You remember Brené Brown’s talk The power of vulnerability. While she studied how people do worthiness, she found out several things they had in common, one being their willingness to embrace their vulnerabilities. Behind embracing vulnerabilities, there is this idea of being ready to look at weaknesses straight into their eyes, in order to address them and turn them into allies. You’re right, this is a step toward authenticity and autonomy: you get to really know who you are, preventing the possibility to be tripping over something about you that is not helpful. In fact, steps by step, you are simply becoming your best partner.
One of the biggest strengths of a speaker is to embrace vulnerabilities; especially this vulnerability created by the fact of expressing oneself in front of people and this feeling of being all over naked whatever the amount of clothes you are wearing.
You have opened the door to being visible, observed, criticised, appreciated, looked for, etc. and on top of that, you are staying there standing on the threshold. Yes, it is scary to speak in front of other (at least at the beginning). It can actually be nerve-racking, and it’s as well fascinating, extremely satisfying and great fun.
We have seen previously, speeches are not just words on pieces of paper or scripts… speeches are living organisms, and what makes a great speech is the combination as a system of: the speaker, the speech, the audience, the context. It’s a system! One thing we know about system –thanks to Physics- is that “in a system, the most flexible element will in fact control the system”. What does that mean for us, individuals? In order to control the system, that is the positive output of our speech, as a speaker we have to be the most flexible element of that system.
We have to relinquish control of the exact moment, to rather control our adaptability in regards to our audience.
This means focusing on controlling our own reactions. And I have for you 10 tips to develop this self-control and flexibility; actually 11 tips, the last one being: practice these 10 tips regularly that they can become unconscious competences, like an innate talent.
ONE – Know your breathing rhythm. For this, start by observing your spontaneous rhythm; identify how it changes at times; explore how you can voluntarily change it and develop it. You can start by exploring the notion of “Coherence Cardiac” as done with our post Exercise: exploring voice language.
TWO – Learn to be in the moment. Our primary way to receive information is through our senses. Start by going back to basics, that is the observation of sensory information, note what you see, hear, smell, feel, taste. To help you, you can explore the concept of Mindfulness.
THREE – Explore the range of your capabilities. When practicing, truly explore the range of your capabilities with your voice and your body language; only then your body develop true flexibility in your physical presence. Start with our posts, Exercise: exploring voice language and Exercise: exploring body language.
FOUR – Explore the world of emotions. When practicing, enjoy exploring emotions one after the other, such as anger, fear, trust, love, compassion, impatience, joy; use your voice, body and choice of language to express the emotions. This will also develop your physical presence and power of connection with the audience.
FIVE – Know your content. Know your content so well that you will in fact forgot you know it and speak spontaneously from inside –your heart and passion. For this rehearse as often as you need and especially “as if”; do record yourself and listen to your recording, becoming your first audience.
SIX – Visualise the outcome you want to create. Rehearsing a speech can be done via visualisation; with such exercise take the time to incorporate sensory information –What will you feel? See? Hear? Smell? Taste? And visualise the positive outcome you want to create.
SEVEN – Acknowledge existing emotions. And yes this starts with recognizing which one is here, either in us or around us. For this start by observing, observing changes in your perception with your sense –Does it feel hot? Am I speaking faster? Once you have acquired self-awareness, it’s easier to develop others/audience-awareness.
EIGHT – Use the power of reframing, especially the power of reframing feelings. Until now we have loosely used the word emotion, however there is a difference between emotion and feeling. Emotion describes the physiological effects, e.g. heart bit going faster, hands sweaty, legs shaking; while the feeling describes the cognitive interpretation of the emotion. When reframing feelings we go back to the emotion, and revisit the cognitive interpretation.
NINE – Learn to listen, especially listen to your audience. Every public interaction, a speech or anything else, is in fact a conversation, and your audience wants to be heard. Start by showing you care; give them time to breath with you; and enjoy the conversation.
TEN – Bring humour into the picture; and an easy way to bring humour is to start by laughing about ourselves. Make fun about ourselves give us an incredible power; it makes us reachable as normal human being, and it protects us. We want to be serious about our subject, our audience; however it does not mean to take ourselves seriously. I can only conclude with Oscar Wilde’s comment ‘Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.’
Paradoxes are good fun, and another one I really like is “The less we control, the more we control”. The more you explore public interactions, the more you will enjoy this last one, and the more you will see it applies to many situations in life.
See you tomorrow with our next episode “Using our 10 tips to prepare for meetings”.
You like our blog series, Speak like a Fish, exploring public speaking in 21 days. Join us then early 2017 and discover our eBook Speak like a Fish, 30 days to crack the aquarium.