full transformation that our audience members are looking for and in particular our ideal audience members, the ones we know that we can really help. And being able to just see that their dreams for what they want is so possible and seeing it for them and really creating the offering that they don't even know they need and want right now. I think about this as I plan the retreat for the clients that I work with.

So much of what I teach my clients is how to craft a talk, how to craft a talk that sets them up as a leader in their industry, number one in primary that they want to contribute from this place of credibility, contribution and really a lot of heart and soul, but also a big part of that for most. But not all of my clients is letting the people in the audience know I can help you beyond this room and I'm an amazing solution. I or my company or my offering, the work that I do may not be used specifically. It might be an offering that you have through some other system within your business that we can help you beyond this room. And as I put together the next event, that's a part of that offering that I offer to clients. I am so lit up knowing that not only is the first part of the process that we do together, which is some really good deep work, they get really practical outcomes.

Like they get their talk crafted, they have a strategic plan in place, they practice it with me and get feedback and you know, all of those things that help them really feel confident and clear as a thought leader. They get all that. But I also get to plan this amazing culminating experience at this retreat sanctuary where they really step into embody the leader and The Thought Leader, the leader, the speaker that’s meant to be, and this is a relatively new thing that I've done and I know from having taken people through that experience that it really is a tremendous part of their transformation. Well, for a long time I was scared. I didn't think that they would be able to see the need or the value in traveling to a location. Giving that time and energy had all these stories in my mind. But you know what?

Underneath all that I knew, I knew that sitting in a quiet space that's designed for their own deepening in their own grounding in their own Thought Leadership and their wisdom was really what would allow them to make the biggest impact possible to grow their business in the way that they dream of probably a lot faster than they would be able to do it. And it wasn't until I just sort of listened to that wisdom, put that together, put it out there scared, not knowing if anybody would say yes to it. Then I got to experience the yeses and then the other side of that transformation for them. And I still get emails regularly from people who've been through it saying, Oh my gosh, I can't even believe this is my life. So much has changed. Well that is what you can create too. But first you have to tap into that place in you that knows what they really need and see it for them, see it for them because they may not be able to see it all the way right now.

That's the beauty of you bringing your own experience and lessons learned. So in this fourth episode of the Lit Up On Stage Series, I just really want to tap that wisdom in you. I want you to see it. I know I've been pointing to it in the last three episodes. But as you think about impact, as you think about really influencing your audience to action and that action might be just, you know, making a positive difference in their own life, even if they're not going to work with you further, but also being willing to show them what's possible for them. You want to find that place in you that can see that for them. And I suspect that it lives in a deeper place than maybe you've been pointed to before. So I just want to point there again with you. I recently watched Brene Brown's Call to Courage On Netflix.

Have you seen it? One of the parts that I love the most is when she first walks out on stage and she just, all she does is walk out on stage. She's so casual, right? I've seen her speak in person a couple of times and I've seen her on lots of videos and I'm sure you've seen variations of, you know, both or either of those. And so you probably know what I mean. And she just kinda walks out so casually. The crowd is going wild and she just stands there with a smile on her face looking up. Really like making sweet eye contact as best she can with the people in the balcony with the people on each side of the room and she's just smiling and almost kind of laughing because the applause is just going on and on and on. She's just so dang present.

I can just see it and feel it. It feels like there are a bunch of old friends meeting up for a chat, but maybe she's the one who went off, you know, like they all stayed together for a while. I'm thinking of this movie as it called 10 years later. No, but there's this movie where one guy goes off, you know, I'm sure there's multiple ones like this, you know, they were all friends in college and then one of them goes off to on all these adventures and everyone else stays in better contact and that will comes back and everybody's like, Oh my gosh, there you are. Tell us everything. It kind of has that feel right. She's just their old friends and she's back from these adventures and you could even see people in the audience shaking their heads as the applause goes on and on.

It's like even they can't believe how delighted they are to see her. Yeah. There's one guy these new men on and he's just shaking his head laughing, smiling and clapping. You know, passionately if you've seen Bernay Brown's Ted Talks, you know that she doesn't come bounding onto a stage, hands clapping to, you know, high energy music, like some other speakers, some other famous speakers you might think of, but she owns that stage, doesn't she? We all want to have this kind of impact on an audience. We want to have our version of this kind of impact on an audience, but this is a hard thing to teach because it doesn't come from a place of technique or strategy. It's not in the structure of the speech. It's not in the amplifying AIDS, the slide design, and it's certainly not in predetermining where you'll stand on the stage at a certain point in your talk and any of those things may have been planned in advance.

