Thursday Talk Tip – Talk the Walk with Jeroen Walravens
Content Contributor – Jeroen Walravens – BE. About Jeroen – After Jeroen Walravens woke up from a month-long coma, the mission ahead became crystal clear. He was going to become the best version of himself humanly possible. He accepted his mission and never looked back. His physical recovery brought him to the core of who he was, past the Cambodian jungle, all the way to Mount Everest. In his thirst for knowledge and understanding he studied uninterruptedly. His first book, It is always NOW, was published in 2016. Due to popular demand, it entered its third print run within two months. Today, Jeroen is a speaker, trainer and personal coach. He’s a licensed psychological counselor, practitioner of NLP and professional trainer. Jeroen lives in Antwerp, Belgium, and is a proud husband and father of a four-year-old son. Become a Content Contributor today!
So there you are, a public speaker.
You’re an expert in your field, you know all the ins and outs of your topic.
And you’re well prepared.
Equipped with all the relevant knowledge, insights and anecdotes which can possibly fit in a human brain. There’s just one problem…
You can’t beat Google.
It’s not about what you know, say or do.
It’s about who you are.
This resonates with people on a deeper level.
With an absolutely humungous amount of information available to us at all times, just a tap of a finger away; to many people storing knowledge has become somewhat of a waste of their precious, limited energy.
That’s why the mere transfer of knowledge, however applicable, entertaining or impressive it may be, doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
It’s good that you have useful information to share, but what really makes you stand out is your way of interpreting it. Which patterns have you discovered? What are the lessons and insights you have distilled from your experience? That’s where your uniqueness comes into play. That’s what only you can deliver. It’s why people want to listen to you.
Sharing the journey
Although your title, position or accomplishments might spark initial interest,
that is not what people connect with. Rather it’s the path you followed to get there.
Even in purely technical matters, people subscribe to a story, not a state.
So before dazzling your audience with your impressive findings, take them along on the human journey which led you there. Tell them what happened, how that affected you, how you dealt with that and what you learned from it.
Psychological theory has it there is only a limited number of human emotions, all others are a composite, a combination of these.
Emotions are what moves (e-motion) people. That’s what they recognize, that’s what they connect with.
It’s the ancient template of a story. The protagonist (you) encounters a problem, a struggle ensues, learning and growth occurs , which leads to deliverance i.e. the solution to said problem.
But aren’t you supposed to talk about them, in stead of yourself?
Yes, well, not really, I mean kind of.
It’s important to take the audience along on your journey, by inserting their problems and showing how your solution might work, so it becomes their journey. That’s how you inspire progress.
I don’t have a career in business, nor do I pretend to offer a practical solution to the sophisticated issues my clients face. What I do know is how to deal with challenging situations, how to get moving when you feel like you’re stuck and you’ve run out of options.
That’s what I focus on when speaking, while using my story as a thread, in the background. Because what happened is irrelevant to the process itself. That’s why it’s entirely possible to insert hang-ups my audience may face, while at the same time opening up about the challenges I faced when recovering from a month-long coma and severe TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
There’s no need to change the entire make up of your talk, as long as you tailor it to your audience.
“Easier said than done”, is a very common reaction to just about any piece of advice. You might even be thinking something along those lines right now. And that’s OK. Unless you’ve gained some sort of guru-like status to them, most people today won’t blindly accept everything you offer them up. That’s why it’s important to spot the possible points of resistance beforehand and dismantle it on your terms.
List a number of common objections to what you’re saying. Things you expect at least three people will be thinking, something you might even have thought to yourself. Stop for a while and reflect on why this objection doesn’t disprove your whole point. Don’t be afraid to just come out and say something resembling, “now I suspect some of your may be thinking this won’t work, because …”. Not only will you demonstrate your ability to question your self, you’ll also create an instant feeling of understanding. I guarantee you that for every three people who were explicitly thinking what you just said, there will be at least another twenty still in the middle of articulating the very same objection. They will be ready to jump the bandwagon, which you’ll be driving, straight towards the point you’re making.
Although it may raise an initial interest and draw a crowd, forget about your accomplishments, your status and your position while you’re on stage. When speaking to people, your ego can only get in your way. Unless your aim is to get admiration, in which case I wish you all the luck in the world.
However, when your goal is to form a connection and inspire people, the biggest tool you have is your shared humanity. Be ready to deliver a great talk, but leave the overly polished persona at home. In stead, come with a willingness to be human, that is, to be vulnerable. People can sense when you’re being real.