Social Slam Speaking with Mark Schaefer

Presenting a Social Slam-- I get a little "social" with my friend Mark Schaefer

Having attended Blog World New York last week as well as over a dozen “social media” events this past 12 months, I’ve noticed an interesting reality—Great blogging doesn’t equate to great speaking and presenting.

As someone who is always very interested and inquisitive as to what other attendees get out of a conference, just last week at BW I had multiple folks tell me the speaker they saw in person (in terms of their message and delivery) didn’t meet the expectation of the blogger they had seen so many times on the screen. And frankly, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed the same issue. For every Dino Dogan and John Falchetto that exuded “social” and “interactive” in their presentations, there were others that appeared to be more of a college professor giving a lecture without much thought for the students in the classroom.

This is why I decided today to briefly express why there is often a “let down” of sorts when a blogger or social media “icon” is seen speaking in person.

Why the difference?

Think about this question for a second: What makes a blogger “social”?

  • Is it the personal voice, photos, and stories they tell in their posts?
  • The use of questions to promote interaction?
  • The comment section that promotes such powerful discussion?

As we likely all agree, these are just 3 qualities (of many) seen in some of the most “social” bloggers online.

But here’s the irony of it all:

Many bloggers—the ones that teach how to be social online—don’t apply those exact same principles to their presentations.

For example:

  • They don’t attempt to learn the names of their audience while speaking.
  • They don’t integrate personal stories and photos into their message.
  • They don’t ask questions and seek interaction during the presentation.
  • They don’t move around so as to get “closer” with their audience.

This list could actually be much longer but I’ll just stick with those 4, as they’re clearly the most common mistakes I’ve seen.

In fact, just last year, while I was attending a session with about 20 other people (in other words it was a very relaxed and small setting) at a social media conference, I was completely surprised (and put off) when I asked a popular blogger a very legitimate question during his presentation about something he was discussing only to hear the words, “Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to save your questions to the end.”


Getting “Social”

I’ve given dozens and dozens of presentations over the last couple of years and never once told a group of people to hold their questions until the end (Note***Yes, sometimes questions are out of place and we do need to keep things on track, but overall, a great question will only enhance a presentation) . After all, this isn’t corporate America or a State of the Union address folksthis is the blogosphere—and it’s also supposed to be everything social media represents.

But again, for many, the carry over isn’t there.

John Falchetto

In his presentation on Tribe building, John Falchetto used actual photos of meetings he had with real tribe members to add a powerful human element to his message.

Yes, they may be able to write about social on a screen, but they miss the boat with those exact same principles on stage.

I’m not saying here folks that I’m some great or flawless presenter—no, not at all. I’m as imperfect as the next guy and respect anyone who has enough guts to get in front of an audience to share their thoughts in such a tough setting. I also understand that not everyone is going to naturally be the greatest orator or presenter ever, and that just because some folks might have a more “enthusiastic” style doesn’t mean everyone can nor should do the same. Plus, greatness in writing doesn’t automatically translate to greatness in speaking. Notwithstanding, principles of social and good communication are what they are, and we should all strive to get better. Just as we have 1000+ “best blogging practices”, there are many “best speaking practices” that we should seek to improve upon.

I would also add this: The goal of presenting is not to teach the audience. Rather, the goal is one of learning, with the ultimate hope that the audience hears the message, feels like they’re part of the conversation, learns from said message and the inspiration that enters their head, and then, most of all, leaves that room and actually does something.

After all, there’s no such thing as a great presentation or keynote that inspired no one to action. The number of laughs doesn’t matter. The amount of applause doesn’t matter. They only thing that really matters is the number of folks that apply what they learn so as to bless their life and business.

Your Turn:

I’m really curious to hear your take on this. If you’ve been to a social media conference, have you noticed any of the points I’ve discussed here? If so, why do you feel some bloggers struggle to make the social transition from the screen to the stage? Whether you agree or disagree, speak your mind folks.

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77 thoughts on “Why Great Bloggers Often Don’t Make for Great Speakers

  1. Some of this is, I believe, relates to where someone is in their own confidence journey, how comfortable they are speaking, etc. I agree that it is best if questions are answered as they arise, but for someone with less speaking experience, it is possible that would break their train of thought and make it harder to get right back to where they left off. Not saying they shouldn’t do what you suggest. . .

    I once heard someone say that when it comes to writers speaking, much of us would prefer that they wrote instead of spoke. I think it’s a mistake to assume that everyone who blogs well speaks well. Some of them would do well to spare us from their speaking efforts.

    I think there are ways to make things interactive, for sure. The size of the audience can impact this, but even with a large audience, there are ways to interact.

    • There’s no question that one doesn’t necessarily equal the other Rebecca, and really, what I want readers to get from this article is that no matter how “good” of a speaker they are, our goal here–and the expectation– is that we’re social. Which is why I think interaction had got to be a feature of most presentations– if at all possible.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      You are absolutely right here, “relates to where someone is in their own confidence journey”
      not only how comfortable one is speaking but I would say how comfortable they are with themselves.

