What has kindness got to so with standing on a stage and speaking to a room full of strangers? What is the link between public speaking and a virtue associated with religion and charities? The good news is that kindness is a secret you should know about. It will give your public speaking the needed boost to take you to higher levels of performance and impact
To be kind is to be considerate. It starts with you before you express it to others. Once you have been invited to speak at an event, start your preparation immediately. Some speakers have gotten to the point where they can perform almost at will and speak well at extremely short notice. Good for them. If you are like most people, you are not in that category. Don’t wait till the last minute before panic sets in. Don’t punish yourself. Be considerate. Do your research and plan your talk in good time. Set out early on the day of the event and get there in good time. Not stressing yourself is a show of kindness to yourself. Try it.
What are the worst times to maintain the interest of your audience? The speaking slots just before and right after lunch. People are either thinking of the buffet menu or dozing off after a delicious meal. Think about them too and be kind. If you are speaking just before lunch, acknowledge the fact that the food is just around the corner. Then cut your presentation down by 50%, ask them to write down any questions they may have and break for lunch. If you are billed to speak right after lunch, engage your audience in some interactive games to raise their energy levels before you give your speech. They will appreciate your kindness and pay more attention to you.
Take it easy on yourself
Have you ever finished giving one speech and discovered that there were actually three talks you were dealing with: the one you prepared, the one you just gave and the one you wished you should have given? Accomplished performers in all fields including speaking never give up an opportunity to critique themselves because they know they are they are competing against themselves to be better every day. Do you find yourself returning to your seat after a speech and picking big holes out your performance with statements such as?
“I need to stop saying ‘you know’ and ‘erm’ all the time.” “This audience too didn’t laugh. Do they enjoy hearing me at all?” “Why does question time always drag? Were they following?”
It is natural to be your own worst critic but don’t overdo it. The attitude you should promote is that all problems you have with your public speaking can be fixed. At the moment, you probably perform better than you think so be kind to yourself.
Being kind to yourself requires that you prepare ahead of your event. Be sympathetic to the needs of your audience and don’t flog yourself psychologically if you think you underperformed. Kindness is a state and a verb – just be it and just do it!