For the past three weeks I have been immersing myself in the study of public speakers. I commute for over 2 hours a day and have used that time to listen to a mixture of speakers from different genres and eras. I listened not just for their messages but to study what they did and how they delivered their messages. I looked for patterns and commonalities and turn them into a concept to share with you. And all I can say to that is:
The hours of study have made me come up with one rule when it comes to public speaking. Just one. It’s pretty simple too. The rule is:
There are no rules.
You heard me. There are no rules. There is not one single formula, rule, or technique that all speakers need to follow in order to be effective. Every single speaker I watched (Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Ed Tate, Darren LaCroix, Tony Robbins, Craig Valentine, Patricia Fripp, Joel Osteen, Bill Clinton and so on and so forth) all had differing styles and used different techniques. Their keynotes took on different forms, their delivery varied, some moved a lot more than others, there were even uhms and ah’s in there and yet each of them was effective and powerful in their ability.
There are no rules but there is one concept that they each had mastered. Every single one of them.
The found their voice.
They knew who they were on stage. They weren’t trying to be anybody but themselves. Some would say they have self-confidence; I would rather call it self-comfort. Comfort in their message. Comfort in their delivery. Comfort in their uniqueness as a speaker.
Now I am not saying don’t studying things like stage movement, eye contact, speech structure (as an aside: please study speech structure). I am also not saying not to seek feedback and improve your craft; that’s essential too. The presentation coach in me can’t stress enough how important those elements are for speakers. What I am saying is what should be guiding you first and foremost is to find that speaking persona that unleashes your inner voice. The voice that has that raw, unfiltered message to tell.
To find that voice you have to speak at every opportunity. Keep working the talks and observing to see how you connect with the audience. How will you know if you connect? Trust me you’ll know. There will be that moment when you are up on stage and you say something in your voice and the room will almost stand still. You’ll strike that chord. The audience will “mmhmm” in one way or another. When that happens remember it. That’s your voice. That’s the essence of who you are as a speaker.
Paul Artale is a keynote speaker and presentation coach who helps speakers unleash theier message. For more information on Paul visit www.paulartale.com.
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