Public speaking is a nerve-wracking experience and, according to many, one of our greatest fears, said Jerry Seinfeld,
“According to most studies, 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 readPublic ing the eulogy.”
Another great fear is sight loss. According to a study done in 2007, Americans report feeling more afraid of blindness, than they are of diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.
What will happen if we combine both? This should be a recipe for disaster but I believe the opposite is true. Being blind has made me a better speaker. Please let me share my tips on being a proficient public speaker from a different ‘viewpoint’.
The first thing I had to kiss goodbye was my notes. There is an ongoing debate whether a speaker should or should not use notes. I am one of those who does not use notes but this is not by choice. They say that necessity is the mother of all inventions and, in this case, it proved to be true. Since I don’t have the luxury of notes, I had to learn to use my memory better. I found that the power of this incredible tool is often underestimated.
Using your memory instead of your notes opens the door to so many advantages. Please allow me to share just a few.
Not Walking but Soaring
The biggest advantage of not using notes is that your arms are free. I believe gestures give wings to our presentations. When a speaker is hanging onto note cards or a lectern with one or both hands, it restricts their ability to use gestures. A speech without gestures is like a bird with no wings. It will survive but it will never soar.
Boost in Confidence
Notes are often used as a safety net ‘just in case something goes wrong’. Some use it as a safety net similar to a tightrope-walker. But we are not tightrope-walkers and, should we forget something, we will not fall to our death. In fact, the only person who will notice is you. Once you have put in the hours of practice that are necessary when speaking without notes, you will automatically find you have an increase in confidence.
The ability to speak without notes does not happen overnight. Like all elements of an exceptional speaker, this talent comes with hours of practice and it requires constant reinforcement. The good news is there are many tools that can assist you to memorize/remember your speech. We will be looking at these in our next article
In the meantime, remember that with public speaking, the proof is not in the pudding but in the passion. Keep your passion strong and the rest will follow.
The Blind Pilot – Theresa Roberts