On Speaking in Public

I’ve got a proposal for you.

Next time you have to do some public speaking, try not to think of it as public speaking. See, for me, when I think of public speaking, I think of a big stage, spotlight on me, remembering what I want to say, tons of pressure on me to perform.

The focus of public speaking is me, me, and me.

And when the focus is me, of course I’d get all caught up in those debilitating public speaking thoughts: I want the audience to like me. I want the audience to think I’m smart. I don’t want to fail at this.

But not a single one of those thoughts serves us, makes us stronger, fortifies our confidence.

So, instead of public speaking, I like to think of it as sharing.

Sharing isn’t about me, me, me. Sharing is about something bigger and more exciting. Sharing is about us. You, me, and the ideas I want to pass along to you.

Great speaking, in my view, is great giving, great sharing. And this notion of generosity is built right into our language: We give talks. We give toasts. We give instructions.

So our job isn’t to do backflips and try to wow the crowd with how brilliant we are.

Our job is to take what’s in our head and our heart and put it out into the world in a way that’s as useful for the folks we’re sharing with as possible.

And that can be one powerful act of generosity.

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