      I believe interaction is key, as Marcus said we aren’t there for self-growth but for communion. Communion means building a relationship between each other and a higher purpose.

      This is what speaking is about.

  2. You make great points Marcus. I’ve been thinking a lot about this and it really comes down to “training a new muscle”.

    Writing a blog post is a completely different intellectual exercise. It’s just you and the post. Reader feedback comes after the fact. The blog post format restricts what you can do: text, photos, maybe some video.

    Speaking requires storytelling, entertainment, and interaction. Practice, rework, and experimentation is also part of process. Totally different skills. I think bloggers who speak need to tackle this as a specific skillset that they have to master. They’re blogging experience may or may not help them. I’m going through this learning process right now.

    One word of caution, different speakers have different styles. While the walking, talking, high-energy approach works for some folks (wink wink) it doesn’t work for everyone. You have to find your own voice and style and master it. I remember back in the day that people would compare Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Janet was all flash and high energy. Whitney was the better vocalist. Both were great – just two different styles.

    • Your last point is a great one Stand and I don’t want to come across as someone making blanket statement as to what does and does not work for everyone in a speaking environment.

      Notwithstanding, I did want to discuss this “let down” phenomena that I’ve heard so many people discuss with me over the last year and what I feel is the biggest reason as to why.

      Make sense?

  3. Hi Marcus,

    Glad I was able to see you and John in action. I went to many sessions and you two were the only speakers (I saw) who really involved the audience.

    (Really bummed I missed Dino Dogan, but I wasn’t there the first day. Same with Tom Webster.)

    I loved the way you guys interacted with the audience, but I did see several other speakers, with completely different styles who did a fantastic job. Michael Hyatt comes to mind. He has a more traditional presentation style, but it works brilliantly for him and I got a lot from his talk. Erik Deckers was funny and engaging too, but didn’t leave the stage.

    It depends on your style and what you are comfortable doing. But with all that being said, I love your energy and did learn a thing or two from your talk :) Frankly one of the main reasons I went to Blogworld was to see the speakers and take notes for my presentations. Granted it’s only local now, but the buzz I got in NYC certainly helped :)

    In Scott Berkun’s book, “Confessions of a Public Speaker” he’s pretty honest about the highest paid speakers in the biz and how horrible many of them are when it comes to delivery.

    Anyway, great to finally meet you in person. Got a ton out of it and so glad I made it to NY.

  4. Hi Marcus:)!

    I think in this instance it’s important to understand different personality types. Not everyone is gifted in public speaking. In fact, most people don’t have that gift. Think about it. There have been presidents who possessed outstanding speaking abilities(Bill Clinton certainly comes to mind). But did all of our presidents speak as well as Bill Clinton?

    Same situation in the blogosphere. We have so many great bloggers who are fantastic writers. And maybe they write to be able to share what they’re not able to translate into a presentation. Perhaps they write better than they speak. But it’s their way of making a contribution. To try to make a difference.

    Not everyone is social. Some people are incredibly introverted. A lot of that is genetic, but you can learn to break out of it to a degree. Writing can be an introvert’s mode of expression, especially if they have a hard time expressing what they want to say in a conversation.

    And for some, it’s probably a lack of experience. Or they may start off too big, going straight into making a huge presentation without enough preparation. For every 5 minutes of a presentation, it takes hours of preparation. It’s probably better to start off small(a brief presentation in front of a few people), then gradually work your way up to the bigger ones.

    • Hi Cara,

      I don’t believe that some are ‘gifted’ more than others in public speaking or otherwise.

      I do think that there individuals out there like Marcus or Bill who have a much deeper impact on their audience then others. I have seen both in action and yes they do have a great energy they share with their public.

      Was Marcus or Bill born that way? I’m not so sure, I would think they work hard to develop that skill and make sure they leave a lasting impression on their audience.

      Great point about writers being more introverted than others.

      • If anyone had seen me speak when I was younger that would have used words like “nervous wreck” , “introvert”, etc.

        Just like this whole blogging thing, it’s about understanding best practices and being willing to work to reach them…at least that’s my opinion. ;-)

  5. you flatter me sir :-)

    Thank you for a great review…I think part of it is that I LOVE speaking, or performing, in front of an audience. Always have. And if you love doing something, you’re certainly excited and enthusiastic to be there, so that infects the audience as well.

    Speaking in fron of a live audience is a common fear. And a way some deal with that fear is to plan, and attempt to control every aspect of the presentation.

    John -for example- was perfectly comfortable in embracing chaos. Not that his presentation ever became chaotic, it’s just that he was comfortable allowing the experience to take shape on its own.

    I also think Stan is right. It IS a different muscle. It needs to be trained. I’ve spent 7 years speaking in front of an audience 3-5 times per week. In that situation, you either get really comfortable with it, or you quit. Sink or swim, baby. Sink or swim :-)

    • Great point about letting the discussion grow inside a session.

