179: MMM – On Repeating Our Content Without Being a Fake
Chuck Schumer’s repetition of his stump graduation speech was caught on tape… many, many times!… and put together, in one hilarious montage on John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight. (ps, I love this show – so smart and so funny)
When I saw this video… I laughed, and then I cringed…
Because it lifts the curtain on something people probably understand that speakers do… and yet, they don’t want to see it. Nobody does! Here’s how I felt: that whatever connection Chuck Schumer might have created in those speaking moments was now a joke. Because you realize that it’s not really … REAL. As real as Chuck may have felt about it, and as real as his audience might have thought it was.
I’ve said in the past that we as speakers MUST keep our content fresh, real – RELATED to THIS PARTICULAR AUDIENCE AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT… And I believe that. But I also feel just a bit of a need to come to Chuck’s defense.
Because let’s be honest: we repeat our content. Of course we do! I
And it’s necessary for a few reasons:
1 ) OUR BRAND – we are known for certain content – and we build our brand and message around that content, so it’s totally natural that there will be consistency and repetition of content.
TIME – We have only so much time! – and once you find something that works (and people are requesting it), re-creating a new message each time – well, most of us don’t get paid enough money to do that each time. (huge love goes out to those speakers – I’m thinking of my pastor friends here – who create a new message EEVERY WEEK. I don’t know how you do it.
MASTERY – to truly master your content, you have to dig deeply into it. I once gave the same speech (well, mostly the same) 2x a week for about 4 or so years… And honestly, that last year I was soaking the most out of it. I was at my best that last year… REALLY KNOWING your content allows you to master not just the delivery of it, but to also you yourself grow into the development and understanding of the topic in sometimes profound ways (because saying something out loud in front of other people – and committing to it – trains your body to believe it in crazy awesome ways).
So, what do we do? How do we repeat our content without becoming Chuck Schumer?
I think it’s about finding the magical balance of consistent content that you can develop some master with – and an openness to the NOW, and the NEEDS of the audience you’re talking to.
So – a few suggestions for how to find that balance:
Plan for at least 10% of your talk to be NEW. Now, perhaps Chucky was sharing some new stuff along with that old story and it wasn’t caught on tape… maybe? Aside from the fact that it allows you to personalize your “stump” or “signature” talk for this moment – it will keep you focused and brave. You gotta have something that your’e risking in any scenario, or people will yawn their way through your talk. NEW content will do that. I aim for more like 25%, just because I’m content-obsessed and this is my job… but most of us don’t have that kind of time to really mess with what we do. Aim for 10% – find space for the new, throw in a different story that connects with the conference theme, or make room to riff on a talk someone gave earlier that connects to yours… Just DO NOT get up and do the same-old same-old. They will feel it.
LOOSEN YOUR SCRIPT. If you are word-for-word on your stories at this point, it’s time to let some of it go. This will be really hard for some of you because you trust it, you’ve become attached… and when it become automatic, that’s the point at which you need to force yourself to TRY IT A NEW WAY. PLAY! If you create time and space to PLAY a bit in your stories, that will keep things fresh – and you might just find something new that you LOVE!
HAVE A MINDSET OF EVOLUTION. If you think your content is done, you are, simply, wrong. No content is ever done. Ever. If it is, you're not paying attention to feedback or opportunities to improve and change and grow – OR – you just don’t care that much about this process. Both of those will be felt by the audience. So, if you give a talk more than once, you have to invest in the change of it… the growth of it… which will keep you sharp! We evolve, – the world evolves around us – and so our talks must, too, to be relevant and impactful
Plan for 10% new
Loosen your script and play with your content
have a mindset of evolution… invest in it.