Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Effective speaking: Know your audience, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- [Instructor] We're going to wrap this up on the subject of effective communication within the context of inspiration, with three rules that I've learned over many years of public speaking, that I think will make you more effective public speakers, and effective public speaking, regardless of how terrifying it can be for a lot of folks, is going to be an important building block for you as a leader, because you're not always going to be in one-to-one situations. And you may not just be in one-to-team situations, you're going to be in one-to-many situations, which is going to require you, at times, if you're going to lead organizations, to get up in front of the many, and to communicate effectively. Three rules for effective public speaking: Know your audience, know your material, know your passion. Okay, know your audience, know your material, know your passion. If you can stick to these three rules, I promise you, you're going to be a more effective and more confident and comfortable public speaker. Let's start with the importance of knowing your audience. Far too often, you'll be invited to speak, and you will prepare materials. And who are you preparing the materials for? - [Student] Your audience. - Your audience is the right answer. Yourself is far too often how people are going about this. "Oh, I get an opportunity to speak, fantastic. "The mic's mine, the stage is mine, "I'm going to talk about what I want to talk about." That's not what the audience is showing up for. When you are asked to speak in front of others, when you are given that opportunity, don't start with necessarily what you want to say. Start with knowing your audience. And then you want to find the union of what you want to say and how you want to say it, with what your audience is interested in. And if you only focus on yourself, remember the egocentrism we talked about in awareness? If you only focus on yourself, you're not going to connect with that audience to the extent you're capable of connecting. If you take the time to understand your audience, that's when great stuff happens. That's the first thing you got to do whenever you're getting up in front of a group. Know your audience, who are they, why are they showing up, what do they want to learn, what do they want to hear about? I want to share a story with all of you. When I was an operating executive at Yahoo!, and one of my responsibilities was search, and we were involved in a very, very competitive situation with Google in the earliest days, and a lot of people don't realize this, given how history would unfold, but at one point, Yahoo! reinvented its search engine, we launched, and we were incredibly competitive, and we actually put a little bit of a scare into Google, and it forced them to kind of reformulate their strategy, and double down on relevance, a whole host of things. And at that time, there were a lot of people interested in how we were going about this. It was one of the fastest growing businesses at Yahoo!, and it was being celebrated at Yahoo!, and I was giving a lot of talks. I was asked to talk to the street, I was asked to talk to other teams at Yahoo!, and I got invited to go to our sales conference at Yahoo!. Several thousand salespeople in the audience, and they were selling advertising, largely display advertising, because in those earliest days, we were actually outsourcing the monetization of our search capability. And I was asked to talk about search. I was like "Great, I got this down. "I've delivered the search keynote like 20, 30 times. "Every time I do it, people are like, "'Oh, it's so interesting, and thank you, "'and that was great, and it's so insightful, "'I've learned so--" I was like, "This is going to be easy!" So I get up, I think we were in Palm Springs, and I get up, and I do my presentation. I bet there were two, three, there may have been four thousand people in the audience that day. Same exact presentation I had given 15, 20 times prior. After I was finished, this is what I heard. (students laughing) (crickets chirping) It's a Bugs Bunny cartoon with Elmer Fudd delivering at the opera, and this is what he heard. No one was clapping. Or Daffy Duck, it was one of them. At any rate, I heard crickets. I heard zip, zilch, nothing, no one responded. Maybe like someone in the back was like, (slow clapping) (students laughing) And I was like, womp womp. I was like, "Okay, thank you everybody, "it was great being with you." I go backstage, and the first person to greet me is the head of the sales floor. Good friend, a colleague. I said, his name is Greg, I said, "Greg, what just happened? "I've done that keynote countless times. "I don't understand, it always gets a huge response." He said, "Who'd you present to?" I said, "The sales team." He said, "What does the sales team want to do?" I said, "Sell stuff." He said, "How much stuff did you give them "to sell in your presentation?" I said, "Point taken." I was invited the next year, suffice to say, I didn't start with the keynote materials I had been utilizing over that 12 month period. I sat down, and I thought about what the audience wanted, who the audience was, and how the materials I was most comfortable presenting could meet their needs. And suffice to say, I didn't get crickets, and it was far better received. Very hard way to learn that lesson. Know your audience, don't knee-jerk to yourself and what you want to do, start with your audience. Then align what you want to do with what you think they're coming to hear, and how you can help them.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.