The practice of speaking leads us to expressing many instinctive behaviors. Even if we know that we should change certain demeanors, it is not uncommon to be incapable of doing so in real situations and to repeat automatic reflexes that we normally would want to avoid. There are three speaker profiles in particular, which we see regularly, that need to learn to develop new demeanors. Here’s how to identify them and put them back on the right track:
The good student – This deliberately provocative title encompasses the large family of speakers who mistake their objective: they present to show how hard they’ve worked! This scholarly reflex leads to a number of consequences. First, it increases stress tied to the judgment of others and leads the audience to position itself instinctively as an examiner giving out grades. The slides are overloaded with information, images and pictograms, as if a simpler slide means we have not worked hard enough. Secondly, the presentations are usually pretty boring since they are not designed to make sense and generate adhesion but rather to prove that the idea is good and or the speaker is legitimate. One of the basic questions to ask yourself when you are caught in the spiral of wanting to be the good student is: “what does my audience expect from me?” Seeing yourself as a solution to a problem is essential in exceeding the limits of self-image and putting yourself fully at the service of the audience, whom you will no longer fear.
The sermonizer – This profile type is generally more experienced and is fully aware of his expertise. To this person, presenting is a completely useless exercise, as reflected in the disillusioned professor persuaded that nothing will ever get into the empty minds of those listening to him. If we put aside the very marginal personality types who naturally tend to distrust or discredit others, the posture of “sermonizer” is often a sign of stress due to public speaking. Because this person feels assaulted by the exercise, the fight to control stress is oriented toward the audience who suddenly has all the flaws. To change demeanor, it must be remembered that it is useless to present information to someone who will do nothing with it. The goal of presenting is to associate the information you provide to the prospect of change it represents. Hence, the objective is not limited to just transmitting information and each act of communication becomes an opportunity to get things moving.
The showman – Unlike the two previous profiles and the great majority of us, the showman likes public speaking. Stage fright is stimulating. With an outgoing personality, he generally has effective speaking techniques and knows how to be heard. He is captivating, complicit with his audience and is often very funny. We often recognize him because he overdoes it. He enjoys speaking so much that his goal is to put on a show, and demonstrate how good he is. But, no matter how much one enjoys it, public speaking is not limited to being entertaining. Because even if the presentation may seem motivating it generates a stronger attachment to the speaker than to the key message. Isn’t a good speaker primarily serving the memory of his message, the adhesion he can generate to his message and the changes he will prompt?