There are a few myths about public speaking that make the rounds on a regular basis.
Three of the most popular being that you have to be loud to be heard, that you have to be born a great speaker, and that introverts can’t do public speaking.
Well, I’m here to tell you that those beliefs are complete myths and only serve to hold people back from becoming amazing speakers and presenters.
Let’s tackle the top 3 myths about public speaking and how to bust them!
Myth #1: You Have To Be LOUD In Order To Be Heard
‘He who shouts loudest shouts best.’
We’re told from a very young age to speak up or else we won’t be heard. From that first recitation in school when you were 6 years old to the presentation you had to give at your new job… the pressure to be heard is still the same.
The thing about shouting or speaking at a high volume for any length of time is that it’s exhausting. And it’s exhausting for both you and your audience.
When you speak at only one volume and don’t change it up, it is a form of monotony and monotony is one of your greatest enemies when it comes to public speaking.
Also, when you are only speaking loudly, it is very tiring for the ear. And when we get tired we stop listening, which is the opposite of what you want the audience to do. You want us to listen.
So make sure you change up the volume at which you speak, get some variety in there and keep our ears guessing. Volume is a sneaky little vocal tool because so few speakers use it effectively. Taking the volume down can actually get the audience to lean in and listen, whereas beating us over the head with a loud delivery repels the audience away.
So louder is not always better. Use high volume as you would a strong spice in cooking – sparingly, tactfully, and with judicious restraint.
Myth #2: You Have To Be Born A Great Speaker
This myth about public speaking really gets my goat. Great speakers are made, not born.
Great public speaking and presenting is a skill like every other skill on the planet. You learn the basic techniques and strategies and then practice, practice, practice.
And I mean practice purposefully and with specificity. Just running over your presentation or speech a few times with no plan in mind will help you to learn the words by rote but it will not create great delivery.
No one comes out of the womb a great public speaker; you watch, observe, learn, and practice in order to become a great speaker and presenter. Honing in on what your strengths are as well as your challenges is key. By building on what you know you’re good at when it comes to public speaking, you get better at those skills.
Additionally, by honing in on what you know you need to do better and making appropriate changes, you get better at those skills, too. It’s a win-win situation.
But seldom do you do this alone, because you need objectivity and feedback from an outside eye to become a great speaker. EVERYONE does, from Tony Robbins to Elon Musk to Barak Obama. They all have coaches, someone helping them to see what they do well and what they need to change.
So remember, you can become a great speaker. It’s not a birth right. Put the time in with purposeful practice and you can get there the same as anyone else.
Myth #3: ‘I’m An Introvert So I Can’t Do Presentations or Speeches.’
I’ve coached hundreds of clients at this point in my career. And I’m here to tell you that introverts make amazing speakers.
Why? Because they know what it’s like to have lots of knowledge but are afraid to speak up. And this is hugely relatable for your audience.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m an introvert.
You may not think so from my coaching videos and my career as a performer but actors and singers are actually very introverted people.
On stage we come across as confident and invincible, but that’s because we are playing a character, we’re hiding behind a personae. But off stage when we’re asked to speak as ourselves, it’s terrifying.
So here’s the thing: Introvert or extravert, you still need to learn the same skills and strategies and learn how to apply them. When it comes to learning, practice, and application, the playing field gets a heck of a lot more level. We’ll all be at a different jumping-off place when it comes to public speaking coaching but we are all students and we are all learning.
Bust the Myths and Boom in your Public Speaking
Myths hold us back from achieving what we want. And when we buy into myths about public speaking, it lets you off the hook when it comes to owning your words and your story.
Take those myths about public speaking and presenting by the shirt collars and give them a good shake. They’re really just full of hot air. Take that proverbial pin and pop them. You may find they shrivel up and fade away to reveal the truth: You can be a great public speaker.
The journey to great speaking and presenting begins with one step. Go on, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’ll see you on the other side…