Recently I gave a motivational speech for a safety conference in Ohio. After they read my introduction and called me up, I stumbled onto the stage, tripped over the microphone cord and landed on my knees. I stood up as over 1000 people stared at me with disbelief, concern and fear.
As a motivational speaker, this is awkward moment. I paused expressionless for a very long moment deepening the awkwardness. What I know is that the audience is very afraid that this motivational speech designed to kick off the safety conference- will suck. They are fearful that they will be stuck listening to a distressed, awkward motivational keynote speaker for the next 90 minutes.
I could not think of any clever, witty thing to say so I simply paused, smiled and broke the silence by launching into my motivational speech. After warming up the audience and releasing some of the tension with humorous punchlines surrounding safety content, I walked through the crowd and interacted with people.
Slowly with the combination of interaction and humor, the audience grew more and more engaged.
I have learned with awkward moments that the audience is more afraid than I am and that I should allow it to come out as it needs to. Consciously and unconsciously I know I have an obsessions to do a good job, be the best ( no pressure) and being inept isn't a part of that.
Yet gawky, graceless moments can tranform you as a motivational speaker and engage an audience.
Allow yourself to be awkward. Authentically delivering a motivational speech splits you open and allows you to share what's inside you with the rest of the world. You can't do that if you are afraid to embrace the awkward moments.
Becoming a motivational keynote speaker is a whole lifetime of practice, creativity, humility and development.
There is freedom in delivering a motivational speech without obsessing over what the audience will think or feel and embracing whatever happens- awkward or not.