June 5, 2017 fm

Be An Eel

My father loved to fish. He loved to fish so much. He loved to fish so much that sometimes there were fish everywhere in the house. Even in the sink of our kitchen. I remember an early morning when I was 12 years old. I entered the kitchen with tired eyes. On the floor in front of me: an eel moving like a snake. The eel had jumped out of the sink. I almost couldn’t get it back into the sink. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to grab or hold an eel. They are just too slippery.

When you speak in public, be an eel. Be slippery, be slick, be untouchable. Be the opposite of monotony. Change your emotional state, change your attitude, change your speaking style constantly. The more you vary your speaking style, the more exciting it is for your audience.

So – what kind of speaking styles can you apply in your talks? Here are three ideas for you.

The Bar Talker

Think about the last time you were sitting in a bar with a friend. You sat down, you ordered your Latte Macchiato or a beer or a blue Tonic and you started to chat with your friend. How did it go? How did you talk? Did you relieve dialogs with other people to drag the friend into your memories? Or, how do you talk to people in your company when you gather in front of the coffee machine? Isn’t that your natural way of communicating?

That is your most natural way of speaking. So why do you throw it over board when you’re standing in front of 50 people? Where does this mask of indifference come from? Take off your mask; be that bar talker and connect with your audience in the most natural way.

The Philosopher

Any from of monotony gets boring. This includes even the most entertaining bar talk style. Variation is the key. I suggest that you also apply a second style, the reflective style. At times, turn into a philosopher on stage. Reflect, question, search! Even if or because you don’t have an answer, your audience loves this style. They fully identify with you and your doubts.

One day, I looked into the mirror and thought, Who is this guy? Why am I doing all this? Working 9 to 5, 24/7? This is it? This is my life? Is this all I can do? I started to reflect on my dreams, on the way I wanted to be. The discrepancy between reality and dream drove me nuts. I knew I had to change something in my life.

The Performer

It is beyond doubt that you, as a speaker, connect most with your audience when you are 100% authentic. (Wait a minute, is there something like 80% authentic? Let me rephrase this last sentence.) It is beyond doubt that you, as a speaker, connect most with your audience when you are authentic.

The bar talker is the most authentic style I have seen, to date. Yet, in public speaking sometimes you have to be larger than life. When you speak to 200, 500, 1000 people, you become small, smaller, infinitesimally small. You need to put more energy in your voice, more enthusiasm in your body, more in everything. Use fragments of singing, acting, even dancing. You will still be yourself because we cannot be anyone else but ourselves. You will be an authentic performer.


The bar talker, the philosopher, the performer – three different styles that you can apply in your public speaking. The more you apply these and other styles in your speeches, the more you turn into that eel. The more slippery, slick, untouchable you are, the more exciting you are for your audience.

And next time you touch an eel and want to put it back into the sink… Be aware that my dad will be smiling down from heaven.

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