It’s easy to think that public speaking is only for the ‘naturals’ and that it’s somehow a gift you are either born with, or not. Brilliant excuse for avoiding public speaking, right? But let me show you how that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s my firm belief that anyone can learn to become a brilliant public speaker.
Anyone? Yes. Anyone.
But but but… I can’t get up in front of people. Yes you can.
I get nervous and can’t focus. Yes you can.
I’m no good at it! You can be.
I’m an introvert. Doesn’t matter – introverts and extraverts can both be excellent speakers.
You’ve got to be kidding. No… actually I’m not.
The process of learning how to speak in public is exactly the same as any other learning process. It will happen in a natural way, as long as you’re willing to show courage and try something new. It’s never okay to use being “nervous” as an excuse to not try. Nerves are completely normal in public speaking (we all get them, even professional speakers) and can be used to your benefit given the right parameters.
Why there’s no such thing as a Natural Born Public Speaker
- Ever heard of a ‘natural born’ opera singer? Or a ‘natural born’ biochemical researcher? No, me neither. Any skill takes time to develop and public speaking is no different. There might be some people who are more inclined to speak in public, but this doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily be better at it than you.
- There’s no one way of speaking in public, just like there’s no one way of painting, singing, dancing or doing anything else creative. If you accept your personality, you’ll see that you too can impress an audience.
- If there was such a thing as a natural born public speaker, I wouldn’t be able to do it! I used to be terrified of public speaking, so if I can do it, so can you!
How to develop as a speaker
You can move your public speaking forward, taking little steps onto what we call the Learning Pathway.
1. Ignorance is bliss. Many public speakers that don’t look for increased knowledge don’t know… what they don’t know. They’re pleased as punch about their public speaking prowess but the audience has a completely different perspective. Lot’s of embarrassing mistakes happen that the speaker isn’t even aware of because they don’t have the ability to speak well.
2. Sharp shock. As you move on down the pathway, you notice that you might not be as good as you thought you were. There may be a gap between what you do and what you’d like to do. This is the bit where people usually tell themselves ‘oh well, that’s because I’m not a natural public speaker’ and turn back. But what you’re missing when that happens is the knowledge that this happens to everyone.
Always difficult to hear but it’s very necessary to step through this phase to make progress to your public speaking goals. If you don’t have shocks to your system about your abilities then you’ll get stuck in a place of mediocrity.
3. Baby steps. As you begin to learn and grow, picking up techniques and toddling along; you’ll begin to put them into real practice. This stage is similar to learning to drive — you shift gears but still have to think about it to do it the right way. You’ll see improvement but still feel a bit self conscious about stumbling.
4. Absorbing a new behaviour. After practice and time, new public speaking behaviors will become innate. No longer having to maintain a conscious awareness, your new public speaking skills will become a natural part of you. What an amazing feeling it is to witness your expert public speaking prowess.
If you maintain this zest for learning new public speaking techniques (from Ginger and beyond) you’ll not only be a competent public speaker but shine with brilliance. There is one major difference between those who excel at public speaking and those who… just don’t. It all depends on how they react in the Sharp Shock and Baby Step phases; at this phase confidence can take a downward turn as awareness of deficiencies emerge. But when you push through those barriers, amazing things CAN happen. You too can be an extraordinary public speaker.