"If you want to fail at presenting,
believe your audience is there because of you.
If you want to succeed,
believe you are there because of them."
Once I realised leaders speak differently from managers
and technical people, there was no stopping or turning back. I studied everything I could lay my hands on about how leaders touch hearts and minds.
It turns out they do it based on how the brain receives, processes and remembers information. And they do not only speak to the rational mind, like most managers and technical people, but to the instinctive and emotional minds too. Because we all make decisions on all of these three levels even though we are only conscious of the rational one. And this applies to decisions regarding technical and rational topics alike.
Presenting like most people do will make you like most presenters. Average.
Presenting like leaders do will make you like leaders. Extraordinary.
But I was in for a surprise.
Growing up, thanks to my own and my parents' interests and professions, I had learned a lot about storytelling in film and literature. My university studies of English linguistics and literature taught me how to construct powerful stories that evoke emotions and how to make messages memorable and implant them into audiences' minds so that they can work their magic there and drive decisions.
To my astonishment, I understood that I had been learning about speaking like a leader for decades without being aware of it. My hunger to learn more kept me studying different aspects of public speaking meticulously and with a critical mind.
The pieces of the puzzle fell into place. It was time to share.
A workshop in Frankfurt, Germany, 2016.
When I started teaching how to speak in public in a brain-friendly way, my analytic mind, critical thinking and training as a teacher helped me break everything down into understandable, manageable and applicable chunks which even my most technically-minded clients would master easily.
I was able to make sense for them of what was abstract and seemingly sometimes even bordered on the esoteric. I showed them that speaking like a leader is not a talent, but a skill which everyone can become excellent at.
A conference workshop in Sitges, Spain, 2015.
A workshop in Munich, Germany, 2015.
Remote training for UNESCO in Brazil, 2015.
Although my focus is not on competing in public speaking, but on doing it and teaching it to others, it felt good when my presentation was voted the best one at the 2015 IATEFL BESIG annual conference in Sitges, Spain, or when my session was one of the seven selected out of 31 for the D95 district Toastmasters conference in Brno, the Czech Republic in 2017. It was also a pleasure to be on the jury for the University of Central Lancashire International Business Communication Best Presentation Award in Paris, France in 2012 and for the English Speaking Union's 2017 International Public Speaking Competition in Brasilia, Brazil.
While changing the mindset of an average public speaker to that of a leader includes many details, when I am asked to boil it down to one piece of advice, I usually sum it up by saying:
If you want to fail at presenting, believe your audience is there because of you.
If you want to succeed, believe you are there because of them.
Teaching you how to use what we know about the brain to your advantage when presenting, opening your eyes to what makes public speaking a powerful tool beyond what you could imagine before you understood how to do it the brain-friendly way and seeing you grow as a public speaker and leader are what drive me. And my favourite place to make this all happen is the training room.
Hope to see you there.