Member Perspective: Public Speaking Pro, Michelle Barry Franco
When I started my business in 2008, I totally avoided calling myself a speaking coach. I had this idea that if someone wanted to be a “speaker,” they probably loved the spotlight and were way more attracted to attention than to making a difference. And I didn’t want to promote that kind of work in the world.
I feel bad about this now because I know it’s completely not true for the vast majority of speakers!
Now I know that great speaking is a powerful leadership move and a tremendous gift of service to others. It’s one of the most valuable ways we can serve a lot of people with a message that really matters. From this perspective, I am proud to be a speaking coach for so many people with messages that change lives.
Approaching speaking from the perspective of leadership is a mindset shift. It’s an empowering one because it makes great speaking simple, in a way. We just ask ourselves, how can I serve others in the most effective way as a speaker?
I think I’ve come up with a great answer to that question and I’d like to share it with you here. These are the essential elements of stepping into leadership as a speaker.
1) Take a Stand.
Great leaders take a stand for ideas that matter, especially ones that matter to those they serve with their leadership. Think of Elizabeth Warren’s speech at The Women’s March. Or Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. Both of these women got onto those stages in order to serve with their message.
Of course, in order to serve with our message, we have to know what we want to take a stand for. Here’s the question I ask everyone I work with (and, eventually, most people I meet): If you had a rooftop and the streets below you were full of people who needed what you have to say to make their lives better, what would you want to shout out to them?
I call this your Rooftop Message. It can be your guiding light at the center of the difference you want to make in the world.
2) Commit to Serve.
This message we feel compelled to share has an ideal audience - a group of people whose lives will be most positively served through this message. When our mission is to serve through our speaking, our most important job is to intimately understand the struggles and desires of those we can best help with our message. This happens through what we call “audience analysis” in the speaking world.
In this process, we ask questions such as:
- What is causing her real pain around this issue right now?
- What about this issue keeps her up at night or interferes with her concentration during the day?
- What does she cry about to her best friend, or privately in her mind?
- What are the actual thoughts that run through her mind during the day about this issue?
As much as we can, we use her words - the same ones she is using in her own mind - to best understand her struggle and desire. When we use those same words we create connection and show understanding. This is how she knows we get her and can help.
3) Go Where they Gather.
We can be fully enabled with a powerful message that will ease her struggle and change her life but if she never hears it, it’s all for naught. This is why we go where she gathers with others and offer to speak there. Maybe it’s to address her struggle directly, or maybe it’s for other reasons that touch the edges of her this desire or struggle. Either way, we want to be there, with our message ready to serve.
To go where she gathers, we need to do a little research and some brainstorming. Here are some guiding questions to help you think about the places she might gather with others, where you could offer to speak.
- Are there local groups or organizations she is likely to attend? Think hobby groups, meet ups, networking groups, possibly a co-working space :)
- Where might she travel to in order to gather with others who share interests and values? National conventions, summits, leadership conferences for example.
- Many of us gather online because of the ease and accessibility and this is a great place to offer webinars, interviews and other online speaking. What podcasts, Facebook or other social groups, or online forums would she likely enjoy and engage?
Of course, great speaking does involve clarity, a kind of grounded confidence and the ability to connect with your audience. I don’t want to minimize those skills. But really, at the core of speaking that serves powerfully- is this commitment to serve meaningfully with your message. From there, the clarity and engagement come so much more naturally.
Leadership is a choice we make to serve others and speaking is one of the most beautiful ways I know of to make a difference in the lives of others. I hope this helps you step into leadership even more fully, in the way you feel called.
Michelle Barry Franco is a Hivery member and speaking and thought leadership coach. She works with business owners and leaders, especially in creative, wellness and personal development industries, to step into thought leadership through speaking and writing. She’d love to help you claim your Rooftop Message™ and step into leadership with your speaking. She is a grateful member of The Hivery community. You can learn more about Michelle and get immediate and complimentary access to her quick course, Claim Your Rooftop Message here.