Thanks to Rich Mintzer for todays guest blog post.
According to a Gallup poll, 40% of people are afraid of public speaking, or have glossophobia, as it’s called. I’m sure you’ll also find a large percentage of people who aren’t afraid, but simply don’t feel confident in their speaking abilities. Then there are those of us who love public speaking.
First, I should dispel the myth that you need to be an extrovert to get up and speak publically. I was never particularly outgoing or outspoken, especially when it came to parties, bars or the club scene. I was shy, reserved and much better at foosball than striking up a conversation.
Today, however, with a microphone and a podium, I have no problem speaking up. After 25+ years of writing and ghostwriting professionally, I have found that I have a lot to say on the subject and… enjoy saying it. I talk about what it takes to write a book to enthusiastic attendees who are considering doing just that. In fact, a large number of people typically raise their hands when I ask if they have already started working on their manuscripts or have at least thought about what they wanted to write.
What’s in it for them? / What’s in it for me?
I find that people typically attend my workshops on writing a book because it’s something that intrigues them. They know that a book is a great marketing tool, a marvelous way to brand a business, a terrific means of presenting oneself as an expert, or simply an excellent way to tell a story.
A workshop about writing a book, at a professional conference or business gathering, is also a marvelous diversion for attendees who want something other than the same old same old.
The truth is, people get tired of annual seminars with the same lineup of workshops on sales techniques, purchasing and supply management, shaping your future, more sales techniques and the latest e-mail marketing tactics that won’t get you deleted (even though they will).
For me, and for those of us who speak publically about our passions, public speaking is a place to teach people something new, spark their enthusiasm and possibly generate clients who want our help on their project(s) perhaps through coaching. It’s a win-win.
I might add that public speaking shows up on lists of things that release endorphins, along with laughter, exercise and making love. Let’s face it…it’s a rush when you conclude a speaking engagement. And for my audience, it’s a delayed rush when they see their books in print!
Getting ready and getting started
Having done some standup comedy in my earlier life, I knew that speaking was not something you do extemporaneously. The best comics or public speakers are not talking off the cuff, even if they make it appear otherwise. I learned the hard way how important preparation is by getting blank stares instead of laughs one Sunday night when I tried to “wing it,” at a comedy club.
For any type of public speaking it’s all about preparation and practice. It’s about wowing them, not with the credentials in your introduction or your list of previous accomplishments, but by giving them something to walk away with, something of value. I’ve witnessed speakers with all sorts of letters after their names talking to audiences staring at their cell phones and I’ve also seen impassioned individuals with far fewer (if any) professional accreditations in front of a full house touching the hearts and souls of everyone in the room.
It’s all about how you effectively communicate a message that comes from within and resonates with the people in front of you. From my comedy experiences and nearly three years of speaking in New York and Connecticut (from local libraries to conferences), I’ve learned how to read the room and found that not-unlike a YouTube video, you too can go viral by giving them something to talk about.