A great client expressed interest in becoming more fearless when speaking in public. He wanted to even get rid of the fearful energy altogether.
Fear is a tricky animal though. When it comes to public speech specifically, it can be a useful source of energy.
I don’t mean to suggest engaging audiences through fearfulness. But rather to be honest with self about the existence of the fear internally - vs ignore it or try to personally escape from the feeling itself. I find in myself when preparing to speak (and in most clients also) this desire to escape heightens the experience of discomfort and that feeling of not being in control. I admit it’s a tricky challenge of self acceptance to view and test fear in this way, whether new or seasoned speakers. But as this gigantic Ferris wheel recently reminded me in Seattle — it’s a different point of view toward things, even toward fear, that can often fortify strength of mind. I suggest an altered view toward ‘speaker fear’ for this reason: to see it as a useful source of energy to engage. This perception has often increased speakers’ stage presence and helped them bring more clarity and stimulus to their audiences.
I enjoyed prep work with a client’s speech yesterday. It was an intensive content audit of his TEDx talk. I’m realizing now how over the years, folks respond differently to seeing their rough draft in aerial view like this. It can either be alarming/intimidating — or a useful adrenaline rush to assert clarity and context. No matter their initial reaction, it becomes a revealing tool for client (and myself as coach); it creates a clearer, more empathetic view of what the audience could experience on a content level.
What an incredible experience recently at IgniteDC #10.
I relished being apart of the audience — the speakers were riveting and delightful.
Then speaking later that night was a real pleasure too. The Willard Hotel, a place in DC which captured my heart long ago, was the focus of my talk. It’s a wondrous place and historical hub in the region. A friend was unable to capture the first few seconds of the speech, but most of the story is all there above (thanks Nicolette Pizzitola for the fun video!).
3 things preparing this Ignite talk taught me:
It’s motivating to share a story that has personal meaning and context. This may sound obvious. Yet for a while, I’ve wanted to organize my thoughts on why The Willard fascinated me and was so precious. But I wondered if it was too personal. Letting go of that concern was liberating.
Adhering to word counts in the script made a difference. I kept the script around 620 words, which left room for pauses and conversational pace. That helped create cohesion when transferring the oral content to slide production. Folks speak at different rates certainly! This particular Ignite was a good testing ground though for me to check if that 620 words still resonated with my personal speaking rate and Ignite’s 5 minute constraint.
A five act structure was fun and fluid for this format. There are countless ways to structure talks, especially short-form. I’m finding for my own personal enjoyment and speaking style that for Ignite, a five act structure fits i.e. first act/intro - 1:15 minutes; second act/story - 1 minute; third act/story - 45 seconds; fourth act/story - 1 minute; fifth act/conclusion - 1 minute.
I can’t get enough of the look in her eye. This fountain is a favorite to me because of this warrior-like figure. So many times in my work, the goal is to craft and communicate powerful ideas when making a speech. But this fountain woman communicates fierce power enough, without saying a word.