I recently attended an industry conference where we heard from some very good speakers and some that were quite boring. At one of the lunch breaks I asked my colleagues what attributes they thought made someone a good speaker. We bantered for some time and described our ideal speaker as one who motivated us with enthusiastic personal stories that were genuine. The speaker that captivated us the most told us a crazy story about climbing a mountain while he engaged all our senses with a demonstration of the climb (perspiration and all). The point of the story was to eliminate your fears and climb mountains to achieve your goals. The speaker made the point easy to understand because we could see, hear, and feel his struggle to get up the mountain with his story telling.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Nothing could be more true than in the case of public speaking. Most of us would rather cut off our left arm rather than speak in front of others. According to BrandonGaille.com 74% of Americans have Glassophobia (a fear of public speaking), yet we find ourselves daydreaming about being on stage and receiving a standing ovation for the speech we just made.
After my colleagues and I dissected the mountain climber’s speech, we agreed there were several key factors to his success. Our speaker told us his stories from the heart. He had complete confidence in what he was telling us and he clearly had experienced the mountain climbing he was describing. He had earned the right to talk about the subject he knew best. He was enthusiastic and he only told us enough about his mountain climbing to wet our appetite to read his book. He was succinct in his message and never took one look at notes.
I talked to the speaker after the event and asked him how one might learn to use his speaking approach. He told me he too had been afraid to speak in front of others until 10 years earlier when he took Dale Carnegie’s Skills for Success program. Since then he had implemented the approach that he used that day and felt he continued to improve each time he spoke. I couldn’t agree more!