I was in Bangladesh to deliver a talk. The event was a blend of speeches and two to three performance by singers and I noticed one very good band came on the stage. There were three people in that band and one by one everyone started speaking. Now many times we have seen singers they speak for a few minutes before they start performing their songs. I noticed that when they were speaking, they were very nervous, they were not looking confident. But when they started singing, Oh my God! they were completely different personalities. They rocked the stage. People were dancing on their songs. They were awesome singers. But why? Why suddenly when they started singing they were completely different people. They were confident while singing but when they were speaking they were not looking confident on the stage. The answer to this “Why” is very simple, because like singing even speaking is a learnable skill. They had learned singing skills, that's why they were confident while singing. They didn’t learn speaking skills that's why they were not confident when they were speaking on the stage. Public Speaking is a learnable skill, in singing, we learn sa- ra -ga -ma, we learn nodes. in speaking we learn body language we learn vocal variety and also we learn how to organize the content. When we learn singing, we practice. In speaking also, we learn and we practice. Even if you learn singing, no one in one night can become a good singer. Similarly, no one can become a good speaker in one night. We have to learn and practice it again and again. But you know what if you don't like singing it's okay, it's not going to spoil your career. But whether you like public speaking or you don't like it, if you want to be a leader you have to learn public speaking.
I remember I was watching air crash investigation that day on TV. Those who are not aware of this, it's a program where they investigate air crash. In that particular episode, they found that the reason why that crash happened is due to a basic mistake done by the pilots. The investigators were quite surprised that how experienced pilots like them could do this kind of a basic mistake. They found out the reason. Investigation report said “one of the key reasons of this mistake is lack of sleep by the pilots the previous night. Yes, when they checked the schedule of the pilot, especially the main pilot, the captain, they found that the whole day he was flying and even he didn't sleep properly in the night. At the time of the accident, he was very tired and lacked energy. Now sometimes going on the stage is as difficult as flying, in fact, more difficult. When we go on the stage we need energy. This is exactly what we do when we sleep and when we sleep we restore energy. When we restore energy, next day morning we have sufficient energy on the stage. Because remember one more thing, if we have a big presentation or big speech or big talk we think too much about it. No matter how much stage time or experience we have, this thinking drains a lot of energy from the body. That's why if we have not restored energy the previous night and we are losing energy because of thinking - by the time we reach the stage there's no energy left. When there is no energy, you know what happens? The audience sleeps. How do I know? I've done these mistakes in my life. So next time if you have a big presentation or speech make sure you sleep and restore your energy. So, the next day when you are on the stage, you are full of energy and that will help you to communicate effectively on the stage.
So how much time do I have? Is my time over? I think I'm running out of time. How many times you have seen people closing the presentation like this. Closing your presentation like this is one of the weakest ways to close your presentations. According to experts, the last part of your presentation, last few lines, the last few words are the most important, why? Because last words linger in the minds of the audience. But if you are closing like this, it’s a very weak ending. So how to avoid closing like "how much time do we have”, the easiest way is to use a stopwatch, not the watch but a stopwatch. Now if you are relying on the watch, imagine for a moment that you have a presentation from 2:00 to 3:00 you have started your presentation. Now in the middle of the talk, you want to see how much more time you have? you look at your watch and then you go back on your memory lane and ask yourself whether you have started at 2:00 or 2.10 or maybe early maybe late. It is difficult to calculate time in the middle of the presentation and you are never confirmed about it. You're never 100% sure about it. But if you use a stopwatch, it can help. Just before you go for the presentation maybe, 5 minutes before just start the stopwatch. Do not wait for the last moment to start your stopwatch. Now at any point in time, you have complete awareness of the time. You know how much time you have spent, how much time you have. And remember the audience always respect those speakers who respect time. So next time when you are going on the stage make sure you use a stopwatch. So you don't have to close your presentation like "how much time I have?" and if you're not going on the stage, start going because if you want to be a leader in your life you have to separate yourself from the crowd, stand alone and speak.
