Here you are, in front of the aquarium. You’ve decided to speak up more often in public, maybe for a basic interaction at a meeting, or an after-work party, or maybe for an onstage presentation. You know as well what is not working… your mouth turns dry; your legs shake as if rocked by an earth quake; whatever the amount of preparation done, your mind is always going blank; your eyes lower to the ground; and you save the situation either pacing back and forth, or hiding behind table, desk and a stern and unspirited face. You actually feel really good at doing the wrong thing… you just have no real idea yet of what will be the right things for you.
To know where to go from here, you need to define your horizon. For that you need role models. You need to identify a few speakers who inspire you, and not only with their ideas, but with their styles, especially their style of delivery.
Sir Ken Robinson, studied just before, would be one of my role models. What in his style resonates particularly with me? His sense of humour coupled with his calm, his choice of words and of course the fact that he is having fun. Brené Brown, whom we will be meeting during our third week, is another of my role models. What in her style resonates particularly with me? Her sense of humour coupled with her joy of sharing her thoughts, and her curiosity. George Carlin, an american humourist, would be another one, of course for his sense of humour and the energy he had on stage.
With these roles models, we are looking for inspiration, models of excellent, and idea on how to approach public speaking, to make it ours.
Today, we start with two simple exercises. For while, you want to repeat them once a month and then on an ad-hoc basis when you feel like it.
1 – Exercise ONE: open your computer (smartphone or tablet) and go surfing the web, looking for speakers. You can visit sites such as ted.com; you can search directly on you tube; you can start by looking for comedians. What you want is to review different styles, from lecture to politics, presentation, sales pitch, stand-up show, etc.
Identify your top 5 public speaking video and for each of them note three things you really like about the speech. Then add the main feeling you think the speaker is experiencing while giving her/his speech.
2 – Exercise TWO: repeat the same activity however with speeches in a language you do not understand. Here again you want to find different styles, from lecture to politics, presentation, sales pitch, stand-up show, etc.
This time it’s not about identifying our top 5 speaking videos, but identifying 3 items we like and one we would suggest to change. Pay particularly attention to the quality of the voice, or the body language. Not understanding the language, you will be surprised how many more non-verbal information you will single out.
True, that exercise will feel weird.
Have you ever heard about Milton Erickson? He used to be a famous hypnotherapist, and he was able to induce long lasting changes in the behaviour of clients without saying a word, or without speaking the same language. Paul Ekman, famous for his FACS (Facial Action Coding System), is known to be able to identify on muted video (therefore purely looking at body language) which doctor, among a pool of doctors, will be most likely to be sued for mal-practice.
It is said that words, also labelled the verbal information, counts for only 7% in our communication. More and more research from neurosciences, such as Amy Cuddy’s work, confirms that statement.
Let me know how it goes in the comments section below.
Interesting to see how simple things can quickly become complex. Public speaking is a form of communication, and if communication was only about saying something, conversations would be much simpler, right? Join me for our Sunday exercise tomorrow 13:40 (GMT +1) , we will explore the concept of communication.