What Does Public Speaking Look Like

public speaking

As a Keynote Coach for the past 35 years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the indifferent. And having worked with CEO’s, Expert Witnesses whose testimony in court can sway a decision, performing artists and other mortals, you may think I have gained insight into why so many are so terrified of public speaking. Well, I have: but it may surprise you. People are not terrified of public speaking per se; they are terrified of the judgment they think accompanies it.

Where does the fear originate

Remove the judgment, and you remove the fear. Remove the judgment, and you remove the barriers to authentic connection — connection that comes from the heart as much as from the words. And when you are free to connect from the heart, you welcome–not dread–the opportunity to speak in public.

The fact is that we speak in public all the time. We just don’t think of it that way. I submit that ALL speaking is public speaking, unless you’re in a closet muttering to yourself!

The Cafe vs The Podium

Let me illustrate.

A group of people are sitting at a cafe after work, shooting the breeze and discussing a new client, his needs, and his goals. It is not a business meeting. It is just a group of co-workers sharing their day. Along come a few others from the office, and they join the conversation bringing new perspectives on what’s being discussed.

Is THIS public speaking? Does anyone sitting there think of this as public speaking? Of course not. They are just unwinding over a glass of wine and relaxing together. BUT …

Put these same people in a conference room before the President of the company and other top brass. Have them speak about the same client, giving a formal presentation on his needs and their plan to satisfy those needs.

Is THIS public speaking? Yes, much more so … but not totally. In this situation, there is room for discussion and interaction. It’s a cross between a Formal Presentation (with a capital “P”) and an informal meeting.

Now put one of these people at a podium, in a slightly darkened room, with PowerPoint slides and a script.

Is THIS public speaking? You bet it is!

The difference is not just that this situation bears all the trappings of the dreaded public speaking. It also carries with it the implicit understanding that you will be JUDGED as being scintillating or dull; effective or a crashing bore; well-prepared or sloppy.

Your expectations – Fear or Fabulousness

The real difference is in your mind, in your expectations. Change your mind, and you change your situation. Of course, this situation requires preparation, not just talking off the top of your head. It requires planning, organization and rehearsal. But I’ve seen with great consistency that the real movement from dread to delight in speaking before others is this: the fear of judgment goes away because you have taken all the steps to know who you are … know what you know … and know that you don’t have to “fake it till you make it.”

A speech is just a vehicle

You have written the headline instead of waiting for others to do so. You have taken control rather than being at the mercy of others’ judgment.

What I have come to see over the years is that my job is to deal with speakers; but my REAL job is to deal with their EMPOWERMENT. The speech is simply a vehicle, not a destination. When you speak from a place of empowerment, it almost doesn’t matter what you say … as long as it is coming from a place of truth. And from that place of truth, you will find your power – for truth is power and power is truth. That is where your own personal charisma is seated. That is where you become riveting, not just entertaining.

Many get on stage and feel they have to perform, act, be someone they are not. I submit that the more you become yourself, not someone else, the more your comfort level will rise and the more you will shine. Your role is to inspire, not to fake anything. Your role is to bring insight and the real you onto the stage, not a phony performance that rings true in neither your heart nor in our ears.

So above all, I hope you will take this away from this piece the immortal words of Oscar Wilde.

Be yourself; everyone else is taken! ~ Oscar Wilde (Tweet this)


About the Author

Saskia, known as The Keynote Coach, has been working for over 30 years with Keynote speakers in all professions, from the Arts to Corporate America. She is the Author of "More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers". More at TheKeynoteCoach.com

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