The past few months between some big transitions in the Professional Communication and Presentation team and two moves across Orlando, September and October have been a blur! I am taking a deep breath, returning to the gym, and sharing this amazing TED talk with you tonight on Tweak Your Slides; Ash Beckham nails a particularly impacting rhetorical strategy in her TEDxBoulder talk, “Coming out of your closet.”
An impacting metaphor/comparison can take an un-relatable, complex, subjective, or polarizing idea and create a bridge of commonality that can break down barriers. In this talk, Beckham talks about coming out of the closet–but not in the way you think. Yes, Beckham shares her experience coming out to friends and family, but she says, that’s just one type of closet. We all have a closet–whether it is infidelity, bankruptcy, cancer…our closet is whatever is hard for us to be open about, what is hard for us to share with others. She introduces the closet metaphor and carries it through to her call to action, “a closet is not a place for a person to truly live.” She encourages her audience to find their closet and come out. In addition to harnessing the power of metaphor, she shares three lessons we can apply to public speaking:
Be yourself. Don’t wear armor.
Garr Reynolds says that we have to get naked to truly connect with audiences. We put on the armor of bullet-riddled slides, robotic delivery, and haphazard preparation to protect us from the judgment we feel from others in a speaking situation. That armor though, benefits neither speaker nor audience. To connect with others, you have to take off that armor!
Be direct. Just say it.
Directness and simplicity are the keys to a strong message. Filler words, fluff, irrelevant information, and decorated slides move us away from the core of our message, the idea that we want others to take on in the first place.
Be unapologetic. Speak your truth.
Like authenticity, being open as a speaker and sharing failure as well as success requires confidence in oneself. This goes for content in the form of storytelling and delivery in the form of those apologies for normal human behavior that we pepper our speech with.
Consider not only her message–what’s that difficult message you have to share with others–but also those wonderful rhetorical lessons: use relatable metaphors and be real.