Yesterday after my morning swim, I ended up in the local library browsing through stacks of public speaking and presentation related books. Sadly, only a few are worth borrowing back. The rest of them (~90%) talks about the same stuff. These books either spell out 101 techniques to giving a better speech or they let you in on yet another 101 tips that all speakers should know (yeah right!) The titles didn’t help much either. They are bland, boring, common, dull, monotonous, uninspiring… (yawns) You get my point! And then it dawned upon me why there are still so many bland, boring, common, dull, monotonous and uninspiring speakers out there terrorizing the unsuspecting audience like me and you…
And no, it has got nothing to do with the bland, boring.. (okok.. u get my point) … books. The responsibility lies on the speaker!
Here’s how I look at it. Many speakers fail to understand a very fundamental yet critical principle in speaking. And sadly, no amount of books - no matter how interesting or boring - can help make them better until they understand it.
The speaker got to believe in what he or she has to say. That’s the most basic requirement for all speakers. If they do not believe in their message, they should not even waste time delivering the message.
He can read hundreds of public speaking books. He can be the most experienced speaker in the world. He can win the most number of speaking accolades. But if he doesn’t believe in his message, he will never be able to impact the audience. Period. Conversely, if a speaker believes his message with all his heart, he will be able to win the audience over no matter how inexperienced he is. Techniques in this case become secondary.
In Michael Jeffrey’s book titled Success Secrets of the Motivational Superstars, he noted that these superstars (like Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins and Patricia Fripp) had a vision of themselves making a difference in people’s lives by sharing their message, one that was bigger than their fear of appearing foolish in front of an audience. As a result, they were willing to go out and fall on their face in front of as many audiences as were necessary for them to “get it right”. There you go! Not only can a message that you believe in allow you to impact your audience, it also help reduce your fear of speaking.
Think back to the past speeches that you have gave. It could be a business presentation to your client. It could be a presentation about your project findings to your classmates. It could be a keynote speech at your company annual conference. Was there some part of you that do not believe in the presentation? Like “This product isn’t that good anyway” or “I don’t even trust my findings that I have gotten”, “These guys won’t even listen”… If the answer is yes or maybe, then you have just sabotaged your own presentation. At most, you will leave your audience thinking to themselves, “Boy she sure was good,” but you will never be able to leave them thinking, “Wow, I really can achieve my dreams!” Notice the difference?