      Yes, there is a message to get across but if everyone has an idea, a question or are thinking about something else, then they aren’t with you.

      So I believe in letting them speak, answer, discuss, exchange, have a communion of the minds and then move on.

      Life isn’t well ordered or organized. It’s chaotic :)

      We can embrace it and run with it or try to stick people in boxes and ask them to do specific functions….umm I will stay with ‘chaos’, that’s where magic happens!

  6. Marcus,

    You make some great points. There are many talented bloggers who… well… maybe should write and not speak at events. Journalism for years produced great writers who never appeared on screen or stage. Those of us who enjoy speaking get energy from the audience. We thirst for their interaction. Whether I am speaking to 15 or 1,500, I can’t imagine not engaging the audience. And, having seen you speak, I know it is the same thing.

    I also know that there are always smart people in the audience who can contribute value to the conversation. And, many people learn more by doing than by simply listening to someone else speak.

    Jerry Weissman wrote a great book called Presenting to Win. An important lesson that has always stuck with me is to constantly ask yourself “what’s in it for the audience?” If as a speaker, we don’t know where we are trying to take the audience, then don’t be surprised if they think they didn’t “travel to anyplace new.”

    The most satisfying element of speaking is getting a note months later from someone who shares the great results they have seen by following your advice.

    Keep rocking it!

  7. Marcus

    I’ve been saying this for a long time :). Dino blew me away as a speaker. I had no idea he was so good. You’re in a league of your own which we talked about. This is also the reason I think that every blogger starting a podcast is not that great of an idea. I don’t think that skills of great writing will translate to great podcasting. As Stan said above it’s a different kind of muscle that really needs to be trained.

    • Good point here, Srini. One thing, though, is that muscles are only trained by being exercised, so sometimes people have to be bad (e.g. with podcasting) before they will be good. Of course, there can be plenty of practicing going on before someone presents in a public way, but I wouldn’t discourage someone from working on an area of weakness in order to make it an area of strength, or to at least get it up to an acceptable level.

  8. I was so inspired by what you wrote here John I started a thread about it on Google+:

    I used to ‘teach from the stage’ and thought that the feedback that I shared so much information it would take weeks to work through was a compliment. I was actually overwhelming my audience. I’ve been on stages since 1990 and finally figured it out in the last few years!!

  9. And let’s not forget that a lot of bloggers are introverts. Being social with a computer screen in between the blogger and the audience is comfortable. Removing that screen makes an introverted blogger uncomfortable, which only compounds how hard it is to give a good talk.

    That said, I wish there was a better way of screening who gives talks at BlogWorld. But like many industry-driven talks, whatcha gonna do? Everyone wants to see the big names, whether they are socially dynamic or not.

    • Really good points Jen, and thanks so much for dropping in. Your comment here made me think of Jonathan Fields, who is an introvert (he has said this many times) yet some of his presentations are the best I’ve seen– no pomp and crazy Marcus Sheridan enthusiasm, but the strength of the message is just as good if not better—personable, real, stories, etc…

      Thanks again Jen!!


  10. Another great post, Marcus.

    Couldn’t agree with you (and several commenters) more that blogging and speaking aren’t at all the same animal, and the skills don’t necessarily crossover — in either direction. Bloggers who seriously want to pursue speaking need to train, practice, be open to feedback, check out a Toastmasters group, and probably start local and work their way up, unless they’ve already got the tools and a natural gift and can dive right into success, which is pretty rare.

    On the flip side, event organizers are responsible for doing some due diligence on speakers, like checking references, watching videos/webinars, and making sure that each speaker’s experience fits the event (size of audience, panel vs. breakout vs. keynote, etc.). Anyone can have an off day of course, but audiences want to feel like they got their money’s worth at large events, especially with travel and everything else, so there are no shortcuts.

    As someone who is working hard to improve and expand my own speaking gigs, I really like how you always break down the walls and become a part of your audience, asking them plenty of questions, having quick conversations, peppering in compliments and keeping people on their toes. I’ve always felt that real interaction is what sets some presenters apart. That and a lot of practice, because with that, even if you’re not the most dynamic, funniest or most engaging talker, people will recognize your effort and usually see the value for the time they invested with you.

    Thanks again for the session and chat at #BWENY (look for that video soon). Keep the insights coming and I’ll see you out on the road.

    Cheers — Hunter

    • Here’s the beef.
      Don’t invite a novice speaker. Check him or her out. Prove they can deliver to a paying audience. Nuf said and well said.

      • One thing is for sure– Billy Delaney is no novice speaker, that guy is awesome!!! :-)

        Good seeing you bud,


        • Thanks Marcus.
          I’d love to meet up again with you some time or place. Who knows I might get out and about the circuit eventually.
          Good post and practical too.

