Ever since I was little I have been comfortable performing in front of people. Whether that was singing ‘any dream will do’ in a school production of Joseph, being part of a Bollywood dance group performing in front of hundreds or simply keeping my large entourage of cousins entertained at family events – I love being in front of people.
The feeling of excitement and thrill of being on stage is what lured me into the world of public speaking. I watched other motivational speakers and thought to myself “I could do that!….I can perform like that”
That was the mistake I made. The bottom line is that great speakers don’t perform…they connect.
It was on a training camp in St Petersburg, Florida where I got one of the best pieces of advice on speaking that I have ever had.
Just a simple sentence transformed my public speaking and later the way I operate in everything I do.
“Vinay, it’s not about you…..it’s about them.” said my coach.
The trouble with being up on stage or at the front of the room is that you can get fooled into thinking it’s about you.
The truth is that it is not about you. It’s about them.
This isn’t just great advice for speaking.
As a presenter, speaker, leader or even as a parent you must understand that your words can change the world for the people listening forever.
“They will forget most of what you did and what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel”
That’s a huge responsibility and therefore it’s critical that you leave that ego at the door.
For all the time you’re listening to that inner voice that’s asking you: ” Will they like me?” “What if they disagree with me?” “Will I be better that the last speaker?” “What will they say about me later?” or “Will I get more business?” – you are putting a barrier in between you and them.
I’ll be honest I had to learn to leave my ego at the door.
I still get that little voice in my head from time to time but I have conditioned myself to get rid of it quickly.
When you are preparing a presentation, speech or talk remember that your primary goal is to connect to your audience. You have to engage them and that starts by you metaphorically going to where they are and bringing them to where you believe they should be.
Ego just gets in the way.
Here are 3 ways in which you can leave your ego at the door:
#1 Stop. Don’t flex.
Remember when you where a kid and how nobody liked a show off? Well that’s something that we don’t really grow out of.
People don’t like having your achievements, credentials or metaphorical trophies paraded in front of them.
You are not there to flex your ‘muscles’, you are there to inspire and move your audience to believe that they can build bigger ‘muscles’ than you.
You may want to get your favourite story in about that time you bumped into Richard Branson at the airport and he told you were great or showcase your technical knowledge about how Google algorithms work, but ask yourself “Is it adding value to your audience or stroking your ego?”
Your job is to shine the light and focus on them.
#2 Surround yourself with humble people.
I think it was who once said Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Be careful whom you spend your time with. I’m not telling you to ditch your family and friends, I’m telling you to pay attention to who you hangout with the most.
There are all sorts of people who will blow smoke up your butt or massage your ego. If you listen to them too much, you’ll start to believe the hype. That’s a dangerous place to be in.
Instead find people who will keep you humble and your feet firmly planted on the floor. These people will support you and will not just tell you what they think you want to hear, they will give you honest, agenda free advice.
#3 Give yourself an A.
Take a leaf out of Benjamin Zander’s book the Art of Possibility and give yourself an ‘A’.
I’m not asking you to take an exam. I’m saying that you need to let go of the desire to compare yourself to others.
When teaching music students Zander discovered that many of them were playing within themselves because they were more concerned about being technically correct and being top of the class more than anything else.
He found this pre-occupation with getting an “A” interfered with students truly connecting with their music and as a result they were holding back.
One year Zander started by telling his students that they had already gotten an “A” but the only condition was that they had to write a letter to him dated a year ahead starting with “Dear Mr Zander, I got my ‘A ‘ because…..”
Imagine if you gave your presentation from a position of already having been given a standing ovation, 10/10 on your feedback charts and with glowing testimonials.
How differently would you feel? How much less chatter would there be in your mind?
If you are interested in learning more about speaking and improving your skills get in touch. I coach individuals and run open workshops like this one >> Awesome Public Speaking workshop<<