Last night I spoke at TechCocktail Sessions in San Francisco. The audience consisted of about 100 current or would be entrepreneurs, marketers, and others. The basis behind the event was “Startup Inspiration: Turning Ideas into Action” and though the talk was off-the-cuff I always tried to make sure I hovered around the subject.
Many people that I see that are constantly on the speaking circuit have sometimes forgotten what it feels like to be in the audience and listen to a long and drawn out talk. Or sometimes it’s not particularly long so much as it’s just incredibly contrived. Or maybe they’re up there shilling their own wares. Regardless, many of those scenarios are rarely a benefit for the audience member.
So that brings us to last night’s talk.
When I speak for some sort of event, I always try to have an honest discussion with the audience. I tell it like it is. Brutal honesty. I’ll touch on a number of subjects - the many ways that I’ve failed in my businesses and what there is to learn from those failures, learning on my feet since I’ve never had a formal education in business, the current state of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. But the key is that it’s always no bullshit. I’m of the opinion that the more bullshit you inject in a talk, the more the audience disconnects and doesn’t listen to the things you have to say.
Telling it like it is
I had a number of people approach me after the talk and they all had something similar to say: “I liked your talk because it seemed so brutally honest” or “you don’t seem afraid to call yourself out” or “this was helpful because you just told it like it was.” After hearing all of these comments, it struck me how much more people connect to a talk because of something very simple: honesty. I’m framing this post around public speaking, but obviously it applies to the rest of life.
Some may think that the opposite of being honest is lying but that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes it’s not telling the whole story. Sometimes it’s candy coating something to make yourself sound better. Dishonesty rarely serves more than one person: the person being dishonest. If as a public speaker you’re being dishonest with the audience in any way you’re doing them a disservice. They’re there to listen and learn so give them what they deserve.
In summary, my advice is this: be honest, be real, and just be yourself.