How I Turned My Concerns Over Speaker Training Into a Bestselling Self-Help Book
I Was Worried about a Lack of Emphasis On Audiences
I COULDN'T BELIEVE MY EYES. My book, "How to Become a Super Speaker: The 7 Principles for Speaking with Confidence and Connecting with Audiences," was becoming a bestseller, just one day after being launched.
It was an incredibly gratifying thrill.
I had written this book out of my longstanding concern that articles, books and courses on public speaking were overly focused on the speaker and not nearly enough on the audience.
Some of these endeavors would have you believe that speaking takes place mainly in an empty room, rather than in front of a roomful of people waiting to be informed, entertained, or persuaded.
Determined to write a reader-friendly book that would not add excessively to the public's already high anxiety over speaking, I aimed to give the reader something short and easy to grasp.
A READER-FRIENDLY GUIDE TO PUBLIC SPEAKING
Thus, in my 107 page volume, I boil down the speaking challenge to seven principles for being engaging and for speaking with power, without allowing your fear of the crowd to ruin the speaker's message. I also included plenty of reflection exercises to get the reader emotionally involved and active, because as I knew as a lifelong teacher, including as a Rutgers University public speaking instructor, people learn best by doing.
When I was done, I knew the book had the potential to make an impact and help a lot of people. But I didn't expect it to be jockeying for position on the bestseller chart with the dean of public speaking training, Dale Carnegie, and TED (as the top photo on this page shows).
Here are my seven principles for super speaking:
1. Make Delivery the Priority. Content is important, but nothing in public speaking matters as much as the way you convey your message to the audience.
2. Put on a Show. No matter what type of presentation you're delivering, you're putting on a "show" and need to play to your viewers, which an eye and ear to their emotional state.
3. Display Personality. While a speaker has many tools with which to enthrall listeners, letting audiences see his personality may be the most compelling.
4. Feel the Fear but Keep Practicing. Learning to deal with fear is part of growing as a speaker. If you persevere even as panic grips you, you will gain confidence that will both improve your speech and let you gauge the mood of the room and engage in a generous give-and-take with the audience.
5. Give the Audience a Reason to Care. Including a few contextual details explaining why your content matters to the audience helps them answer the burning question: Why should I care about this topic?
6. Reveal What's inside You. Audiences will connect with you and remember you if you let them catch you in the act of expressing emotion.
7. Make Things Easy to Follow. Make it simple for audiences to follow your narrative, since they can't play back something you said.