10 Myths About Public Speaking
1. I can't tell stories
This is definitely the most common phrase I hear from new students. Almost every class adult/kids have someone who tells me, "I just can't tell stories."
I always finish, YET.
The fact is that your life journey is a story. You've also been hearing and reading stories since birth.
Here is an exercise to help you develop your storytelling muscles.
Answer the upcoming questions using the following formula:
- Repeat question with short answer
- Give a for example/reason why
- What get's you excited about life? Why?
- What is something you remember from the last 10 years? Explain.
- Finish the sentence: a bear crossed the road and...
2. I'm not funny
This is the second biggest public speaking myth I hear people say. Professional speakers have told me they're not funny after they watched me tell a joke at their event.
I always tell the story about the professional speaker who watched me tell a joke and then said, "Great joke, I never tell jokes, I only find humor at the moment."
I thought that's a bummer, you are doing your audience a disservice. What if there is nothing funny at the moment? It happens.
3. You have to be a good speaker in order to present on stage.
WRONG. The truth is that you often need to be the best at something else first.
I once watched a speaker at an empowerment event and in his introduction he had 20 designations to his name, Dr. Ph.D. MDA. FYJK. HPM. Masters.
My point is that he had all these "things" behind his name and I knew the speaker was going to be horrible as soon as he led with his designations.
It turned out he was worse than I thought, unloading all his problems of how he was a bad family man for over 45 minutes. The last 15 minutes he spent bragging about how he was now changed because of some lame reason.
Here's the kicker. Because everybody in the audience was there with expectations, and because most people would rather have their larynx removed rather than do a speech. THEY LOVED HIM!!!!!
It was horrendous, but that's the game. Many of the great speakers did something else extraordinary before they started speaking.
4. Some people just have the speaking gene
Let me make this clear. EVERYBODY HAS TO COMMUNICATE TO GET THROUGH LIFE.
That means that everybody has the speaking gene.
There must be one exception to the rule, but I'd be willing to bet even that person talks to themself!
5. Introverts are bad at public speaking
This is such a myth. Students (especially students who are first learning about introverts and extraverts) always tell me their introverts and "introverts" don't like public speaking.
I always remind them that being an Introvert and extrovert has nothing to do with presentation skills. In vague terms, it has to do with how you deal with problems and stress. Introverts like to work things out internally, and extroverts like to work things out externally.
Extraverts are often the worst speakers because they just blabber everything.
Introverts, on the other hand, have very thought-out ideas that they express with often more clarity.
The best part about being an Introvert speaker is that you just come in, share your ideas, and get out of there. You don't have to stick around and party.
There are many famous introverted speakers, and I don't know how reliable the web is for information, but apparently, we all know this famous introvert.
That's Barak Obama, the 44th US president.
6. I'll forget my words
This one is pretty common and it actually does happen. It's not even a myth. You stand on stage, you forget your words, the audience stares at you, tough beans.
It happens to all speakers at some point in their careers. Acceptance is the name of the game on this one. I accept that I'm going to forget my words from time to time. Hopefully, at that moment I'll be calm enough to recover and have a laugh with the audience.
7. I have to be drunk to speak in public
I'm not sure that this is a myth. Obviously being loaded drunk takes away inhibition, BUT, know your venue.
Venues it's okay to have a drink before you speak:
- Corporate event
- Childs birthday party
Venues you want to avoid drinking at:
- Open mic at the local pub
- A roast event
Wait, did I get those mixed up?
8. What if people don't like me?
This is the biggest myth alive. Audiences want you to succeed. The only people who get booed off stage are comedians (and I once got booed by high school boys). Also, my friends often boo me. #bomb&moveon
I think that because everybody knows a comedian can get booed, they think all audiences are willing to boo.
This is so far from the truth. In fact, I saw it in a TED talk. Audiences want you to succeed, go ahead, fact-check me.
People want you to succeed, except the people close to you, they don't want you to fail.
9. Audiences need ALL the information
This is a HUGE myth. Granted, go to university and listen to a lecture and you'll think that you need all the information.
My professor friend sent me one lecture by famous psychiatrist, and they won a freaking Pulitzer prize or something equivalent. I was shocked when at the end of the lecture one student said, "Uhh, you said, and I quote, "blah, blah, blah." Can you tell me where you cited that information?"
Seriously, of the entire speech, that's the information you're concerned is missing?
I know for a fact that audiences don't like too much information. Especially if you're telling a story like at a wedding. Stick to the story highlights and get to the point.
Yes, there is that one exception in the audience who wants to know more, but look at everybody else and they'll be sleeping after 10 minutes. If not, they'll wish they were.
Keep you speeches short and sweet.
10. Experienced speakers don't get nervous before a speech.
Listen up, I've been resisting bringing up the subject of negation. I wrote an entire blog about... nope, correction, I'll update that link here one day.
negation works like this. I tell you NOT TO THINK ABOUT AN ELEPHANT.
AND you think about an elephant... got it?
That means that the very fact that you think speakers DON'T GET NERVOUS. is correct because they DO get nervous.
The question I always ask is,"Are you nervous, or excited?"
In my experience, they are similar in feeling. The point they split is when you start thinking...
I discovered that my excitement was hidden because I never addressed the thought that I was supposed to be here. People need to hear this message. I want to deliver this message, even if I don't WANT to, I must deliver this message.
There you go. 10 Myths about public speaking, and how you can overcome them!
Have a great and wonderful day,