You have an opportunity to speak, whether you've been invited by someone else or you created the opportunity yourself. Your first decision is about prespective: do you speak from your perspective or do you speak from the audience's perspective?
I think there's no choice here. You must speak from the audience's perspective if you are going to give them a return on their investment of time and attention, plus cover the opportunity cost of what they didn't do while they were listening to you.
Why is audience perspective so valuable and what is it anyway?
When you speak from your perspective (here is what I know and what I did and what happened to me) you can be interesting. You could even be very interesting if you're a good storyteller.
The problem with being interesting is that interesting only lasts until the next interesting thing comes along.
When you speak from the audience's perspective, you can be inspiring. Inspiration is long-lasting, as the audience remembers your words and applies them to their own lives. I heard an inspiring speech 12 years ago that concluded with the audience-focused phrase "You're free to go" and when I'm in a quandary I am still inspired by those few words.
What does it mean to speak from the audience perspective?
1) Ask yourself what is going on with the specific audience at the time that you're speaking? What do they need for today and tomorrow? What will make a difference for them?
If you're telling a story about a time you and a team overcame a difficult challenge, be sure you craft that story to include how the audience in front of you might feel when facing similar circumstances in the future. What would they say to their team members? How could they look beyond the immediate difficulties of the situation? Your story becomes inspiration for future behavior, not an interesting history.
2) Speak about values, both pesonal and organizational. People bring their personal values with them everywhere and they are always evaluating if the organization's values align with their personal values. When you help the audience understand this process of evaluating and decision-making you give them tools they can use in their future dilemmas. Compare this to talking only about your own values and responses in organizations you've been in.
3) Use analogies. When you illuminate your specific experiences through the use of analogies, metaphors and similies, you go from the specific (your perspective) to the more universal (the audience perspective). Great topics from which to create analogies and the like are travel, food, national or regional celebrations, sports and life cycle events.
Competitive dressage riding, my sport for 22 years, is not well-known or understood by most people. One of the lessons I learned from it is that I have to focus on doing my very best during the 6-7 minutes my horse and I are in front of the judge. I can't control what other horse/rider pairs do or how the judge is feeling that day or how the weather or other external factors may impact my ride. Some days a score is high enough to win the class and other times the same score may place in the middle or lower.
I apply this same focus to my business and my work with clients. They and I can only control or influence what we do. We then put our best efforts out there. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But if you are always focusing on external factors, you dilute your internal focus and your efforts reflect that. Some days your work will be better than everyone else's and sometimes the same work will be middle of the road. You can only improve your outcome by focusing more fully on your own work. This is a lesson every audience gets.
The audience's perspective is the only way you create inspiration. No matter how much you are invested in your perspective, your duty as a speaker is to your audience. Give them what they deserve!
People often begin by asking me to help with their speech/presentation delivery. That's actually the easy part. What is much more challenging is crafting the content. Perspective is one key factor of content. Getting it and the other content audience-focused is critical to your success as a speaker and to your overall reputation. Consulting (content) and coaching (delivery) go hand in hand.