When I studied at Michigan Ross School of Business in the MBA program, one day I was invited to participate in the event called “Startup Weekend.” On Friday evening I arrived with several hundred aspiring entrepreneurs to one of the university buildings.
Within an hour everybody who had a business idea passionately pitched it to the entire audience within 60 seconds. Then by voting we selected the top 10 ideas and split into 10 teams. The goal of each team was to make as much progress as possible in developing a business based on their idea within Saturday and Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon the board consisting of representatives from venture capital funds, successful entrepreneurs, and university professors watched our prototypes, listened to final presentations, and awarded prizes to the winning teams.
What impressed me the most in this event was the energy in the room. I have never seen so many people passionate and enthusiastic about doing something new all in one place. And guess what? It was contagious.
When I left to go home after the final ceremony I thought, “Wow, I worked for 2 days on somebody else’s idea for 15 hours a day, I wasn’t paid for it, and somehow I feel happy, excited, and full of the belief that I can achieve anything I want in life. This passion, this energy, this enthusiasm in the audience is so contagious and I am grateful for it. Thank you, “Startup Weekend.”
I remember a particular day in my life when I totally fell in love with public speaking and also became a far better speaker almost instantly.
Many years ago I attended an acting training led by a famous stage director. One of the students in my group was 21-year-old Julie. One day the trainer said, “Now it’s time to give a 3-minute speech that you have been working on during the weekend. Julie, you’re first.” When Julie went on stage she smiled and said, “The title of my speech is ‘Fashion trends of spring.’ This season, the polka-dot dress is popular. I like the bright colors…”
I thought, “It’s amazing! Julie didn’t implement anything that the stage director taught us. Her speech doesn’t have any structure, she stumbles a lot, the topic is not interesting for me, but her speech is awesome! I could listen to it for hours!”
I asked myself, “What is special about her speech?” Then I realized, “Julie is highly energetic and passionate about what she is talking about and it’s contagious.”
When you are on stage, your energy is always contagious. If you are not excited about your speech, the audience will be bored and unexcited to hear you. However if you are energetic and passionate your audience will become excited and will think, “There should be something special about this topic, since the speaker is that excited. I will listen carefully to what he is about to say.”
After my final speech at the acting training, a stage director said, “Andrii, your speech was impressive. You are a Julie, but in pants.” I regard this as one of the best compliments I ever received and after this day make sure that in every speech I am energetic and passionate.
When I realized the power of being energetic on stage, it has dramatically improved the effectiveness of my speeches. When my students begin to take energy on stage seriously, they become much better speakers instantly. When you go on stage next time, make sure that you are truly excited about what you are talking about and I am confident that you will fall in love with public speaking and the audience will fall in love with you.