One of my clients recently phoned me immediately after delivering a 50 minute presentation to a group of university students. He was absolutely ecstatic about how well it had gone and received extremely positive feedback from the organiser who said that she had never seen the students so engaged. Two days later I received this email from him:
Another thank you for all of your help and the huge part you played in my presentation on Friday. I’m still over the moon!
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‘Mel worked with me on how to calm my nerves just before speaking and ensure that my hot flushes and sweating were turned into “confidence energy”. The NLP techniques we practiced really worked and I used them to great effect. Mel also gave structure to my talk and lots of “do’s and don’ts” which proved invaluable. Having spent 20 years running away from public speaking, I can’t wait until my next time. Thanks so much Mel.’
Knowing how my client felt about public speaking before working with me, I was absolutely delighted that he had managed to not only overcome his fears, but to experience the high that comes with delivering a presentation that really connects with your audience.
There is nothing like the palpable energy created when you are passionate about your subject matter and are able to communicate it to an audience that hangs on your every word. In fact, it is this energy that most performers and professional speakers thrive on. For many who have made the stage their life; people as different as Alan Alda, Bob Dylan and Miley Cyrus, they talk about how happy and ‘at home’ they feel when on stage. Bette Davis was quoted as saying ‘Wave after wave of love flooded the stage and washed over me, the beginning of one the one great durable romance of my life.’ It is this love and connection that can become addictive for a speaker or performer.
In addition to the magic created between speaker and audience during the presentation, the applause from an audience demonstrating their appreciation and understanding following the talk can also add to the buzz that a speaker experiences. It is a wonderful feeling to be recognised for all of your preparation and the resulting relationship you create with an admiring audience. This is one reason that applause for every speaker is such a significant part of Toastmasters International, an organisation that encourages and supports all speakers regardless of their level of ability. When new Toastmasters members first experience the thrill of the applause and positive feedback from other members they are almost always inspired to put more effort in to keep improving their public speaking skills.
So can you learn to love public speaking? Yes, absolutely! Just like my client, I have seen many speakers go from totally petrified to become powerful presenters after they have experienced the high associated with being on stage and communicating effectively with an audience. If you want to enjoy public speaking, the best way is to just get started. Get help to learn the skills if you need to and aim to deliver your first few presentations in a supportive environment (don’t forget that most audiences are generally keen for you to succeed). Just like my client found, nothing will inspire you more than the thrill of delivering a well-researched, well-prepared presentation that truly connects with your audience.
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