I work with a lot of aspiring speakers, leaders who must present to their teams, and individuals looking to make their voices be heard more clearly. Whether you’re on stage in front of a large audience, in a conference room presenting to a few people, or simply meeting with your boss to negotiate a raise or promotion, there is one fundamental mistake I see often…

The mistake is this. Aspiring speakers and leaders think that the words of a pre-scripted speech are what matters most.

Now is it important to have great material? Absolutely. However, when I consult new speakers who show me their outline or their amazing new speech, they are doing it under the false notion that all audiences are the same, think the same, and receive information the same. As you become a more seasoned presenter, you learn to recognize that all audiences, individually and collectively, have different struggles and are at different levels of stress, and therefore possess different levels of comprehension and ability to implement.

While your content may be good, what’s more important is how versatile you can be in delivering that message. If you were to study the etymology of a “great speech,” what you would find is that a great speech or presentation is simply effective communication of an idea that leads to immediate action.

It’s nothing more and nothing less. To anyone looking to speak or become a better leader, I challenge you to find various ways to communicate your message. Different examples of the same concept can be adapted to better resonate with the current audience. For example, I speak a lot on how to create opportunities for yourself. That’s a concept relevant to all people. However, the approach I’d take to that concept would be different if I’m talking to C-level executives who are looking to gain that 0.01% edge that will result in large profits for their company than it would be for how I would deliver that message to new hires at a sales company looking to get their foot in the door and attract any business they can get.

Your message is important. How you deliver it is far more important. Take some time today to look at your message and find different ways to deliver it. Study non-verbals, both in yourself and how you read them in others. Those non-verbals of the audience tell you everything you need to know about the effectiveness of your current talk and if you need to switch delivery methods.

At the end of the day, what you must value the most is the audience’s time. You owe it to them to be highly effective so that everyone’s time was worth hearing what you have to say. Go be great.

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