    • Loved this Hunter, you seem to have balance in your outlook, which is really what I want people to see. Yes, we’re all different. Yes, our abilities aren’t the same. But we can’t forget there are best practices and that the ultimate goal is to get better with each message we deliver—whether it’s in a blog post or a keynote address—the goal is to get better.

      Keep pushing Hunter, I’m truly impressed man.


  11. It’s amazing how online personas translate online isn’t it?

    For me, I find nothing worse than being preached to – I crave, and need that human interaction and it’s so much more important when it’s face-to-face …

    Mighty fine shot you’ve got of John BTW :)

    • Yep, that guy is a stud in every way Ameena. I’m just glad you let me borrow him for a few days ;-)

  12. I’m very much in agreement with Stanford on this – that blogging & speaking are very different intellectual exercises. I’ve been asked to speak in front of small groups before – and I know that my personal style is conversational and interactive (though not quite to your level, Marcus ;)).

    It’s an ongoing process of seeing what works, experimenting, and listening carefully and honestly to feedback. We’ll see how much I can put it to work when I submit my proposal to NMX. :)

    • You’re going to submit one to NMX Jason?? AWESOME brother!! From what I’ve seen from you before, I have no doubt you’ll be awesome, as you seem to be in a constant state of energy and enthusiasm, which I find quite appealing my man.

      But like you said, this is an ongoing process for all of us, and just as we’re striving to be better writers with “best writing/blogging practices”, I feel it should be our goal to do the same with speaking and presenting.

      Can’t wait to see you do your thing man.


      • Thanks brother! I’m not so secretly terrified by the prospect, but this is something I feel pulled to do.

  13. I’ve been thinking of this off and on throughout the day, and one thing that hasn’t been explored (unless I missed it somewhere) is sensitivity to introverts in the audience. For some people, the absolute worst thing that can happen to them is for attention to be focused on them in a public setting. They would rather die than have a speaker engage directly with them during a presentation. I know, because I’m one of those people!

    Some of my worst memories when it comes to presentations is being one of those people being called out, and being uncomfortable because of it. I likely wouldn’t return to hear that same person speak again, because it wasn’t a good experience for me.

    Now having said that, I think that the level of engagement can be high, if the speaker is extremely clued in to body language and can quickly figure out who they should NOT call on or even make eye contact with. Just as speaking is a skill that can be developed, sensitivity to people who feel that way can also be developed, but I definitely wouldn’t advise speakers to engage the audience in such a way that puts people on the spot who aren’t comfortable being put on the spot.

    As an introvert, I really like engaging with people, but am more comfortable doing it on my own terms, which generally means that I initiate the engagement rather than having it forced on me.

    Obviously, there are ways to do this that even introverts can be comfortable with, such as inviting questions or asking for volunteers, etc. because that puts the introvert in a position of being in control and being able to choose, or not choose to have attention focused on them.

    • You may never want to be in the room when I’m speaking then Rebecca, because now I’m going to call on you! ;-)

      I do understand what you’re saying…I do. But I don’t fully agree either. For a couple of reasons:

      1. We shouldn’t stop asking questions and hinder the “communal” feel of the presentation simply for fear of making a very small minority uncomfortable. (Notwithstanding, we should use our best judgement and read body language well.) I’ve had many people tell me they were scared I was going to call on them and once I did and they started talking, they said they really enjoyed the experience and it was quite refreshing for them to come out of their shell.

      2. Just as the best information on this blog is generally found in the comments section, so is much of the best stuff in an actual presentation. I strongly feel the greatest presenters are the ones that know how to get the most out of their audience, and help them go places they’d normally never go. (See Tony Robbins, even though I’m not a fan ;-) )

      • Oh, I don’t mean to stop asking questions, Marcus! But some speakers are clueless when it comes to things like reading body language, and it’s something they need to get “unclueless” about if they are going to take an approach like yours.

        Regarding a small percentage, that’s actually not true, because it’s actually about a 50/50 split, with a slightly higher percentage of the population being introverts compared to extroverts. (This is based on Myers-Briggs, for whatever that’s worth, which may or may not be worth much, but I think it’s more accurate than just guessing. ;)) At any rate, I wouldn’t call them a small percentage. The difference is that they will be less likely to express their opinion so they may SEEM to be a smaller percentage. (If I didn’t know you and have a relationship with you, I would NOT have written this, as an example.) So you will be less likely to hear an honest opinion from an introvert, not because they are less honest but simply because they will be more apt to keep such opinions to themselves.

        Now having said that, there are some mighty boring speakers out there, and they’re obviously not very effective.

        At any rate, this has been a super interesting discussion, one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed!

  14. First off, my friend, let’s give credit where credit is due. You are a GREAT speaker, Marcus. Your energy, your enthusiasm, the way you acknowledge the audience, and your overall demeanor is some of the best I’ve ever seen on stage. I’m not blowin’ smoke up your skirt, either. I’m hard to impress.

