The Idea:  Public presentations are nerve-racking – at times, even scary.  What’s the biggest public speaking mistake most people make?  To quote Bruce Springsteen, “You must learn to inhabit your song.”  When you inhabit your message, you become believable. Springsteen reminds us of a truth: the best artists (and speakers) become their message.  They personify and are one with their song!

Before you prepare for a presentation, before you think through your objective, and before you think through how to address an audience, take time to assess if you and your communication are one.  An audience must feel that the talk was designed specifically for them.

“You know it’s a great song when others think it was written for them.”

Source:   Bruce Springsteen

I am often anxious before any type of public talk.  I can’t concentrate on anything but the talk and I become edgy about nonessential details rather than inhabiting my message.  I’m reminded, the very best speakers are one with their message and audience.    

I know I am not alone and I am thankful that I still experience this sense of insecurity.  It is a special little gift that allows me to never take the moment for granted; being on the edge is the lifeblood of staying present with the audience.  It encourages me to communicate to connect not to impress.   

What are your public speaking vulnerabilities?

  • Sounding irrelevant
  • Looking nervous  
  • Forgetting words
  • Drawing a blank
  • Looking like a phony

We all have the same internal dialogue and script that runs in our head.  And this script can serve us.  

You should be worried if you’re not nervous. The best speakers embrace anxiety.  Fear serves them.  It means you are now ready to passionately share from the heart.  It’s an energy that needs to be harnessed.

When are you at your best?  And what strategies help you become one with the audience?   I have three ideas that work for me.  Ask yourself:

  1. What makes you most relaxed during the first 30 seconds of a talk?
  2. Who in the room must you personally connect with prior to a talk?
  3. How can you close your talk in a way that allows the audience to know you personally?

These principles allow you to rise above the anxiety and tap into your best, while keeping everything in a healthy perspective.   Here is one last idea worth considering:

Kill the techniques

There is nothing more annoying than watching a speaker try to earn the heart of an audience through praise, jokes, and an inauthentic emotional story which creates false intimacy.

Learn to share parts of your own story.  The only rule that governs a good talk is to share ideas that you are passionate about, with your own voice, while connecting and serving the audience.  That’s it!  

We all fight the impulse to copy another’s style. There is nothing wrong with modeling others, but the only sustainable approach is to learn to embrace your own voice and flaws.   

Practice becoming one with your message and the MOMENT.