In sports, there are two types of players: intuitive and intelligent. Intuitive players are naturally brilliant. Such athletes can do things on the field that make others stare in awe, all while hardly appearing to break a sweat. They’re fantastic to watch – people flock to sporting contests just to see the expression of this natural talent. They make it look so easy – because it is for them. But they can’t show you how to play like them, because they often don’t know how they do it. It’s instinctive.
The style of the intuitive player is largely based on confidence. They can’t play any other way – break down their confidence and you go a long way towards shutting them down.
The intelligent player, on the other hand, may not be as naturally gifted as the intuitive player, but they have the advantage of being able to adjust their game as the conditions or situation demand.
So it is with many other activities, public speaking included. Intuitive skill will get you a long way, but if you can’t adapt to different conditions – a range of audiences, lack of a lectern or a variety of presentation topics, just to name a few – you greatly reduce your chances of being effective.
It would be great to be blessed with natural talent, but most people will have to make do with the talents they’ve been given. Far better to be an intelligent player – someone who has developed the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. That is the challenge for anyone wanting to seriously improve their public speaking or anything else for matter.
How do you develop the ability to adapt? By learning as much as you can about the basic principles of the subject you wish to master. The deeper your undertsanding, the more likely you are to be able to recognise when something isn't working and a change is required. That is why I teach people the principles of communication rather than the mechanics of public speaking. The mechanics of public speaking is all about giving you confidence which is great... but will only ever take you so far.