Probably the greatest barrier for a speaker to overcome is the internal voice inside their head. We joke in our workshops that it’s the little voice on our shoulder. Often it sounds like one of our parents, or maybe an early teacher, or maybe even a boss, somebody that corrected us or said something about us, we took it to heart and we believe it many years later, even though it may not be true. There’s also a voice that just guides us on what feels right. That’s a comment we get a lot “Oh, it doesn’t feel good. I don’t like that.” Yeah, I agree. A lot of what we ask our clients to do doesn’t feel good, but it’s effective and it works for the audience. Probably the greatest example of this is in a pause. We’ll often try to get a speaker to create a three second pause before they say something.
Well, ask them to put that in there. Nobody makes it three seconds the first try. They might get to one because internally pause feels like a long time. What we need as speakers is not a better feeling, that’s what most people want. “I want to feel confident. I want to feel good.” What we need is the truth. We need to know what it looks like to our audience. We need to know what we should do to be more effective for our audience. That’s one of the reasons we love video as a feedback, we talked about that in an earlier speaker chat. It’s another reason that it’s great to come to a workshop with other people trying to do the same thing because many voices then can chime in and say, “no, it actually looks better when you pause like that, or when you raise your voice a certain way or do a bigger gesture.” We’ve got to overcome that voice.
We also follow up with, “Hey, we live in a free country, do whatever you want.” You don’t have to listen to me, but what you can’t choose are the outcomes. Especially for people who don’t know you well, your audience draws their impression from what they see in your behavior. They see you smile, they think you’re probably pretty happy, but a lot of speakers don’t smile. If they see you closed off, they might think you don’t want questions. We see that from almost every executive we coach. Your behavior matters to drive the impression on the audience, that in turn determines whether they trust you and like you, listen to you, and ultimately consider what you have to say, do whatever you want, but you can’t pick the outcome.
We like to kick that voice on our shoulder to the side and listen to the truth of what you really should be doing to impress your audience.
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As a high-stakes communications expert, Alan motivates individuals and teams to build their confidence and professionalism and trains them to seamlessly handle the unexpected in ANY communications setting.
Alan is an International Keynote Speaker, Coach, Trainer, and Author who has delivered keynotes and training workshops to thousands on the impact of powerful, persuasive communication. Alan is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer of MillsWyck Communications. He is the author of Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and Start Impressing) Your Audience and the co-author of Silver Goldfish: Loud & Clear: The 10 Keys to Delivering Memorable Business Presentations.
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