The general perception of “asking for something” is that it’s difficult and “pushy”. That it’s all about ‘lead generation’ and ‘adding zeros to your monthly income’ and ‘closing the deal’. To ask others to buy my product or support my cause or do something differently can be terrifying for some of us… the last thing we want to be is manipulative.
Why is it so hard in public speaking to ask for what you want? What you need is a shift in perception… and here’s exactly how to do it.
Giving not taking
How much do you believe in your message? Your information has value for your audience and if you believe in your message then your audience will as well. The act of public speaking is all about giving. Giving a voice and face to the information your audience needs.
Don’t downplay or belittle the act of giving. The most powerful speakers have a strong belief that their public speaking will bring some kind of benefit to the audience. If you believe firmly in your message, you will have no problem speaking with confidence; because that message is more important than your nerves.Think about Churchill and Gandhi – two incredibly powerful speakers who faced public speaking anxiety at some stage in their life. But they had missions that were greater than themselves, so by serving the audience their nerves were no longer an issue.
Rather than ‘getting through’ your material, irrespective of who’s in the audience, the servant speaker will ask themselves what your audience most need to hear in a given moment. The more experience you have of different audiences and the more experimental you allow yourself to be – the more your speaking will serve your audience.
Just Be Yourself
Nothing speaks more to asking for change than just being yourself. If YOU value it (the message of your speech), then the audience will value it also. No gimmicks or games or catchy cliches necessary; simply being genuine packs more of a wallop than the “hard sell”. Stop thinking of it as pushing your agenda and start to see it as allowing the space for people to connect with the full power of your message. It’s a shift from constantly worrying about your own aims, your own ‘bottom line’ and your own ego, to seeking to benefit others.
Your authenticity connects to your audience’s humanity and allows them to also be authentic. This is the quality that transforms public speaking from “technically very good” to “WOW”. It’s all about sharing YOU… on stage. Your insight into your topic, your beliefs/opinions/ideals based on facts that YOU have investigated. It might seem very mundane to you because you’ve experienced it already, but when you tell it to other people they might find it incredibly interesting and valuable.
When you’re telling your story, try not to speak from OUTSIDE the experience using memorized words. Speak from within the experience, using personal perspective to help the audience feel, see, and hear what YOU feel about your topic.There’s a very big difference (and the audience can always tell) from reliving your experience and reading from a script. Sharing your story from a multi-dimensional angle means that as you tell it… you can go into any little side detail at any given moment. The audience can see think and feel what you’re feeling because it’s YOUR story, your perception, your senses that are being shared.
If you don’t ask…
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Specifically. Powerfully. This is closing the ‘sale’. This is the ‘bungee jump’ moment where people have the most fear. But remember – if you are passionate and authentic your audience will feel connected to you. What will serve them in this moment is not for you to meekly say “Umm… please consider this” and shrink into the stage. What will serve them is for you to powerfully ask them to change their behaviours.
- I am incredibly passionate about this and I would like to invite you to join.
- It goes without saying that this topic is important to me and here’s why it should be important for you too…
- I simply want you to be a part of this.
- I truly see how this will benefit you.
- If you want to xyz, then I believe this is the place for you.
Test these out for yourself and see if you can authentically see yourself saying them. If the answer is “NO WAY!” then find a way of expressing yourself persuasively that will feel right. Remember, it’s all about your belief in your message and ultimately… you.
Once you have asked for the change, it’s the force of your self belief that will show your audience that you really mean it. An authentic speaker will stick to their message, even if nobody else seems to agree.
This is the moment where you get to change the world. And it’s your belief, your confidence and your good intention that will allow that change to happen.
You’ll never know if you never try. If you believe in the message you’ve created in your public speech, then perhaps (more often than not) it will hold value for an audience. What’s the worst that could happen? You’re no worse off than you were before and just maybe you’ll have touched someone in a real authentic way. It matters not the topic, what does matter is your belief in the topic. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!
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