Friday, July 23, 2010

Becoming Larger Than Life: Public Speaking as an Author

To say there is no ego in a person who does public speaking regularly would be a false statement. But for those of us who only speak from time to time, when you see a speaker who can walk out in a room of 30 people or a auditorium of 3000 and "own the room", it really is an amazing transformation. To imagine how  you could ever be that much larger than life is mind boggling.

In many ways, when you step out to talk to a group of people, you do become larger than life. That is because you are doing the impossible. You are having a conversation with dozens of people all at once. Whether you feel like you are having that conversation or not isn't important. If your talk is not interactive, you may not know the dialog is happening. But in the minds of every single individual in that hall, they are interacting with you. What you are saying is getting down inside of them and they are reacting to it. But even more than what you are saying, how you are saying it is having an even bigger impact.

So, are there things you can do to become larger than life? There are some ways of behaving in front of a crowd that differ from daily life. You will develop a stage persona that is different from your daily personality. Does that make you a phony? No. Both of the personalities are you. It is just a different you when you relate to a group than to people one on one. It seems strange because that form of you only comes out on stage. But it isn't a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde thing. Just as you speak to a child differently than an adult, you will develop a way of talking to a group that differs from speaking to an individual.

Part of becoming larger than life is learning to "own the room". This may sound strange, but it works when you are about to speak. Owning the room means when you step out in front of that crowd, they are no longer some random group of people, they are YOUR people. They are there to listen to you and what you say is of value to them. If you had any ego problems before you stepped out in front of that audience, check that ego problem at the door.

You must assume that you are adored when you speak to a group of people. This doesn't mean you strut about like God's gift to the world. But it does mean that you recognize that your value to this group is as a speaker and that your services are wanted and needed here. The only way you will be an effective public speaker is if you own the room. Treat that room like it was your home and these people came here just because being with you is just that great. If you step out there with that attitude, the audience will buy into your attitude and they will give you the room and be glad you took it over.

It can be a bit strange if you watch yourself become larger than life. But you can be humble about it and just recognize it is part of the craft of becoming a great public speaker. If being good at this art means owning rooms and becoming bigger for an hour or so, well then why deny the world that experience? Enjoy it and let others enjoy it also.


  1. You left out an organization that promotes and teaches the skills of public speaking and is one of the best in the business at it.
    I am. of course, speaking of Toastmasters International.
    I highly recommend this organization and would suggest anyone who needs to learn the skills involved in public speaking should look up this group on the internet machine and find a local chapter. There is likely one just about anyplace you live here in the USA.

    Trust me when I say it ain't a cakewalk getting up in front of a group of strangers and spouting stuff, and yet Toastmasters International can make even the most timid person capable of speaking in front of people.

    Another great organization that teaches stage skills and presentation skills, (an integral part of any public speech), is the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM). Speaking on stage is only the first part of the battle, but being entertaining as well completes the attack and makes you a skilled and sought-after speaker.

    Combine the skills learned from both organizations and you have the recipe for being a most accomplished speaker and presenter.

  2. Great blog and so true. Your attitude to life determines how anyone meets and perceives you. Nowhere is it more important than when I address a small group, workshop or large conference hall. My favourite presenter at the moment is Michael Neil. He's scruffy, an ex-actor and has a way of being intimate with a large audience. Very relaxed and uses his voice to great effect when telling stories.

    I'm writing a book 'Grow Old, Be Happy' and will build a presentation and coaching business on it's published back. So I'm always looking out for tips. Thank you for this blog. I enjoyed and it will go into my 'presentation' information file.


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