Speak Words Out Loud: The Internal Battle of Public Speaking

There are a lot of roads that lead to microphones.  Some of them just stop by and you only have to piece together a few words once in a while.  Other roads lead there to stay and you have to use up all the words you know (and maybe a few you don’t).  You may find yourself standing on a stage casting your words into a crowd of barely visible faces.  Or maybe your words have to make their way around a smaller room where you can see every single face and response.

Over the course of our lives, many of us receive invitations of one kind or another to say words out loud.  We end up pitching, presenting, teaching, toasting, eulogizing, keynoting.  But if the research can be trusted, many of us fear, even dread, the call to say words out loud.  And since so much of what we do here at Rebel is to help people tell their stories, we’re going to spend a few posts on how to choose the right words and stories for those moments at the microphones.

We’ll get into choosing the words and the logistics of presenting them but it’s worth paying attention to what happens inside of us as soon as we get the invitation. When we are asked to say words out loud, whether they’re professional or personal words, we can end up in a battle over how to see ourselves:

-We think we have nothing to say OR we have too much to say. We are torn between seeing ourselves as less important or too important.  A smart crowd can sense when we’ve gone too far in one direction.

-We worry everyone will be paying attention to us OR no one will.  We might focus on the scrutiny we’ll be facing and overthink our every word and move. The only thing worse than the crowd giving us attention is the crowd not giving us attention.

I’ve been saying words out loud in classrooms and stages for the last 15 years and there’s a chance that I’m only projecting my own experience here.  But in case these are actually universal struggles, I might as well project the idea that brings me peace when I have to overcome the battle and step up to the microphone:

I say my best words out loud when I realize it’s absolutely not about me AND when I realize it is.

Here’s what I mean:

It’s not about me/you:

When we try to find the right words that speak to the right crowds in the right rooms at the right time, we are participating in a very old practice.  The exercise of rhetoric and using words out loud to persuade, to connect, or to move each other, has been around as long as people.  We are wired to find the words that fit and it’s incredibly freeing to know that when I raise my voice and put words out into the world, it’s part of something that’s older and weightier than my fears.

It is about me/you:

Even though the world is filled up with words, there are words and stories that are only yours to say.  There are stories that are only yours to tell.  Every invitation is a chance to tell a truth or describe an angle of the world that can only be seen from where you live.

For more on what it means to tell stories and say good words out loud, join us for our next Story Workshop on June 14 from 1-4 pm in our offices.  For more info and to register, click right here.   

Rebel Pilgrim is a creative agency based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rebel Pilgrim believes that story is the only way to spark change and create excitement for any business or product. Start converting your uninterested crowds into engaged clients using the power of storytelling.