Some people have it. Some people don’t. Speaking strategies and the elusive ‘it’ factor! The ‘it’ factor refers to that indefinable something that makes you special, that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. As a speaker, this might be the way you move or how you use your words. It might be your charisma, your energy or a vibe that people pick up and just can’t explain.
Speakers who embody the ‘it’ factor have the ability to persuade and impact their audience in a positive, uplifting way. These are speakers who exude believability, likeability and equanimity; three core speaking strategies that embrace the ‘it’ factor to the fullest.
It’s through the knowledge you share, the sources you cite, the support material you include and the caring you demonstrate that you establish a level of believability. The more engaged your audience is in what you have to say, the greater their belief and trust in you.
Believability is core to any speaking strategy, and the most fragile part of the ‘it’ factor. If you aren’t vigilant, believability can shift in an instant.
I remember sitting, with some of my colleagues, listening to a popular keynote speaker. As the speaker wrapped up, she apologized for not being able to stay and chat, and then went on to tell us why. A year later, I found myself attending an out of town conference with a few of the same colleagues, listening to the same speaker, eager and attentive until…the speaker apologized for not being able to stay and chat, and then went on tell us the same story with the same timeline that she had given in her previous presentation. Whew! Our regard of that speaker sank like a stone in quicksand.
Inherent in the ‘it’ factor and key in any speaking strategy is likeability. The more you know about the people sitting in your audience, the more people will listen to what you have to say and the manner in which you are saying it. Speaking is not about ‘you’ but an audience centered activity. In every speaking gig, your goal is find out as much as you can about your audience: who they are, why they’re there, and why they should listen to you.
If people don’t like you, the chances are very high that they won’t like your message either. As a speaker, you need to work on the similarities between you and your audience. It’s only by minimizing the differences and putting focus on the common ground you will nurture the likeability factor in your listeners.
This is the ‘keeping your cool’ part of the ‘it’ factor. Equanimity refers to your composure and patience. It’s what you need to keep audience connected, as well as preserve some sense of self-control. A vital part to maintaining equanimity is preparation.
Any number of things can rattle a speaker’s calm. An aggressive question from the audience, an equipment malfunction, or a schedule that has been cut short can throw you off your speaking game. Without equanimity, audience relationship is damaged, likeability is doubtful, believability becomes suspect and the ‘it’ factor evaporates.
When it comes to believability, likeability and equanimity, and the elusive ‘it’ factor, some speakers have them all. Some speakers don’t … but as speaking strategies, they can always be developed.