Thursday, February 12, 2009

To Master the Art of Public Speaking: Embrace the Fall

Here are three headlines, all from today's NYT Sports Section:

1. Gordon Looking to End Winless Season as Nascar Season Ends

2. Mets' Church Has Clear Head and Bubbling Optimism After Season of Concussions

and my personal favorite:

3. Owner of Older Dogs Revel in (10-year old) Westminster Winner

What do these headlines have in common?

In each one - and especially #3, the story is compelling because the underdog comes back.

Sure, you can be the most polished speaker in the world. You can present flawlessly each time. You can convince the world that the last thing you are is nervous.

And you will be very boring.

The most powerful speakers aren't perfect. They embrace their human imperfections as opportunities to rise again. The audience loves the underdog.

Keep in mind that the audience also mimics the emotion of the speaker. When you "mess up," and express discomfort, the audience will feel that discomfort, too. When you "mess up" and plunge ahead - the audience not only will feel at ease, but may even be swept up in the victory of the moment.

After all, the audience wants you to succeed.

So the next time you are about to speak and ask yourself, "Will I mess up?" -

Remember that the answer is always, yes. Yes, you will mess up.

And it's a good thing, too - because your mistake has the potential to be the most outstanding and powerful moment of your presentation.

From the Green Room: If you want to master the art of public speaking, embrace your imperfections. They make you interesting.

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