Look Supremely Comfortable and Confident Every Time You Speak
Now we are going to proceed to the part of the course where you are going to learn how to- wait a minute. Timeout! Would you want to watch me if I were to simply read that sentence off of a sheet of paper? My messages may have been fine, but my body language and numerous distractions. It destroys the ability to communicate. I know a lot of you get uncomfortable in small groups but some get nervous in front of large groups, other people say they are perfectly fine speaking to large groups but when they are speaking to four colleagues, they get nervous. Everyone’s different.
But I want to give you the tools you need to know exactly how you come across. It does not matter how good the information is if the body language is awful. No one’s going to pay attention. Now there’s this huge myth out there that claims to say that 93% of communication is through your body language and your voice which is simply not true. You can look it up on the internet. But, body language is important if you are doing something distracting. Think of it this way: people always ask me, what’s more important- style or substance? False choice, if you want to communicate, you always have to do both, you always have to have good substance and a good style.
If you need to hire someone in your organisation, and I send you a cover letter filled with misspellings, all on a dirty paper, would you hire me? Probably not. On the other hand, if I have a perfect cover letter for you, everything you want to hear: nice paper, great spellings, punctuation, everything’s perfect but you look at my resume, and I have no relevant experience to your field with no life experience, are you going to hire me? Probably not. In either case, it’s either the style or the substance. So remember that it is never just about style and substance- you have to have both.
You also have to remember to take care of your body language. When you speak, your body needs to move. I have trained thousands of people and have almost never come across someone who moves their hands so wildly that it becomes distracting which is one of the biggest myths in public speaking. However, I often come across people who either never move their hands or use it to do something else like grabbing papers or holding the lectern. When you are scared, you tend to react like a bunny which has seen a predator. You tense and tighten up and become extremely stiff, something that your audience can clearly see and perceive.
When people come in for their training session, I ask them to come and speak on video. I turn on the lights and the microphone ad most of them become nervous and stiff. After they are done speaking, I will turn off the light, put down the microphone, but keep the camera rolling. I, then, ask them to give me feedback on their experience. Most of them say that they hated it and that they were awful. I show them the recording of their speech and we discuss what they like and don’t like. Then I ask them if they would like to see someone who is a great speaker. They say sure, thinking that I will show them some well known actor, celebrity or speaker. Instead I just move the video to when they were speaking without knowing that they were being recorded. All of a sudden, they see that their face is full of more expressions, their eyebrows are moving, their hands are moving, and their tone is much more expressive.
You don’t need to learn how to act to be a good speaker. You need to learn how to stop acting. When you are taken out from your comfort zone, you become nervous and scared which freezes your body language. Your face becomes motionless, your hands become frozen in place, your eyes stop moving, and your body looks tight and tense. And it is completely natural to be scared. But if you are looking for a role model to become a good speaker, you need to look no further than yourself when you are in a situation where you are comfortable and confident, for example, when you are talking to a couple of people or a bunch of friends.
So you should do something that I often do in my freetime: ask your friends, family, or colleagues to record you while you are not aware. You will be surprised at how much you move your body and your hands when you speak. Follow that example and the next time you speak, pull out your cell phone and record yourself doing it. I know that it sounds scary which is why I am not asking you to post the video of your recording over here, but I do want you to do this in the privacy of your own home or office. If you can see yourself moving, that is a good thing. But if you look like you have been trapped in a hostage video, then that is a problem. No one wants to watch someone who looks like someone is forcing them to speak in an extremely uncomfortable situation, which is why it is important for you to replicate a situation where you feel like you are in your own element.