“There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” (Mark Twain)
My 6th grade year was coming to a close. It had been a good year.
I had won my fair share of kickball games at recess. My “Killer B’s” tag team won homemade wrestling belts at our improvised events during lunch. And maybe most memorably, I received my first kiss from a girl not named “Mom”.
But there was one thing left to do…
I had to win my election as a class officer for the upcoming year when we’d move to the big building that housed the 7th grade.
On the day before the election, I convinced the principal to let me give an impassioned 1-minute plea over the intercom. The speech was amazing!
I was funny. I was insightful. I was inspirational. I was dynamic. I was confident. Yeah, right.
I actually can’t remember how it went but it probably was bad and corny. But I won so I guess it worked. And that, my fellow Americans, was the start of my public speaking career.
Public speaking is the greatest fear that people have. People say that they fear speaking in public more than death. The noted expert on social behavior, Jerry Seinfeld once said,
“People’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than delivering the eulogy.”
It is often said that if you are nervous then you should just picture the audience naked. That is probably some of the worst advice ever because that would make most people even more uncomfortable.
As a side note, if you did give yourself that mental Polaroid that you could never be free from, would they still have their socks on? Anyway, I typically tell people not to be so nervous when they speak in front of a group because at least half of your audience isn’t listening anyway.
Since that politically rousing JFK-esque speech all those years ago in 6th grade, I have gotten up in front of crowds thousands of times.
I have used the phrase “blonde-headed bimbo” in a speech which got such a great response from my 8th grade English class that I decided to use it on the lunch lady later that day. Saturday School was not as fun as Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson made it out to be in “The Breakfast Club”.
I have given a 50-minute persuasive speech in college on a topic that I was adamantly against just so that I could work on my skills of dissent and understanding other viewpoints.
I have been a guest preacher on a Sunday morning at an African-American church.
I spoke at every sorority when I was a graduate assistant at Kent State. They all gave me two snaps. I wanted to believe it was for me but deep down I knew it was because I was talking about our men’s basketball team.
I have been told just minutes before going on stage in front of 500 people that a 60-minute keynote speech would now need to be 30-minutes because they were changing their lunch plans.
I have had great speeches, average speeches and speeches so bad that would make a 6th grader think that anyone could be a professional speaker.
But enough about me.
Paul Sohn is one of the greatest leadership minds of today’s generation. He is a world-renown expert on Millennials, has earned the John Maxwell leadership award and his blog had more than 1,000,000 visitors last year. He does a lot of executive coaching and speaking and will do much more now that his new book, “The Quarter Life Calling” has been released. Paul also wrote a great article about how to deliver a compelling TedTalk which is a great read!
Paul had the honor of interviewing Ryan Avery, the World Champion of Public Speaking. Essentially, this guy is the Tom Brady or Lebron James of Public Speaking but without the Nike contract, world famous supermodel wife and Bill Belichick staring him down all the time. Here is what Paul had to say when he interviewed the guy that took it to the public speaking world and whooped that ugly fear that so many of us have…
On my first visit to a Toastmaster session in my life, I had the privilege of listening to an awe-dropping speech from Ryan Avery. At age 25, Ryan is the youngest World Champion of Public Speaking in history. He currently works as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Special Olympics Oregon. I interviewed Ryan to share his journey and advice on how to become an effective communicator and public speaker.