Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Be a Leader: Public Speaking from a 9 year old

I am a leader in various settings; personal training in development, Cub Scouts, community groups etc and one day, as I was preparing I asked my son if he knows what it means to be a leader. He thought for a moment and said:

"Eat first and drink lots of water. But not too much.
Then use the bathroom.
Dress properly or pretty.
Know what you are talking about.
Be prepared, practice and have all your stuff.
Talk clearly and loudly.
Look at the audience.
Make sure it isn't boring.
Don't look rushed.
Don't fool around.
Have a good attitude.
Smile and have fun!
P.S. If you want to be extra nice bring goodie bags."

Amazing. He summed it up! Funny how people pay thousands of dollars to learn this, when it pretty much is natural to know this. All he did was think about what works for the leader and the guests.

So why is public speaking so challenging for most of us? Why does it rate higher than death on the list of human kinds top fears? Why would people rather DIE than get up and speak or be a leader?

FEAR of course. Fear of looking bad.
I wondered lately...
WHO is looking?

In most cases, whether making a toast, doing a talk at church, leading for teen empowerment or at public speaking at Cub Scouts, WHO is looking are people who are actually all on your side. They are there because they have a common interest, connection, cause or goal. They are there to support you or what you are up to. They are interested. They wouldn't be there if they weren't. Even if they look bored and swear they don't want to be at that board meeting you are presenting to, think about it, no one has a gun to their head. They can leave, they might loose their job, but it's still their choice to have the job in the first place. They are there to connect with what you have to say. There is no reason to survive them. They will not hurt you. They are there to learn from you. You are simply giving them information, contributing to them. Your job is simply to say it loudly, clearly and have some fun doing it.

Would it be that easy? Ah....the problem is that knowing makes no difference.
KNOWING how to be a leader is a far cry from being one.
So to be one...look to who you are BEING.

Most of us never do this, we just think about what to DO and the doing-ness gets us flustered and being a way that is totally not engaging.
Think about it, two guys can walk into a job interview and do the exact same things, say the exact same things, and have the exact same resume, but if one guy is being fearful that he won't get picked and the other guy is being a's pretty clear that the results for the two guys will be completely different right?

Once you have cleared up your fears and drive to survive and look good, turn to who you are being.
Are you being:
A Contribution?

Consider that your job during public speaking n is not to "get it right" but to get PRESENT. BE what you are saying. Be moved by what you are saying. FEEL what you are presenting. Be present to the intention you have, what are you intending for guests to be left with? Why are you there? Who are they to you? Who are you to them?

Answering the above questions, and creating what your intention is before you lead, and creating who you are being,is the pathway for a presentation that has openings to be an engaging conversation, and that, when it includes them and is about them, (not you) is really what leading is all about.

Zen Honeycutt

This blog inspired by what I have learned in the training at

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