Sometimes you need a little extra juice to get the public speaking job done right.
And when that’s the case, it’s wonderful to know that you can don the Public Speaking Avatar of your choice and instantly bring extra pizazz and power to the proceedings.
What’s a Public Speaking Avatar?
Your Public Speaking Avatar is you… but enhanced.
- You, with more courage
- You, with more confidence
- You, with more wit, or sophistication, or focus, or whatever quality you’d like you to have more of
It’s a role, or a character, or a personna that you can put on, like a suit of Super Hero clothes, when you’re facing a tough communications challenge and need to bring out the big guns (so to speak).
And the beauty of your Public Speaking Avatar is that it’s based on you, so there’s no hypocrisy or dissembling involved.
Curate Your “Best Self”
I developed my first Public Speaking Avatar, “Corporate Girl,” as a way to stay calm and relatively collected while learning to write speeches in a world (corporate meetings and events) that I found foreign, intimidating, and confusing.
Corporate Girl wasn’t intimidated or confused. She was patient, confident, flexible, and assertive without being too defensive or brash. These are all qualities that I can sometimes muster, but Corporate Girl took things a big step further.
She could muster all of those qualities at once, without breaking a sweat or losing her sense of perspective.
She was a great ally to have around, and the more I practiced “feeling like her,” the more comfortable I became in her skin… until finally I replaced her (her job was done!) with my current Public Speaking Avatar, Jezra Warrior Princess.
But that’s getting ahead of the story…
How Do You Feel Like Your Avatar?
I guess you’d call it play-acting.
You decide how you want to feel—confident, competent, and friendly; or smart, knowledgeable, and calm; or any other way you choose—and then you practice feeling that way until you start being able to put yourself into that frame of mind at will.
This is what athletes, musicians, and other performers do all the time. It’s what the rest of us do when we have to pretend to an emotion we don’t exactly feel. It’s what’s meant by “fake it ’till you make it” (or in the words of confidence expert Amy Cuddy, “fake it ’till you become it”).
And if you don’t think you can make yourself feel something, recall the last time you psyched yourself up for work, or summoned enthusiasm for a friend’s story, or decided to jump into the party mood.
“Becoming” your Avatar is the same process—or it will be, once you’ve practiced a bit.
Get Your Body Into the Act
When I was practicing Corporate Girl, I found it useful to do specific, physical things, that helped me get in touch with her (or rather, with the parts of myself that are like her), and that also differentiated her from me. Those things included:
- Sitting up straighter
- Speaking more slowly and clearly
- Smoothing out my energy, which can be nervous and jerky
- Sucking up my messier feelings
Fitting these pieces together can take a little time, so enjoy the process and don’t expect instant perfection.
- You may go through a few rounds of deciding who you’d like your Avatar to be, and what qualities you want him or her to exhibit. (You’re basically answering the question, “How do you want to be perceived when you speak in public?”)
- Then you’ll probably have to fool around some to find out what it feels like to “invoke” and “inhabit” him or her.
- And once you get that, it’s likely that you’ll need more practice before you’re confident that you can put on your Avatar, each and every time, as needed.
But once you’ve reached that point, you’ll have a reliable, fun, and foolproof way to psyche yourself up every time you speak in public — and to release the Public Speaking Super Hero within!