    As for your points, I think writing is a much different thing than speaking. Look at some of the great authors out there who lock themselves up for a year, write an amazing novel, yet won’t do a book tour to interact with their fans. Those who are free to be themselves in front of a computer screen, may not experience that same level of comfort in front of a sea of staring eyes.

    • Amber, thanks so much for the kind words and I loved seeing you at Blog World with that big smile of yours that always seems to be shining :-)

      As for the speaker/writer translation, yes, you’re absolutely correct.

      But I also see that we’ve written about 1,000,000 “best blogging practices” articles over the last few years because we’ve come to learn there are certain best practices in this industry–which I feel is the exact same in the speaking industry or any other for that matter.

      then again, I could be all wrong here ;-)

      • Oh, you’re right. I think people fail to realize, sometimes, that each form of communication is an art in and of itself. Just because you write, doesn’t mean you’ll make a good orator. Or, just because you can do a podcast, doesn’t mean you could write a good sentence to save your life.

        I’m sure many apply to be convention speakers just to get noticed (or grow their audience), without doing some self-examination to determine if they have the chops to deliver.

  15. Awesome post (again), my friend. I had to chuckle a bit when I read the title because as I sat in a few sessions at BlogWorld last week, I was thinking the…same. exact. thing. I think the main reason that some do poorly is because public speaking is an art form. It can be learned, of course, and must be practiced. 4 years ago I was speaking in front of groups of people but they were my employees at the dealership. When I decided to go into Social Media training I realized I would need to get good at presenting. I’m not awesome yet, but I’m workin’ it!
    BTW, you, Marcus are a great presenter. You do what many are unable to do…you connect with the audience.

    • That’s awfully kind of you to say Kathi, thank you.

      And I think you made observations in blog world just as many others did. You’re used to a level of communication on paper and it doesn’t always show itself in person.

      Although I know we’re all different, I do think if we strive to get better at certain “best practices” we can at least make the magical connection so many of us are striving for.

      GREAT meeting you in person Kathi. As I told you before, you’re an incredible support.


  16. 1. Many bloggers don’t speak that often.

    2. Many times when bloggers do speak, they are not relying on essentially the same speech every time, which makes it less dialed in.

    3. What you call a mistake, I’d call a stylistic choice. The way you present Marcus is very much the exception, even amongst full-time speakers. That doesn’t make it right or wrong, just a choice.

    4. The most important aspect of being a good speaker isn’t learning people’s names, it’s being comfortable. Discomfort leaks out of your pores. Your style feels natural to you, because it IS natural to you. If other people who are not comfortable with that style tried to mimic how you do it, it would come off as stiff and phony and lame.

    5. As echoed elsewhere in the comments, why would you expect bloggers to be good speakers? I don’t expect my plumber to be a chef, and to me they are about as far apart. Yes, there are people who can do both competently. In fact, there are people who can do both well. But almost none who are great at both. It’s just a different skill set. The amazing professional speakers you see at National Speakers Association conferences and places like that (many of whom are better than anyone in social media), almost never blog. Often they write books, and some of those books are decent. But you don’t see the combo platter very often.

    • All great points Jay, and I don’t disagree with them, and should have iterated many of these in the article above.

      I don’t think people should try to have my “style”, no, not at all, but I do think there are certain principles we should aim towards.

      In other words, there are best practices in every skill. For example, with blogging, we tell people a best practice is:

      1. Shorter paragraphs
      2. Personal experiences/story
      3. use of bullets and bold
      4. writing for SEO but also for humans
      5. images
      6. etc., etc., etc

      All of us have talked many times about the best blogging practices, and thus I think it’s fair to talk about the best communication practices in a speech-like setting.

      For example, if someone asks a question, it’s a good practice to find out there name. I’ve seen you do this very well. I’ve seen Brogan do this very well. But it’s something you’ve obviously worked to integrate into your process. So is using a person’s name when possible a “best practice” that can be achieved by most regardless of “style”?? I feel it certainly can– as long as we work toward that goal.

      Storytelling and photos are the same thing. I’ve watched you excel at this, as well as many others. But many bloggers aren’t thinking “story” when they’re developing their presentations. My message here is that we need attempt to become better storytellers, as it’s a skill like anything else that can be practiced and made better.

      But ultimately, this post was written because people kept asking me the same questions and making general statements of “blogger/speaker let down”….and when I have occasions like that, I want to discuss the subject with others.

      Have a wonderful time in Greece my friend.


  17. Very intriguing post Marcus,

    I both agree and disagree with you here. I agree because I have experienced the deflating effect when a blogger I highly admire turns out to be less than expected in ‘person’. This happened when I watched a video clip of Steve Pavlina – I had a great respect for his writing and I’d built his reputation up in my mind. But after seeing him on video, that respect diminished. I suspect it’s the same effect that we have when we meet celebrities in person – they’re not ‘ultra-human’, they’re ‘just’ human.

