Issue 7 of The Art of Keynoting
When you’re on stage, it’s all about you. This isn’t egoism, or arrogance. In fact, it is the very opposite of those. When you are on stage, you are alone, exposed, in the crosshairs. Some try to ignore this. They try to make it about their presentation materials, or the audience, or the people they know. Without knowing it, they're damaging their speeches by doing so.
Great speakers do not pretend that they are mere vessels for a speech, reading out material that someone else could present. Instead, they realize that being on stage is an honor, and that with this honor comes responsibility. You were called up on stage, now you need to prove that you have a right to be there.
This cannot be done by merely playing a role or by filling the performance with gimmicks. Instead, it needs to stem from having considered why you feel you have a right to speak. For some this might be because they have taken it upon themselves to speak for those without a voice. To others, it might stem from wanting to act as the spokesperson for an important cause. For yet others it might be because they've had a realization that they feel needs to be shared with the word.
In each and every one of these cases, a key part of this is becoming the person that belongs on the stage. Yes, it is about the cause and the people and the ideas, even the audience, but it starts from you. You on stage, with the lights shining, and realizing that you can't blame the cause, or the people, or the audience if you fail. It is all about you, and you need to own this.
So stop shifting responsibility. You're there, now deal with it. Be the best you that you can be up there. Don't hide behind the podium, or behind your presentation. Stand tall. Speak up. Make this moment yours, for that is what the audience came to see.