Why we warm to a speaker
It’s always helpful when you’re a performer if you can get the audience to like you. Good public speakers manage to get the audience to warm to them and one technique is to use self-deprecatory humour. Take a look at this clip of Sir Ken Robinson, a former professor who now talks on the subject of creativity. In this presentation to the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Ken explains how his earlier talk for the TED conference on creativity and the failings of the modern education system had been downloaded some four million times – something to be proud of. But his son told him the other week of a 90 second video clip of two kittens, seemingly having a conversation with one another, that’s been downloaded 17 million times!
As a speaker it’s important to be perceived as an authority on the subject in question. The audience will respect you for that. But a dose of self-deprecation and humility adds something extra. It makes you more human, more like the man/woman in the street, more like the audience. That strengthens the connection between you and them, a key component of successful public speaking.