8 Myths of Public Speaking
When I work with my clients, they are often stuck in old paradigms of what public speaking has GOTTA be... and those myths get in the way of feeling confident and connected, which makes moving our audience nearly impossible. Here are the biggest myths I hear from speakers:
- IT'S GOTTA BE PERFECT. I can't think of anything more boring than a "perfect" presentation. Don't be afraid to let your humanity show - which means leaning into mistakes and finding enough looseness in your content that you can play with what's really happening in the room. Be your imperfect self! THAT is interesting to an audience, and it's ultimately what connects them to you.
- I GOTTA MEMORIZE THIS THING. There are rare instances where memorizing your talk is the right way to go. But on the whole, we speakers need to find a way to let the concise ideas and moments of our talk flow together conversationally. It requires self-trust, knowing your beats and flow, and living your content in a way more in-depth way than speaking by memorization.
- I GOTTA DO SOMETHING WITH MY HANDS. Please stop thinking about your hands. This is such a great example of how our brains can get in the way of us being in the moment, and connecting with our audience. If you mean what you are saying, the hands respond. So start there. (Now, if your hands are distracting you/others - then let's talk about what you do with your hands.)
- I GOTTA WORK MORE ON MY SLIDES. Having fun obsessively perfecting your slides? I know, I know, it's safer there. The land of slides is where we hide when we'd rather not be practicing our content. You know what's way more important? You, connecting with your audience. (And yes, there's an art to this whole slide business, but it's second to what you say and how you say it.)
- I GOTTA SHOW THEM I'M THE SMARTEST. Actually, no. I mean, yes, you want to build credibility. And, yes, you want to know your stuff, but a talk is not the time to jam all your knowledge down their throats. This is an emotive, audience-centered experience. How much info do they need and want? It's not really about you, so a little bit of info goes a long way...
- I GOTTA HAVE NERVES OF STEELE. Why? Cause public speakers don't get nervous? Ha! Wrong. Experienced, professional public speakers get nerves. We need them! Without them we don't have adrenaline - which is pretty important to put on our best show. Now, keeping them under control so they don't mess with you too much is a good idea, but - surprise! You need them.
- I GOTTA DO IT LIKE SO-AND-SO. We all have our favorites, and seek to be more like them. That's generally a cool thing about being a human, but for us as speakers, it can mess with your head. You need to find YOUR voice, YOUR style, YOUR approach, YOUR connection. That's what will move your audience.
- I GOTTA... [FILL IN THE BLANK]. One of the things I love the most about this work is that there's no one way. It's an intuitive and creative journey. What feels right to you? What does your audience need? What excites you? What sounds like something you want to spend the next hundred hours working on because it matters greatly? That's the only thing you GOTTA do.