Personal Development: Please Stand Up


Personal Development: Matthew Cossolotto suggests that too many speakers suffer from ADD.

Too many speakers and media interview guests (along with the PR practitioners who advise them) suffer from ADD – Authenticity Deficit Disorder. I’m talking about senior corporate executives, public officials, and even political candidates.

Why do so many public speakers have trouble being authentic? Part of the problem stems from our ingrained attitude about public speaking. We often think of it as a one-way process in which the speaker provides lots of information to the audience.
And this almost total focus on the content keeps most speakers mired in the ‘left brain’. This is unfortunate because audiences (not to mention voters) crave authenticity.

Audience members listen to speakers using their whole brains, not just the left side of the brain. As a means for transferring information, speeches and presentations are woefully inadequate. Studies show that people remember only a small fraction of the information presented to them in a typical speech.

If you’re a speaker, candidate for office or a PR consultant, these five mindset shifts should come in handy. The only way to overcome an ADD problem is to unleash your authentic Podium Power by making sure the real you stands up to give the speech.

1: There’s no such thing as ‘Public speaking’… only speaking: This mindset shift recognizes the reality that speaking with ease and comfort to friends, colleagues and loved ones comes naturally to most people. It’s only when we treat a certain kind of speaking as ‘public’ speaking that the anxiety butterflies start flapping their wings.

The critical first step in the transformation towards fear-free, authentic speaking is to repeat these magic seven words to yourself over and over again: There’s no such thing as public speaking.

Think of it as a mantra or affirmation that will help to put you in the right frame of mind for your next speaking opportunity. Realizing that there’s no such thing as public speaking, only speaking, expands your comfort zone to include the podium. Speaking from within your newly expanded comfort zone is the key to improved performance when delivering speeches and presentations. Also consider this: if you’re reading from a prepared script you’re not engaged in public speaking. You’re performing what amounts to public reading.

If you visualize speaking from your inner comfort zone every time you stand up to speak (or read) to an audience, large or small, you will tap into your natural, authentic ability to connect and communicate with others. The revolutionary concept here is simple: your true podium power comes from within.

2: You can only speak to one person at a time: This mindset shift follows naturally from the first. Try it yourself. Try speaking to more than one person at a time. It’s impossible. Follow your eyes and you’ll see that you can only engage with one person at a time. While you’re talking to one person, looking directly into the eyes of that person, others can listen in. But you’re really only talking to that one person. Speak to that person for a few moments, then do the same thing with many others in the audience. Inevitably, you’ll be connecting with only one person at any given point in time. That’s the goal.

This mindset shift means you’re replacing a fear-inducing concept about speaking to vague, scary and impersonal audiences to the comfort zone concept of speaking to one person at a time. This shift continues to expand your speaking comfort zone enormously. You’re well on your way toward making the shift from stage fright to stage delight. And that is key to overcoming Authenticity Deficit Disorder.