What do dating and public speaking have in common?
It’s this One Thing that separates the good speech from the great and a 1st date into a possible 2nd.
I learned this One Thing in dating a long time ago. I was on a first date with a guy and I thought he was so cute and wanted to see him again. But he didn’t. Hm what happened? As I was reflecting back on the date looking at what I did and said, I realized — Oohh I was so focused on myself and worried about what he was thinking of me, that I couldn’t pay attention to what he was saying and finding out who he was. I assume it was for him, like those moments when you’re talking to someone and even though they’re looking at you their eyes look vacant and glazed over. You know they’re not hearing anything you say but are thinking about … what they’ll say next or maybe what they want for dinner. Sigh. I probably looked very much that way to him. Looking ‘not there’. No wonder he didn’t want a 2nd date.
Working through Toastmasters I realized the same thing was happening when I gave a speech. I was worried about what I was saying and if the audience liked me or not. Then I read an article by Ian Cunliffe talking about this One Thing that will help your speeches. And there it was … the same thing I’d learned on that date so long ago… or thought I’d learned. The One Thing was the direction of my focus. Focusing inward rather than out. Worrying about what I’m doing rather than being ‘present’ with the audience. Focusing out and stepping into their shoes to speak to and connect with their experience. What brought them here? They’ve taken the time out to come and listen to me. I appreciate that.
I’d been giving that same consideration and focus to my clients and I hadn’t seen how it could help with speaking and, of course, in everything I do. The whole point of communication is to connect not just give our point of view. To connect we have to consider the others world and situation and get curious.
I know not everyone will like me and that’s okay but my goal is to use this One Thing and give consideration and curiosity to all I meet.
Liz Coleman, RTC, is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor based in Surrey, BC. She specializes in anxiety, anger, insecurity, and relationship problems. If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Ms. Coleman at (604) 809-8947 or use the convenient form on her Contact page.