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Rashad Rayford – Connecting through the spoken word

As speakers or leaders how often do we see corporates falling asleep, scrolling their phones or losing focus during a conference? This is the culture of corporate events that Rashad Rayford is disrupting.

Rashad, aka Rashad Tha Poet, is an award-winning actor, poet, and speaker. Through his company ‘Elevate Your Vibe’ he intuitively blends spoken word poetry, and inspirational speaking to help businesses tell more compelling and concise stories.

His journey with speaking started through poetry, a passion birthed through writing during his senior years in high school. It was in college, where his love for poetry and stage performance was realised at open mic nights, where he saw the spoken word as an art, designed to be heard and seen, with hand gestures and planned inflections of the voice.

Through his love for poetry and being on stage he began speaking at events to help move businesses forward, but his approach is not your ordinary intellectual speech. He blends the art of poetry and performance with a focus on bringing a main message to the audience. Whatever your art is, Rashad believes we need to use that as the vehicle to bring our messages forward. As speakers we need to evoke thought, speak to the emotions, heart strings and sensibilities to connect our message in a way that will bring the opportunity to affect change.

Any speaker knows too well that we are used to improvising when things do not go to plan. We are no strangers to innovating and developing our approach and this last year of ‘corona’ has meant we have all been forced to change our narrative and the way we engage audiences to suit the new ‘virtual’ norm.

He joins this year’s Innovation in Speaking summit, as speakers from across the globe join forces to engage the best in speaking training, current and future trends, innovation. Rashad will sit in on keynotes and breakout sessions throughout the event, he will analyse and wrap up ‘poetically’ the learnings of the events in a meaningful and memorable takeaway for all attendees.

Ahead of the summit he shares his top tips for speakers today:

Be patient with yourself:

Be patient with yourself, to grow, to fail. Sometimes you need to let your ideas, learnings and plans simmer. Give yourself the space to make mistakes and learn the lessons so that you can try again to get to the next place. We put so much pressure on ourselves. Be kind to you and take things step by step. Do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up over every little thing. Give yourself time to grow.

Be human:

The internet has given us a new stage and offered all speakers the opportunity to take their business online. But, remember that people are still people – they crave connection and we need to bring this through now more than ever. When starting meetings or webinars, instead of getting straight to business ask a real question. Show people that you care. Be real.

Be authentic:

Master being authentic, master being vulnerable. We want to pull stories from the media or the news but choose to be vulnerable. Talk about yourself. The real moments. It may be embarrassing but it is relatable and that will hit harder than the story about a random person you and your audience don’t know. You are the focus and you have the power. Never forget that connection is made in vulnerable moments. Your message will stick harder and better.

Learn from poetry/art:

Be inspired, make use of the freedom to use your words. Speakers sometimes get caught in a robotic or static framework and talks can start taking on the same tone, feel and structure. Try take an inspired perspective. Like poetry, every poem is different. Speaking like every day is Monday is going to limit you. Be free, don’t be confined or you will become stale and stagnant. Sharing new information is great but the delivery should be your focus – deliver for impact!

Tell stories:

Dive into your storytelling ability. Master the art of telling a story. Take time, slow down to talk. Even if there is an awkward silence, let it be awkward if that’s what necessary – it’s all part of the story. Talk about yourself on stage, people need to see you. Not just you, or a robot on stage. It helps people ‘open up’ a bit more.

Do not miss Rashad in poetic action from 9-11 April at the Innovation in Speaking (UN)Conference. Get your tickets here.

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