When asked what aspect of public speaking people think they most need help with the answer that invariably comes back is “I just need to develop more confidence.”
For the most part it is simply not true. In fact, about the only thing that makes them bearable in a public speaking context is that we can see a lack of confidence. As a consequence we tend to forgive them for a lot of the unmitigated tripe they are making the rest of us sit through.
If you are managing to stand up in front of an audience and string together a sentence then your confidence fears have largely been conquered. If your legs turn to jelly and you can’t get any words out of your mouth when asked to speak in public then you may have some confidence issues but for everyone else confidence is not the issue – you are just crap.
The most common thing I see in the corporate world are confident public speakers who are ill-prepared, boring and completely out of touch with their audience. Their material is rubbish and any coaching they have received is equally rubbish.
If you are a CEO who is still concentrating on such things as body language, eye contact and vocal variety then you are way out of your depth and the people who are advising you are probably idiots. If you are most worried about how your slides look then you are an idiot.
They key to public speaking is not confidence it is structure.
A clear and simple message delivered emotionally with credibility and told in such a way that we can see that message in our heads is actually what you should be concerned with.
The vast majority of corporate communications do not reflect these concerns. From PR firms to ad agencies to the world’s largest conglomerates we consistently see confused messages delivered monotonously by C-suite robots who someone forgot to charge overnight. There is zero credibility and most of us have lost the will to live by about 3 minutes in.
In the corporate world it is not so much the way we say things but more fundamentally what we say that is the problem.
No matter how prettily you dress it up confused nonsense remains confused nonsense. Our claims that we lack confidence when it comes to public speaking are nothing more than an incredibly weak defence for poor performance.
It is the words you speak for which you will be remembered not your speaking voice.
In this video I discuss why focusing on technique and skill is an approach that is doomed to failure for 90% of people.