Have you ever been in the zone?
That’s an expression that athletes use (musicians call it being in the groove) to describe the exhilaration you feel when everything comes together so well that an activity seems almost effortless.
Public speaking has a zone, too.
I’d argue that the the public speaking sweet spot (illustrated above) comprises four major elements. You enter this magical zone when you’re able to lightly keep your awareness on:
- Content (“mind”)
- Delivery (“body”)
- Serving your audience (“mission”), and
- Being yourself (“style”).
The reason most business speeches are so deadly is that three out of these four areas get neglected. Speakers focus so exclusively on content that they forget to use their bodies, convey a sense of purpose, and show some personality.
No wonder their audience is asleep!
You Do This All the Time
If you’re wondering how you’ll ever be able to focus on all four things at once, note that:
- You’re probably able to drive your car, monitor the radio, talk to your passenger, and make a mental note to buy milk. (Four things.)
- If you teach second grade, you’re probably able to explain a math problem, monitor your class, check off items on your lesson plan, and make a mental note to contact Johnnie’s father. (Four things.)
Some people call this “multi-tasking,” but you’re not really doing four things at once. It’s more about noticing what’s going on around you, in a relaxed and fluid way.
Practicing and the Sweet Spot
Here’s yet another reason to practice public speaking: Getting really familiar and comfortable with your content will free up energy that you can focus on other things, such as:
- Your audience, and how they’re responding
- Your body (rhythm, gestures, voice)
- And most importantly, just being yourself, so that your speech isn’t being delivered by a robot!
Most of us have the capacity to do this, and speaker coaching can help you learn how.
So remember: If you want to move your public speaking skills into the sweet spot, bring your mind, body, mission, and style.
You’ll be glad you did — and so will your audience!
Illustration by Nicole Kenney