Unleash the Public Speaking Skills that You Have Hidden–Fake It ‘Till You Make It
by Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch
Most of us have the public speaking skills that we need to present effectively. Unfortunately, they are hidden and lie dormant in our subconscious. The important task, then, is to bring them into your conscious awareness and use them.
Most people do not know how to do this. Instead, they reinforce the inaccurate belief that they cannot be animated, gesture effectively, vocalize with variety, be funny, move purposefully, and vary their facial expressions.
A powerful public speaking process that you can use to reveal your hidden public speaking skills is “Fake It ‘Till You Make It.” Here’s how Allan Kaufman demonstrated this technique.
He called up several people from the audience, one at a time, to speak impromptu for 1 to 2-1/2 minutes. He gave each a topic that was not difficult to talk about.
In general, learning how to give impromptu presentations effectively is a great skill to master. It is very useful if you are being interviewed for a job or your boss suddenly asks you to speak at a meeting.
Identify Weak Presentation Skills
Allan first asked each speaker to identify two of his or her weakest presentation skills such as using vocal variety, making eye contact, using gestures, being enthusiastic, giving an organized presentation, getting the audience involved, etc.
Identify Someone Skilled in Those Weak Areas
Then he asked each to identify two presenters who s/he believed were strong in the areas in which s/he was weak. The two presenters could be part of a group known to the audience or public personalities.
Model the Skilled Speaker
He had each concentrate on his and her weak skill areas and emulate one of the two strong speakers each had listed. He said to each participant, “Address the topic as if you are the speaker you named answering it.”
The first impromptu speaker said that she was weak in the use of vocal variety and demonstrating enthusiasm. The person who she thought was strong in those areas was Bob Harris, a member of the audience. So Allan said, “Bob is strong in vocal variety and enthusiasm. So for the next two minutes, pretend you are Bob doing this impromptu topic.”
After each participant spoke, Allan asked for feedback from the audience on how well that speaker did. Did s/he demonstrate effective use of the skill s/he was weak in? How so? What could s/he have done better? Everyone got involved and it was an eye-opening learning session.
The results were astounding. Participants who usually spoke quietly and with very little enthusiasm spoke up and were excited. They could do this because they presented as if they were someone else. Each participant’s weak areas improved.
The exercise demonstrated that the speakers really had the public speaking skills within them, but did not know it. During the impromptu talks, the participants discovered the presentation skills that they had hidden.
So Allan said to the audience, “Now you know you can speak with enthusiasm, with vocal variety, with gestures — you just demonstrated it. Now do it as you. Fake it until it becomes the natural thing for you to do. If you must, pretend you are someone else when you are speaking. Model his/her behavior until it becomes yours.”
The Public Speaking Process
So if you want to discover the hidden qualities that outstanding presenters have…
- 1. Identify your weak public speaking skills.
- 2. Identify someone who is strong in those presentation skills.
- 3. Model the strong speaker.
Soon, you will exhibit the modeled speaking behavior in your own style. In other words…
Fake it ’til you make it!
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