Public speaking workshop – what has happened so far

I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking. Apparently, I was not alone, because when the company I work for laid out a public speaking workshop to help its employees develop skills that will help them in their professional lives, the response was better than they expected.

I came into such a clinic hoping to get some ideas on how to improve my writing, and also because presentations to clients are an everyday occurrence in my field of work. I’m terrible at organizing ideas; it takes me a long time to put them together into something coherent.

What has happened so far is the opposite. My experience with writing apparently ended up helping me with the speeches I did. Thanks to the emphasis given on outlining, though, I think that I now have a tool I can use to help me organize my thoughts faster; I just have to remember to write it all down.

I came face-to-face with a stark difference between writing and giving a speech. I was forced to adjust.

As a writer, I shy away from being a topic. I put all my effort into making people focus on what I have to say, not on who I am. My output is interesting; I am not. It can be argued back, however, that knowing the person behind the ideas puts them in some sort of context. I don’t think that’s true.

Let’s take a clock. Assuming you know what the parts inside are, and how they work together. Does that add anything to understanding what time it is? No, it doesn’t.

On the other hand, when giving a speech, the reality is that everything about the messenger is just as important as the message that one is trying to deliver. Manner of clothing, voice inflection, visual aids, hand gestures, verbal and non-verbal cues – these all contribute to the point one is trying to get across. This is because whether one likes it or not, the messenger has become an issue as well; that’s just the way it is.

If we revisit the clock analogy I used earlier, whether the clock has any battery, whether it skips a second, whether it’s digital or not, and more often than not who made the clock, these are just as important as whether it tells the time correctly or not.

Thus, it would seem, the main difference between doing a speech and doing an article can be summarized with a principle often used in leadership training: “Before people buy into your ideas, they need to buy into you.”

And in my line of work, that our potential clients buy, and keep buying into what my company buys, is of utmost importance.

This 2014, this is one of the areas that I hope to gain more strength in.


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