You have heard these words sitting in the audience or perhaps you have spoken them when you have the floor. Either way the message behind these six words is clear. I am here. This is what I want to say. I do not really care about what you hear.
Sure, I might have been interested in what you were going to say – after all, I am here – but now you just turned me off.
Well people come to a meeting or a presentation to learn more about the subject they care about the subject. They care more about that subject than about the speaker. This is fine because the value is in the information they hear; the rest is either entertainment or packaging.
The words ‘what I want to talk about’ place the emphasis on the ‘I’ and are often the entre into the speaker going off topic. Politicians use it all the time to redirect the conversation or debate. These words are the speakers equivalent to a stiff arm in football.
I raise this point as we are entering an intense period of communications as the year ends and a new one begins. The end of the fourth quarter and the start of the first are heavy with communication as we set the past in context and plan for the future.
Audiences need to be aware of these words, recognize the stiff arm and step forward and assert themselves to have the speaker address the topic rather than tell you what they think. Sure there is value in experience, but experience is by definition occurred in the past and is worth less unless it is put in the context of the subject of the meeting.
Speakers need to recognize what they are truly saying to the audience when they use these words. Hopefully, a little alarm bell will go off in their heads when the words slip out of their lips, as they will recognize what they just told the audience. It is easy to get back on track and the audience will appreciate it – after all that is what they came for the information.
“What I want to talk about” is one of those little things that people say without thinking what it really says to the audience and says about the speaker.