3 Myths About Public Speaking You Should Ignore

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About Kindra Hall (https://kindrahall.com/)
Kindra knows the challenges executives, top performers and brands experience as they try to capture attention in a crowded marketplace. Kindra is former Vice President of Sales for a multi-million dollar enterprise, national champion storyteller, 2014 Storytelling World Award recipient, a former board member of the National Storytelling Network, and she earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Communication and Management conducting original research that examined the role of storytelling in organizational socialization.
Kindra has been seen in Glamour Magazine, Success Magazine and Entrepreneur.com and has worked with innovative brands like ConAgra, Stryker and Rodan & Fields to use the irresistible power of storytelling to capture attention and connect in a distracted marketplace. Kindra has become a conference favorite for her clients who invite her back for consecutive annual events. Her presentations include revealing research, eye-opening case studies and, of course, stories attendees will remember and retell long after the event ends. Audiences leave inspired and motivated to apply Kindra’s actionable content.

Hi there. Great to see you. I am coming to you from my home office on a casual day. Today I want to share with you a lesson that I learned many years ago about the myths of public speaking. In particular, three myths that you should definitely ignore and one that you should actually keep in mind.

The story starts actually in 2008. I was invited to speak at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, which is like the biggest honor a traditional storyteller can have. I had one story, eight minutes, and it was a make or break moment in my career. So what did I do? Naturally, I got to work practicing. I practice every single word of my story until they were all perfect.

I got up on stage that afternoon. I delivered my story flawlessly. I didn’t forget a single word. But at the end of it, people kind of clapped, I was escorted off the stage, and that was kind of it.

I knew, even in that moment, that I blew it because I fell for the number one public speaking myth I want you to ignore and that is that practice makes perfect. While it’s good to be practiced, it’s good to be prepared, it is not good to over practice. Because when you do, it makes you sound rigid. It doesn’t leave room for you to connect with the audience. I was more concerned about the words I was saying than the message I was delivering. Don’t worry about practicing until it’s perfect. Practice until you’re well prepared, until you know the major points you want to make, and then be sure to leave room for spontaneity, for audience reactions. So don’t practice until it’s perfect. That’s the first myth.

The second myth I want you to think about when it comes to public speaking or the one, rather, I want you to ignore is that you should avoid using slides or that PowerPoint presentations or Keynote make a presentation boring. Now, if you’ve seen me speak, which there’s a good chance you have, you know that I use a PowerPoint presentation. I find that it’s a great way to visually organize the amount of information that I’m giving my audience. So don’t cut out slides all together. However, be sure to use them wisely. And, you know I’m going to say this, make sure to leave a blank screens so that you can interject stories in between all the slides. You don’t have to cut out PowerPoints completely, just use them wisely.

The third myth I want you to ignore is that you should imagine your audience in their underwear. Why should you ignore it? Because it’s gross. I mean, come on. No, the truth is you really should be thinking about your audience. Anytime you get up in front of a room, be thinking about the people who are sitting there. But be thinking about the message you’re going to give them, not what clothes they are or are not wearing, reframing your thought process to focus on the needs is good. Thinking about them in their underwear is gross.

Finally, there is one myth that I want you to remember and that is that most people fear public speaking more than death. Now, I say it’s a myth because, come on, if somebody was really holding a gun to your head and telling you to make a two minute speech or die, and you thought about your kids or your spouse or your family or your dog, my guess is you’d make the speech. However, if you do have nerves when you get up in front of that room, or if you’re a little bit anxious about having to give a presentation, it doesn’t hurt to remember that whether it’s two people, 20 people, or 2,000 people that you’re standing in front of, there’s a good chance they are really glad that you are the one in front of the room and not them. So take comfort in that and know that you’re doing something great….