What makes for a good communicator, teacher or speech maker? While talking, personally, I’m never at a loss for words. I know some people who know me are probably shaking their heads a bit, saying, “You certainly can say that again Steve, because you certainly do talk a lot! I hope they mostly say it in jest but I probably do talk too much sometimes but most of my conversations are two-sided, which is a good thing.
As a kid, I was as hush-mouthed as a mute. I kept everything inside and never spoke from my heart or my deep feelings. I found it hard to talk. But once I found my voice, I bolted out of the gate and I haven’t stopped since! I’m kidding a bit here, because truthfully, it was a slow process for me to talk to people on a deep level but now I do it pretty much every day with pretty much everyone I meet.
Recently, I had three group-presentation talks. The first one was with college academics—professors. During that talk which was on personal safety and security where I bring up some emotionally packed examples about being a victim, I saw that two people had tears in their eyes. At the end of my scheduled 60 minute talk the chief administrator told me that she didn’t want the presentation to end. That during most staff presentations, everyone, including her, usually wanted them to end quickly, but not today.
And in another talk, a few weeks later, I was told that everyone’s attention stopped and stayed with me during the entire talk. That talk was mainly about caring, trust and camaraderie. And just recently, I had the privilege to talk to another group of men and women where one person told me that he had goose bumps during the talk.
Now granted the topic areas that I talked about were important ones for people and I know the topics well but there’s another important factor that made these talks work. All three of those talks came right from my heart. And please do not gloss over what I just said. Because that is the secret to a rock-star talk or presentation. An interesting example that I’ll never forget is the story of the math teacher. I once taught next to a college math teacher for several years. Our classrooms were right next to each other but we never talked to one another. Well, one day, I received an award at the school for having the best retention rate of all the teachers that year. This basically means that I had the least amount of dropouts from my classes.
After getting the award the math teacher came up real close to me and for the first time ever, started talking to me. He told me that I had it much easier than him to win that kind of award. Expounding, he said that the subject matter I taught, Criminal Justice, lent itself to interesting and motivating possibilities, much more so than math ever could be. He said that one could not make math too interesting or motivating. I kind of went along with what he said not wanting to rock the first conversation I ever had with my neighbor teacher, but I wholeheartedly disagreed with him.
The only way to teach really well or do a presentation really well is by instilling passion and reality into what you are teaching or talking about. If my math teachers would have done that with me and which is certainly possible to do, I might now be able to add more than just two plus two and get it right.
Not everyone, in fact, most presenters (and I include teachers in this group) will not do this in their communications. They’ll do some of it and many will be good teachers but the majority will not, at least not day in and day out. I understand that many do not communicate this way and I’m not too judgmental about it, but I do have to say that not everyone should be a teacher or a presenter either. I feel that if you’re going to stand up and pontificate or teach, do it well. Get into it and get your listeners into it. You owe it to them. And if you’re not giving that to your group do not be surprised if they don’t like you, or they day-dream as you talk, or perhaps drop out or do poorly in your classes.
I say, talk or write from your heart to everyone out there who believe it or not, is JUST like you. Believe in your audience. Believe that they are grand human beings waiting to be a part of you and everything around them in life. Everyone wants to be better in their lives. Everyone. Make your presentations just that. True, positive, passionate, one-on-one talks, even if there are hundreds that you are talking to. Make THEIR lives better off. If it can only be just a little bit better because of the topic area, find a way to it anyway. Do it with real passion and real concern coupled with your knowledge and you’ll be a rock star presenter. If you cannot muster real passion and real concern for the people that you are going to talk to, stop presenting and let someone else do it. Listeners, deserve quality.
Don’t worry about the few snobs who think that verbal communication should consist of long drawn out and rigid by-the-book, academic lectures. They are wrong and should matter little to you. The vast majority of rock-star teachers or presenters are just like you with a great knowledge of their craft shared with their passion and heart.
How about podiums? They’re great to hold your water and papers but unless you need to stay at a podium because of a long mostly read or teleprompter speech, stay away from them. Get close to your audience as you would with a one-on one personal conversation.
It is a huge privilege to talk to groups of people. What a fantastic opportunity of communicating one-on-one with so many people! Be truly yourself and be delighted to talk to them. They’ll sense that you’re real and that you’re there with and for them. And when that happens, you are off and running like a champion race horse and doing it like a star!
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Latest posts by Steve Kovacs (see all)
- Black Lives Really Mattering and My Friend the Boxer - September 7, 2017
- Meaning—Makes the Man and Woman–Makes the Difference - August 28, 2017
- Bars, Demonstrations, and Getting Thumped… - August 14, 2017