On Thursday, March 28th, Robert Cravalho came to us to share some amazing thoughts about being an amazing speaker.  And he didn’t disappoint, starting right in by demonstrating how amazing he is with his own personal style of simple, yet focused key elements making him likeable and easy to focus in on the quality content of what he had to say.

Robert speaking to a captive audience

One thing that stood out to me is that Robert started his presentation with his workshop rules that began with one of the most important things when speaking or working – to have fun!  Followed second only by learning something as his next rule.  And of course followed by having some more fun for rule number three.  Oh yeah, and of course a little chocolate can go a long way too!

His presentation started with showing some images and pictures that let’s us know that our messages make us THINK.  He continued with some more images that highlighted how our messages makes people FEEL!  He then followed with a few more signs, not all necessarily clear in message, but impactful to demonstrate how our messages also make people act (DO).  These points had me, as I think was the same for all present, really consider what message we as speakers are trying to give our audiences.

Robert engaging us to think about what we want to see in a speaker!

I personally loved Robert’s style of presenting us with very stimulating photos and encouraged us to ask questions, infer and think about how we were responding to the image.  As we questioned these things, it pointed out we all look at life through different lenses.  And what is was doing was not only engaging us, but highlighting his key message that as a speaker, the audience is the most important person.

Robert’s quotes were fast and impactful, leaving me thinking about “We should say what others should hear – look at your message through the audience lens.” And I love the simple revelation he shared that if you’re a speaker and you’re speaking to no audience then you are simply practicing.  These comments were right on point to drive his message home with me and others attending that the audience really is the most important person in the room.

We then started our audience ‘wish lists’ with what we as an audience member would want in a speaker.  We rattled off items such as personable, informative, fun, credible, interaction, responding and understand the audience, meaningful and relevant, real-world story telling and of course some energy and some humor!  And then even PASSION!!  This is a personal favorite of mine as I believe passion breathes energy myself.  These were great topics to reflect personally how I behave when giving presentation and am I really thinking about what my audience wants to hear or needs to hear?  As Robert continued to emphasize, it’s not about the speaker, it’s about the audience!

Robert’s workbook to engage and focus the audience

In addition to really putting the audience in the forefront of our speaking considerations, I enjoyed the motivating quotes interjected to keep my speaker skills sharp, such as “people don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care.”  He added small speaking tips like not turning down the microphone.  You are never sure the back of the audience can hear you, so use it anyways.

And even the little points to think about such as have a formal introduction – this gives you credibility.  Write your own if you don’t already!  And even better – he provided a printed copy in bold, full caps in LARGE FONT to make it easy to read and recommends keeping it to a single 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet, single sided.

His style, energy and enthusiasm was plentiful throughout the entire presentation.  And he never once slowed in his advice to us fellow speakers: “Don’t use anybody but yourself as the punchline…but just because it doesn’t happen, doesn’t mean you can’t use it.”  And “when you use props you lose the opportunity to do a great gesture or facial [expression]!”

As a final thought from this great presentation, Robert asked us “if your message makes us think, feel and do, then what do you want your audience to do at the end?  Be clear and specific on what you want them to think, feel and do.  Call it out!”  A great presentation that I feel exemplifies this amazing group of professional and talented speakers!  I can’t wait for the next one!

Contributed by Jamie Champagne