I Suck at Speaking Authoratively

Day 10 of 30 of Writing Challenge

I’m not sure the exact name for it. I call it speaking with authority. These are the times you need to speak in public, on camera, in a small group. It’s when eyes are all on you and you are doing more monologue than conversation. Recently I was invited by Docstoc to participated in their Expert Video series. This series is where they invite different business owners and thought leaders to share their expertise on camera. They record around 10 clips each around 1 to 2 minutes about topics the speakers have experience with.  They then post the clips on YouTube.

I was nervous since this was my first time doing something like this. It also didn’t help that I had brainstormed a random list of topics the day before. Luckily the director / producer of these clips helped flesh out better talking points for the ideas I had brought in. When I first started filming my clips it didn’t feel very natural. I wasn’t sure where my eyes should have been looking. I felt like they were looking all over the place. I was told not to look at the camera and instead I was angled off to the side where I could look at a monitor for talking point cues. Anyway, it was awkward talking to a screen. I felt like a crazy person.

Not knowing where to put my eyes was not what bothered me the most. What bothered me more was my performance. I felt like I was just rambling (which is kind of how I write!), I didn’t like the sentences and phrases I used, and I didn’t speak with authority. The director even pointed this out to me. How by saying words like “hopefully”, “maybe”, etc… that I didn’t sound like an expert. I agreed. But the tough part was even knowing not to use the words in the flow of speaking on camera I stilled used the words. It was as if the words were ingrained in me. Part of my essence.

This got me thinking. How does one get better at speaking with authority. It’s not that often that I get invited to tape “expert clips” so outside of that what steps can you take to 1) Choose better words when speaking under pressure and 2) Not ramble and use string along good phrases and sentences? Speaking off the cuff (which is what we had to do for these videos…I didn’t have anything written down) is tough!

I’m always impressed by clear confident speakers. The ones with the silver tongues. For me I feel like there’s a big disconnect between my brain and my actions. Just as with writing I know the thoughts in my head, but when the execution part comes (the actual writing or actual speaking) that’s where I flounder. In my head I picture myself delivering filet mignon, but what I end up delivering is raw ground beef.

Writing is different than speaking. With writing you have this magical eraser, the backspace, to erase from history poor word choice, grammar mistakes, or poor sentence structure. That is if you don’t like something you can just erase it. However, with speaking you can’t backspace away your flubs. Even though speaking and writing are different, I can’t help but think that if you can write well than you should be a pretty good speaker. In the end the speaking and writing accomplish the same goal-getting what’s in our heads out into the world.

Part of me hopes that by writing more that I’ll be able to improve my speaking skills in addition to my writing skills. If all it takes is practice to get better how do we practice speaking? If no one invites you to speak in public or for a series of videos how can you get better? I’m thinking video blogging or just video taping yourself speaking about some random topic is probably a good way. I think I might give that a shot. Do I smell another 30 day challenge around the corner??

I’m tired…as usual. Good night (or really I should say good morning).

Day 4 of 30 of No Internet News Challenge

You know how people go on fasts to cleanse their bodies of toxins. I feel like that’s what I’m doing now.

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