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Simon Sinek knows a thing or two about public speaking
More than 38.6 million views. That’s how many times people have gone to the TED Talk website to watch Sinek talk about his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. What makes this video so popular?
You’ll have to watch it to find out. What you’ll discover is that it isn’t just what Sinek has to say about leadership. It goes beyond his entertaining stories about the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs. It has much to do with the fact that Simon Sinek is a superb public speaker. He’s also generous with what he knows, so he has shared his tips on how to be persuasive when speaking in public.
Here’s some of his advice.
Not so fast!
Watch what happens when Simon Sinek takes the stage to deliver his TED Talk. What happens? Well … nothing!
Sinek says it’s done on purpose. “A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves,” Sinek told Entrepreneur magazine. “That communicates a little bit of insecurity and fear.”
He recommends that you quietly walk out on stage. Find your place, then take a deep breath. Wait a few seconds before you begin. Sinek says this shows your audience that you are totally confident and in charge of the situation.
Be a giver
This piece of advice from Sinek will resonate with you if you understand the value of advice freely given. “We’re highly-social animals,” observes Sinek. “Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver – a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them – than a taker.”
Sinek recommends asking yourself how you can demonstrate that you’re not just there to sell a product or idea, or even to convince people to like you. He calls people like this “takers,” warning that your audience can see through you. When they do, he says, they disengage.
Ever heard the phrase “scanning and panning?” It’s where a presenter gets up on stage and starts talking as he or she constantly looks out over the audience. “It’s your worst enemy,” says Sinek. “While it looks like you’re looking at everyone, it actually disconnects you from your audience.”
He advises that it’s much easier and effective to look directly at specific audience members throughout your speech. Deliver an entire sentence or thought just to one person, without breaking the gaze. Then move on and connect with another person.
If it’s a TED Talk, you’re certainly not going to get through every person in your audience. Sinek says that’s not the point. Making these individual connections, he explains, is like you’re having a conversation with the audience. “You’re not speaking at them,” says Sinek, “you’re speaking with them.”
Sinek admits this may be the one piece of advice most difficult to follow because it’s rather hard to believe. You are speaking much faster than you realize. You’re nervous. Your heart is racing – and you don’t realize it but so are your words.
“The more you rush, the more you turn them off,” he says.
Sinek is fond of saying he believes it’s impossible to speak too slowly on stage. Debate that with him if you ever meet him – but watch his TED Talk and you’ll see there are times where he speaks so slowly that several seconds go by between each word. And, it won’t bother you.
The master of TED Talks wants you to remember your manners at the end of your public presentations. Did you receive applause? Sinek says that’s a gift. “When you receive a gift,” he says, “it’s only right to express how grateful you are for it.”
Which is why – no matter what Simon Sinek talks about on stage – he always ends his presentations with two powerful words: Thank you.
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