It's possible that she knew she'd come out, stand in a certain spot, look to as one side of the room and then the other. It's possible she had some of those things planned, but that's not what created that kind of impact. It was that connection from that deeper place in her, that deeper place of contribution, and I guess I can't know this, but I'm telling you after this many years of being in this and seeing so many talks and working with so many speakers and doing it myself, there's a different quality to it and I want you to experience that more and more and more. It's where that lit up on stage feeling comes from. That impact comes from showing up from this different place and there's a place inside of each of us that place that is always calm, peaceful, grounded, and when we tap into that, our presence in a room is powerful.

And full and you can feel this kind of presence. It's qualitatively different. Every time one of our daughters climbs into our bed, they make this kind of like super cozy sound and they'll say some version of I love your bed, I want your bed in my room. But it's not the bed. I know it's not the bed. I mean our bed is pretty great but their beds are pretty great too. It's not that, it's the safety, it's the connection and the warmth. But I think it just gets associated with our bed, with their parents' bed. Lots of snuggling happens there. Lots of good conversations. You know when we talk through things it's a place of safety and connection and it seems like it’s the bed that's bringing that or it seems like it's Brenay Brown that's bringing that when she comes onto the stage like it is the Brene Brownness of her.

And I guess on a deep level that's true. But we all think of Brene Brown as one of the best speakers. You know, she's, I mean renowned and you know, her Ted talks been watched a kajillion times, whatever the number is now. But it's really not that, it's a revelation of that place within you, within her, within my daughters when they're climbing into the bed. When you speak from this place, your ability to impact your audience amplifies. Have you ever watched sir Ken Robinson speak when you watch him try to gather himself, you know, think about his, does school kill creativity? I think it's called or how schools kill creativity. I'll put a link in the show notes, but when you watch him on stage and you know he's one of the most, it's like 50 million. I'm sure it's more than that. 300 million, a bazillion million views at this point.

One of the most popular Ted talks of all time when you watch him speak again, this casual nature and you know, even when the crowd laughs because he, he uses all this self deprecating humor and he kinda can't get himself gathered back together for a while as well. He's so with them and it's his connection with this deep place in him that's reading the situation that knows intuitively how to respond to what the audience has brought him. That's what makes it so compelling. I'm not saying his content isn't great. I'm not saying his jokes aren't funny. They are, but that comes from yes, some sense of the audience, right. Knowing the audience, audience analysis, things that we talk about all the time, but then taking what you know and allowing it to just swirl around in that deeper place in you of knowing and create the connection from there.

I'm not saying he doesn't plan those jokes. He probably does. Although a few of them, it really feels like they're in the moment. Like the one about his son when he says like when my son was four in England, is that what he says? And then he's like, well, he was four everywhere, wasn't he? It's just hilarious. So there's this great interview that he does with Chris Anderson who's the head of Ted, The Ted Conferences, and when he's asked how he does it, how does he speak in a way that has so much impact on his audience? He says, a version of, and I'll put a link to this interview. It's really fascinating and this is toward the end of the interview where he starts talking about his own process. He says, it's never it being public speaking is never something I thought about or pursued or or had an ambition to do, but I find that when I get up in front of a room, I want to have a connection with them.

I love that so much. I want to have a connection with them and when you come from that genuine, authentic place in you, there's so much natural expression that happens. This is why I say so often when you know what you want to say. When you understand your audience, when you've prepared well, meaning you've really done that connection, thinking about your message, how it serves, the way that you want to express it so that it serves when you do that well enough so that you're not caught up in your brain trying to think that stuff through. It can live in you in this deeper place and your body knows how to move. I'm not saying there's nothing to learn. I'm not saying there aren't fun skills to practice and try out, but I'm saying you have so much wisdom in how to deliver this message that's already there.

So he goes on in this interview to talk about, you know, nerves and, and the preparation. And when he talks about connection, he says, you know, it's just something that happens. This connection happens when you want to have this connection with them. And he says, I get nervous. Of course, like everybody does or should. But he's, he emphasizes that the beginning part of a talk is really about creating rapport. And when you watch his talk, you'll see that it's so much about that. He talks about, you know when teachers get invited to dinner parties and then he makes this joke that, Oh wait, we'll we're never really invited to dinner parties are we, you know, there's just all of these funny jokes and the audience just is right with him every moment of it. And he says, speaking is like jazz or improv and he even talks about these five pieces.

