From a 2010 workshop in Toronto. I share the story of how and why I became a public speaker.
To Your Success,
From a 2010 workshop in Toronto. I share the story of how and why I became a public speaker.
To Your Success,
I’ll never forget the first public talk I ever gave. It was right after I’d started my personal training business. Someone said I should do public speaking to promote myself, and even though the idea terrified me, I decided to give it a try.
I scripted out a 45 minute presentation, and memorized the entire thing. On the day, a grand total of 13 people showed up. About 10 minutes into it, there’s a guy right in front row who starts dozing off. But I got through it. I can’t imagine it was a great talk, but the feedback was very positive.
A couple of month later, I did another one, and then another one, and pretty soon it turned out that it was something I have a talent for, and really enjoy doing.
Here are a few suggestions to help you become a more confident speaker:
(1) Don’t memorize. I don’t recommend you memorize your speech like I did that first time. Trying to remember lines can make you nervous and distract you from what you should be focused on, which is communicating your ideas. However, I suggest you script and practice key parts like your intro, or any essential stories. The intro in particular should be well planned, because your nerves will be the highest at the beginning. Once you get past the first 5-10 minutes or so, you’ll start to settle in.
(2) Embrace your feelings. Don’t try to fake being confident if you’re not. It takes too much energy, and feels less authentic. Remember, your audience is rooting for you to do well. If you’re nervous, acknowledge it. Fear and excitement are made of the same stuff. So call it excitement. For me, when I feel those butterflies, I know I’m ready. It energizes me. It raises my awareness, so I’m sharper. So if you’re nervous, embrace the feeling. Tell yourself, “perfect…that means I’m ready”.
(3) Honor your topic. Once upon a time I’d organized a talk and registration was very low. I was debating cancelling it. So I went for a walk to clear my head, and when I came home, I picked a book from the shelf and opened it to a random page. On that page was this line,
“A great speaker is someone with knowledge of a topic, and a burning desire to share it.”
I thought, I have so much knowledge on this topic, and I want to share it. So I went ahead.
Since then, I make it a point to remind myself before each talk how excited I am about what I have to say. Nerves come partly from focusing on the wrong thing: yourself. Give your topic center stage. Remember that you have valuable information to give. Focus on that.
(4) Embody the experience. On a recent episode of the voice, someone asked Pharrell Williams what he thinks about right before going on stage, and he said without hesitation, “how much fun I’m gonna have.” As a general rule, if you’re not having fun, the audience isn’t either! Audiences love to feel like the speaker is enjoying him or herself. Your goal should be to embody whatever experience you want to convey. If you want to inspire, YOU should be inspired! If you want them to have fun, you should be having fun.
(5) Learn by DOING. There aren’t short cuts. If you want to be good, let alone great at speaking, you have to take every opportunity you can to SPEAK. Joining a group like Toastmasters is good, mostly because it gets you up in front of people each week.
You learn through doing.
Finally, I’d just say, do your best to prepare, but when it’s your time to take to the front of the room, dismiss any care you might have about the outcome. Have fun! If you do that, and you learn from every experience, it won’t be long before you are a much more confident speaker.
Before I got into lifting weights, my one big obsession was playing guitar.
I had two electric guitars, a bass, and an acoustic. I was basically gonna be Slash from GNR, but without the top hat, or the cigarette dangling from my mouth.
My first guitar teacher, Jean-Marc, taught me the pentatonic scale, and many others, both minor and major. He made me practice each one hundreds of times until they were hardwired into my brain.
In the beginning, I really resisted. Running scales felt repetitive and boring, like homework.
I’d be like, ‘I don’t want to learn scales. When are we gonna play some AC/DC?’
I knew I could crank out a decent rendition of *Back in Black*. But I’d really hear it from Jean-Marc if I didn’t practice my scales. Because HE knew, if I nailed the basics, I could play anything. He was right. I went on to win awards for both rock and classical performances. I was voted Best in Music at my high school graduation.
When I started coaching people on nutrition, I found the process was very much the same.
The #1 complaint I’d get is ‘not enough variety’. But until you establish the habits that are the foundation for your success, narrowing it to 1-3 options for each meal is the way to go.
It simplifies everything. Meal prep. Grocery shopping. You learn to identify portion sizes. You discover what foods you like that also work best with your plan. You find a system that’s effective, and also easy to stick to.
People always want new or different. That’s what’s exciting. But the truth is, when you really break it down, success is routine and boring. It’s mechanical. It’s doing the right things well, and doing them repeatedly. In my experience, people who need a lot of variety from the word ‘go’ rarely develop the consistency to make the right nutrition a habit. But when you understand the basics, trying new things becomes second nature. You’re just expanding your repertoire.
