Resiliency/Connection Speaker: The Value of Connection Focused Communication
Some of my peers have cautioned me against writing this piece. They argue that you should only share the glowing reviews you receive. After all, readers just skim these days, right? While there’s truth in that, it overlooks an essential point: even when skimming, people find the message they need.
Surprising Testimonial #1
Closing Keynote Speaker for Healthcare Leaders in Alpharetta, GA
After wrapping up my presentation, several people were asking questions and sharing stories. I love that part of my job. One woman, misty-eyed, approached me. She clutched my shoulders and told me how, “Andy, when you said this…, it meant so much to me.”
As she was walking away, I thought, “I wish I had said that.” I did not say what she heard, but she heard what she needed. The lesson for me? Speak from the heart, and your audience will find the message they need, even if it’s not word-for-word what you’ve said.
Surprising Testimonial #2
Lunch Keynote Presentation for Agriculture Professionals in Orlando, FL
There was a break right after my session. I was standing outside the convention hall signing books when a weathered farmer approached me. He said, “Andy, I would have enjoyed your presentation a lot more if you were not talking about me the whole time.” That’s my all-time favorite feedback. The lesson I learned is that, for a speaker to truly impact their audience, they must understand not only what their audience does but also how they feel. Some of my favorite moments on stage are when you can see on the faces in the crowd, “Oh crap, he nailed me.”
Surprising Testimonial #3
Opening Keynote General Session for Financial Professionals in Naples, FL
This one comes with a caveat—it’s the story my peers advised against sharing. I presented an opening general session and a breakout for a group of 200 female financial advisors. Like many conferences, the audience members filled out speaker evaluations after each session. However, this group did something I’ve not seen before or since. They sent out an evaluation six months after the event to establish the event’s long term value. Did the messages stick? Were people actually using the content the speakers provided? The event planner sent this to me:
“At the time, I really didn’t love the opening speaker’s presentation. However, I cannot get his voice out of my head.”
To be honest, I would have preferred that she love my presentation. But, if I take my ego out of the equation, the fact that she is still “hearing” the insights and strategies six months later is worth more than a 10/10 on an evaluation. It shows that her mind was opened, and that is fertile ground for meaningful change to take root.
In my field of motivational speaking, it is commonly said that presentations need “steak and sizzle.” Yes, we need valuable, actionable content and an engaging experience. But, ultimately, the power of a speaker’s impact lies in the depth of their connection with the audience. Speaking from the heart, knowing your audience well, and crafting memorable messages are what I’ve found creates transformative experiences. What are the most surprising comments or compliments you have received?