Your audience knows more about you and your subject than you may think. Content can be googled, cross-checked, and verified before, during, and after your speech delivery. If you are active on Social Media, your personal life is now public. Enter the Ethical Speaker.
Ethical Speaking Factor #1: Credibility and Reputation
Take the time to research your content and align the content to the needs of your audience. Avoid having a general speech that you deliver to every audience – tailor the content for each speech relative to the complexity and dynamic of the audience.
For research-related content; technical; and data-driven speeches: include pre-speech qualifiers to state the date, sources and other limits to your content. Avoid plagiarism.
Your audience will respect you more as a speaker if they understand why you are credible to speak on the topic. Credibility is a factor of your experience, skills, position, qualifications and your personal journey in relation to the topic. Tell your audience why you are passionate about your topic.
Ethical Speaking Factor #2: Character of Speaker
Your audience is human: they have experienced failures; they are currently dealing with challenges; and they are equally successful in what they do.
You are no different.
If you come across as an aloof, egotistical, know-it-all speaker – you audience will not be able to connect with you. Share something about yourself in relation to your topic that shows the audience that you too have experienced challenges and you have found a way to overcome it. Be a natural conversationalist and not a theatrical stage-performer.
Professionalism to fellow colleagues and speakers is not negotiable. Avoid making any remarks that may be perceived as flippant, rude, stereotyping, or belittling other people – even if the comment was made in jest. You just need one person in the audience to be offended who will take your comment to social media platforms.
Ethical Speaking Factor #3: Accuracy & Fairness
Consider how you are being introduced to the audience. Humble, simple, and short introductions are better than long biographies. Refrain from using intensifiers like: “the most highly paid speaker,” unless these facts can be backed up.
The body of your talk should be balanced between a contrarian and conformist viewpoint. A contrarian speaker presents diverse viewpoints that disagrees with the general opinion. A conformist speaker shares information that agrees with the general consensus.
During the Q&A session, maintain your composure and professionalism. Show tolerance to all by allowing everyone in the room a chance to ask a question (if you have small audience); or give different parts of the room an opportunity to speak.
When in doubt
- Introductions Start with a simple introduction and listen to how it sounds. Watch the audience as someone introduces you. Keep changing the introduction until you have something that feels comfortable and natural for you.
- Personal story Some speakers do not like talking about themselves. The alternative is to talk about how your advice or process helped someone else. Tell their story instead.
- Q&A Session You will attract the audience that you are ready to handle. With every Q&A session that you successfully get through, your skill with dealing with the audience improves. Trust the process and trust your ability to handle any audience.