June 6, 2007

Boring by association

I've often said to clients and in presentations that many public speaking fears are not based in the reality of people's own lives. That is, someone is afraid that they will make a mistake or forget their place or that some other terrible thing will happen. But the reason they fear it has nothing to do with whether or not it's ever really happened to them.

I was reading a study today about British business executives and their fear of public speaking. Besides the fact that many of them spend their time in presentations thinking about sex (60%) - which might have some bearing on why they find the presentations lacking - it seems that they're mostly afraid of boring their audiences or losing their train of thought because they've seen others do it.

Professor Khalid Aziz, whose company did the study, said:

"Having been on the receiving end of lacklustre presentations, most speakers are all too aware of the pitfalls of public speaking: boring your audience, not being able to handle difficult questions and poor delivery, amongst many others. This adds additional pressure to the speaker who can panic, rather than use this insight to their advantage."

In this report on the study, just a third of the execs had had endured at least one bad public speaking experience. But 71% feared addressing a large conference and 80% dreaded giving a TV interview. Watching others give bad presentations makes them think they are going to give bad presentations.

It sort of makes sense and sort of doesn't make sense.

When we watch beauty pageants, we (okay, I) can't imagine how those women can walk across slick floors in such high, pointy heels and ballgowns and do it so effortlessly. I always imagine that, if it were me, I would fall flat on my butt.

Well, Miss USA did just that last week in the Miss Universe pageant. Now, I bet that was already a fear of most of the contestants. But can you imagine how nervous they are now?

On the other hand, I know that my content organization, preparation habits and speaking style make me an effective speaker. I don't doubt that I'm going to do well when speaking to a group. Even if other speakers are boring or have dense and complicated PowerPoint slides, that has nothing to do with how well I can entertain and engage an audience.

Your mom always said, "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"

Just because other speakers lack skills and charisma doesn't mean you will. Instead of assuming that you must follow in the footsteps of every speaker who drones on and on in unintelligible gibberish, imagine yourself forging your own path. Learn from the snooze-worthy speakers and be different!

On The Everything Page you'll find everything you need to build visibility, credibility and influence through engaging presentations that move your participants into action: freebies, low-cost products and courses, and 1:1 coaching!

1 comments. Please add yours! :

Harmonia said...

My mom used to say that too! About the bridge thing...sheesh! lol

Thought I would drop by and see what I have missed on your blog! Hope you are having a nice day!

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