Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Public Speaking

Last weekend I spoke at a writer's conference and enjoyed it a lot.
I've heard that many people fear public speaking more than death, but I can't understand why they feel that way. To me, public speaking is fun. It's an opportunity to meet lots of nice people and possibly help them by sharing ideas and information they can use. What's scary about that?
Of course it probably helps that I've been a teacher and even a substitute teacher. You can't find a more difficult audience than some of the classes I subbed in.
Years ago I was appearing in a play (yes, I think that's fun, too) and learned about the Stanislovski Method of acting. Basically that concept is that the audience will see what the actor is thinking through facial expressions, vocal patterns, and body language so players need to think what their characters would think in each situation. While public speakers aren't pretending to be someone else (well, at least the honest ones aren't) it's still true that what we think is what the audience will see.
If someone stands in front of a group wondering if they'll mess up or if the listeners will hate them the audience will know it. But if someone stands before the same group thinking about how they can help and appreciating the audience, that will show in their demeanor. Thinking such things gives speakers confidence, and the audience can sense that. Even if those two speakers share the same information, the second one will be appreciated a lot more.
I'm eager to do more public speaking and hope some of the people who read this will take my advice and enjoy appearing in front of audiences too.

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