The Difficulty of Public Speaking

by R. L. Howser on November 30, 2013 · 0 comments

The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

That’s the difficulty of public speaking too.

It’s easy, with a bit of practice, to stand up in front of a crowd and yammer on for an hour. I’ve done it many times. For people born with the gift, it’s not even that difficult to be witty, entertaining and interesting, while they are up there.

What’s hard is to walk off the stage, or sit back in your chair at the conference table, feeling that you not only said what you wanted to say, but that you said what needed to be said to get the job done.

It takes planning to think through how to best make your case; to sort through the different approaches you could take and the effect each will have on your audience.

It takes preparation to create visuals or handouts that will effectively support the words you are saying, without distracting the audience or undercutting your message.

It takes foresight to anticipate any objections or troubling questions they might have and keep the information you will need on hand to address them.

It takes presence of mind to pay attention to the reactions of the audience and adjust on the fly to what you read in their expressions and body language.

Many speakers seem to be satisfied with just having finished speaking with no major gaffes, but I hope that’s not enough for you.

The difficulty of public speaking is not to say something, but to say what you mean.

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