It can be hard to find a keynote speaker who is different, but not weird.
It’s even more difficult to be that speaker.
When I deliver sales coaching, I always advise clients to find ways to differentiate from the competition.
This is even more important in the speaking business, where seemingly everyone with a message is on the circuit.
But being different is tough to do. Everyone has access to the same information, the same jokes and the same tired parables.
Professional speakers are infamous for “borrowing” content from other keynoters. If I have to hear “The Starfish Story” one more time, I’m going to lose it.
The website of nearly every keynote speaker features keywords like:
- Veteran speaker
- Entertaining and educational (“He’s an ‘edutainer!'”–sheesh.)
Of course, it’s good to have original content. But the real key is the delivery of that content.
The top speakers have a style that is fresh and not easily duplicated. Derek Thompson, author of Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction, says that this special sauce is usually a combination of different and familiar.
It took me years to differentiate myself in the crowded field of motivational speaking. Finally, I developed a speaking style that is unique, yet recognizable. And I had to adapt the concept from ancient Greece.
My secret to success — “speaking in the round”
My unique keynote technique is called, “speaking in the round,” which is based on the “theatre in the round” concept from ancient Greek times.
The basic concept essentially removes the “fourth wall” between the performer and the audience so that they share the same space. So when I’m delivering a keynote, I not only leave the podium, but also the stage or platform, in order to roam the audience. This allows a strong and direct engagement through dozens of one-to-one connections.
Below is a sample video that demonstrates this concept of speaking in the round. This recording was made at a leadership conference in Whippany, New Jersey in 2018. The camera work is a bit shaky, but notice the rather unexpected surprises that occur during the presentation.
Consider the good things that happen in this short clip:
- Audience involvement through a series of easy, natural requests
- Six applause breaks in the first two minutes and nineteen seconds (one prompted)
- Intrigue (What? The speaker is coming toward us!”)
- Watch how I slowly move into the audience at the 1:30 mark
- Body noises from the audience at 1:46
- The big reveal at 2:30
- The use of movement, physical contact, direct questions and safe humor
Don’t try this at home
Speaking in the round requires a keynoter have complete content mastery, quick mental reflexes and the ability to work without talking points or even PowerPoint.
This technique doesn’t work 100% of the time, but I’m having fun with it.
If you’re in the speaking business, try speaking in the round and let me know how it goes for you.
Check out other videos that demonstrate this technique on my YouTube channel. Subscribe (click the silver bell) to be notified of new videos.
Read reviews on my speaking technique here.