A good speech, like falling in love, is fun and exciting. A bad presentation like a bad date can end in bitter disappointment. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are several ways how public speaking is all about the LOVE.
It’s natural to be nervous before meeting that special someone. You’re excited to see them and nervous as to whether they'll like you or not.
Sound familiar? You get butterflies before a big speech for many of the same reasons.
In the body, nerves and excitement are the same thing. They’re adrenaline. But usually we judge that adrenaline and get terrified because we’re nervous. If we remind ourselves that it’s a good thing we have that feeling, it automatically shifts to a feeling of excitement.
Now it’s great that we feel nervous – brilliant – because whatever comes is our attempt to do something important.
So, nerves are a sign that we’re doing something important. How about we learn to love our nerves instead of just ‘dealing with them’?
You wouldn't go out with a prospective love interest in a raggedy t-shirt and worn out sweatpants (I hope). Nothing says I don’t care what you think more than not dressing for the occasion. In the same vein, nothing tells an audience you don’t care like not dressing appropriately for a speech.
The trick is to know the situation. Where are you going to speak? To whom are you speaking? I’m not suggesting that you throw on sweat pants and that old t-shirt you wear when you bum around the house because you want to project a laid back attitude, but you certainly can decide that a suit and tie might be a bit too much. Perhaps a nice button-down shirt with a jacket and no tie might accomplish that.
At the same time, don’t try to dress completely to suit the audience. For example, if you are speaking to a group of teens, wearing a baseball cap sideways will only make you look ridiculous. On the other hand, dressing a bit more casually might help to make them feel like the occasion is a little less formal, and they might be more receptive to the message.
It's about wearing something appropriate AND something that makes you feel like a million bucks!
Imagine if you sat and read all the facts about yourself from a notecard. How exciting would THAT be to your date?
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.
The best speakers often use stories as a powerful tool for demonstrating and bringing to life a key message. It’s one of the best ways to be memorable. And a really juicy story will keep the audience on the edge of their seats… quite literally.
To find the best way to tell your story takes a little time and skill, which is why we’ve devised a complete programme for speakers who are interested in writing World Class Speeches, like the finest TED speakers.
Many public speakers assume they already know what others want to hear (and some even don’t even think about it at all). How can you build a community if you already think you know what others should hear? Empathy is about questioning yourself about the needs of the audience; their hopes and expectations of what they will “get” out of your speech. Time and energy invested into this step will help you create an empathetic talk that your audience wants to hear.
And the very best news is, that if you focus more on the needs of your audience, your own needs and worries and nerves will slide into the background too.
A speech is NOT about you! It’s about the audience. Be obsessed (not in a stalker way) about your audience. Get to know them before a presentation. Show up early and mingle with the audience. Solve their big challenges. Provide them with a crazy amount of value. When you focus on others, you forget that you’re even nervous about public speaking. And the rest manages itself. More on how empathy helps reduce nerves in this video: In public speaking self obsession helps nobody!
In speaking, we want to leave the audience with something they can do, know or feel. You need a killer call to action that moves the audience and doesn’t leave them hanging wondering what to do next.
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. 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.
Leave your audience with a plan for action!
How do you plan to show your love to your audience in your next presentation? Share the love in the comments below.
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