“I really want to be a better public speaker,” she said. “I want to be a more confident, more relaxed and more engaging when I speak to groups.”
“Well,” I asked, “How often do you speak to groups?”
“Hardly ever,” she replied, shrugging. “I tend to avoid public speaking like the plague.”
“That’s going to have to change,” I said. “
To be a better speaker, you’re going to have to speak publicly—as often as you possibly can.”
I’ve had variations of the above conversation too many times people who approach me for presentation skills coaching. They talk a mean game about what they want to be (a better public speaker) but avoid actually doing the thing they say they want to be and do (public speaking). Which means they are never going to become better speakers, because they’re not regularly doing the very thing they say they want to be doing.
I concur with Paul Coelho, the author of the beloved, multi-million selling allegorical novel, The Alchemist, who says, “You have to do what you want, to be what you want.”
For example, if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write (which is, by the way, how I managed to start and ultimately finish my book, Touch the Sky: Find Your Voice, Speak Your Truth, Make Your Mark, which just won a gold medal in the visionary/inspiration category of the Global Speaker Awards….)
If you want to be a pianist, you have to sit down at the piano and play.
If you want to run your own business, you have to actually start a business and run it day in and day out.
It might feel good to massage your dream by talking about it, but it doesn’t take the place of actually doing something about it. Avoiding doing the very thing you say you want to do and be (e.g. not writing, when you say you want to be a writer) either means you really don’t want it, or are letting your fear (of success? Of failure?) stop you from doing and being it.
To be a writer, write.
To be a pianist, play piano.
To start and run a business, start and run a business.
To be a better public speaker speak in public…. Regularly and often. Stop talking about getting better as a public speaker—instead, get better as a public speaker by speaking in public! By actively saying yes to every public speaking opportunity that comes along, and creating opportunities to speak to groups, you’ll turn yourself into the confident, engaging public speaker you know you can be.
Be honest with yourself: Are you a talker? Or are you a doer? If you talk more about doing what you know you should be doing than actually doing it, how could you change that behavior?
What dream is languishing unfulfilled because you are avoiding doing what it takes to create it and inhabit it?
What could you do right now to be what you want to be?