Saturday, October 17, 2009

When the Speech Trainer Has Stagefright

Yesterday, I learned an important lesson about a major pitfall of public speaking - not from watching someone else, but from my own mistake.

I was teaching a class (not about speaking) and realized about 20 minutes beforehand that I was unprepared. I thought I had done enough work. I thought I knew what I was doing.

What I realized was that I had not taken ownership over my content. And it was too late to do anything about it.

I tell my clients that if you are crystal clear about your message - if you really know what you want the audience to understand, then the delivery just flows.

And if you don't? It's much harder to overcome anxiety - especially if you are asked to convey real information.

This is what happened to me yesterday.

My heart raced. My palms got sweaty. I panicked.

I made it through the class, but I felt pretty miserable afterward.

I am grateful to have had this experience, as it reinforced for me the absolute importance not just of knowing your material, but of distilling it into a clear and focused message.

I was reminded of an earlier post on this blog - Be A Starfish Speaker. I wrote:

Visualize your presentation as a starfish. Your central message is the middle and your main points radiate our from there. If you get off track, just return back to the center.

I was unable to return to the center, because I hadn't yet solidified my core message.

Yesterday I broke my own rule and I paid the price.

From the Green Room: There is simply no substitute for preparation. Even if you are a speech trainer.


Anonymous said...

Nothing could get your point across more vividly than this bit of personal experience which I really appreciate your sharing. As an experienced presenter, you obviously believed going into the class that you had developed a central message. But now, as you reflect back over your preparation, are there any clues that you overlooked at the time which could have signalled trouble ahead?

Sarah Gershman said...

Interesting question. Never in my preparation did I take the time to ask and answer the following question:

"What is the one thing I want my students to know after listening to me?"

This question is a must. And hopefully I won't neglect to ask it again.

神待ち said...
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名言チェッカー said...
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1人H said...
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