It’s A Dog’s Life: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Public Speaking

by drjim on September 18, 2012

Become a better speaker by becoming a dog whisperer

Become a better speaker by becoming a dog whisperer

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.

I Don’t Care About Your Problems

Dogs have some sort of 6th sense – they can pick up on it when your day has not been going well. If you try to fake it and take your dog outside to play after a long day where nothing seemed to go right, they’ll quickly lose interest in playing with you because your heart won’t be in it.

The same thing goes for your next audience. No matter what’s happened to you before you take the stage, your audience really does not care. They are there to hear you talk about some topic and they have no interest in the disagreements that you had with your mother, the car problems that occurred, or the issues that you are having with your boss. Just get up there and be in the moment.

You Had Better Know Something About Dogs

Being a dog owner does not require a great deal of training; however, there are a few basic items that we all need to know. This can range from the simple such as how to properly walk a dog to the slightly more complex such as knowing that you should never give a dog chocolate.

I confess that I suffer from the flaw that if asked, I’ll pretty much give a speech on any topic – even if I don’t know what I’m talking about. This is a bad idea. Your audience will quickly be able to determine if you know what you are talking about and if you are clueless, they’re going to pick up on it quickly. Be selective in what you agree to talk on and stick with only the topics that you really understand well.

You Had Better Have A Plan

The worst thing that you can do to a dog is to tell them that you are going to take them for a walk and then dawdle as you get ready to head out. As you busy yourself with tasks that have nothing to do with going for a walk, your dog is going to be getting more and more agitated with you. You really need to have a plan and stick with it.

Your audience is going to be willing to give you their attention at the start of your speech. However, they won’t give it to you for long. You have to grab their attention and justify holding on to it if you want to be an effective speaker. If you don’t do this successfully, then the iPods, iPads, and iPhones will all be coming out and you will have lost your audience.

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.

My dog has taught me a lot. He’s shown me that no matter what has gone on in my day, when I stand before an audience I need to let go of it all and just be in the moment. He is always reminding me that I can’t just show up and hope to give a good speech, I need to do my homework in order to make sure that I really know what I’m talking about. Finally, no dog in the world will wait for you if you don’t know what you’re doing. He’s lets me know that I need to be decisive when I’m giving a speech and I have to grab an audience’s attention and keep it.

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: What would be the best way for a speaker to “shake off” the events of a day before starting to speak?

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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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