We only say what people want to hear. We walk onto the stage and conceal words that may actually mean something. Instead, we rely on words that may bring out a few laughs, maybe even a thunderous applause. Minutes crawl by and the audience stays enthralled by the meaningless words surrounding them. What the audience is looking for is a great orator and not a thought provoker. We give them exactly what they seek. When we don’t, we leave them disappointed. Blown away by catchy statements and irrelevant jokes, they walk out believing that it was a truly wondrous session. What do they know now that they didn’t know before? Very little.
Then the cameras turn off and the lights go out. That is when the true conversation begins. The one held on silent corridors where few can overhear you or worse, quote you. Those are the conversations that you should look for. The ones that you need to draw people into. Some stages break these conventions and offer words that you can truly learn from. Those are the stages you should seek.
We are all victims of popular conversations. We say the same thing everyone else is saying. We rarely stray from the safe zone. We rarely get into public debates and stand by what we believe in. We make judgements based on incomplete knowledge fed by what the people around us are saying. How many HR conferences, panel speaks have you been to where the person on stage has taken away hours from your life and left you with nothing in return but a few laughs? Is it any wonder that these stages are now networking spots vs learning hubs?
Can you promise me that you won’t go up on stage and say the same things? That you will speak only to deliver value. You owe that much to the listeners. You owe them a few hours of homework if not more. Leave them with something to mull upon and some new information. Everyone including you deserves that much. Don’t fit the mold. Aim to break it. Always.