NEW YORK—An audience of New Yorkers learned on Wednesday that whether they have charming voices or not, they can be engaging speakers.
“The key of a good speech is to tell it as a story,” said world-renowned public speaker TJ Walker to a selective audience of media personnel, corporate leaders and foreign ambassadors in the International Immigrants Foundation building.
“If you think you are boring, the chances are you really are boring,” said Walker. But that’s fixable.
Walker, CEO of Media Training Worldwide, noted that he did not begin his speech with the stereotyped “I am very happy to be here today,” but rather with an interactive introduction that raised a concern: “So-and-so told me just before my speech that he often feels uneasy speaking in front of a large audience.”
As a leading communicator, he said communication isn’t communication when the words are spoken, but when the words are heard and absorbed by the listeners.
Instead of standing at the rostrum like almost every other speaker reading off the speech, Walker only left large-font notes at the rostrum, which are easily viewable by simply passing by when necessary. His entire one and a half hour speech was filled with facial expressions, body language, hand gestures, movements and eye contact with each and every individual that kept the audience interested until the end. Nevertheless, he said that moving in patterned steps may look like “square dancing.”
Yet the nervous speaker on stage may be unaware that he or she is “square dancing.” Walker, author of best selling TJ Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentations, suggested that everyone video record and to watch his or her speech until satisfaction is reached.
However, he did not recommend practicing in front of a mirror since people tend to notice details that nobody else would, such as not shaving well enough or having slightly smudged makeup.
To illustrate, he said, “I was training a high-tech executive in Virginia several years ago with about 10 other people in the room—10 other executives who were being trained. We had to give a sample presentation. [We] played it back. … And he said, ‘TJ, I just want to apologize to everyone. I am very embarrassed, as you notice, I have a horrible case of Bell’s Palsy and I can’t move the entire left side of my face. And I realize that it’s horrible and it’s horribly distracting.’"
“And my first thought was, ‘Uh-oh! Was I daydreaming? Was I not paying attention? This is embarrassing. He is paying me a lot of money to coach him. I didn’t notice anything! Then I said, ‘Maybe I’m not the only one.’ So I asked everyone in the room, ‘How many of you noticed that the left side of his face didn’t move? And he has Bell’s Palsy and it’s horribly distracting?’ Guess how many hands went up? None—not a single one—no one else noticed.”
Walker, with 25 years of experience, has trained thousands of CEOs, officials and experts, such as European prime ministers and African diplomats. They pay up to US$7,500 for a one-day intensive training, where Walker video records them more than eight times per session, as opposed to other trainers, who usually videotape only once or twice.
Mr. Walker recently conducted 112 longer than five-minute interviews over the course of 24 hours, breaking the Guinness World Record in interviewing.
TJ Walker also conducts paid online courses to improve speaking abilities. Please see www.tjwalker.com.