Public Speaking is not a gift one has: it is a discipline that requires training and a lot of practice.
It all starts with the fear of public speaking. Contrary to common belief, this fear is not the exclusivity of certain people: everyone has it, on different ways and at different levels. Its origin finds itself in the fact that speaking is one of the most intimate actions one can do. Indeed, speaking means bringing outside inner thoughts and reasoning. Yet, we tend to believe that any judgment that could be received won’t be towards “what we say”, but actually towards “who we are”, and that can easily reveals itself terrifying.
This is where the training begins.
Improving Public Speaking skills starts by liberating the fear of being judged for what we are and hence, by separating the speaker from the message (and that applies even when the message is not written by the speaker). That fundamental work involves building an efficient message, and once this is done, it’s time to start practicing over and over, until having set up the right tone, posture, gesture, breathing and look.
But, that was before.
COVID19 – once again – redistributes the cards between us all.
The business world has changed and here it comes: Virtual Speaking.
What we might have seen as a temporary arrangement is here to stay: remote meetings revealed themselves very confortable as they break geographic limits for opportunities.
Virtual Speaking first includes meetings, and those meetings are everywhere: with teams, clients, business partners, investors and leads, networking events but it does not stop here. Virtual Speaking made a huge breakthrough in the marketing field. Indeed, if you are a business owner or an independent, you must get on board with video marketing and webinars.
And as simply as that, the fear of being judged finds itself amplified (for some) or rising from its own ashes (for others). To be able to control it and master the exercise, we must start by understanding why.
The self-reflection created by video reinforces the feeling of giving up a part of our own intimacy. Especially when we are sitting in a room of our apartment with children in the next room, books we love in the background and family pictures on the left. And when the moment comes to start talking, all that remains is the breathless silence of an empty room that contains intimacy that self-confidence must break by looking straight up to the sole-eye of a webcam.
While this may seem trivial for some, this is how others restrain themselves from intervening during meetings, considering that their thoughts are not “worth” the attention required from the other participants or the effort required to break their comfort zone. Hence, information gets lost and inter-personal communication and efficiency can be hurt in the process.
On an other level, while the need for businesses and independents to get on board with videos marketing and webinars was getting stronger these last few years, the COVID crisis makes it seem vital. Marketing is happening online, providing services also does and, whoever aims to develop his or her activity cannot escape it a lot longer.
Yet, this form of Virtual Speaking triggers a fear way different from the one happening before leading a face-to-face workshop or conference since there is absolutely none direct interaction with your audience. Not only it disenable the ability to catch the public gaze and reactions, but it also means losing control of who sees it, when and how. The fear of revealing a part of yourself specific to public speaking becomes the fear of exposing this part on the wild Internet, where people can reveal themselves deeply malicious.
So, how do we desacralize Virtual Speaking?
- Participate to online events in which you are interested, not only the ones that you are obligated to. Enter the virtual world and observe. As well as does an actor before playing a role, pay attention to everything that is happening in this environment and especially, notice the audience’s goodwill: rationalize your fear by giving it credit, and relieving it with empirical facts.
- Use intimacy as a strength, not a weakness. Yes, you are giving up a part of your intimacy, and there is nothing wrong about it. You are offering to share your knowledge on a field you’ve worked on, on an idea you have, on a passion that drives you. To be impactful, you will need to speak about matters that you know best and hence, that are the closest to you. But once again, make sure to separate yourself from your message by making it efficient and relevant.
- Practice! This will never change: you need to practice before speaking. Talk to your furnitures and record yourself doing so. And in the world of Virtual Speaking, this means video record. This applies to every virtual speaking: if there is a matter that you need to raise in a meeting that you do not lead, prepare your intervention in advance.
Looking to perfect your speaking skills? Let’s talk!