Costly Public Speaking Myth #1 — Influential Speakers are Born That Way
In 1994, I sat in my boss’s office. We were discussing the evaluations from a recent seminar I’d presented. When we finished the review, he said, “Your public speaking skills are awful! You Fix this or…you’re finished!”
Such a warm and supportive boss, right?
I didn’t believe I could be an impactful or influential speaker because I wasn’t born one. I knew a few people who were charismatic speakers and felt, “That’s not me. I could never do that.”
In my search for a solution to save my job I discovered a secret about public speaking… effective public speakers aren’t born, they’re made.
My earliest mentors were introverts who’d discovered this secret, picked up the necessary keys and tools, and worked to become some of the best speakers in the world.
The Reality: Any executive can be a speaker who engages, inspires, and influences others. You simply need to know the right tools.
Costly Public Speaking Myth #2 — People Want More Information
One of the biggest challenges for new leaders, salespeople, and speakers is earning the trust of others. When people don’t know you, they have no idea what their relationship with you will be like.
To compensate, most people work hard to prove they belong in the position they are in. For example, an executive will work extra hours to learn every possible fact about her division and each person in it, or details about all aspects of the service her team provides.
It is important to know the essential elements of your job. However, in presentations and speeches, people don’t want you to spout facts, figures, and data. They have access to more information on their cell phones than you will ever be able to provide them.
Because most speakers present slides filled with data and information, or simply read a litany of facts, audiences quickly lump them in with every other presenter and tune them out.
The Reality: Audiences want your perspective about your topic. This means sharing stories about your struggles, strife, and setbacks before you talk about success.
Tell them about your transformation and how it has made you more effective and successful. They want a roadmap to success that shows them how to avoid every pothole.
Costly Public Speaking Myth #3 — Not Rehearsing
In addition to believing in the myth of the natural-born speaker, I also believed these superhuman people simply stand up and brilliance flows from their mouths.
Imagine my surprise when my mentor, World Champion Speaker Darren LaCroix, CSP, showed me a video of one of his first presentations.
In a word (and by his own admission) it was, “awful.” I thought, “I can do that.” Darren has shown his video all over the world for 20 years to prove great speeches and great speakers are not born, they’re made.
The key to creating a memorable speech is practice, feedback, and rewriting. Then repeat the process…
Over and over and over.
There is no shortcut to becoming an influential and impactful communicator. The big secret I learned about every world-class speaker is:
Each starts in the same place with a new speech or story.
Begin with an idea.
Write a messy first copy.
Review it and re-write it.
Begin the process of practice, feedback, and rewriting.
The Reality: The most impactful and memorable speakers rehearse and practice their presentations at least 100 times before they stand before an audience or camera for paid speaking engagements
I’m often asked, “Are you telling me I have to practice 100 times?”
My answer is always the same, “I’m not telling you to do anything. I’m only letting you know the best in the world practice at least times. How good do you want to be?”
P.S. I’m fully aware not everybody will be able to practice 100 times because of deadlines or last-minute notice is to give speeches. The point here is to practice, get feedback, and rewrite as much as you can within the time you’re given.
Every rehearsal provides information on what is working and what part of your presentation needs to be improved.
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