Peak, then Point: How to Be an Interesting Expert

By Cora Bullock, Assistant Editor, Fraud Magazine

“You don’t need a dazzling personality to be interesting. You just need to be authentic. In fact, dazzling can get in the way,” said Paul Homoly, CSP, in his Wednesday morning session, “Just Because You’re an Expert Doesn’t Make You Interesting.” Homoly is president of Homoly Communications Institute.

He said when he first began speaking, “I was getting really constipated putting my PowerPoint together, and I was forgetting to figure out how to be interesting.” He has perfected his technique in which you create peaks of interest followed by your points or facts. He said, “Make it easy for your audience to succeed; get interesting before you get relevant.” If you bury your audience under tons of facts, they’ll only feel buried, not enlightened and interested.

Homoly said in his experience that about one in 10 people are naturally good communicators. For the rest of us, he outlined his process:

  • Connection – Hold eye connection throughout complete thoughts – wait for a punctuation mark, such as a comma or period, before moving to another person's eyes. Pause during those punctuations, too, because a pause allows your words to sink in.
  • Movement – form of language. Don’t pace or walk too much. You can gesture with your hands and make posture changes, but don’t stalk the stage; stand still as much as possible. “It communicates confidence,” said Homoly. “More movement means less confidence, so learn not to move.” He adds, “Lots of movement is for entertainers, not experts.”
  • Dynamics – how you say your words, not what you say. “Don’t limit yourself to logic,” he said, meaning, use the emotional side of words, not just the definitions. He recommended pausing and dropping your voice before making a point.
  • Content – After addressing the previous points, then you can deliver your content.

Homoly advised the audience, “Don’t limit yourself to working only on content when preparing a speech. You are an expert – you know your content. Work on the other three in order for people to hear your content.”

Homoly had the audience practice connection techniques, splitting them into groups of three to talk for one minute each. Afterwards there was a lot of laughing, hand shaking and connection. He also selected an audience member to improve their techniques, starting with the “Speech of 25.” Homoly said it’s the way to practice connection, movement and dynamics. Instead of a speech, you count to 25 while applying the principles.

Homoly made the point: “You never lose credibility by being interesting.”