On first impression, COVID-19 seemed like it might eradicate the need for public speaking.
This was significant to me as a public speaker and public speaking, storytelling, and presentational trainer. As sports got canceled (like ALL sports), so did major conferences and events. Keynotes became question marks, and the need for public speaking training could be questionable if there is no place a public could gather and be spoken to.
This was also significant given the timing of my own career path. While I have been a presentational educator and coach for almost 25 years (yes, I am older than I look!), 2020 was the year that I would take the entrepreneur plunge and go all-in with my own consulting company.
Company Name? Check. ✅
Company Logo? Check. ✅
Company Learning Platform? Check. ✅
Company Website? Check. ✅…and went officially live on…March 10th, 2020.
You can fill in the blanks as to what happened in the proceeding weeks.
Response to a global pandemic? Uh-oh. I missed that check.
I *almost* got lost in the cave of corona confusion – you know, where you second-guess every life decision you have ever made and wonder what value you bring to society and how that value is going to be valued monetarily and if you are going to be able to possibly maybe pay the bills in the coming months month – you know that one?
No? Just me.
Okay, well, I *almost* got lost in that cave until I got lost in the miles of scrolling through social. I was trying to find credible media for better information regarding this global pandemic, and I certainly was not looking up Tiger King memes, when I saw a scroll stopping post. If you post any sort of content on any type of social, your goal is to be so captivating, so novel, so unique that anyone mindlessly scrolling through stops dead in the tracks of their coronavirus quarantine couch.
This post was certainly worthy of my attention, but not for the reason that it was intended.
It was a video posted by a leader in an organization. Said leader and said organization will remain said anonymous out of respect for their message, which is a good, important, and needed one for the community. However, this eight-minute monologue made me cringe. Not quite Tiger King-worthy cringe, but cringes were undoubtedly present. The presenter fumbled, mumbled, stumbled, got lost in a train of thought, and – quite frankly – looked like they had just gotten out of bed.
Now, trust me. I have fumbled, mumbled, stumbled, and gotten lost in a train of thought on more than one not-so-fortunate occasion. And, since this social distancing schedule has been bestowed upon me, I, too, am guilty of waking up a bit before a Zoom call or two. None of us are without our speaking mishaps and scary stories. However, this video seemed effortless, as in, there had been no effort put into this video. No preparation. No rehearsal. No training.
Naturally, first impressions are important. But they can also be devastatingly incorrect.
I have no doubt that this leader and this organization was coming from their best intentions and certainly desired their best outcome. But the content they put out and the way they put it out did not captivate, inspire, or call to action. Then I realized my first impression of COVID-19 in regards to public speaking was wrong.
Public speaking, storytelling, presentation skills are just as needed, if not more than ever.
Businesses, organizations, governments, individuals are all shifting the way that we conduct our daily lives. In the search for that connection and innovation, everyone is going to have to powerfully present. No longer can we rely on just our natural charm, charisma, or improvisational skills in a pitch meeting, in broadcasting needs, or in ironing out an important issue. More than before, we need preparation, rehearsal, and training to properly and powerfully present.
So, in the coming weeks, I am going to post my tips, tricks, hacks, explanations, and research on public speaking, storytelling, and presentational skills in the Speak Up Stories Facebook Group. These are resources I have accumulated in over 25 years in training individuals from all walks of life – from middle school beginning speech students to CEOs of major corporations.
Some are analytical and practical. Some are out-of-the-box and downright goofy. All of my content centers around my central message that public speaking is a skill, not a task. It is one that should be practiced daily, not just when the time comes. Always putting your best foot forward, always giving a powerful, memorable, and…of course….an accurate first impression.
Here are the topics I will be covering. Join the Speak Up Stories Facebook Group for content, videos, instruction, discussion, and more!
🎤 “I will get to that later…”
(aka staying on task in a talk).
🎤 “Technology is hard, amirite?”
(aka using technology to enhance not distract).
🎤 “Did you know that….?”
(aka breaking away from traditional attention-getters).
🎤 “I’M SO EXCITED TO BE HERE!”
(aka bringing enthusiasm with authenticity and novelty).
(aka why we apologize for speaking mishaps).
🎤 “I just wanted to…”
(aka effectively transitioning into content).
(aka non-verbal communication in a technical age).
🎤 “Can you believe I didn’t prepare for this?”
(aka the dangers of overconfident speakers).
🎤 “Here’s what happened…”
(aka effective storytelling structures)
🎤 “It was my mom’s car…actually, it was my dad’s car…”
(aka the powerful and dangerous use of details).
🎤 “Wait…does that mean that…:”
(aka giving your audience the gift of connecting the dots).
First up next week:
(aka filler words – why we use them, and how to minimize them).