The way we’re taught public speaking is wrong, says Ginger founder Sarah Lloyd-Hughes. We focus on learning by copying our idol’s ‘good’ public speaking style, when really that’s the last thing we need…
Okay, I’m going to have a bit of a rant because the way that we normally taught public speaking in the corporate world and beyond isn’t working and I’d like to prove this to you. What typically happens is somebody has the idea of what a brilliant speaker looks like. That somebody is normally the trainer and we try and spend all of our time being like that idol of public speaking brilliance. That’s what we learn how to be like them. What I’d like you to know is that the last thing you need is a public speaking idol.How we learn public speaking actually tends to make us more nervous rather than more natural because it’s about copying others versus being ourselves. All right, when we’re learning a new skill it seems obvious to copy somebody who can do it already. That might be how you learned to cook or to drive or to do some kind of science, but with public speaking it’s a little bit different because public speaking is an art, not a science. And as such it’s important you develop your own style rather than copying somebody else’s. Let me give you an example, Tony Robbins, world renowned motivational public speaker. He has his own very distinctive public speaking style. I’ve been to one of his events and it’s really very impressive, great presence.
It’s impressive because he is his stage persona. It’s very integrated. It’s authentic. You believe him. His style works really well for him, but it doesn’t work well for someone else and I saw this in action at one of his gigs when one of his little protégés trotted on stage and tried to be Tony Robbins’ style. He tried to do his moves, he tried to speak like him and it made me cringe. This was a man who could have had huge amounts of power in himself, but he was deferring to somebody else’s style and as a result it came across as inauthentic. And what’s more is when you learn somebody else’s technique it feels weird within you and it feels more nerve wracking. We end up becoming more nervous rather than more natural if we copy someone else.
So, my advice is this. Don’t learn public speaking by copying somebody else’s type of public speaking. There are so many different types of speakers, different personalities, different ideas of expression that will impress an audience. You don’t see Tony Robbins trying to be like Gandhi, or you didn’t see Gandhi trying to be like Martin Luther King it just wouldn’t work. They were themselves and fully themselves.
The speakers who are the most impressive find their own style. Their own works, their own characteristics and they own them. So find out what your own characteristics are as a speaker and love them whatever shape and color they come into. That is how you become brilliant at public speaking.
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