Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 255) – Mark Brown

Mark Brown – Jamaican American Inspirational Speaker, Emmy Award Nominee & 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking

“Our stories are the key to connecting. They don’t have to be sensational; they just have to be sincere.”

— Mark Brown

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Own your speech

Recently, I was working with a group of people over a couple of days to help them improve their public speaking skills. For one exercise, I asked them to give a short (5-minute) speech on something that they cared about.

The first participant spoke about an issue that is very important to her. The topic was interesting and the material was good, but the delivery was flat. It was like she was checking off a list in her head just to get to the end. And the speech suffered because of it.

When she had finished, I asked her, “Do you believe what you just said?”

“Yes, of course,” she answered.

“I don’t believe you,” I responded. “You’re not invested in the subject. You were just going through the motions so that you could finish. You don’t care about it at all.”

The silence in the room hung like a cloud while she stood in front of us. Then I continued.

“Am I wrong?”

“Yes,” she said defiantly. (A good sign.)

“Then prove me wrong!” I challenged her. “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, think about your subject and then talk to us like you mean it.”

The difference was like that between night and day. When she finished the second time, people stood to applaud and there were more than a few misty eyes in the room, including mine.

What happened between the first and second attempts? She made the decision that she would own her speech. That she would accept full responsibility for her words and that she would deliver them with enthusiasm and conviction.

If you are going to speak to an audience, do not waste people’s time. Do not just show up, rattle off your points and sit down. Look inside yourself and then speak in a manner that leaves no doubt that you believe in what are saying.

Own your speech.

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 254) – Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis – American Scholar and Leadership Expert

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.”

— Warren Bennis

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Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 253) – Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie (1888 – 1955) American Writer and Lecturer

“Practise, practise, PRACTISE in speaking before an audience will tend to remove all fear of audiences, just as practise in swimming will lead to confidence and facility in the water. You must learn to speak by speaking.”

— Dale Carnegie

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Like Riding a Bike

Seth Godin is the author of several books about “marketing, the spread of ideas and managing both customers and employees with respect”. They are bestsellers. His blog is one of my favourites and I highly recommend it.

I love cycling. And living just outside of Geneva, Switzerland, I am spoiled by the options that I have. I can ride along the shores of Lake Geneva; I can ride hilly roads that take me through spectacular vineyards; I can climb the Jura Mountains; and if I am feeling ambitious, I can throw the bike in the car and in less than two hours be in the French Alps riding some of the mythical climbs of the Tour de France.

Over the years, I have logged thousands of hours and tens of thousands of kilometres cycling all kinds of terrain in all kinds of weather. But it all began long ago when I first learned to ride a bicycle as a young boy.

My memories of that time revolve around bruised elbows and scraped knees; around falling down and getting back up. Again and again and again. Until one glorious day when my father let go and I stayed up! I remember that feeling of exhilaration to this day. And I remember feeling proud that I had persisted even when it wasn’t fun.

In this blog post from 8 April 2017, Seth takes us back to the time when we learned how to ride a bike. And how we learned by doing it wrong, over and over, until we learned how to do it right.

Even if you have never been on a bicycle, you have learned some skill the same way that people learn how to ride a bike. By doing it wrong; by making mistakes; by sticking with it; by learning how to do it the right way.

You learn public speaking the same way. Not just by taking a course; not just by watching TED Talks; not just by reading this blog. By getting on stage and speaking. Over and over and learning from your mistakes.

That’s how you become a good cyclist. That’s how you become a good speaker.

———

Like riding a bike

by Seth Godin

People talk about bike riding when they want to remind us that some things, once learned, are not forgotten.

What they don’t mention is how we learned. No one learns to ride a bike from a book, or even a video.

You learn by doing it.

Actually, by not doing it. You learn by doing it wrong, by falling off, by getting back on, by doing it again.

PS – This approach works for lots of things, not just bikes. Most things, in fact.

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