Watching a good speaker can be “good” or “bad” for you.
It all depends on how you watch that speaker.
If you look at a good speaker and say to yourself “I can’t do that!” or “Oh, I can’t be like that!” then you are reinforcing a belief that you are not a good speaker. This self-talk will not help you become a better speaker.
In fact, this will be detrimental to your public speaking success and confidence.
If you want to learn from good speakers or the master speakers, then you need to watch them differently.
You need to watch them like a scientist. Break down what they do into small behavioral patterns, understand the reasons behind the behavior, then copy the behavior and apply it.
For example, if the speaker moves to a specific spot repeatedly, then you might want to take note. If they raise their hand every time they ask a question, then you need to take a note of that as well. If they use a story and they come back to the same story later in their speech, then you need to note that also.
And if thoughts like “I can’t do that!” or “this is not me,” come to mind then you need to shake them off and focus on specific behaviors. See what makes a master speaker is the combination of many behaviors on stage.
Once you start looking at good speakers this way, then learning from them will be less overwhelming. You will realize that what makes a good speaker is a set of behavioral patterns that you can copy and use.
The big take away:
Don’t worship the masters, learn from them.
PS: Here are the top 8 masters of 100s I learn from all the time. These Masters have influenced the techniques you learn in one of our Magnetic Speaking Boot Camps.
1. Tony Robbins
2. Bill Clinton
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. Ester Hicks
5. T Harv Eker
6. Steve Jobs
7. Seth Godin
8. Jill Bolte Taylor
Do you have any Public Speaking Masters you admire?
When confronted with public speaking fear or anxiety – working on your most valuable asset – your confidence- becomes essential.
Your confidence is the foundation of your delivery skills and content.
It doesn’t matter if you know all the content in the world or if you are practiced in all the delivery skills possible, and you can’t stand in front of the room and share with an audience if you lack confidence.
I had to deal with public speaking fear myself. I know that sometimes you feel powerless. I felt that way too once.
That’s why I am writing this post to share with you what worked for me, and what has worked for my close one-on-one coaching clients.
Through research and experimentation, I found that public speaking confidence rests on four pillars
1- Your Identity
Your identity is how you see yourself. Most people see themselves as the job they hold (engineer, project manager, product designer, account manager, etc…), or as one of their roles in life (father, mother, family man, big sister, etc…).
The problem with holding your identity as one of these two categories is that you are limiting yourself.
For a long time, I felt insecure about being a professional speaker, because on the inside I saw myself as an engineer and not as a professional speaker.
That’s when I decided to change my identity to a “Leader” instead. Notice that I did not change it to a professional speaker (Because that’s just a job). I wanted something more encompassing.
Choose a grand and encompassing identity – like a leader, mover, and shaker, entrepreneur, magician, etc. (feel free to experiment until you find something that fits).
2- Your beliefs
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right,” said Henry Ford. It applies to public speaking as well.
If you believe that you can’t do public speaking, If you believe that it’s hard, If you feel that you are not good enough, not old enough, or too old, then that will cause you uncertainty when you speak.
Some beliefs I consciously adopted to increase my confidence are the following:
I am good enough
I am a great speaker
I am old enough
Public speaking is easy
Public speaking is like one-on-one speaking
Public speaking is an innate ability to human beings
I constantly keep tabs on my beliefs to make sure they are aligned to give me confidence instead of anxiety.
One note about beliefs is that they are not necessarily truths. If they were the truth, then they would be called truth. A belief is an assumption we make that helps us operate in the world. Most our lives and society are built on these assumptions.
Since these beliefs are not truths and just assumptions, then we might as well adopt beliefs that serve us instead of hinder us.
Your Past Experience
Our brains assess new experiences by comparing them to something similar in the past. If you had bad public speaking experiences from the past, then every time you speak your brain is going to bring these experiences to the front. That will make you anxious.
These experiences can be few big bad experiences or a collection of smaller ones. Either way, you have to deal with them or counterbalance them with good experiences.
To deal with my bad experiences, I used Neuro-Linguistic-Programing (NLP). I studied NLP and applied what I learned to myself.
I also counterbalanced the bad experiences with good ones by speaking at Toastmasters and other groups. The friendlier the group, the better – it allowed me to accumulate a new set of positive public speaking experiences.
I believe that the second way worked better for me. Dealing with past experiences helped, but adding the new positive experiences helped even more. This is why we keep our classes and training programs fun, interactive and approachable.
A lot of times you might think that there is no logical reason for you to be anxious anymore.
You are right; anxiety is not logical, especially, if it’s a conditioned response.
If for a while you felt nervous every time you presented, then your body gets conditioned to feel nervous every time you present.
