My favorite technique for calming myself in front of an audience is looking for focal points (aka, “friendly faces”)
I remember the very first time I lost a debate to one of my kids. My oldest daughter was about 2 at the time. We were sitting at our kitchen table snacking on some fresh “squeaky cheese” and water. My wife was in the kitchen putting away dishes. In between rounds of emptying the dishwasher and walking to the cabinets, she grabbed her glass of water and took a sip. Rattling around the bottom of her glass was a lemon wedge. Instantly an idea surged into my daughter’s mind. “Daddy, can I put cheese in my water?”
“No, Honey. We don’t put cheese in water. That’s icky.”
“But Mommy has lemon in her water. That’s icky, too.”
And like that, I was stumped. I’m a rational person. Analytical. Open-minded. Fair. And her logic was sound, especially, for a 2 year-old. Who am I to question what flavor water she would enjoy? In a world marketed full of crazy-ass food-in-water combos, whether it’s a lemon, lime, orange crush, cucumber, or cheese curd, they all serve the same purpose – they flavor water.
Impressed, I glanced at my wife with a twinge of uncertainty, laced with an air of acceptance and surrender. “You’re right, Sweet Pea. If you want to put the cheese in your water, go right ahead.” I paused for a second then asked, “So, how does it taste?”
“Good” she said with a satisfying gulp, placing the glass back on the table.
Damn…I got schooled.
Storytelling to a live audience is not easy.
To tell a story takes practice, discipline, and a keen eye for details. You need to remain agile and adaptive to your audience and their reactions. You can’t mindlessly trudge forward with your narrative if everyone has checked out. You will need an awareness score of 88 or above.
Also, you need to have a plan, but leave enough flexibility to allow for brief and potentially wild alterations.
Fear is your enemy. Chutzpah is your friend.
Parenting & Public Speaking. Together
The behaviors, experiences, and techniques parents use everyday can improve YOUR NEXT BIG SPEECH. Whether it be using silly voices or just playing with the kids, these actions improve self-confidence, stage presence, and audience engagement. And that’s just the beginning…