Do you want to be a thought leader? Yes, it’s necessary to have insights that are meaningful to others. But not sufficient. You also need effective presentation skills both to convince your audience of the message’s validity and position yourself as the “go-to-for-expertise” person.
The key is to follow the ADAP formula: First, be Audience-Driven: collect the necessary information and organize it so it’s clear and consistent and resonates with your audience’s values on the topic, so they will accept it. Second, be an Authentic Presenter: let your audience feel your level of caring and enthusiasm, so they perceive you as a thought leader that they would recommend to other people.
The more complex the idea, the greater the care you need to take when planning delivery of the message. Your mission is to deliver each component, get agreement on the message’s positive points and also rejections of the contrasting positions. In this way, the cycle of agreements cumulatively leads the audience to perceive the thought process and see you as an authentic thought leader.
For instance, research shows that with the gift of longevity, people today, especially younger ones, are increasingly likely to lead 100-year lives. Imagine you’re a TED speaker/thought leader who wants to inspire people to lead healthy, fulfilling long lives. To do so, she/he may take you through two alternative life-paths, to help you upgrade your mindset.
Initially, many people thought that longevity meant just adding more years to the retirement stage of life (e.g., instead of working till 65 and then having a “few golden years of leisure”, you might actually have 30+ years. Using the mindset we developed as children, if you lack sufficient income and savings to support yourself, you may now have to work longer – potentially a 60-year career in something you don’t like. If you expect your body and mind to deteriorate as they did for older people in your grandparents’ generation, that’s even scarier.
Alternatively, you decide to lead an intentional life in which you maximize your opportunity for fulfillment throughout adulthood. You commit to staying healthy and productive for many years as you can – and taking time for vacations, sabbaticals, etc. throughout the journey. With life-long learning and you choose jobs/careers that meet your needs for passion, purpose, and or income depending on what’s your priority. By planning and leading your 100-year life, instead of defaulting to other’s choices, you may experience 10+ careers that excite and reward you. Finally, by maintaining your health, investing in financial security, and building strong relationships, throughout life, you can thrive for as long as you want, not merely survive.
Which scenario/story do you prefer for yourself, your significant other and your children?
In sum, thought leaders have to adopt the ADAP principles in weaving and delivering the story in order to become the “go-to” person. The story has to focus on what the audience is ready to hear and is able to process; The speaker has to present the story in a clear and convincing manner that reveals her/his authentic belief in the message. That’s presentation excellence!