For millenia, lecturing has been seen as a fine art. We still talk about and study the great Greek and Roman orators and the talks that they gave.
A lecturer will convey great knowledge, wisdom and inspiration to their audience. Most often, a lecturer will speak from notes. Most speakers may use a teleprompter, but often they have rehearsed, vetted, timed and committed their talk to memory. Speakers usually know within a few seconds where they are at any point in their talk. A lecturer may have a set period of time to speak and will talk until time runs out.
A professional speaker will also know to within 30 seconds when their talk will end, and will know how to ‘read’ their audience. Or they’ll know what sections or segments of their talk they can knock out or ‘stretch’ so that they can fit into a professional meeting planner’s agenda or event’s timetable. They will do this so seamlessly that no one in the audience will know that a section of content was missing. And everyone will still get a full break before the next session. The best professional speakers do not go over their allotted speaking time.
Often, a lecturer will convey their information to one or a few classes, and then put away their notes until next year. Speakers will often give the same or a similar talk to many people five to perhaps even one hundred times.
A professional speaker will also customize their talk and rehearse it to perfection. They will know where the nuances of tone of voice and speech inflection need to be emphasized or modulated. They’ll also know how to make eye contact and perhaps even joke around with the people in their audience with the ease of a good stand up comic and entertainer. They may even video or audio record their talk so they know how to improve it.
Most corporate speakers are more like lecturers than they are speakers. They will read their company’s financial or other results. Or they’ll share their their insights backed by PowerPoint slides or a press release. Most speakers may use slides, but all eyes are glued on them.
The more you can lecture, the better you will become at speaking to groups. But you need to know and understand the difference between the two if you’re going to go from speaking for free to speaking for a professional speakers’ fee.
When a lecturer can use more elements and techniques from the speaker’s arsenal, they will transform their lecture into a presentation that will emotionally engage their audience. A lecture – even the very interesting ones – may still not be as emotionally powerful as a talk given by an inspiring, seasoned professional ‘speaker.’
There is a great deal of psychological insight needed to develop a talk. The greatest pastors, orators, political leaders and motivators have an ability to move us out of our heads and make us feel good about connecting with our hearts.
Most people who lecture happen to be speaking. There are amazing, highly knowledgeable people who lecture and provide students, audiences, groups and corporations with highly useful and insightful information.
To move beyond being a lecturer means that you will develop a topic and express your expertise. Your talk will go from being an expression of notes and insights into moving a listener and viewer through a fluid, almost choreographed presentation that engages them every 2-3 minutes to laugh, clap, respond or gasp. You’ll be comfortable at using your body language, facial expressions, stories, planned moments of silence and enthusiasm to engage and take the people in your audience on a journey through your content. You will even be able to do this on Skype or via a webinar.
Being a speaker rather than a lecturer may also mean that you’ve added more interactive elements to your talk. Instead of talking ‘to’ your audience for 10, 20 or 60 minutes, you will make it a point to engage your audience. You can use:
o stories and anecdotes that you know your audience will relate to on an emotional level;
o humor or jokes;
o statistics that are easy for your audience to relate to;
o repetition that reinforces your main message but in ways that people will want to hear; and
o inspiring quotes and easy-to-remember references.
Your talk will also be written and delivered so that it engages your audience and ‘pulls’ them through your content for whatever amount of time you’re on the podium. You’ll have moved past standing in one spot with ‘closed’ body language to where you speak with your elbows bent and palms out in front of you to ‘welcome’ your audience to your talk, point of view and insights.
You will also find ways to engage your audience with the expertise that will leave your audience with all the information inherent in a lecture, but with the emotional satisfaction of you as a motivator. Almost any topic can be adapted to become more engaging and even motivational. We’ve all been to talk where we were moved to laugh, cry, shake our heads in realization and leave the room feeling like we had been changed beyond mere head knowledge.
Speaking is never simply about speaking in front of a group. It is ofter far more about conveying information with insights that allow the people in the audience to feel as engaged and be entertained and inspired. When you speak, let people wonder and want to hear what you have to say next, rather than their default of wanting to read emails.
Some of my best friends are University professors who give highly inspired ‘lectures.’ They make it a point to not only be extremely dynamic and interactive with their audiences. They also know how to emotionally engage people. They are called lecturers, but they are really speakers and great orators.
I’ve also heard well-written speeches delivered by uninspired executives and politicians whose body language, deadpan delivery, fear or negativity encouraged people to want to leave the room and for paint to dry faster. The words in the speech and the messenger have to flow if they are to make the impression needed.
Whenever you talk, always know that even if it seems intimidating, talk TO your audience and never talk AT them. They will be far happier to listen to you if you can do this. No matter how simple or complex, deliver your message so that it matters to the most important people of all – your audience.
Are you a lecturer or a speaker? Perhaps you’re a little of both. You’ll always remember the experience of seeing and hearing a great speaker. Great lectures and lecturers are also memorable but in a different way. Get to know the nuances and differences between a lecture and being a speaker and you will improve your talk and deliver a much more powerful and memorable message.