As a Speaker, Are You Serving Flavor or Flash?

As a Speaker, Are You Serving Flavor or Flash?

Constantly look for speeches that will help you learn how to be a speaker and you will grow fast. Find speeches where the person speaks from the heart. Speakers that inspire. Speakers that get people to take action. Speakers that get natural and authentic standing ovations.

I have had two kinds of standing ovations in my short time being a speaker. I can tell the difference between them instantly. They are like the difference between genuine leather and pleather. Between farm-raised cattle and GMO injected beef. Between $4 frozen fillet mignon and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. You receive the same thing but they are VERY different.

1)   Standing Ovation #1: They stand up simply because I am the World Champion of Public Speaking. Not because I gave an authentic speech.

2)   Standing Ovation #2: I give the audience something I truly believe in. That helps them with their life. When I am me. When I am real. When I am not going for being perfect but I am going for meaning. Because I uncomfortably share my humility, mistakes and deliver messages with conviction and absolute authenticity.

(Once I even received a standing ovation only because Chelsea stood up to take photos and you could tell everyone got up because she was getting up. Awkward!)

Delivering a Keynote in North Carolina during a District Conference.

Delivering an authentic Keynote in North Carolina during a District Conference.

I am not saying shoot for standing ovations. I am saying shoot for being real. Being you. Being authentic. It is embarrassing to say that I have given unauthentic speeches before. But it is true and that is part of the speaker’s learning process.

It’s sometimes hard for me to come across as authentic. I enjoy being an entertainer just as much as I enjoy being an authentic speaker. I like to get people to laugh. To think. To be entertained. So instead of thinking of the flavor I sometimes think of the flash first.

This is the wrong thing for me to do! We must always start with the flavor first then add the flash. Have you ever had a meal that looked so unappealing but it turned out to be mouth-watering? What about a meal that looks better than anything you have ever seen before and then you take a bite and your taste buds shrivel up in disgust?

cakeWhat meal would you rather bite into? Which one would make you feel more satisfied?

As an audience member I would rather have the one that tastes good not the one that looks good. The one with the flavor not the flash.  Now when we can do both… well then we are on top of your game. That is what we are shooting for. Just make sure to add the flavor before the flash.

When we can have the flash and the flavor then we are the speakers who get paid $10,000 or $20,000 for a one-hour keynote. Not only is our presentation style powerful and our points poignant and persuasive but we connect to our audience by being real. Being authentic. Speaking from the heart.

How to Be a Speaker: Find you flavor first. Share the ingredients that make you uniquely you. Give your audience that mouth-watering flavor then add the flash. 

Question: What is a lesson you have learned when giving a speech recently? Share your comments, I would really like to hear from you. 

Share this article and let’s get more people speaking from the heart!

This post was written by
At age 25, Ryan Avery became the youngest World Champion of Public Speaking in history; competing against more than 30,000 people from 116 countries to claim the 2012 Championship title. As an Emmy Award winning journalist and a proud member of the National Speakers Association, Ryan uses his background in multimedia and speaking to help reach the younger generation on the importance of improving their communication skills in order to advance in their professional and personal life.

8 Comments on "As a Speaker, Are You Serving Flavor or Flash?"

  • Question: What is a lesson you have learned when giving a speech recently? Share your comments, I would really like to hear from you.

    If you need another minute to think, and you just introduced a new idea to the audience who seem receptive and having a lightbulb moment, go ahead and have them discuss in small groups how they will enact that new idea. Then after that few minutes, you might have regained your confidence and composure for your next thought.

    • Great idea Heather! Thank you for sharing. Hope you are having a wonderful day and thank you for your comments on our articles. It is always great to hear from you.

  • Faby says

    Ryan, I learned to PRACTICE before teaching!!!! It sounds ridiculous not to, but I thought I “had it” because I didnt really have time to prepare my teaching. I found myself talking either too much, or too little, or reading too much from my paper and speeding through it. Needless to say, I was not too impressed with myself. I read your other article on how you practice, practice, practice!! I am definitely taking note of that and taking it more seriously. I do have a question…How do you practice your speech at home and not sound crazy or look crazy by yourself? Is Chelsea your audience? Or do you just go to the bathroom or bedroom by yourself?

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for the comment Faby! Practice is the key. I truly believe you can be great at anything you want as long as you train hard, surround yourself with people how are better than you and believe in yourself. When you practice it is important to feel that “crazy” feeling and still send your message. That way you know when you give your speech in front of an audience who is ready to listen to you the crazy feeling is gone. I practice all over the place. By myself. in front of strangers. In the gym sauna. In the middle of downtown. Anywhere and everywhere. (even on a plane once :)). You can do it Faby! Keep working hard.

  • David says

    This quote by Blaise Pascal has been paraphrased throughout the years because it’s fun to use almost anywhere: (translated by someone else from the original French) “The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.”

    One of the great things that comes our of practice is the ability to massage your message and trim it down to where it is concise and contains no fluff. An interesting thing about many speeches given in Toastmasters is the constraint to deliver your message in 5 – 7 minutes. It’s a real challenge, sometimes, to figure out what NOT to say, but if you don’t practice (whether it’s teaching, like Faby mentioned) or a speech before a group, you’re more likely to throw in everything you know and re-stating points already made.

    But to answer the original question: What is a lesson you have learned when giving a speech recently?

    I had the good fortune to do well in Toastmasters District 40 Humorous Speech Contest last fall, so I went through several iterations of speech/feedback/tinker/practice. The biggest take-away I got from that effort was to listen (and take seriously) everyone’s feedback, but then pick and choose which feedback to implement carefully. Even diamonds may lose their brilliance in the wrong setting. [Ooh! I just made that up! :) ]

    • David, great line “Even diamonds may lose their brilliance in the wrong setting.” Thank you for sharing and thank you for letting me know about the link. It is now working and please feel free to read my constitution and obituary.

      Thank you for your comment and I look forward to more by you on other articles :). As always… Dream BIG!

  • Vivien says

    I was going to say the exact same point as David. Going through my own Humorist Contest experience, there was no shortage of clubs/individuals willing to offer feedback.

    One day a friend/fellow Toastmaster of mine suggested some feedback aimed to add more humour. I considered it, but a minute afterwards I knew/felt I would not be comfortable with it. I politely declined and they remarked “Oh, I ran the idea by So-and-So and they thought it would be hilarious.” The So-and-So in question was a very competent and highly respected speaker in Toastmasters. However, I thought to myself “I don’t care if it’s the World Champion himself telling me this bit would be funny (sorry Ryan), I’m not going to try and force it into my speech if it truly doesn’t fit, just because someone else says it would be funny.”

    I did have other pieces of feedback where I initially wasn’t sure if I could pull off but managed to work into my speech (i.e. the parts where I run), and other feedback I tried hard to work in but could never make them fit either (i.e. making a smoother transition to the “message” of my speech).

    At the end of the day, I learned to take all feedback seriously, but not to feel bad if I still can’t make it fit or feel comfortable with it in the end (after I’ve put in a valiant effort). I’m the one that has to say the speech and if I’m not comfortable, it’ll show.

    • Great point Vivien and I like your line “I’m the one that has to say the speech and if I’m not comfortable, it’ll show.” So true! Thank you for sharing and it is great to hear your story! Hope you are having a great day!

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