Men's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. This means most men would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. Why?
I went to my first dance when I was a sophomore in high school. Huddled in their comfort-zone cliques, all the guys lined up on one side of the room and the girls lined up on the other side while the music played. Eventually, the girls tired of waiting for boys to ask them to dance and started dancing with each other. One friend of mine, a big football player-he stood 6 feet 3 inches and weighed 240 pounds-said to me, "I would dance with her!" He nodded toward one of the cheerleaders, a short, slender girl with blonde hair and striking blue eyes. "Go ask her," I said with all the confidence of Don Quixote. "Oh no, not me," he replied with terror in his voice. What was he afraid of? Rejection is the frequent answer, but it is not the true one. The long walk back was the real reason for his trepidation. It's the Fear of Criticism and one of the Six Ghosts of Fear. I, on the other hand, had come up with a plan. I would ask girl number one to dance; if she said no, I would ask girl number two, and so on down the line. If they all said no, I was going out the side door and running home. Girl number one said no. Girl number two said no. Girl number three said no. Girl number four said, "I would love to!" I danced like a white guy, moving only from the waist up in slow motion. We left together three dances later. I waved at my football buddy as I left the dance with her.
Fear of Criticism: It doesn't need to hold you back from making a great presentation. In order to make a great presentation, you need only to follow a great recipe.
We will ask "The Six Honest Serving Men" (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, and WHY). Here we go:
WHAT is the purpose of the presentation? What do you want the audience to do?
- WHO is the audience? What is important to them?
- WHY are you being asked to present? What is it about you
that make you uniquely qualified to offer ideas on this topic?
- HOW long will you have, i.e. 10 minutes, 20, 30, 60 minutes?
- WHERE will it be? What is available to you (flip charts, white
board, or PowerPoint projector)?
- WHEN will it be? How long do you have to prepare?
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield ("I get no respect!") wrote in his marvelous autobiography, "A comedy routine is like a pearl necklace. One great BIT is a single pearl. String 10-12 pearls together and you have a fantastic necklace. A solid ROUTINE (necklace) in comedy is a series of well-rehearsed and proven BITS (pearls)."
Here is a formula I have used for 15 years to build dozens of keynotes and seminars. It will make preparation simple and provide you with a winning formula, a recipe for a world-class presentation.
QUOTE > STORY > EXERCISE Formula
"You will be the same person in five years, but for two things: the PEOPLE with whom you associate and the BOOKS you read."-the late Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, author, speaker, publisher
An old friend called me one day to say she was struggling. "I have been the top salesperson in three different companies over the last twelve years. I graduated magna cum laude from Gonzaga. I am dead last in sales currently and don't know what's wrong."
We met. I asked some questions and listened for 30 minutes. "Grab a piece of paper; let's make a list," I said. "List the people you spend the most time with, people who are influencing your thinking in every medium-friends, peers, television, radio, etc." When the list was complete, I said, "Now, put a plus sign next to their name if they are a Speedboat, pulling you forward. Put a minus sign next to their name if they are an Anchor, dragging you down." Once her list was complete, I asked her, "How much time are you giving each of these people?" One Anchor was a local radio station shock-jock DJ, some guy I had never heard of. "Who is this guy and why are listening to him fifteen to twenty hours a week?" I handed her a copy of my first book, Freedom from Fear, on CD and suggested she listen to that instead of the DJ for two weeks. "When you get sick of my voice and message, go to the library and borrow other CDs from guys like Jim Rohn, Lou Tice, Bob Moawad, Zig Ziglar. Then call me in a few weeks."
Ten days later, she called with the news. She had made the largest sale in the history of the company! She was delighted. She was back on top!
Pay attention to the voices influencing you. Associations can pull you forward or drag you down! It's a choice.
Now it's time to make your list:
1. Grab your journal and a pen. On one side list all the people in
your life, the ones with whom you spend the most time.
2. Put a plus sign (+) next to the Speedboats and
a minus sign (-) next to the Anchors.
3. Invest MORE TIME with Speedboats and find a way to waste
less time with Anchors. This is simple, but not easy.
4. Calibrate your attitude, productivity, emotional state,
and confidence in 21 to 35 days
There you have it, a formula, a recipe, for successful presentations. Calculate how many pearls you need to complete your necklace. Figure 10 to 15 minutes per pearl. Four pearls equal a 60-minute presentation.
One of my favorite professional speakers is Lou Heckler. He employs a very similar style to my own. He favors stories with solid business points and is a master storyteller. You can view his presentation, New Employees Often Have Great Ideas, here:
Now here is second presentation, from an indie rock band you may never heard of. It has over two million hits on YouTube. It is an uncommonly subtle, but gifted and unique, presentation that will make you say, "Wow!"
If you follow the Pearl Necklace Formula of quote, story, and exercise, you never have to worry about The Long Walk Back! You will be Dancing with the Stars. But hey, I can't help you with your dancing-white guys can't jump or dance.