This is a follow-up on my earlier post on public speaking (“Odds are that you have Glossophobia“). Whenever I think of public speaking, I’m drawn to a story on George Carlin. Many outside the industry lauded his ability to get on stage and “wing it.” Reality was something altogether different. He was well known among fellow comics for repetition, practice and continually working to better his act. To prep for each one of his TV shows, he would give 150 live stand-up performances over 2 years to help him refine his material. 150 performance performances to prep for 1 TV show!
If you are starting out and looking for self-book books to help you with public speaking, I would start with “How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation” by T.J. Walker. I would then move to one of the best resources on the subject: “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun. You can find my full review on Amazon which I’ve titled: “Nails it.” The success factors seem to follow this rough outline: Prepare. (Underscore prepare.) Know your material. Practice. (Underscore practice.) Keep it interesting – tell human interest stories. Be authentic – have a conversation. Stay within your allotted time line. And remember, even the best speakers get butterflies before performances.
I’ve added a few of my favorite excerpts below from Scott Berkun’s book below:
“…when 100 people are listening to you for an hour, that’s 100 hours of people’s time devoted to what you have to say. If you can’t spend 5 or 10 hours preparing for them, thinking about them, and refining your points to best suit their needs, what does that say about your respect for your audience’s time? It says that your 5 hours are more important than 100 of theirs, which requires an ego larger than the entire solar system. And there is no doubt this disrespect will be obvious once you are on the stage.”
“Our bodies, sitting around doing little, go into rest mode–and where our bodies go, our minds will follow…with this distressing fact, it’s easy to understand why most lectures are slow one-way trips into sedation…If you can stop boredom from happening, and stop doing things that bore people, you’re well on your way to having an attentive crowd…”
“A common mistake people make is to shrink onstage. They become overly polite and cautious. They speak softly, don’t tell stories, and never smile. They become completely, devastatingly neutral. As safe as this seems, it is an attention graveyard.”
“By being enthusiastic and caring deeply about what you say, you may provide more value than a low-energy, dispassionate speaker who knows 10 times more than you do. You are more likely to keep the audience’s attention, which makes everything else possible.”
” The easiest way to be interesting is to be honest. People rarely say what they truly feel, yet this is what audiences desire most. If you can speak a truth most people are afraid to say, you’re a hero. If you’re honest, even if people disagree, they will find you interesting and keep listening. Making connections with people starts by either getting them interested in your ideas or showing how interested you are in theirs. Both happen faster the more honest everyone is. The feedback most speakers need is “Be more honest.” Stop hiding and posturing, and just tell the truth.”