MYTHS ABOUT BEING A GOOD PUBLIC SPEAKER (PT.1)
Myth #1: Good Speakers have a Natural Talent (Born Speakers)
This one always makes me laugh because no one comes out of the womb speaking. In fact, for the first couple of years, our entire speech is “gaagaa, goo goo”. Now, granted, if you have a nice sounding voice, you might have an advantage in front of a group, or if you are stunningly good looking, you might command attention better. However, most great speakers become great at presenting because they really work at it. Here is the real secret that the academics, the toasting clubs, and the seminar leaders won’t tell you. Public speaking is an EASY skill to master if you practice the right way. However, instead of doing things to decrease their nervousness, most new speakers work really hard to try to hide their nervousness.
Motivational speaker Brian Tracy, wrote an article about what he learned from his speaking career. One of the major things that he learned as a professional speaker is that you have to train to be a speaker. His advice is to go out and give “300 presentations as hard and as fast as you can”. I know what your thinking… 300? Man, that is a lot of speeches. Exactly! If you want to be a good presenter, you really have to practice. In fact, that is one of the main reasons that our presentation skills classes are so popular. Because our class sizes are so small, each participant gets to deliver at least eight presentations in just two days. This fast pace helps the presenter establish good habits and experience a series of successful speeches in a short period of time.
By the way, if you are wondering where to find places that will allow you to speak, make sure and read the notes for Podcast #15: How to Find Venues to Practice Your Speech.
Myth #2: I’m Way More Nervous than Everyone Else
Surveys show that at least 90% of the population admits to feeling public speaking fear or stage fright. Surveys also show that over 45% of the population admit that the stage fright that they feel is so great that they avoid opportunities to present in front of groups. One of the first things that we share with people when we coach them as speakers, or when they come through one of our public speaking classes or presentation seminars, is that most of the stuff that happens to us when we get nervous is invisible to the audience. For example, just before we start to speak, most of us will start to feel our heart beating more quickly and forcefully. Some people will get sweaty palms or feel the butterflies in their stomach. We might feel light headed or even lose our train of thought. What do all of these things have in common? They are things that we FEEL, but are absolutely transparent to the audience.
The problem that typically occurs, though, is that when we feel these symptoms of nervousness, we sometimes panic, and we might begin to feel even more nervous. What you want to remember is that other people who are presenting feel nervous too. You’re not alone. The good news is, that if you reduce your nervousness, you will have a distinct advantage over about 90% of presenters.