This past week, my daughter Kelli gave a speech at our Toastmasters club.  Her objective was to present a persuasive speech.  Kelli decided to give a presentation arguing that her generation, Generation Y, was the “best.”  She labeled three “myths” or misconceptions about Generation Y (born between 1979-94) and de-bunked them by giving solid examples to her point.  She worked hard on her delivery and gave a fine speech.  You could say I was a very proud dad.

What followed during the rest of the meeting was even more impressive than Kelli’s speech.  Several members commented about her topic and her views during their opportunity to speak.  They all enjoyed her speech, but more importantly they were moved in some way.  They may have agreed or disagreed; revealed what generation they belonged to; or even felt “called out” a little bit and defended themselves.

Being a “Yes” person is rarely a way to become memorable.  As a presenter, you become memorable when you are provocative, insightful, and challenge widely held norms or paradigms.  Kelli made each person at the meeting check in on their personal generation and how they are perceived.  When people are still talking about your speech an hour later, that’s when you know you’ve made an impact.

Do people talk about your speech or presentation after you walk off the stage?  Are they still challenged days after the meeting has ended?  Will they see you and bring up your message again?

If the answer is “NO,” then you might need to find some ways to become more memorable.  Do you have an opinion on an issue that bucks the trend?  Do you have a strategy that might be considered “risky?”  What wild idea do you have that can change the world – or at least your audience?

You don’t have to be arrogant or brash.  Being influential means that you can calmly, but persuasively, deliver an opinion that challenges your audiences thinking and helps them to become better educated, introspective, or renewed.

My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always says that you must become an “object of interest.”  One way to accomplish this is to not be afraid to ruffle a few feathers with your message.  This isn’t about getting 10’s on your evaluation or high marks from judges.  This is about offering sincere methods and ideas to help improve the lives and condition of your audience.  They may not agree with you and that’s okay.  If they are still talking about you days, months, and years later, then you were successful.  The next time you have the opportunity to be controversial or contrarian; don’t be afraid to seize the opportunity.  The spoils generally go to those who are brave enough to speak out against the tide.

The jury may still be out on Kelli’s thesis about Generation Y.  However, my guess is we will still be talking about it for years to come.

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(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

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