To Speak or Not to Speak
It was November 19th. There was a chill in the air. Throngs of veterans, politicians and ordinary citizens had gathered in a meadow to honor the dead from a fierce battle. The main speaker for the event was the country's most famous orator, Edward Everett. His speech lasted two hours.
Then a tall, lanky, bearded man addressed the crowd. His speech was over in less than three minutes. In those three minutes, speaking from his heart and a few notes, the second speaker delivered the most famous speech in American history.
The year was 1863 and the place was Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The second speaker was President Abraham Lincoln, as he delivered the Gettysburg Address.
This was Lincoln's opportunity to persuade the nation to continue to fight. At this very crucial moment, Lincoln did not mention the words union or slavery or Gettysburg.
In his solemn, but impassioned speech, he spoke of a new commitment to democracy and equality and he stirred the heart of a nation. The Gettysburg Address was a masterpiece of healing and compassion.
I'm not here to suggest that you should aspire to be like Abraham Lincoln in your ability to speak in front of people. However, I am here to relate to you that being able to get up and speak in front of people is a shortcut to distinction. That's what Dale Carnegie says in the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
Anyone who is able to speak in front of others is often given credit for being a leader.
I also understand that there are three major fears in life: falling, loud noises, and speaking in front of people. I guess that would lead you to think that you should not give a loud speech when falling from the top of a building. (Just kidding.) However, of the top three fears, the fear of speaking in public seems to lead most lists.
At the same time, being able to speak in front of people, as noted before, is a shortcut to distinction. It's a shortcut to promotions, to a bigger income, to personal satisfaction and confidence. It is not as hard to do as one would think. I have coached many people successfully and many were surprised with how easy it was.
What is it that people actually fear about speaking in front of others? It's the worry that they will suddenly forget what to say and get embarrassed.
The first rule of public speaking is to speak about a topic in which you have some knowledge. Then, on 3x5 cards, make a few simple notes so that you can't get lost. You'll recall that Lincoln, giving the Gettysburg Address, spoke from his heart and a few notes.
I've given a specific, powerful keynote speech at conventions hundreds of times over the years. I never do that speech without the use of 18 3x5 cards that contain the main points of that speech, including the punchlines to a number of jokes that keep the speech flowing. I cannot get lost. I cannot forget what to say. I just keep looking down and moving from one point to another.
So, the next time you're asked to get up and speak in front of people, only accept if you know something about the topic or at least have an interest in the topic. Then do some research, write down the main points on cards, and use them when you talk.
When someone in one of my audiences expresses a desire to become a speaker, I ask them what is a subject that is of interest to them. I then ask them to give me three points about that subject. I write those down and then invite that person to just get up and read the points. Remember, this is a topic that is of interest to that person.
What usually happens is the following. The person gets up, they feel comfortable because I've asked them to only read the points written down, and they expand on those points. Their nervousness goes away and they speak from their heart. They give a great short speech.
Another idea, to help with public speaking and to improve your level of confidence, is to take the Dale Carnegie course. I took it many years ago and recommend it highly. Remember, being able to speak in front of others is a shortcut to distinction! My goal is to help you achieve greater success!
I'm not suggesting that you might give another Gettysburg Address. However, something you say one day, from your heart, in front of an audience, may touch the life of someone else and change it positively forever. Lincoln would have been proud.
Boaz is an inspiring author, lecturer, and humorist whose driving passion is to transform lives. He believes that happiness, success, and wealth are matters of personal choice and action, and he has made it his life's mission to teach others how to pursue them.
Contact Boaz at 619-723-3007 or Boaz@BoazPowercorn. www.boazpower.com