He says, you know, when I plan a talk, it all sounds so casual when I plan to talk, I know there's these five pieces, there's the introduction and the ending. You really want to land the ending. And then there's this three parts section in the middle and I like to keep my notes in my pocket. It's kind of like a set list. He calls it and he says, I always take it for a walk. I take the audience for a walk with me. I feel like I could just cut and paste this, put it out there to you and say, you want to know how to plan for a talk here. It is so beautifully stated, but there's so much that's not said here. There's so much about connecting in with what you want to say, connecting in with that audience. In order to create that rapport, of course you need to understand them and while I don't want to get caught up in all the details of audience analysis and message clarity and the juicy core message, those are things that support you in sharing from that deep place in you that is the fundamental grounding from what you want to express any of this to have the greatest impact.

Do you hear how much fluidity is built into this process? That's what I really want you to see. A glimmer of here. There's so much you already know so much that lives in you right now. Your ability to create powerful impact. Deep impact with your audience is actually built into you and yes, I mean you, whatever it is you're thinking about what makes you different or what makes it an extra challenge for you. This is not me minimizing that. This is me saying underneath all that underneath whatever reasons you think that your message is more difficult or your audiences more difficult or your way of expressing is more difficult. I honor that. There are ways to work with that and get support around that. That's what I do in my work and underneath all of that is this powerful, deep, rich resource within you that is unaffected by all of those details, no matter what they are, any best practices I teach you and I will continue to do that are there for you to discern their value in your own experience.

I had an experience with a client recently that was really difficult and it was. It was because I forgot this. I made the mistake of not seeing, not remembering that they have this place in them too. I don't know what happened. I got caught up in all my thinky thoughts and I'm not happy about this, and it didn't go well, but for a moment I forgot about the incredible wisdom that lives in each of us that's so much bigger than anything that I might share. Any great wisdom or best practices or expert advice, it's easy to get caught up in, and I certainly learned this the hard way recently that it's easy to get caught up in, you know, this is what you need to do if you want to be successful, and I'm embarrassed to even admit it, but I feel like I want to kind of put that out there to you.

When we forget that our clients, that the people we serve, that our audience members have this wisdom to all the time, that nothing that's ever happened in their lives can affect that and our expertise, our own knowing also is not more powerful than that. We actually, we do them such a disservice. It's just not true. It's not true. And I was really lucky that this client, she knew this, she had this glimmer. She actually had a bigger than a glimmer and she knew that that was where she needed to look for full answers and she us both and it was a difficult but beautiful reminder for me. I'm grateful to have this reminder that there's no speaking outline, no anxiety management strategy, no thought work model, no best practices guide that will ever win out over your own deep connection with yourself and your deepest wisdom first and then creating that connection with your audience comes next and of course we have all these other tools at the ready and your wisdom knows what to pull from, who to call forth and that's how you pick the people who serve you.

That's how you know when it is a yes, this is the person I know I want to work on my speaking. This person right here talks about it in a way that works for me and that may or may not be this speaking me as your speaking coach, right? There might be a totally different person. It might be a performance coach. It might be someone who works on branding. It might be someone who works on executive presence, but your wisdom knows that you'll hear it and you'll feel it within you. That's where we want to go because that's the place where we cultivate our greatest mastery, which allows us to create our greatest impact in our audiences with our clients in the world, through our calling, all of it. It's actually why I keep coming back to speaking 30 years later, actually a little more than 30 years later, having started in high school when I don't even love the spotlight.

It's never been about speaking for me. I never even thought about it that way and it's why I walk away more satiated, more just deeply satisfied, exhausted, but in that like a really powerful, good, rich way after a talk than almost anything else that I do and that's why I'm continually amazed and delighted when this thing that I love doing so much, this incredible connection I get to enjoy with a room full of people continues to be my greatest source of business growth as well. It feels like the most amazing design ever, but I don't think that's an accident. So you will listen in, you listen in because there's a connection there. Uh, turns out it's also where I'm learning to be even more grounded and more real and human. I mean, I can't help but be human. That's what I'm going to be, but I'm seeing that humanity and I'm accepting that humanity more than ever.

I love it so much. I want it for you, for your calling, for this calling to serve and for your own mission, your thought leadership, the difference you want to make in the world. Because here's what I know about you, my friend, you were made for this. I know that because you know that I have loved sharing this Lit Up Onstage Series with you. Thank you for being here for this and giving me this forum to learn as much during this process as I could ever have possibly shown you or taught you or opened up in you. I've gotten at least as much, probably twice as much, so thank you for that. We will be back next week. I'll be back next week. I hope you'll be back next week and I'll share with you some super fun brass tacks Thought Leadership stuff because there's a place in this work for all of it, and as always, my friend, I cannot wait to see you soon.

Thanks so much for being here with me on The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you want specific and actionable guidance on how to become a recognized leader in your industry, you can download a free copy of my book. Beyond applause, make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking at speak, speaksoitmatters.com/freebook.





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