    Now, I disagree because I feel a need to stand up for the ‘college professors’ of the world. We all have our different speaking styles and our own methods of interacting with the audience. If I listened to someone and put my hand up to ask a question, then I wouldn’t mind waiting until the end if necessary. Sometimes I feel that if too many questions are asked, then the flow can become disrupted, and my attention is now focused on the questions just as much as the topic matter. If the questions aren’t relevant to me and my situation, then this isn’t good.

    Again, everyone has their own way of speaking, and there’s no right or wrong way. I’d rather the speaker feel comfortable and at ease, no matter what ‘comfortable’ means to them, whether it’s moving around or standing behind a desk. If the speaker isn’t comfortable, then there’s a chance they won’t ‘deliver on the promise’, and so the value would be damaged.

    When I go to a speaking event, I want to ensure that I learn about the topic – if that is achieved, regardless of the person who’s speaking, then I’d call that a success. I’m sure others look for more, or less, but that’s just me :-)

    • Really interesting analogy Stuart, and I appreciate you sharing both sides of it.

      I understand what you mean by the “not getting off course due to questions” statement, but if you had been in the small session I was in, you would understand how it didn’t make sense not to allow for the conversation.

      Notwithstanding, I fully agree that conversations need to stay on point, and questions can be harmful if not always brought back to the right path.

      Great seeing you brother.


      • Oh yeah, I can definitely imagine such a situation with a smaller audience Marcus. Guess each speaking event has it’s own rules. For example, TED speeches often don’t have questions at all!

  18. I think Jay has it right on. The message is very important. In your case dude you make the delivery of the message personalized to every listener in the audience, which is a presentation talent that not all bloggers have or want to have. Not only do I get your message but I have a depth of feeling of its authernticity as well I am entertained in the process compared to other speakers. Not bad for a shy pool salesman.
    You do rock in person Marcus, others just do it in type. But at least we are all talking

    • I appreciate your words very much Rob and hope I don’t come across in this post as putting down other speakers, as it really was written as a result of the many conversations and observations others have made to me.

      Anyone that is willing to stand in front of an audience to share their thoughts has my respect, that’s for sure.

      Thanks again Rob,


  19. Unfortunately I missed Blog World again. Someday I swear! Would love to hear and meet you and many others in person.

    I used to do quite a bit of public speaking and really enjoyed it. I find doing podcasts/ blogtalk radio/ video so much more difficult. The energy of a live audience makes a huge difference for me. To speak into a microphone looking at a computer screen just doesn’t have the same appeal. When you’re live it helps to act alive and draw the audience in. I have no doubt you are an expert at that Marcus.

    • Yeah, I’m with you there big time Barbara. I find the audience present a HUGE part of the experience, which is why I find podcasting and video a good bit more difficult.

      Great seeing you lady and hope your summer is going well.



  20. Hey Marcus,
    I’ll definitely have to make it to blogworld one if these days!

    I have a questions about your post – could you please elaborate on “The goal of presenting is not to teach the audience. Rather, the goal is one of learning”


    • What I meant by that Brent is that speaking is about the audience and what they get out of the experience, and the job of the speaker isn’t so much to “teach” as it is to facilitate a learning experience. Does that make sense?

  21. Hi Marcus!

    This is an interesting point, one that John Maxwell makes in his book Everyone Communicates But Not Everyone Connects.

    He says that typically those who are good speakers, are not very good writers and visa versa. More than not, good speakers write like they talk, and good writers speak like they write. For this very reason, John Maxwell has a ghost writer. He is an excellent communicator, but he recognized that his writing gift doesn’t hold the same weight as his speaking ability.

    When I think of what the internet brings for most people, it’s a safe place to express yourself without having to be seen, and a person can connect with others on some level of anonymity or at least in a way which may be more comfortable than publicly socializing.

    Some of the greatest novelists and authors are extreme introverts, and feel out of their element when in public settings. Often natural speakers are not satisfied with a virtual audiences, because the core of their personality is socialization and therefore they are not content with writing alone.

    It’s rare, and definitely a gift, if a person possesses the ability to skillfully do both.

    When you wrote about having to hold your questions to the end, in your writing you almost sounded offended. Yet, for some public speakers, especially for those who are not comfortable with an audience, questions in the middle of a presentation could actually throw them off and they could loose the flow or rhythm that they’ve found. For other presenters they feed off of audience participation which amps their flow and creates a comfortable rhythm.

    Not all presenters are good at what they are presenting. Some venues require different presentation styles, as well as not all people receive the same – and a highly interactive presenter may be entertaining, but some in the audience also may find it distracting and unable to retain main points and only walk away with the memory of a good personal story, or picture they saw.

    I have definitely been in some dry presentations before. I have also heard some amazing speakers and read their books and thought… now that was dry and boring…

    I think the post is an excellent topic for conversation – one that could lead to really analyzing the personality types of speakers and authors as well as their audiences. Good stuff friend!

