Great Speakers Aren’t Afraid To Stumble On The Way To The Top

by drjim on December 6, 2011

Great speakers always slip up before they become great

Great speakers always slip up before they become great

A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to get up and give a speech if you knew that it was going to turn out badly? Even though we all know the importance of public speaking, I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – speakers who do a good job get asked to speak again, those who don’t are never asked back. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.

How To Kill Your Public Speaking Development

In your speaking opportunities right now, what would happen to you if you failed? That post event review would be a tough one to sit through, right? Let’s face it, failure is not something that is rewarded in our speaking opportunities and in fact it’s something that we all actively avoid if we possibly can. The benefits of public speaking are great, but failing at giving a speech is something that none of us wants to do.

However, maybe we’re just setting ourselves up for a much bigger disaster. Can we all admit that the world as we know it is changing? What audiences are looking for in a speech is changing and in our world of iPhones, Blackberrys, and Twitter we are now competing with many other sources of information al the time. We all know that the way that the world used to be is long gone.

Something else is changing also: what is asked for when you give a speech. The first speech that you ever gave probably wouldn’t be asked for these days – things have moved along. The speech that you may be preparing to give, no matter how many clever presentation tips you are planning on using, probably won’t asked for in what, 2, maybe 3 years from now. This all means that you are going to have to change and change involves risk and along with risk comes the very real possibility that you are going to fail.

How To Become A Success By Failing

Well, that failing stuff doesn’t sound like it’s going to be any fun. But wait, has anyone else ever failed? Turns out that yes, in fact most successful people can look at their past and point to failures that helped them to get to where they are now.

The poster child for this kind of “good failure” would be Howard Schultz – the guy who founded the Starbucks chain of coffee shops. We all know and love the Starbucks store today, but when Howard first started it he really blew it. There were no chairs, he played lots of opera music, and his menu was in Italian. Clearly he quickly realized that he had failed, adjusted, and went on to become a big success.

You can do the same. You just need to learn to make lots of small bets when you give a speech. Some of these bets will pay off, and some won’t. It’s through what you learn from the failures that you’ll be able to make tiny changes to your approach and try, try again.

If we keep doing things the same way that we’ve always been doing them, then we will eventually stagnate and then we’ll go into decline. However, if you have the courage to start to fail and to learn from those failures, then the future contains limitless possibilities for both you and your speeches.

What All Of This Means For You

Speakers who are afraid to fail will never become a true success. Oh sure, they may do ok for a few years, but when things get really rough, they’ll wash out.

If you are willing to adjust how you view failure, your speaking can take off. If you can start to look at failures as being simply being learning experiences that are not be feared, but they are to be used to become a better speaker then you’ll be able to grow and become better at what you do.

No, you can’t be an idiot about this and do silly things that cause your speech to fail – don’t try to test your audience’s listening skills, but if you try your hardest and your speech still fails than you will have learned what doesn’t work. The big deal is that it takes courage for you to be able to do this.

Speakers who are a success have to had failures in their past. It’s from the forge of failure that the steel of success is formed. Learn how to make small bets so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Do this well and you’ll become a successful public speaker.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to get the person who has invited you to give a speech to become comfortable with failures as a sign of success?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it’s really important that a speech that you’re giving make an impact on your audience, then it’s going to be really important that you do a good job of writing the speech. Hmm, so I’m sure that you can write a speech, but do you know how to write a great speech? It turns out that there are three characteristics that every great speech has (that are even more important than presentation tips!)

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