Approach to Public Speaking

When you are a public speaker you are a leader.  

You are the content provider.  You are the 'expert.'  Sometimes this is true only in that moment.  Somtimes this is true long before and after your presentation.  We associate leadership with specific physicality.  If content was the only thing that mattered your audience could read a book to gain the same information.  

I believe in teaching speakers how to craft the entire message.  This includes combining story, facts and logical reasoning into one message.  It involves finding the arc of the audience experience.  It involves crafting your appearance and visual aids to gain you credibility and enforce main points.  And it involves crafting your nonverbal message to communicate good will, competence, and power.

Public speaking is an essential skill.

That's why it's included in the general education courses, isn't it?  It allows us to participate in our community.  It is powerful.  It is about human connection.  It is as much about listenting as it is about talking.  Content and Charisma are equally important.  Appearance and the overal package, including visual aids, can frost your cake or end you in a muddy bath.

Because I come from both a communication science and a theatrical background, I find that my perspective is unique.  Public Speaking textbooks instruct students "not to act."  Business books on speaking suggest that speakers be "natural" without defining what that means, or acknowledging the unnaturalness of the situation.  Sometimes written content is championed over the ability to communicate said content with sincerity and confidence.  Writing and organizing messages recieves significant focus in our education system.  Non-verbal communcation is often not taught at all.  We do our students a disservice by ommiting this attention.

I do have extensive acting training and experience.  But I also have a masters in comminucation, and my thesis sought to quantify persuasion through the combination of narrative and factual information.  I have developed issue-based performance content professionally for 8 years, and I continue to freelance my skills in this area.  I am a constant advocate for well-written content.  I am also a constant advocate for perfecting one's non-verbal content.

What's the difference between public speaking and acting?

Effective acting relies on a foundation of performance skills.  Effective performace does not require that one 'act.' 

I differentiate between performance skills and acting skills.  Public speaking requires a touch of performance.  Performance, or physical delivery, includes projecting your non-verbal delivery skills over a distance.  It includes understanding the non-verbal message you are communicating and working with it so that you are intentional with your message.  It is the non-verbal content of your message.  Often, the speaker's performance embodys the emotional content.  It explicitly communcates the source (speaker) history and legitimacy.  

I associate acting with taking on a character other than yourself.  Others may associate acting with a lack of sincerity or the feeling of "fakeness."  I understand this.  There is a lot of bad acting out there.  Also, a more oratorial style of acting is still popular in specific theatres across the nation.  Acting does not mean fake.  The best acting is emotionally honest and sincere.