You as a human are in the relationship business.
You form relationships with fellow humans, you develop relationships with pets, and yes you even build relationships with abstract concepts like public speaking.
Just like any other, your relationship with public speaking could be healthy or toxic. If it’s healthy, you want to maintain it and nourish it, and if it’s toxic, you want to heal it.
Improving your relationship with public speaking takes two things.
- Awareness: Knowing where you stand in the relationship.
- Work: You have to put in the effort to get good at it.
Of course, there are two major differences to a public speaking relationship over your relationships with another human being.
One, there is no way out of public speaking.
No matter how hard you try to hide, run, or outsmart public speaking, you will eventually find yourself confronting it. If you thought you’ve outsmarted everyone in your organization and avoided public speaking for now, just wait. I’ve coached clients who avoided speaking in public for over 20 years and then a shift in management forced them to step into the spotlight.
Two, public speaking will never love you back.
That concept brings me joy because that is where I can help!
However, a good relationship with public speaking will enrich your life. Instead of getting consumed with worry and fear the next time you have a presentation or a speech to give, you can start to relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself.
A good relationship with public speaking will allow you to speak more often at your organization, and showcase your expertise and you will realize career advancements and recognitions that were not available to you before.
A Good public speaking relationship equals good things happening to you.
The 9 Relationship Levels All Public Speaker Go Through
The purpose of this article is to help you gain awareness around your public speaking relationship. The first step is to realize that you have a relationship with public speaking. The second step is to understand at what stage of the relationship find yourself.
Knowing what level you are in will help orient you and show you what is possible.
Level 1: You hate it
According to the National Institute of Mental Health: 74% of Americans suffer from some sort speech anxiety. Naturally, if you have anxiety around public speaking, you would hate it. As a normal human being, you would hate anything that gives you pain. If you are at this stage, then you need to get out of the pain and start working on your public speaking skills and your mindset towards public speaking.
Level 2: You hate it sometimes
If you like public speaking in certain contexts, and hate it in others, you might fall into this category. You might have contextual anxiety, but with practice and skills, you can perform well. You get to this level with training and exposure to different situations. Most of the times you power through your anxiety with brute force. This level is better than Level 1 but can still be exhausting to endure.
Level 3: You are ok with it
You have a neutral stand around public speaking in all situations. You have no problem with it, and you just go through the motions and get your presentations over with as quickly as possible. However, at this stage, there is no joy, excitement, or fulfillment when you speak. Usually, you get to this juncture by taking classes, coaching, and long-term practice. But at this stage, you still have not found your voice, your fundamental philosophy, or a topic you find yourself passionate about yet.
Level 4: You like it sometimes
At this level, you are neutral in most situations. However, in some contexts, you find yourself excited about the possible opportunities. I like this level because public speaking is not a chore anymore. It’s something to be enjoyed like a good drink on occasions. You are here because you have gained some mastery over your public speaking skills and you know how to move an audience. Also, you have found a topic that you are passionate about and one that people want to hear. One in which you feel knowledgeable.
Level 5: You like it most of the time
Here you have a real skill set around public speaking, and you have many topics in which you can speak on with skill. Also, at this level, you have the skills to bring whatever subject you speak about elegantly back to your area of passion and expertise. In some cases, you are neutral about public speaking, but in most cases, you enjoy speaking. This stage is a great place to be.
Are there levels beyond level 5?
Possibly yes. I think that level 5 is practical enough and it will get you anywhere you need to go in life and career. It’s possible to be totally in love with public speaking and that you like to speak at any venue, and about any topic. But is that what you want? I believe that you can spend a whole lifetime on level 5 and that alone will be massively rewarding to you.
As a human, you can’t help but form relationships with other people and things, ideas, or concepts. Your relationship with public speaking will probably have the biggest impact on your career. So heal the relationship if it needs healing, nurture it if it needs nurturing. But don’t ever neglect your relationship with public speaking. It all starts with awareness of what level you are on and then you can start working on improving and continuing to the next stage.