Can you observe the speed of the train if you are inside the train? NO, to observe you have to be outside. Can you observe the speed of the flight if you are inside the flight? No, to observe that speed you have to be outside the flight. If you are a part of the process, you cannot observe the process it is very difficult. When we practice in front of the mirror we are trying to do the same thing. We are involved in the process and at the same time we are trying to observe the process, which is not possible, it is extremely difficult. That's why it's very important that there has to be someone else observing you. Mirror can't give you feedback. But most of the time that someone else who can observe you from the outside is not available. Maybe your friend your colleagues maybe someone else who can observe you they are not there to help you. But there is something which is available most of the times and maybe that something is in your hand right now your smart phone. Yes, next time when you have any presentation, or talk, or speech, instead of practicing in front of the mirror practice in front of the camera. Record your session and then there are three ways in which you can observe your video recording 1. Mute it and just observe your body language. You know 55 % your body language contributes towards effective communication 2. Just listen to it. Observe your vocal variety. You know 38% vocal variety contributes towards effective communication 3. And lastly observe everything together Now when you are observing you are not a part of the process. You are observing it from outside. Make notes and next time when you are doing a rehearsal or practicing the session again try to implement these observations which you have observed as an outsider. So for your next presentation OR next speech OR next talk stop practicing in front of the mirror and start practicing in front of the camera.
Most of us make presentations. Imagine for a moment that you have a presentation tomorrow. what will you do? Most of the time you will spend the whole day and sometimes the whole night in making that PPT. You will find some best content to make that PPT and the next morning when you are standing in front of people you are only seven percent ready. Why seven percent? Albert Mehrabian, he did a big study on communication many experts say that the outcome of this study is the fundamental of communication whenever we are standing in front of people. It says that there are three components which decide the effectiveness of communication, whenever we are speaking from the stage. Number 1- of course, the content, number 2- body language, number 3-vocal variety. But in this study, he has given the percentage of each component as per their contribution toward effective communication. Many times I ask people to guess the percentages and most of the time they give the maximum percentage to the content. As per this study, the content is only 7 %, body language is 55 % and vocal is 38 %. So it means 93 % of what decides the effectiveness of communication, we don't practice. But does that mean, the content is not important? Of course NOT. Content is important, content is the king. But what it means that even if you have the world's best content or world's best PPT or world's best story but if your body language and vocal variety are not good you might not be able to communicate effectively.
So many times people say this, “I don't want to learn public speaking or why I should learn public speaking? I don't like going on the stage. I'm very happy in my life. I'm doing good in my work.” Someone has to define the word STAGE. STAGE doesn't mean that big stage where you're standing and then you are speaking in front of thousands of people. STAGE is something else. I remember I was speaking in one school. Sharing some stories with children and that school was in the interior of Maharashtra and very small. So small that in that school there was no stage. While sharing stories I asked one question "Tell me when was the last time you were standing on the stage?" And one girl raised hand, her name was Aarti and she said "Sir, there is no stage in the school" I asked one question and the answer to that question might help you to understand what does stage really mean. I said "Aarti, just imagine for a moment that after the school when you reach home, you open the door and you see along with your parents there are seven to eight guests sitting at your home. Now you were not expecting those guests. Your mom when she looks at you she gets excited and she says "yeah my daughter Aarti has come and you know she is very good at reciting poems. Aarti will you please stand there and recite one poem for us", suddenly you realize you're standing in front of seven to eight people and somehow you are not feeling comfortable. The only reason you are feeling uncomfortable at that particular moment because you're standing on the STAGE". Whenever you separate yourself from the crowd, doesn't matter where that crowd is maybe that crowd is in your office, in your small group meeting, maybe that crowd in your big annual meeting or maybe that crowd is at your family gathering, and whenever you separate yourself from the crowd irrespective of the audience size, irrespective of where exactly the audience is sitting, that is the STAGE. And speaking on the stage is a learnable skill, just like singing and dancing, we have to learn and practice speaking from the stage. Why you should learn how to speak on the stage? Only for one reason if you want to become a leader in your life. Because if you want to be a leader you have to separate yourself from the crowd, stand alone and speak.
