Could Man’s Best Friend Also Be His Best Speaking Mentor?

by drjim on September 25, 2012

In our quest to become better speakers, we are always looking for both feedback and mentors who can show us the way. I know that I’ve looked high and low for folks who have skills that are better than mine and who are willing to take the time to show me how I can be a better speaker. I believe that a good mentor is more valuable than an audience with good listening skills or a set of effective presentation tips. It turns out that one individual who was more than willing to provide me with the guidance that I needed to become better has been living in my house all along. He’s my dog.

Know Where You Want To End Up Before You Leave

Whenever I put on my walking shoes and grab the leash, my dog knows that we’re going to be going for a walk. However, it’s never quite that easy. If you are going to be taking a dog for a walk, then you had better have a plan. Every walk starts out the same: lots of things to smell. We cover a lot of ground and then when everyone is tired, we head for home. We both know the game plan.
Your audience expects the same thing from you. You need to know where you want your audience to end up before you even begin your next speech. If you start out with them and they detect that you really don’t know where you are going with this speech, then they’re not going to be willing to go along with you and they’ll leave you mid-way and go home without you.

Simple Is Always Better

The experts say that a dog, no matter how smart they are, will never become any smarter than a 2-year old baby is. Hmm, what that means to me is that I can come up with all sorts of complicated commands for my dog to follow and he won’t understand a word that I’m saying. It is my responsibility as a dog owner to keep things nice and simple for my dog. Be clear, but also be understandable.
Your audience has not shown up to have you impress them with just how smart you are. Instead, they are there to learn something from your presentation. You can show them how smart you are by taking something that is very complex and making it simple and easy to for them to understand. Do this well and you’ll be a speaker that people want to come back and hear over and over again.

Know What You Are Trying To Tell Me

Dogs are wonderful at paying attention to what we are communicating to them in all of the different ways that we use. More than once I’ve caught myself telling my dog to do something while at the same time tugging or pulling on his leash trying to get him to do something else. The poor guy: can you imagine how confused he must have been?
Your audience will be “listening” to all of the different ways that you are communicating with them. This includes not only your words, but also your body language. As speakers we need to be sure to take the time make sure that our body language is in alignment with the words that we are speaking. If it isn’t then our audience will listen to our body language and not our words.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers, what we try to do every time that we give a speech is to communicate with our audience. We know about the importance of public speaking and we want our audience to experience it. It turns out that this is not an easy thing to do. What we need is practice and we need someone to show us the way. I believe that I’ve found a great mentor who can help me to do this – my dog.

Dogs are pretty smart. They know that before you take off on any trip, you had better have a clear idea of where you want to end up. Your audience will go along with you when you start your trip, but if it looks like you are lost, then they’ll leave you. Your dog is not impressed when you try to make things complex for them. Your audience is relying on you to transform complex topics and ideas into simple concepts that they can absorb. Finally, a dog relies on you to make sure that you words match your actions. Your audience is relying on you to make sure that your body language matches the words that are coming out of your mouth.

No, a dog does not make the best audience for your next speech. I mean after all, who has ever received a standing ovation from man’s best friend? However, the relationship that we have with our dogs can teach us a lot about the kind of relationship that we want to develop with our next audience. After all, isn’t that one of the real benefits of public speaking?

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

Question For You: Do you think that it is a good idea to tell your audience where you’ll be ending up at the start of your speech?

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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

In our quest to become better speakers, we are always looking for both feedback and mentors who can show us the way. I know that I’ve looked high and low for folks who have skills that are better than mine and who are willing to take the time to show me how I can be a better speaker. I believe that a good mentor is more valuable than an audience with good listening skills or a set of effective presentation tips. It turns out that one individual who was more than willing to provide me with the guidance that I needed to become better has been living in my house all along. He’s my dog.

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