If you’re going to invest in your personal development in tough times, you might well want it to last longer than the day spent out of the office. Yet so much public speaking training focuses on teaching the wrong things that simply don’t work.
A few weeks back Forbes put out this article encouraging people not to ‘waste their money’ on public speaking training. If public speaking training is only as advanced as ‘put this arm here,’ ‘do that with your feet‘ and ‘say this line so that the crowd will think you’re smart‘, then I resoundingly agree. So much public speaking training (and training in general, I might add), focuses on the 6 Rules of this and the 9 Terrifying Mistakes you should avoid about that.
Yet once you’ve left the training room, finished reading the article, or closed the eCourse, what are you left with? A seed that has been planted, that will some day flourish into a fruiting bush? Probably not. Probably you’ve been left with 6 Rules and 9 Terrifying Mistakes that you’ll forget before you reach your front door. Here are three key mistakes that public speaking training designers are making:
1) Focusing on behaviors, not qualities
By trying to adjust behaviors on a surface level (altering gestures, eye contact, vocal delivery, etc) public speaking trainers often neglect the cause of these behaviors. Most of us know how we should behave when we speak in public, but the problem comes when we don’t do it. We don’t do it because we lack Awareness of our behaviors under pressure. That’s what public speaking trainers should be building.
2) Shoulds & Shouldn’ts are the norm
When you’re nervous about public speaking, the last thing you want is to remember a whole load of things you “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing on stage, so how come this is the focus of so much speaking training? Better focus on being Authentic and then your natural, calm self expression will rise to the surface.
3) Trying to build a Public Speaking Robot
If you think about the types of public speakers who have inspired you most, are they the ‘technically accurate’ ones, or the ones with passion, life and a unique attitude? Public speaking training which helps you fit into the box is counterproductive. If you want your message to stick in the minds of your audience, you need to be comfortable with sticking out. Sticking out might mean being funny, being wild, being sensual, being vulnerable, or any other characteristic. The important thing is not to become someone else’s idea of a good public speaker – it’s to be Fearlessly You.
The approach I’m describing here is a “Qualities Centric” approach to public speaking training, rather than a “Behavior Centric” approach. It’s a shift from the masculine “I can fix you from the outside” model, to one that is more integrated, more feminine and comes from within. The Qualities Centric approach invites you to ask “What would it take for me to be fully myself?” and sees the power that results.
Public speaking training that develops a speaker’s qualities over time goes deeper and continues to work over time- long after the training has finished. This is the seed that will grow over time into a fruiting bush. And better still, this kind of public speaking training feels intuitively right, because it is allowing boxed in parts of the psyche to surface and flower.
If you look at it, this is how development happens in most circumstances – from an internalized understanding of information that then becomes integrated into behavior. To be effective long-term, public speaking training must work on inner qualities, not outer behaviors.