Want to be proud of your presentations, knowing that you did a great job? Here's how to come out of a speech with your head held high!
If you're human (as most of my readers are), you want to look good whenever you give a speech or presentation. Just as important, you want to feel good about yourself. Sure, you have a duty to your company and boss to deliver the goods. But who wants to be dissatisfied, thinking:
"Damn . . . I should have done better than that!"
Concerned about being a charismatic speaker? It's a challenge, especially on video. Learn more in my Free Tips and Tips Guide, "How to Be More Personable in Virtual Meetings."
Common causes for feeling that way are thinking that you didn't cover the material well; or you fell flat when asked about a key point; or that you flew through everything at warp speed. Or the biggest source of unhappiness: "I'm just not very good at this." These are common reasons for feeling that one's presentation has been a failure, and I hear them from my clients frequently.
All of these reasons why you're hanging your head stem from the same source: the belief that you gave a bad performance. No wonder you're unhappy! That's precisely the wrong way to think about this encounter with people who share your professional interest in a topic.
It Ain't About You, Baby!
Public speaking and theatrical performance share a striking paradox: you can't give a good performance by trying to do so. The key to understanding and accepting this paradox, is redefining "good." It usually means moving on from trying to look good, to the awareness at all times of doing one's best to give the audience what they need.
Are you giving the right kind of performance—one focused on listeners? To discover how, get my Free resource, "Great Speaking? It's About Performance Over Content."
On stage, that means staying in character for every second of the play. Doing so is essential so that theater-goers see real, in-the-moment responses from a character who reacts to each "new" moment as it unfolds. (The actor, of course, has the ability to suspend their knowledge of every line coming up . . . and if the play runs long enough, everybody else's lines as well!) On the public speaking stage, the same thing is taking place—only this time, the audience's need is to respond to the new information as it unfolds, rather than the events in the character's life.
In either situation, if you try to do anything else except serve the audience's needs honestly—such as display your mastery with the material—you will fail, period. You'll be serving yourself rather than the audience, and that's the cardinal sin in both of these realms of performance. Good news: releasing yourself from judging your own performance is completely liberating. (It's also key to knowing how to overcome your public speaking fear.) And better news still: when you serve your listeners by meeting their need to benefit from what you're saying, they will have a very high opinion of your performance indeed.
So, how do you engage and move audiences? Find out how in my Free Guide, "The Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking."
The Gift of "Giving" a Speech
It's called "giving a speech," after all. That is, it's a gift from you to them. Everyone knows how much work goes into preparing and practicing a speech or presentation. As a culture, we're also well aware of how pubic speaking creates nervousness and anxiety in many people, even high achievers in their field. (Here's a great way to calm your nerves before speaking. And here are 10 ways to stay fully focused when speaking.)
If you think like this—if you remember that your only job as a speaker is to serve others—a wonderful thing can happen. You can forget about yourself. And indeed, you should. To pour yourself into your message, to dive into your audience, to make blood flow through an otherwise lifeless manuscript (use any metaphor you like), can result in the most exciting encounter imaginable between performer and audience. Ask any actor.
If you can give that gift to listeners, in-person or virtually, you'll show just how "big" a speaker you can be. Disappear, and you'll find yourself. It's true of every kind of art and performance, including public speaking. When you can't score your own performance any more because you're all-consumed with the audience's good, you earn the right to hold your head high.
You should follow me on Twitter here.
Discover how to succeed at speaking virtually. Click on the image below!
Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in public speaking training and overcoming speaking fear. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers live 1:1 Zoom executive coaching and corporate group training worldwide. In 2021 for the eighth consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of the World’s Top 30 Communication Professionals. He is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller How to Give a Speech. His second book, Fearless Speaking, was named in 2019 as "One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time." His latest book is The Online Meetings Handbook, now available at The Genard Method and at Amazon. To know more about TGM's services, Contact Gary here.