We have recently released 2 courses with Brightness about how to speak in public : “Prepare your talk“, “Deliver your talk” and an adaptive to “Fullfil your potential as a speaker“. We have asked a few questions to Michel Lévy-Provençal, co-founder of Brightness and founder of the first European TEDx Conference.
Can anyone be a great speaker?
Yes, of course! I only have one word in order to achieve that: preparation. You aren’t born a speaker, you become one. Too often, speakers in France envy the “natural” poise of their fellows from across the ocean. In reality, that poise comes from education. With the exercise of show & tell in school, Americans are taught to speak in public from a very young age. At Brightness, each one of our speakers goes through a preparation phase with a coach specializing in public speaking, with four, five, six sessions or more. There are no rules. These various steps not only prepare the form, but also what’s most important, the content. Who is my audience? What structure? What message? How do I create a powerful introduction and conclusion? Every speaker must be able to answer these questions before they talk in front of an audience. The objective is to have fun while giving your talk onstage!
What personal advice can you give to help anyone become one?
Defining your message is key. In order to keep your audience interested, it’s fundamental to pick one single message. When I’m working with a speaker, I often ask: “If you only had 10 more minutes to live, what would like to share with the rest of the world?” The question is a little extreme, sure, but it describes the state of mind you should be in when you speak in public. Take the talk Laurent Alexandre gave onstage at the Olympia in Paris in 2012. His final message struck people’s minds: “My personal conviction is that some of you in this room will live a thousand years.” Today, that talk has over a million views on YouTube and people still talk about it. Why? Because the message was clearly defined and striking enough to be shared on social networks. So, just one piece of advice: don’t try to say “everything”. Limit your scope for a higher impact.
If you had to sum up the Brightness method in just one sentence?
A successful talk is a prepared talk.
What is the future of talks? Are they an eternal format?
When it comes to short speeches, the TED talk format has proven itself: no notes, no desk and powerful storytelling… It works! But an eternal format, I don’t think so. There should be room for reinventing. We strive to constantly reinvent formats. People who are active in the transformation of the world don’t have enough time to spend it looking for content and methods that will enable them to be ahead of their time. Our role is to find projects and people who are on the vanguard and inspire change. We put them in the spotlight and create the conditions so that the members of our community can understand new models, learn by experimenting, engage in new challenges and do it all within a network rife with different origins and horizons. That’s why we created L’Echapée Volée for example, events that last 2 or 3 full days. Among these new formats, there are debates, controversies, co-creation workshops, forums and artistic performances… We strongly believe that innovation always springs up where you least expect it. Which is why we are constantly trying to surprise the participants in our programs. On the other hand, the taste for surprises, along with the quest for change, are eternal…