    • Beth, what a smile it brought me to see you comment here and bring such wise words to the table.

      I can only thank you for furthering the conversation and making so many great points.

      Hope all is well on your end. :-)


  22. Thanks for the kind words Marcus :)

    Going back to the introvert/extrovert discussion. Some of the best actors I have met are really shy and introverted people. We get a certain impression of them when we see them on TV or on stage but in real life, they aren’t really like that. At all.
    They play a role.

    So introverts usually make very good actors or speakers. I believe they are the same, because it’s about delivering a message through a performance which creates emotion.

    Now I absolutely agree that there is nothing worst than the way kids are taught in school, or the way some people present.
    If I just want to listen to a message then I can buy a book or listen to a Podcast. The whole point of attending a live event with a speaker is the chance to have this communion with him or her.

    A speaker is a teacher and you can’t teach anyone anything if you don’t involve them in the process.
    It’s not a question of style it’s a question of doing it right or wrong.

    Not involving an audience in any type of speech is simply wrong.

    If you want your message to be remembered, it’s critical to create an emotion, and what better way to do it than to interact with the people who came to learn.

  23. Hey Marcus,
    Personally i think it’s should be obvious that not everyone can do one of the most challenging things to do, speaking in public, as easily as others. A blindingly obvious statement. Hey, if you don’t push yourself and try what’s the point?

    There were some comments about style and engaging the audience is really the key to any successful presentation. I don’t know how many presentations, key notes, etc when the presented is talking to a wall. What? I guess you really have to ask yourself why you are there?

    Anyway, thanks for the tips. When I go to Social Mix in Toronto next month I will look out for the “features” of the presenters to see who engages and who doesn’t….;-)

    • Ralph, great seeing you and it seems like Social Mix is going to be quite the event…guess I’ll have to submit for the next one!

      Thanks for all,


  24. To me it’s simple – Being a great blogger doesn’t necessarily mean you cultivate the skills to articulate your thoughts clearly, and present yourself charismatically. It’s two different kinds of neurological skill development.

    Other factors: You need to know what you’re talking about. If you don’t have crazy results to back up what you’re saying, your lack of confidence about what you’re saying is going to show in your presentation. You just won’t be as good.

    Fear: Fear plays a huge role in whether or not someone is going to present well. I’ve seen seemingly articulate people crash on stage because they were just.. scared! And rightfully so. Speaking in front of people can be nerve wracking.

    Sales experience? I have a ton of sales experience. I did years in sales before becoming a full time entrepreneur. Now, even in my company, I do most of the selling. I’ve cultivated some crazy communication skills because I knew I had to: you have to communicate incredibly to sell people on things.

    So – If a speaker knows what he/she is talking about, has results to prove it, is totally confident, has consciously developed good presentation skills, works deliberately to better their brevity, articulation and speaking skills, and has a lot of experience really getting into the depths of communicating with other human beings in sales (and other) contexts, they’ll probably be a good speaker.

    A blogger, however, may just be awesome at the simple act of blogging (which isn’t simple of course, but it’s in a different league than speaking).

    Interesting post my man! I’m sure you kill it out there, in the speaking world Marcus! Lions are good at dominating.

    • Ryan, some really, really great points man of what makes a great speaker. All true my friend.

      Thanks so much for stopping by,


    • Excellent points Ryan.

      Guess, the people who blog rarely practice speaking in front of public. Their sweet spot is telling the idea via the posts. So, at times its difficult for them to convey.

      • Guess so! Thanks Malhar :) Totally it. The posts are their sweet spot. Cool way of putting it.

  25. Bradlee TheDawg

    Marcus – I just think that a large population of bloggers are genetically anti-social and therefore very uncomfortable in a group of live people – and even more uncomfortable doing public speaking. It’s no surprise their presentations would be sub-par. Go to any industry tradeshow…. 5% of the speakers will be great…. 5% will be completely inept and unwatchable, and the other 90% will be mediocre as crap and not worth going to the conference for.

    • You always make me smile with your strong words Bradlee. Thanks for bringing it man.


  26. G’Day Marcus,
    The problem is simple. Writing and presenting are different skills. Regrettably, many writers, bloggers or not, don’t realize this.

    The problem is exacerbated by the fact that many experts, whether bloggers or not , believe that because they’re experts, what they say is worth listening to. They’re far more interested in letting listeners know how much they themselves know rather than ensuring that listeners learn what they know. I wrote a blog post about this recently. If you’d like to revisit the post, you’ll find it here

    I also published an Ezine Article in April called “Techconceit: The Affliction That Alienates Listeners.” This article deals with the issue you’re talking about in depth.

    It’s not only an issue of bloggers as speakers. It’s also an issue when bloggers construct so- called training activities with little or no idea of ensuring that readers—–often also payers–can actually do anything new at the end of the so-called training.

