In the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s when I was out there speaking all the time people used to ask me, “Art, what is your goal when you come in to do a speech?” I would explain that it depended on what I was hired to accomplish. Most of the time I was hired as a “MOTIVATIONAL HUMORIST” and that meant that I was hired to entertain but I was also expected to improve the performance of those in the audience. If a sales audience, to sell more; for managers to manage better; safety, to work safer and inspire others to do the same. For teachers, to teach better and so on. In regard to my own performance I wanted to take complete charge of an audience in the first 30 seconds or so and hold them in the hollow of my hand for an hour or whatever time frame I was allowed. My goal was to take everyone in that audience on a sort of emotional roller coaster ride making them laugh and cry and learn something really important that would help them do their job better.
Mostly I told stories and those stories had to lead to the final call for action in my presentation. My corporate motto was “Touching people’s lives,” and if somehow the audience gave me cheers and two standing ovations but they did not learn and commit and have my material stick in their minds for future reference then I would consider the whole thing a failure.
One of my personal goals, which I continue to shoot for, is to try at least one new piece of material in every presentation. It could be as simple as changing a sentence in one of my seasoned vignettes and making it just a little bit better. That way I was always endeavoring to improve, even just one little step at a time.