Let’s face it, public speaking and presentation aren’t rocket science. Most speakers probably get by without much training, using common sense, trusting their instincts, learning by experience, and that’s fine, as long as it’s getting the job done effectively. There are times, however, when your instincts can be counterproductive and undermine your efforts. Here are three instinctive strategies speakers often use with detrimental results.
Speaking faster to sound more energized. You don’t want to be dull and monotonous, so the instinctive response is to pick up the pace. The unfortunate result is you become less clear, your voice becomes less engaging and you become more prone to mistakes and filler words. All those things combine to decrease your confidence and increase anxiety.
Speed and energy are not the same things. Speed is about how many words you speak per minute. Energy has to do with passion, intensity and your driving intention. You can speak very slowly and still have a lot of energy. “Don’t… you… dare,” Energy comes from the inside. It’s not something you fake by speaking fast. Speed doesn’t give you energy.
Working harder to have more impact. You want your message to make a difference. The whole point of your speech or presentation is to inform, persuade or inspire your listeners. When you want more impact, your instinct is to work harder, speak louder and make your gestures more emphatic. Unfortunately, you come across as too forceful and your listeners back away.
Pushing doesn’t produce power, just pushiness. Making an impact hinges on your ability to put something out there in the room, and that comes from openness and generosity, at all levels of your being. I think it starts in a physical place, with a relaxed open body and a fully engaged and resonant voice. Working harder doesn’t generate impact.
Moving around to keep people’s attention. You want to be an engaging speaker so your instinct is to keep moving. But unless that movement has a motive connected to your message and your listeners, it’s a waste of energy and ultimately a distraction. Besides, your audience will quickly acclimate to that movement and then it has no effect at all. Movement isn’t magic.
People are engaged by your personality, your message and the sense that you care about them. One of my teachers was fond of saying, “There’s nothing more fascinating than another human being.” If you want to be more interesting you need to bring more of yourself to the performance, not just pace around and wave your arms. Movement doesn’t make you interesting.
So there you have them, three common tactics that can cause you trouble as a speaker. Speed doesn’t give you energy; energy comes from the inside. Working harder doesn’t increase your impact; impact comes from generosity. Movement doesn’t make you interesting; interest comes from revealing yourself.
Good luck as you explore these distinctions in your public speaking and presentation. I’d be curious to know what common instincts you’ve noticed that potentially trip up speakers and presenters. I’ll see you in the next video.
Public Speaking: 3 Common Traps
When it comes to public speaking and presentation, I would guess that most speakers have little formal training. They rely on common sense, trusting their instincts, and it works well enough to get the job done. But following your instincts can sometimes be misleading. Here are three common, and faulty, assumptions that will undermine your performance.