Once I had every scale known to music at my fingertips, not only could I play AC/DC with more accuracy, but I could easily pull off new musical genres whenever I felt like it. If I’d never invested the time to “get my reps in” and play scales, I wouldn’t have accomplished most of what I did as a musician.
Get your reps in too. Learn the basics of whatever you want to be good at, and do it a thousand times over. Stick with simple, straightforward and repetitive until you get it right.
Once you master the basics, branching out is a logical next step you can enjoy without compromising your results.
Let’s talk a little bit more about context changes…
I’d mentioned how manipulating conditions in your present environment to “handicap” your future self is really key, because it takes willpower out of the equation to a large extent.
So for instance, if you want to lose weight or improve your fitness, you can skip buying your monthly metropass and take up the habit of walking to and from work instead. You can prepare healthy meals to bring to work with you and limit your choices. You can STOP keeping foods that you have a hard time being moderate with in your house.
I heard some other great examples recently…
These are from Harley Pasternak. He’s encouraging people to move more, and said as a busy person, what he’s done is to get rid of his coffee machine at home, so he has to walk four blocks to get his morning coffee. Also, when meeting with someone, instead of just meeting at his office, he’ll say let’s walk and talk; your mind is in more of a creative state anyway.
I’ve talked about public speaking…
One of the best things you can do to get yourself going with that is join a group; something like toastmasters. You’ll pick up a few tips. But most importantly it gets you up in front of people each week. And remember, DOING is the path to BEING. If you want to be decent, let alone great at anything, you need to do it, and do it often.
So this year, when I decided to get back into the flow of speaking (as I emerge weary-eyed from behind my laptop where I spent the last few months of 2016) one of the things I did was sign up for a stand up comedy class. Now, I have no ambitions of becoming a comic…
But doing the stand up thing is definitely different from the speaking I’ve done over the years. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, and that’s the point. It’s got me thinking about humour, and how to add more of that to my presentations. Mostly, it keeps me in front of people each week and it’s an opportunity to continue to refine my communication skills.
The other thing I did was commit to a monthly interview on ThatChannel.com. Same idea, forces me to really button up my content, as well as practice being interviewed.
Finally, doing these videos was the third context change. Each one is like a mini talk, so it forces me to clarify my ideas, and I’m getting practice at communicating them as well.
That’s really it. That’s how it’s done. That’s how I’m doing it. That’s how you can use my concept of context changes to effectively automate any good behavior you want more of. As I’ve said before, put some thought into what you want to accomplish. Be clear on your intention. Then be ruthless about organizing your life in ways that make it a lot harder for you to NOT do the positive new patterns you’re creating for yourself.
Edit your daily method of operation, and your environment, so it becomes second nature.
With a just little bit of thought, I’m sure you can find ways to do this.
For a lot more ideas, to help you along the road to being EVEN more, and accomplishing EVEN more, be sure to sign up for my email tips by clicking the graphic in the right column.
Thanks for watching, and happy transforming.
“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; make the iron hot by striking.”
There are three ways people change.
Usually the person is experiencing a symptom of some kind (like being overweight), or has a desire to do something like make more money.
The first type, are merely try to change it by willing themselves to.
They say they’re gonna go to the gym more, or start a new business. But there’s no real plan so they don’t gain very much traction and eventually it’s status quo and the whole idea is history.
This is what happens to most new year’s resolutions, for example.
The second type will have a breakthrough of some kind.
This is usually something external. They get a stern warning from their doctor about the health consequences of their current lifestyle. They get fired from their jobs. And of course you hear stories of people who say when they lost their job, they thought it was the worst thing ever, but it was a blessing in disguise because it forced them to go start the business they’ve always wanted to.
And as a trainer, I’d often get people who had a recent health scare or bad diagnosis. They’d commit to a program, go through a period of what I call massive re-organization, but they soon find themselves in a “new normal” or plateau. They’re definitely better off, but they never really take it any further. They’re the person who needed to 70 pounds, but lost 20 and never really made past there.
Then there’s a third type. This type might experience the initial breakthrough or not. But they find a way, at every plateau, to do the reorganization stage so they can keep progressing. They keep finding new ways of reinventing their lifestyle until they achieve total transformation. They lose 50, 60, or a hundred pounds. They go on to build huge businesses from scratch.
So what’s the person in the third category doing that the others are not?
They are in fact orchestrating their own breakthroughs.
They’re reversing the order of breakthrough and organization. By not waiting for a breakthrough, but instead consistently doing re-organization, they’re taking charge of their own transformational destiny. They’ve hired a business coach. They’ve committed the first hour of every day to marketing their services. They’ve committed to eliminating certain foods from their diet, and don’t keep them in their house. Ever. They don’t suffer plateaus for very long.
The rule is the re-organization stage is where most of your energy needs to go.
Don’t wait for life to give you the breakthroughs.
Chip away at life until it’s forced to give itself over to your desires.
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