The Speaker Whisperer – What A Dog Can Teach Us About Public Speaking

by drjim on October 2, 2012

You need to know where you are going before you start to run

You need to know where you are going before you start to run

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.

We Are In This Together

Whenever I take my dog for a walk or play with him in the yard, I want him to have a good time. Likewise, he wants me to have a good time also. He knows that if I don’t enjoy myself then we won’t be doing this again anytime soon.

Your audience feels the same way. They really do want you to succeed. They have not come to watch you fail – what’s the fun in that? They are hoping that you deliver a great speech and that you’ll come back and do it again in the future.

I’m Part Wolf So Don’t Make Me Mad

Sometimes when I’m playing a tug-a-war game with my dog and he’s got the object that we are play-fighting over in his mouth and is grabbing on to it with his teeth, I’ll remember just exactly where dogs originally came from: wolves. No, I don’t think that my dog would ever do anything to harm me, but I treat him with respect just so that his wolf side never comes out.

Likewise your audience means you no harm. However, that relationship is a two-way street. They won’t harm you if you don’t show them any disrespect. That means that you need to make sure that in your next speech you don’t speak down to your audience, be rude to them, or dismiss them as being unimportant.

I’ll Always Remember How The Last Walk Ended

Every time that I play or walk with my dog I’ll keep doing it until I see that he’s starting to get tired and then I’ll make sure that we end on a good note. I’ll pet him and call him a “good dog” and he’ll wag his tail. Ending on a good note ensures that he’ll be looking forward to our next time together.

Your audience wants you to end your time with them on a good note also. They’ve invested their time in listening to your speech. Make sure that when you wrap things up that you make sure that it was worth their time. Give them something that they can either remember or use. They will remember your speech in a positive way long after you are done talking.

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.

When I’m walking with or playing with my dog, he wants me to have a good time just as much as I want him to have a good time. Our audiences want us to have a good time also – and be successful. We need to remember this when we are delivering a speech. A dog has sharp teeth and could turn on you if you treated him roughly. Your audience could turn on you also if you showed them disrespect – so don’t! Finally, how you end a play session with your dog will teach him how the next play session will go. You audience wants you to end your speech on a good note so that they can look forward to your next speech.

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

As we all strive to become better speakers, we tend to focus on the big issues: how to write a great speech, how to use our bodies to connect with our audience, etc. However, it turns out that sometimes it can be the little things that can trip us up. Things like using filler words in our speech.

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