New at Speaking? Give listeners what they want to see and hear.

When we think of new public speakers, what often comes to mind is a behavior that tends to be a common barrier pattern – being needy.

There are several things we see of needy speakers. Tense behaviors that show their “nerves in action” commonly start with the hands and feet. This means that adrenaline coursing through our body when experiencing pleasure or anxiety transfers either to objects we are holding or to motion. It is not uncommon to see a speaker pace back and forth without stop or fiddle with objects (hair, remote controls, notes, coins in pockets, etc.) Instead, we love to see their dynamic expression with face and hands that illustrate the message they share. We love to see them moving forward to express their interest in their message, or some other movement in keeping with their tone and meaning.

We also tend to see the top of needy speakers’ heads. Because they are uncomfortable with looking at listeners, or they are mentally pulling their thoughts together at the last minute, they focus down. We don’t mind when they pause to look down for gathering further thoughts, but what we love to see is their eyes, their cheery or responsible faces.

We also hear common things from needy speakers. We hear excuses. We hear fragile voices. We sometimes hear nerves in the form of shaky voices or stuttering flow of thoughts. We don’t mind hearing vulnerable, personable, conversational-sounding content. We want to hear things that we can relate to without feeling sorry for the speaker. We want to hear things that take us by surprise and give us meaningful reflection.

Are you a new speaker? Instead of trying to deaden your nerves and control the adrenaline, stop the behavior of the needy. Don’t worry about using your hands. Don’t feel the need to stand still. Above all else, focus on your listeners and let the energy coursing through your body be put to good use.

Come alive with interest in your message and let your body follow suit. When you’re alive with your message, you gather momentum with ideas and experiences that take us by surprise, that pull us in and give us something worth remembering. When you do these things, you aren’t needy. You’re needed.

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