Vote Yourself Off the I-Land; Sail a You-Boat

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i-land header

You’re either talking about your audience … or you’re talking about yourself. Too many speakers are “opera singers” (me-me-me-me-me-me-me). Vote yourself off the I-Land; explore the world in a You-boat.

 

I believe speakers should focus on the audience. In my experience, the best way to engage people is to make your content relevant. If you ask me, your content should be more than just relevant; I think customizing your speech to match the venue, locale, or audience makes a meaningful difference. My approach to this is simple: I arrive early, talk to attendees, and scope the room for anything unusual, funny, or uniquely related to the audience. Let me tell you about a time when I…

 

Does this sound like anyone you know? The narrative above attempts to offer value, but the self-referential language gives the impression that the speaker is more interested in celebrating their expertise than building the audience’s. The passage is stuck in the muddy ruts of crutch-phrases and qualifiers.

Read the same passage again without the highlighted I-Land talk.

 

I believe speakers should focus on the audience. In my experience, the best way to engage people is to make your content relevant. If you ask me, your content should be more than just relevant; I think customizing your speech to match the venue, locale, or audience makes a meaningful difference. My approach to this is simple: I arrive early, talk to attendees, and scope the room for anything unusual, funny, or uniquely related to the audience. Let me tell you about a time when I…

 

Without the I-Land lingo, the meaning is unchanged, but the message is bold, confident, and direct—much more likely to transform the listener.

Though it appears otherwise, I-Land talk is usually not the result of egotism. Speakers worry they’ll sound arrogant if they lay out “the world as it is.” I-Land talk attempts to be respectful. It says, “This is my view of the world, but I am not the final arbiter of truth. You are free to disagree with me and conduct yourself in the way you think best.” But platform speaking is a leadership role. Put your ideas out there for your audience to consider, and support your premises with facts and experiences. If you can’t speak with authority, why are you on the stage?

Bold speaking is neither arrogant nor narcissistic. Organizations hire speakers because they want expertise and leadership, not gentle suggestions of options-they-might-think-about-trying-but-only-if-they-feel-like-it. Passive, wishy-washy messages don’t activate anyone. Vote yourself off the I-Land, put your insecurities aside, present your truth with conviction, and sail a You-boat. Your audience will respect you for it.

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Dave Bricker: StorySailing®