We have seen so many people who don't go on the stage just because they feel nervous. They believe that if they go on the stage, they will look nervous they will feel nervousness. You know what, if you are feeling nervous on the stage it means only one thing you are a human being. Yes, only humans feel nervous. Robots and machines don't feel nervous. Even according to Mark Twain the legend, he says "There are only two types of speakers’ nervous speakers and Liars" Feeling nervous on the stage is absolutely natural. Of course, there are techniques for looking confident on the stage, there are techniques for concealing your nervousness, hiding your nervousness, masking your nervousness. Anyone can learn these techniques. But the first thing which you have to accept is that if you are feeling nervous on the stage its absolutely okay, it's very natural. If you are not feeling nervous on the stage then there is a problem, that is very unnatural. So don't worry about nervousness, don't avoid stage because of this. Because if you want to be a leader in your life you have to separate yourself from the crowd, stand alone and speak.
Many of us are aware of this study which indicates that -the biggest fear in this world is the fear of public speaking. keep this fear aside for a moment. Let's talk about some other fears. Imagine for a moment that you have fear of water. To get rid of the fear of water you have to face the water, you have to get into the water, of course, you will take someone's help but the only way to get rid of the fear of water is-face water. Imagine for a moment you have fear of heights. How you will get rid of this fear? Of course, you will go on heights under some supervision. But the only way to get rid of the fear of height is-face height. Similarly, if you have fear of public speaking the only way to get rid of the fear of public speaking is to face the public, stand in front of the public. But where is the public? The public (people)is busy. Sometimes it's very difficult to ask four to five people to sit in front of you so that you can deliver your talk. They all are busy in their lives. The biggest problem with the fear of public speaking is that even if you decide to get rid of the fear of public speaking public is not available. The way water is available. Heights are available. The public is not available. That's the reason for years’ people fail to manage to get rid of the fear of public speaking. So my suggestion to you is- create opportunities in your life so that you can stand and speak in front of the public. It could be as simple as this-Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in a conference as an audience and when the speaker asks "any question?" you should be the first person to raise the hand. You're asking a question and at the same time, you are facing the public so you can get rid of public speaking fear. Do this every time. Of course no need to say that you should have a question. In your office, in your home, create opportunities to stand alone and speak. Join some public speaking clubs like Toastmasters. Go to open mics where you can stand and speak, doesn't matter even if it is a small group, facing the public will help you to get rid of the fear of public speaking.
Yes, So many times we have heard this, “whenever you are on the stage try to connect with the audience. Connection with the audience is the key to public speaking” At the same time, we have seen that people come on the stage and they fail to connect with the audience. Why? Because they are not connected with themselves. What do I mean by that? Have you seen someone putting hands in the pocket or playing with the coins in the pocket while speaking on the stage? When I asked "have you told your hands to do all this" they say, “no"! It means their hands are not connected with them. Have you seen people walking on the stage continuously from one end to another end or moving their legs in the rhythmic movement? When I asked them-"have you told your legs to walk or go back and forth?" They say “No”. It means their legs are not connected with them. Have you seen people looking here and there or up and down while speaking on the stage while the audience is sitting in front of them? When I ask them have you told your eyes to look up and down? They say “NO”. It means their eyes are not connected. Have you seen people going out of breath or breathing very fast on the stage? Their lungs are not connected. Have you seen someone speaking too fast on the stage- their tongue is not connected? Audience connection is secondary. You will connect with the audience only when you are connected with yourself. So next time when you are speaking on the stage make sure you ask someone to observe or make videos. And then observe it whether your hands, legs, eyes, your speed of speaking, your breath is connected or not connected. Because if all these are connected it means you are connected with yourself and then you will be connected with the audience automatically.
No! I remember that day I was attending a conference and the speaker was speaking extremely good, and the person who was sitting just beside me said: "wow he's a good speaker, I think he's a born speaker". So many times we have heard this, whenever we see a good speaker on the stage we say “wow! he or she is a born speaker”. Well as a very good friend mine says "only babies are born in this world" we have to learn to speak on the stage. The way we learn singing, the way we learn dancing, we have to learn public speaking. Speaking in front of people is a learnable skill. Like in singing we learn sa-re-ga-ma or notes and in dancing, we learn steps. In speaking we have to learn some techniques which are documented and globally used by leaders whenever they speak on the stage. But is it so important to learn public speaking? Yes, if you wish to become a leader in your life. Because as a leader you have to separate yourself from the crowd stand alone and Speak in front of the public.