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There is a big lie that we've all sold ourselves about our communication...
Why do you think that is? Perhaps because we've been taught by countless gurus that you have to "do this" or "act like this" or "hold your hands this way" or "powerpoint is king" or... you get the idea. But should we put public speaking in it's very own category of communication? Is there such a thing as "private speaking" (besides talking to yourself, in your own home, when no one else is there)?
If you are talking with even one other person, you are engaging in the act of speaking... PUBLICLY. Why should your communication be different whether you're talking to one person or a room full?
But Sarah (you say)....This is important – I must make sure I look the partI just want to get through it without making a fool of myself I must make sure I know everything about my subjectI can’t let them think I’m frivolous / frothy / lacking in substanceThe boss is coming… so it has to be seriousWhere’s my Powerpoint? That will make me look professional
Yet when we’re caught up in the turmoil of “what might they think about me?” it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to hide our personalities and look and sound like everyone else.If we think about the purpose of a presentation, it’s that the audience gets a message from you. They want to learn, to understand, to experience something as a result of you having spoken.
Fitting in with everyone else by sticking to the usual format of, “Here is my bullet pointed numbered and outlined in red presentation” without emotional connection or voice inflection, or any personality whatsoever actually has the opposite effect – it makes it more difficult to learn from a speaker. Our memory latches onto things that:
It’s actually unprofessional to keep the audience at a distance by presenting a cold, calculated speech as it doesn’t allow the audience to connect with you and ultimately your message. So to be a true presentation pro, we want to see your emotion and something from you that makes your material stick out.
We can spend all the time in the world worrying about speaking; Am I wearing the right clothing? Do I have all my stuff here? What will the audience think of me? Endless questions might worry you about your presentation but what you really need to be focused on is just spending a few moments getting back to yourself.
Connect to yourself by finding a method to break the distance between yourself and your speaking and the nerves that you feel. You might like to head outside for a few moments or even go to the loo; find a place that is a little bit quiet and do a short breathing exercise. Focus in on your breath as well as your intentions for your speaking.
Doing this allows you to be grounded and to start your speech as yourself, rather than starting from a place of panic or self doubt.
We can sometimes struggle to appreciate our own capacity to influence. That’s because we see our own nerves and self doubts from the inside (which is messy) – and we see everyone else’s confidence and great performance from the outside (which of course looks oh, so impressive). Whilst we separate ourselves from ‘those who can’, we won’t allow ourselves to shine as authentic, inspiring speakers.
Isn't it about time that you stop "giving a speech"? Isn't it time to become relaxed, uninhibited, and genuine? The most effective speakers don’t change. They may ratchet their voice up a notch and use bigger gestures on stage, but they always ring with authenticity.
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