How to Identify Your Hidden Speaking Agenda

While the visible or tangible results of your public speaking matters to you, as a business person or as a community leader, I have found that your hidden agenda can be equally critical – and even more important.

The hidden agenda is what you personally and emotionally care about when you’re finished speaking. Often, no one except you knows or cares what this hidden agenda may be.

I always ask my clients at the outset of our work together what they would really like to accomplish for themselves, as well as for the company or organization they represent.

Their hidden agenda can be as simple as “not to look stupid.†“to get through without crying,†“to make a fantastic impression,†or more positively, “to knock their socks off.†It can also be “to get someone to notice and hire me away.â€

Here are some other examples I’ve heard over the years about the hidden agendas for a particular speaking engagement that clients were willing to admit:

  • “Make it through without wetting my pants.â€
  • “Make sure they ask me the next time.â€
  • “Come across as the expert.â€
  • “Appear in control even though I am not.â€
  • “Get them to ask me for a proposal.â€

The executive director of a foundation that issues grants in the community once confided to me that his hidden agenda for staff presentations to nonprofits was to scare off poorly run agencies. By emphasizing the foundation’s rigid requirements for reporting how funds were spent and the result achieved, only the well-managed entities dared to apply for grants.

A technology start-up executive recognized that her hidden agenda was to create a buzz about her project that will extend far beyond those present at the venture capital conference.

A chamber of commerce leader wanted me to change the perception of his being a somewhat rigid speaker who was challenged to pronounce names correctly to a more relaxed, approachable and in-control persona.

Be honest as you identify your hidden agenda, along with the overt goal you set for yourself.

It’s so much easier to put together the right content when you are truly clear about where you are headed and what you want the outcome to be.

*Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, click here to order.

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