“Why am I doing this? What am I doing? What am I supposed to say? Oh good grief, what possessed me to say yes?”
I suspect every new speaker faces these sentiments (or something like them) the first time they accept an invitation to speak in public.
But the answers, in fact, are in the questions themselves.
When you are speaking in public, the first question (“Why am I doing this”) is the one that should be the key.
You are speaking to a group of people, true – but why?
Is your purpose to inform them? To entertain them? To persuade them? To inspire them?
You need to fix that purpose in your mind as you decide what to say.
We’ll look at HOW to say it in a later workshop – but the most important question is WHY you are doing this.
Let’s consider one of the most common reasons for ‘new’ speakers to make a presentation – the ‘social occasion’. Let’s assume you’ve been asked to say a few words at your son’s wedding.
What is the purpose of your speech at your son’s wedding?
It is, in most cases, to wish the young couple well as they begin their new life together.
You offer some gentle advice, usually couched in terms of your own experience.
You help your son’s family and friends bond with his partner’s family and friends – by telling some humorous anecdotes from his early years.
You help those who are there to celebrate join in the celebration.
Notice the one constant? The speech is NOT for you, it is for your audience.
The same is true of a presentation to inform – it’s not about how eloquent YOU are, it’s about THEM learning something.
As I say, in future workshops we will look at the specifics – but for today, the most important thing I can say to you is that public speaking isn’t about the speaker – it’s about the public.
So fix that purpose first and foremost, and you’ll be less nervous – because it’s not about you, is it?
Tomorrow – the science behind getting your audience to remember your message.