    Web training ranges generally between ordinary and awful: for the same reason that bloggers seem to be very ordinary speakers They don’t know what they don’t know!

    To quote that Sam Clements bloke again; “it aint what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for certain that just aint so.”

    I’m really pleased that you’ve raised this issue. It’s far more important than most bloggers, including some so-called “A-listers,” are prepared to admit.

    Best Wishes

  27. Marcus,

    You’re response to “Hold questions…”

    Should have been.. “Don’t you know who I am? The Sales Lion doesn’t hold questions till the end…”

    Probably inappropriate but at the same time that presenter probably wouldn’t have forced his audience to hold questions again.

    But to the point of your article I think the public nature of blogging leads people to believe that a good blogger is going to be good in every format…


    Not that they can’t but I believe all four content generation skills to be mutually exclusive in their purest form.

    But this leads us to the discussion of Expectation. Should we place expectations on a great writer to be a great orator and can we still get something valuable from the presentation of a great writer who can’t speak?

    One of 2013 goals is to watch you kill it on stage my man… Maybe sooner if I can swing that.

    Always… Thank you.

    Ryan H.

  28. One reason some of us may desire a total control over our presentation is that English isn’t my mother’s tongue. So, I might be afraid to lose control over presentation if someone asks me a difficult question or a question I can’t answer. However, practice makes it a bit easier. And it makes me prepare more thorough. Have you come across non-English speakers? Do you think their presentations suffered because of it? Cheers, N.

    • Nenad,

      I can appreciate your hesitation. I think you raise a great question. From the speaker’s perspective, if you are not working in your native language, questions might take you off track. When speaking at a conference in China, I felt the opposite. My fear was that if I did not take questions, then I might lose the audience completely.

      Each person has to do what works best for them. Still, each of us is unique in our abilities. For example, I think that live role-plays are essential for my programs. Others shy away from on-the-fly, unscripted interactions. Neither one is right… just different.

      The most important thing is that whatever we do, it must be genuine. Not everybody can rock the stage like Marcus. If they did, then what Marcus does wouldn’t be special.

      • Ian, were you working through an interpreter or were you speaking Chinese? If you were speaking Chinese, I would have loved to have seen that. I studied Chinese and got to where I could understand a fair amount, but I’m telling you, I never knew when I was going to cuss someone out due to those darn tones! I suppose it that happened, it would liven things up a bit, but I’m not sure livening things up in that way would meet with my objectives. ;) At least if the interpreter gets it wrong, it’s kind of their fault, or at least I could shift some of the blame to him!

  29. Thankfully, I was working through an interpreter. The best story was during a meeting when I was telling what I thought was a funny story. I ended the story, and everyone laughed. Whew! After the meeting, we were at dinner with my team and the interpreter. I said “I’m so glad that the joke went over well. After I started it, I was worried it would get lost in translation.” The interpreter said “It would have. I heard you tell the story before. So, I changed the story to have the same underlying message, but one that would work culturally in China.” He was the ONLY translator we would use from that point forward. He was an American from Detroit, if you can believe that!

  30. Paul Nelson

    Without knowing who the other speakers were and what their topics were on, it’s really difficult for me to understand why they failed to impress their audience. I also don’t have any knowledge of their blogs and what they normally talk about. I do read you, however, and have listened to many of your podcasts, and watched several of your videos. I see you as a person with a passion, one with the drive to educate and convince everyone of the value of blogging for business. Your talks are more geared at motivating the audience to take action then you are to simply impart information. The more positive feedback you get from your audience the more energy you get to move forward in that direction. I think you write your blog exactly like you speak (in the same format) with that one unilateral goal described above. If you (any speaker) are speaking to an audience without the goal of motivating them to take an action, I don’t think you need to walk around, learn their names and interact in the manner you do. Keep up the good work though, there are a lot of people out there who need to hear your message and hear it with the excitement you tell it.

    If Ameena Falchetto speaks like she writes her emails, she can have my ear any day!

  31. Great post! I try to mention my blog whenever I do any public speaking. This can be a good advertisement to your target audience (unless you flop!)

    BTW: I’m not sure if I saw this, but do you recommend Toastmasters?

  32. I completely agree with this post. I’ve attended conferences to watch some of my favourite bloggers speak in public and was quite underwhelmed by their performance. What makes a great writer/blogger does not necessarily translate over to speaking.

    • Yep, that’s the thoughts of many folks Sam.

      Thanks for dropping by!


  33. Perhaps, there are some bloggers who are conscious in front of other people that is why they are not a great speaker.

    • I think there are many people, bloggers and none bloggers, who feel that way…it’s just a matter of getting more comfortable with more experience.

  34. Yes, I think a blogger is not a great speaker. In fact, I could say that I am not a good speaker since I haven’t practice talking in front of other people.

  35. You are right. I absolutely believe on this that blogger is not a great speaker. I could say it to my self that I am not a good speaker.:)

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