Even if you build your identity, if you change your beliefs, and correct all your past experiences, anxiety can still be triggered because it is a conditioned response.
The best way to get rid of the conditioning is to start associating fun with public speaking. You can do this by doing outside the box things to express yourself like take acting classes, stand up comedy or do a full day intensive training on public speaking and presentation skills.
Depending on how deep and long the conditioning, the process of de-conditioning your anxiety response might take some time.
Public speaking is important for your career, and it’s important that you build your skills and content on a solid foundation. The foundation of public speaking is your confidence.
So you muster every ounce of courage you have, and you ask your audience a question.
And no one answers.
What do you do? Do you give up and go back to giving a boring presentation? Or do you try again in a smarter way?
Today’s Tip-Tuesday will give you professional comebacks to use to bounce back from an anxiety-inducing audience response. This will help you motivate people to engage with your question, even if they are not typically responsive.
Let’s say you have one of these questions as part of your presentation:
Show of hands question (ex. How many of you know who Oppenheimer is?).
Open-ended questions (ex. What do you think about space travel).
If you know that the audience is open and receptive then just ask them.
If you sense that your audience is hesitant or apprehensive, use the following strategy before asking a question:
1- Prime their mind: say something like “I have a question for you,” “I would like to ask you a question here,” or “I would like to do a little survey.”
This usually primes your audience’s minds for participation and foreshadows the way you expect them to respond throughout the presentation. As a result, they will be more prepared to participate.
2- Lower the risk
Reducing the risk means that you put your audience at ease by framing the act of answering a question in a positive and non-defensive light. People, usually don’t want to be embarrassed or be viewed as weird. Your job is to make them look good and remove the risk for them.
You can lower the risk for your audience using one of these frames:
1. No mistake frame: People usually don’t want to make mistakes, and that’s why they don’t answer. Say something like: “there are no mistakes here,” “There is no right or wrong answer here,” or “there is no judgment here, feel free to share what comes to your mind.”
2. Humor frame: Humor disarms people. If you want to lower the risk of the answer, make a joke about it: Say something like “I promise I will not share the results with management.” I know humor could be challenging so I would recommend that you take standup comedy classes or hire a standup comedy up coach.
3. Benefits frame: people are more likely to do something if they can see an advantage. Say something like this: “ Your answer will help me customize the presentation for you.
4. Cost of the alternative frame: You can make the risk of not answering bigger than the risk of answering. You can do this by saying “I know you are smart people and not lazy, so please don’t be lazy.” I have never used this frame and I probably never will use it, but I thought I would share it with because it has value in some scenarios.
Here is an example of this used by Gary Vaynerchuk: go to 8:30 in the timeframe.
As you can see, there are many ways to ensure your audience replies to your questions with positive engagement. The best way to become more comfortable in doing this is to practice asking questions and setting the frame continually.
I encourage you to try this at your next company meeting, presentation, or your next Toastmasters speech. Would love to hear your thoughts, please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Do you want to be more influential when you present?
Here is the naked truth about influence:
Having all the influencing skills and techniques in the universe is not going to help you a single bit if you are not likable.
A 2008 study in Management Science demonstrated that people watching a presenter are more influenced by the likability of the speaker than by the quality of the speaker’s arguments.
That’s shocking, scary, and true!
One of the best ways to become more influential is to become more likable.
The good news for you:
You can learn to be more likable, and give yourself an advantage in the workplace – imagine having both: good arguments and be likable; that would make you unstoppable.
With knowledge and a little practice, you can become more likability (Even if you are likable already).
Likability doesn’t only help with your presentation influence; it’s also one of the biggest keys to becoming a great leader.
But what is it exactly that makes great speakers so likable and successful, and how can others command this same likability?
Here are the top five traits of well-liked presenters that you can integrate into your presentations to become a more influential public speaker.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” Brené Brown
Authenticity is very simple yet very hard to pull off. It’s simple because all you have to do is be the same person on stage and off stage. It’s hard because we have been trained since childhood to believe that public speaking is a formal affair. So to be formal, we try to be someone we are not.
I used to do it too…
… Off stage I am personable, I meet people and casually chat with them. But it used to be that when I was on stage, I became Mr. Robot.
Do you do that too?
I learned from acting classes (of all places) that my audience crave to see the real me. When you go to a show, you want to see a natural and authentic performance; you don’t want to see fake laughs, cries, or gestures. The same applies to your audience when you speak.
Now, I don’t try to be too formal on stage; I just be myself. If it means a few “ah’s” and “um’s” will slip in, then so be it. This has made my life much easier because it means that I don’t have to rehearse over. And it made the response I get to my speeches much better.
Here are actual reviews from actual audience members:
This is early in my career when I was trying to be somebody else: I know it’s brutal!
