How To Be A Great Speaker In The Digital Age

It turns out that we need to be able to communicate many different ways
It turns out that we need to be able to communicate many different ways

Image Credit: Michael Coghlan

Welcome to the digital age! I’m pretty sure that by now just about all of us have one of those fancy smartphones in our pocket or purse. The world around us has definably changed and as speakers, we need to change with it. When I’m working with speakers who are just starting out, I’m always surprised when I learn that they think that they can exist in just one world and be successful. It turns out that as speakers because of the importance of public speaking we now need to find ways to live in both the real world and the electronic world.

The Challenge Of Living In Two Worlds

What I have observed is that what world we feel the most comfortable living in seems to have a lot to do with how old we are. The younger we are, the more comfortable we are living in the digital world. The Millennials sure seem to have this down to a science. Whereas the older ones of us like the person-to-person contact of living in the real world.

I wish that I could tell you that one world was better than the other and that those of us who were not doing a good job of living there just needed to get over it and move on it. It turns out that the reality is a bit more complicated than that – isn’t it always? What all of us, no matter what our age is, need to do is to understand that both worlds offer us some great benefits and we need to find ways to spend time in each world in a way that will benefit us the most.

The problem that I am seeing more and more is that we all seem to gravitate to one of these worlds, the real world or the electronic world, and then that’s where we all want to spend the most of our time. It also assumes that our audiences will be spending their time in the world in which we feel the most comfortable and so we don’t have to spend time in the other world. It turns out that our audiences are not like this and it is us who need to change our behavior and lean how to occupy two different worlds.

How To Be Successful In The Real World

I’d like to think that how to be successful in the electronic world is something that is pretty easy to understand – you log in and start exchanging messages using any one of the dozen or so applications that have been created to allow you to do this. Being successful in the real world is a bit more tricky, especially for my Millennial students. Perhaps we should review what it takes to connect with people when you are dealing with them face-to-face.

You have to “be present” in order to connect with people in the real world. If you are whipping out your phone every 10 seconds to check on your status, then you are not present. Your focus needs to be on the person that you are talking with. This also means that you have to be responsive to the person that you are talking with. Your full participation in the discussion is required.

Some of us tend to be long-winded in the electronic world. We can type and type to our heart’s desire. However, in the real world we’re going to bore people if we do this. That’s why in the real world it’s very important that you be concise and be brief in what you say so that you show respect for the other person’s time. Finally, we need to be consistent in real life. Online we can adopt many different personalities in order to “build our brand”‘; however, in real life we need to make sure that the people that we are interacting with understand who we are and believe that we are real.

What All Of This Means For You

Probably for the first time in history, speakers now have multiple worlds that they can choose to live in. There is, of course, the real world in which we interact with real people in a face-to-face manner. However, there is now the electronic world that is best characterized by our smart phones and which requires no human contact. In order to be successful speakers and deliver the benefits of public speaking we need to learn to master both worlds. Today’s young people seem to have mastering the electronic world under control, it’s staying on top of the real world that presents them with a challenge.

We all have a preference for which world we’d like to spend most of our time in. However, the real world is critically important and so we all need develop our real world skills. This means ensuring that we are present in our conversations and that we are responsive to the people that we are talking with. We need to make sure that we are concise and that we don’t use too many words while at the same time we try to be consistent in the real world so that people will know who we are.

You would think that everyone’s real world skills would be top-notch because this is where we were all born. However, that is not the case – we could all use a little help remembering what it takes to be successful here. The next time you are interacting with your audience face-to-face, make sure that you switch your smartphone off and stay in the moment.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How do you think what you do in the electronic world could help what you are trying to do in the real world?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Imagine for just a moment that you are standing in front of a large audience. They fill the room completely and you can even see people standing way at the back up against the wall. However, something is different about this speech. You have no microphone, no PowerPoint slides, it’s just you up there on the stage. How do you feel about this speech now?