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Are You A Natural Born Public Speaker?

So many people are afraid of public speaking and I believe one of the reasons is that we have this misconception, this wrong idea, about what public speaking is.

Many of us see public speaking as something terrifying.

We have this image of standing all alone, on a big stage, in front of hundreds of people, bright lights shining in our eyes.

Yes, I admit, that sounds really scary. But, let’s be real, how many people start their public speaking journey with a TED talk? That would be like a 6 year-old child in a maths class learning the theory of relativity instead of 2 plus 2 equals four.

We need to start small, and work our way up.

Baby steps.

With practice and training, I believe almost anybody could do a good TED talk.

Why?

Because we are already using elements of public speaking in our everyday lives.

In fact, our public speaking journey starts on the day we are born.

Yes, we are natural born public speakers!

As a new-born baby, we instinctively know three of the most important things about getting people to do what we want

1. Find a targeted, interested audience = Our mum

2. Transmit a clear message to that audience = “I’m hungry — feed me!”

3. Give your audience a compelling reason to take action = “If you don’t feed me I’m going to keep screaming and drive everybody crazy!”

So a targeted, interested audience.

A clear message.

A call to action with a very clear benefit.

Any marketing people reading this recognise that structure?

And there are other things we do in our everyday lives that are the foundations of public speaking.

For example, having a conversation with our families and friends.

The best TED talks, the best sales pitches — they are a conversation, not a lecture.

Marketing companies are forever telling clients, “Create a customer avatar. Picture that person in your mind and have a conversation with them. A conversation with that one person.”

That personal conversation? That’s the big ‘secret’ behind effective public speaking.

***

Starting conversations aren’t the only skill we already have.

Another thing we all do regularly is telling stories.

“Stories?” People say. “Oh, I can’t tell stories.”

“Really?” says I. “Tell my about your weekend.”

So they tell me a few stories about their weekend.

And then it dawns on them. “Oh, I’ve just told some stories, haven’t I?”

Seriously, a big part of my work is just helping people to see the obvious and make it part of their world view.

Once you make the connection between public speaking and all the things you are already doing in your life, and you internalize and believe that connection, getting out there in front of people gets steadily less and less scary.

And that, in a nutshell, is one of the things I do to help people overcome their fear — reframe how they perceive public speaking.

It’s a conversation with stories.

And it’s something you’ve been doing all your life.

Yes, you are a natural born public speaker.

Congratulations!

P.S. Don’t forget to invite me to your first TED talk.

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Martin Luxton

Martin Luxton

A public speaking coach and writer who helps people to tell powerful stories.