“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave: The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” ~ Dale Carnegie

The Truth About Public Speaking

Most of us approach public speaking with about as much excitement as we’d have if we were asked to be covered in live tarantulas wearing only our swimmers. Come to think of it, I know a few people who would choose the spiders over speaking.

For those of us drawn to the entrepreneurial life, we have no choice but to embrace the need for public speaking and presenting skills. How else will we get readers, prospects, and investors excited about our products, services, and ideas?

Public Communication is the key to success

We’re not just talking about public speaking as in having to go on a stage and deliver a speech, although we will need to do so at times as we grow in our business. Some of our big presentations may occur through a digital medium like a recorded video or a live stream on the internet. Virtual communication requires a couple different preparation approaches, but there is plenty of overlap between physically appearing in person or speaking through a screen.

Regardless of where you are speaking or who is listening, your purpose is to inform and/or persuade a group of people. Your goal is to be clear, interesting, and memorable.

Through the upcoming series of posts, we will walk through the steps you need to take to become an effective public presenter. Every one of us can always improve in this area, whether we’re experienced public communicators or grudgingly new to the game.

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What Makes a Bad Public Speaker?

Have you ever watched a bad presentation? Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of presentations, from the amazing and inspiring to what can only be described as dumpster fires. What went wrong? Here are some common reasons that people often come away from a talk without being impressed:

  • The speaker was boring.
  • The presenter was so nervous he couldn’t communicate clearly.
  • The presenter seemed baffled by technology and therefore looked unprepared.
  • The speaker was tone deaf to the audience who in turn dismissed anything he had to say.

As a long-time teacher and speaker, I’ve also presented on thousands of occasions. I hope my students and audiences would describe plenty of those sessions as amazing, but I am certain some of my talks were total disasters, especially during the early years. I know what it’s like to feel terror before facing a live audience. I’ve been unsure if I could match the tone of the room. I’ve worried that I had nothing to say, that I wasn’t smart or qualified enough. I’ve felt those intense nerves and even puked once before a talk, which sounds rough but is preferable to doing so during your speech!

Yet here I am, still okay, still communicating, and still excited about all the great things that can come from presenting ourselves and our work publicly. I still get nervous and feel overwhelmed at times, but through experience I’ve learned how to properly prepare in ways that help me perform well and avoid those descriptions of bad speakers more often than not.

You can do it too and are already way ahead by taking time to learn from others who have fallen flat more than once. And I mean that literally in some cases – some of us have tripped and fallen in front of an audience.

Whether you get to lead meetings around a conference table, host webinars and video conferences, or speak live from a stage, you can improve and succeed as a speaker by following this structured approach that I’ve learned throughout years of trial and error. In the next post I’ll introduce my 3 Pillars of Public Presentations and begin laying out a step by step guide to help you become the presenter you’ve always wished you could be.

Until then, enjoy this video by the hilarious Tripp & Tyler. We can all relate!

And if you’d like to leave a comment, let me know what is your favorite and/or least favorite thing about public communication. 


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