Speech impediments and public speaking fears are real, yet they do not have to define us. As a child, I struggled with stuttering and took speech therapy classes for nearly five years. My therapist literally used to hold my tongue down in an effort to help me pace my syllables. Oddly enough, I always had this far-fetched dream of speaking in front of large groups of people. In one sense, this dream was my escape of thinking that maybe my stuttering was not as severe as I perceived. Of course this was total denial. Nonetheless, I really saw myself overcoming the speech impediment. After many years of hard work to overcome it, today the impediment no longer haunts me. I no longer struggle so fiercely with stuttering. In still seeking to improve my public speaking skills, I’ve found Scott Berkun’s book, Confessions of a Public Speaker, useful. Here are two of his tips that stood out to me.
Mistakes can create a golden opportunity for a good win. Instead of trying to avoid making a mistake, focus your energy toward rebounding from one. It is good to use it to your advantage by making it funny or incorporating it into your talk. Whether it is a large or small group, a mistake can actually be golden based on how the speaker reacts to it. Since the crowd feeds off of the speaker, they are most likely to follow and flow with the speaker’s reaction to whatever the mistake that was made.
You Are in Good Company
Leaders who we often read about like Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Jack Welch, and Aristotle had their own hang-ups when it came to public speaking. Oddly enough, we remember their profound thoughts and works which continue to inspire us. They focused on clearly communicating an overall thought that could be remembered. They were also believable leaders who therefore had the ear of their people and us today.