Marco Rubio Is Repeating Himself… and So Should You (Public Speaking Tips)

While most people are still talking about the Super Bowl this morning–it was awesome!!–I keep thinking about the Republican Presidential Debate. (Yes, that probably says something about me.)

Two things in particular struck me.

First, this was hilarious:

And second, as someone who has worked with professional public speakers for almost 17 years now, I’m amused that one of the biggest attacks on Marco Rubio was based on how he repeatedly delivers the same 25- and 30-second memorized speeches on the campaign trail.

Now, whether that qualifies or disqualifies him from being President of the United States, I’ll leave you and others to decide. This is not a political blog. This is not a political blog post. (So, no need to “light up” the comments section with political comments, because they’ll be deleted.)

What we are here to talk about is effective communication for professional speakers, because this little story sets up a very important lesson if you want to succeed speaking:

Once you find your “signature” message, it may very well get old to you (and to your critics)… but it’s exactly what your audience wants to hear… so keep sharing it.

I just had a conversation about this with a very successful speaker a few days ago.

Early in his career, he was getting heckled by some friends because he always did the same material. To appease them, he eventually changed up his program and brought in some “fresh” content.

After the first event where he debuted this new material, the guy who hired him asked, “How do you think that went tonight?”

“I think it went pretty good,” the speaker said.

“You’re right,” his client responded. “It went pretty good… but I’m not paying you to be ‘pretty good.’ I’m paying you to be great. This audience deserves to hear your best material.”

Point taken.

Always remember, once you start to become known for your message, people are going to want to hear your message! Funny how that works, huh?

Think about it this way: If you’re an Eagles fan who loves “Hotel California” and their other hits, what songs do you want to hear them play when you go see them in concert? Not “some stuff we were playing around with the other night,” right? No. Play me the hits!

As a speaker, your “hits” are certain stories and even entire presentations–as people come to know them and love them and rave about them to others: “You need to hear this speaker!”

It’s not all about entertainment, though.

No, as a heart-centered speaker, I know that you care about truly helping people live better lives and/or build better businesses. Repetition of a simple message is important for this reason, too:

You want your audience to learn (remember) and implement what it is that you have to share.

Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact, advised in one of his recent blog posts that, if you want audiences to remember what you say, “First of all, make sure that your speech is about only one idea. After all, it’s easier to remember one idea than many.”

Now to you, the speaker, that “one idea” is going to get very old after a while. You’re going to feel like, Yeah, I’ve shared that before. Now I feel like I really need to share [this new idea].

That’s because you’re a thought leader. Of course you have more to share.

Here’s the problem, though: This new idea may be “step four” in the process of learning what it is that you are teaching. You are on step four… but this audience you’re about to speak to? This audience that has never heard from you? They are on step one.

Give them step one–in your “signature” keynote, at least.

Once you get them on board with step one, then by all means, help them continue along the path. Give them a follow-up workshop. Give them a book. Give them a video course.

Going back to Marco Rubio, whether or not he’s qualified to be President of the United States, whether or not he’s “your candidate,” he does teach us a very valuable lesson about effective communication:

Know your message. Share your message. Again and again.


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