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Public Speaking – The One Thing We Are Not Talking About!

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Public Speaking – The One Thing We Are Not Talking About!

Let’s talk about something that we are not talking about enough in public speaking: You as an audience member.

In October 2018, I attended an event in Sydney where the featured speaker was the Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur, the amazing Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk). On stage, Gary Vee said that while he was travelling from the airport to the event, he noticed peoples’ tweets complaining that previous speakers had been selling.

Let’s examine this from an audience member etiquette perspective.

People in the audience paid to attend an event to receive education and personal development so they could improve themselves, their business and/or their circumstances in life.

This may even be with the end goal of wanting to take the same stage at a point in the future where they could share their business success with others from the stage. And, they complained about the speakers wanting to exchange their products and services for an investment, so that they could help that audience member and make a living out of it.

Here’s what is a little bit cray-cray about this mindset construct (and why we can do better):

If you are an entrepreneur (someone who is beyond being in business and exchanges time for money) who wants to build something of value that the world has never seen before, it will take time. Think of the 1999 image of Jeff Bezos that has been circulating on social media, in his original office with the Amazon sign and desk made from a wooden door.

I think it’s important that we appreciate that the person standing on that stage is an end result of a truckload of blood, sweat and tears over the course of years (maybe decades) of pushing past pain and possessing raw self belief, putting themselves through a lot, and persisting in the face of naysayers and complete adversity, over and over and over again.

In other words, a hero.

The good news about this way of audience member thinking is … It’s a mindset construct.

It can, therefore, be changed. I’m going to say that in line with Gary Vee’s theme of kindness and empathy, let’s do better. I feel that there is room for more kindness in public speaking, and we can all do better.

For many people, they fall into public speaking from achieving something great (that others want to learn). In other words, public speaking chose them; they didn’t choose public speaking.

Here are three tips on how you can be better as an audience member:

1. Be more self-aware.

If you are falling asleep in the front row, chances are the speaker will notice. If you are falling asleep due to the speaker, ok. If you are falling asleep due to you, be mindful.

2. Be aware of your facial gestures.

Think the term ‘resting bitch face’. It’s not an attractive term, nor is a face screwed up looking dazed or confused when you’re a speaker reading the audience.

3. Show kindness.

A speaker is a human being. Someone who needs time to prepare for their presentation. Read their body language and if they look like they may need to do something else (such as getting the technology set up), give them the chance to do so.

Speakers need feedback, not abuse. As an audience member, we play a part.

Let’s appreciate them and give them love and support along the way.

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