It’s Not as Complicated as You Think
About a year ago, I decided to create an e-learning course (the kind that you buy, download, and then take at your own pace) on public speaking. [NOTE: I’m still working hard on the course, though I’ve given up trying to predict when it will be finished. :-))]
And since I love coaching people—working with them individually on the specific challenges they face—I found myself trying to answer what seemed like a big, intractable question:
How do I make a pre-recorded course that feels as spontaneous as a coaching session?
Even though I was pretty sure there couldn’t be a good answer to this question —because, after all, how can something that’s pre-recorded ever be spontaneous??!—I spent lots of time thinking about possible solutions, like:
- Course design: Should users be able to spontaneously jump around between lessons?
- Downloads: Would linking people to, say, the 250+ blog posts on this website, or my book on public speaking help them customize the course to their own needs?
- Annotations: How about putting some cute little pop-up comments in the course videos; would that make it feel more interactive?
And though I spent months perseverating about this challenge, the answer was right in front of me all along.
The Simple Solution is Often to Just Talk to the People!
If I’d been able to book a speaker coaching session with me, the conversation might have gone like this:
J-Coach: So what’s bothering you about this exciting new course you’re creating?
J-Client: I want it to feel like a coaching session, not a lecture, and I don’t know how to make that happen.
J-Coach: Well, how are coaching sessions different from lectures?
J-Client: Lectures are more structured. They’re pre-planned. In a coaching session, I’m responding to what the client brings up.
J-Coach: So lectures are more about the game plan, but in coaching sessions, you’re just…talking to the people?
J-Coach: So what if you just talk to the people when you’re recording videos for your course?
My goal was to create a spontaneous e-course. But to be clear, Just Talk to the People is a techique that’s good for creating many outcomes.
That’s why I’ve been recommending it to my clients for years!
- If you’re not the world’s #1 expert on a topic, understand that an audience can still learn from you, and just talk to the people about what you do know!
- If you’re not comfortable speaking to a large audience, understand that each audience member feels like they’re an audience of one, and just talk to the people as if you’re speaking to one person.
- If you have to deliver a negative message (lay-offs, tightening sales quotas, new procedures), understand that your audience’s perspective is valid, and just talk to the people with respect for how they feel about your news.
Talk to Yourself before You Talk to the People
The bottom line here is that how we show up as public speakers has a big impact on what our audience experiences.
Maybe you don’t need to “fix” some real or imagined technical issue.
If we show up confidently…respectfully…and yes, spontaneously, those qualities will come through in our presentations—whether we’re speaking to one person, or a crowd; from a pre-written script, or off the cuff.
So if your approach to a public speaking challenge somehow doesn’t feel right to you…consider the answer that finally occurred to me: