Know your audience. Know your material. Know your passion. These are the three golden rules of public speaking according to Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that will be a handy tool for your future business endeavors, if it is not already. Weiner has been Chief Executive Officer since December 2008 when the position was passed on to him by founding member Reid Hoffman. Before LinkedIn, Weiner was the Executive Vice President for the Network Division for Yahoo! Inc and the Vice President Online for Warner Bros. among other things.
Weiner has been managing people for over 17 years now, and has given his fair share of public presentations. So on October 22, 2012, Weiner published an article on LinkedIn about what he has learned from his experience, his three tips for public speaking.
First he stresses the importance of understanding who will be attending your speech, presentation, whatever. He makes mention of a presentation on search and digital media he had been asked to give multiple times that he never really had to alter. However when he gave the speech to a conference of 2,000 salespeople, it did not go over so well. Weiner was not “selling” them anything, as he should have done. He should have tailored his presentation to fit his audience.
He then brings up the well-known fact “more people fear public speaking than fear dying.” Humans fear judgement and invalidation. Weiner recommends having a complete understanding of the material (and really owning it, not just memorizing it). This way, the speaker can present with confidence and without nerves.
Weiner finally contends that what people will remember most is how the presentation is done, not necessarily what is said. He references social psychologist Albert Mehrabian’s work that says words only comprise about 7% of overall message delivery. Weiner explains that it’s the passion and conviction of the speaker that really shines through. He uses as an example Bruce Springsteen commanding an audience of 40,000 fans while performing “Born to Run.”
Weiner’s three pieces of advice may seem basic. They may not be top-secret hints. They may just remind you of what you have been taught in school (perhaps CC100 for all of you Emersonians). But these three simple rules to remember will get you through any speech, and keep you focused. These rules actually remind me of the greek orator Quintus Cicero’s advice to his brother Marcus. When Marcus was running for office, Quintus told his brother to always remember where he was, who he was, and what it is he was working for. Though slightly different and thousands of years later, the ideas still remain the same. Take it from the professionals, both ancient and modern: just follow these golden rules and you will always find success.
–Maggie Morlath (Political Communication Major and Student Contributor)