I cringe when I re-read this review, but I want to be open and transparent with you. I keep it to remind myself not be fake anymore.
The following was later in my career when I was more authentic- Much better, right?
Notice the energy level is still high, and it is still very interactive, but now it’s authentic. This is the same exact course but one year later.
If you want to be likable, you need to be genuine. No one likes a fake presenter. It’s hard to connect with someone when you don’t think they are real. To be more trustworthy and relatable, be more real.
Be passionate about what you’re talking about. Sometimes when giving presentations at work it’s hard to be passionate, but if you can find a few things in your presentation that excite you, draw on that excitement and use it throughout your speech.
“You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful.” – Steve Garvey
Passion is contagious, and by finding and increasing your passion, you will bring that same energy to those listening to you. When I was in college, I was a biochemistry major and one day my chemistry teacher was talking about the field of Chemical Engineering and how exciting it is. I could sense my teacher’s genuine passion for the field. Because I was not sure about Biochemistry as a major, I left the class that day, and I changed my major to Chemical Engineering, and that’s the degree I finished college with.
If passion can convince me to chose a college major- you can imagine what effect delivering a passionate message will have on your audience.
While it’s okay to talk about the things you’ve accomplished, you want to be sure you don’t build yourself up too much. Let those listening attach ideas and meaning to your actions. There’s no need to shout about your accomplishments, simply state them.
If you want people to like you, then don’t act like you are better than them. People will already put you on a pedestal as a presenter, and it’s important that you don’t let that get to your head.
Being humble does not mean you are weak and not assertive. Not at all. It’s important to be assertive and control the room as the speaker but equally important to manage the room with modesty and respect.
Becoming a likable speaker is all about being able to connect to those that are listening to you. The best way to connect with your audience happens before you open your mouth.
You go to an event, and you see the speaker standing alone in the corner of the room with a frown on his face and arms folded. Would you approach this person without any hesitation?
Of course not. I would run the other direction.
Being approachable and warm is about body language. I use the simple acronym “S.T.A.N.D.” to help me remember this:
Smile at people. Your smile disarms them and makes them think of you as safe to approach.
There is a concept in psychology called social proof. It says that people like to do what they see others doing. So if you start talking to your audience before the presentation starts, others are likely to see and want to do the same with you.
If you have the opportunity, try to meet with those in your audience away from the podium. Try to talk with them before your presentation begins, or offer to talk with them when the presentation is over.
Get closer to your audience. According to the proximity principle, we are more likely to develop a relationship with someone who is in close physical proximity. It’s easier to relate to someone sitting next to you than with someone across the room.
Make sure you get as close as possible to your audience every time you present.
N = Nice
Be nice to others. Don’t be rude.
Sounds basic right?
Speaking is a stressful activity to a lot of people, and it brings out the worst in them. Notice your behaviors and be nice to everyone at the events you are speaking at.
You need to engage your audience, allow them to participate and respond accordingly. Be sure to respond to your audience’s reactions and be nice about it. No one likes a jerk.
D = Down to earth
Being the speaker does not mean you are better than everybody else in the room. Treat everyone with respect and as equals. This is an extension of being Humble.
Be a Storyteller
Everyone likes to listen to a good story. A great presenter knows that to connect with their audience, they need to tell a story. Storytelling is what persuades and influences people to take action. Stories allow you to connect at a deeper level with your audience.
Even if you’re giving a presentation that’s all about facts and numbers, you should never present with only the intention of transferring information. Human beings are emotional creatures, and to make them care enough to listen, you need to evoke some emotion in them. There’s no better way to evoke emotion than with a story.
When you tell a story, both you and your audience are in essence ‘experiencing’ the story. Because of this, storytelling is a great way to engage your audience and cause their brain waves to sync with your own.
By telling your audience a story, you will make yourself relatable to your audience, thus allowing you to gain their support and act on the information given more easily.
When I did process engineering, I learned that the most flexible part of the process ends up controlling the whole process. As a presenter, you have to control the room, but you can’t control it by brute force.
That’s why you have to be the most flexible and adaptable part of the speaking process.
When you’re giving a presentation, things don’t always go exactly as planned. To be a great presenter, you need to be flexible when managing your presentation and be able to change it up when necessary. If your presentation isn’t being well received, you need to know when you should go in a different direction.
The best way to become adaptable is by practicing your speech, but not memorizing it. Memorization tends to cause a hyper-focus on perfection.
Before you work on acquiring more influence skills, work on being more likable. This will boost your influence ability without much effort.
It’s impossible to inspire a group of people to action when you’re not liked by them. So, the next time you have to prepare for a speech remember these 5 Traits of Exceptionally Likable Presenters and try to incorporate them into your presentation so that you can become more an effective and influential speaker.