I had my first public speaking gig in a long while. I was to stand on stage and deliver a simple enough seminar on Radical Entrepreneurship and Leading with Brilliance.
I coach entrepreneurs as well as actors to perform with passion, so it was time to walk my own talk. How can I coach my clients accurately unless I subject myself to the same experience?
I was excited and unafraid by the prospect. I love performing. It’s in my blood. I’d been an actress for years. And through what feels like a lifetime of constant humiliation, setbacks and slaps in the face, I have grown a pair of balls. I can do this. Acting is my craft. I would nail this talk no question.
Except, I didn't.
How could someone as experienced as me flummox and stumble over my words?
Outwardly I was still cool as a cucumber. I offered massively valuable content and spoke clearly, albeit at breakneck speed.
Internally however I was undergoing a mini crisis. I couldn’t breathe so well and my leg began shaking horribly.
I was convinced my performance sucked.
Truth is my performance simply felt a lot less brilliant than it actually was. Many people personally congratulated me on an inspired delivery and others emailed me with their gratitude.
But I learned something big that day and this is what I want to share with you. It’s a lesson that has since transformed my public speaking from pain to joy (almost).
The first lesson is to develop radical self-awareness – something I lacked during this last talk. You have to be self- aware if you have any hope of being authentic in pitching and communicating.
Once we become more self-aware, we can start to narrow the gap between our inner, more truthful reality and our outer facade. We can become more real. And when we do that, we show our passion and conviction. It feels liberating because we no longer have to hide.
But being self-aware is only one part of the story. We also have to give a fuck.
In fact, the number one insight I can impart to you is to show that you CARE whenever you speak. You need to switch your attention from yourself and place it onto your audience so you can start figuring out how best to serve them, not yourself. What value are you bringing them? What do they most need? And how are you going to meet their needs? Will you do everything in your power to figure this out moment to moment?
This is empathy. This is real attention. This is power.
When you can do that, you damn well forget about your nerves. You stop overthinking the moment. You only care about whom you are talking to and how you are going to enrich their lives. And you care so much that passion is your only gear.
When we pitch with passion and empathy, we possess a ferocious commitment to our objectives no matter what. Because we know it’s important. And this is what draws people to us. This is what convinces people to partner with us.
The sad fact is that many of us fail to speak and act from this authentic place. Instead, the inner fire only flickers and often wanes.
Because passion takes guts.
To show we care deeply about what we do, we need to become vulnerable. And that is going to hurt my friends.
Few of us really want to do that. It’s exposing. So few have the stomach. We’d rather pretend to give zero fucks. We would rather be cool. Me too. I rarely want to show my cracks. But I push myself every day to edge a little closer to my truth.
What disappoints me continually is just how many people out there pitch business for short-term gain. They bang on about themselves and themselves only. They sell their “amazing” lives and take their selfies by the pool with their shiny new Rolex. They then tell you that you too can crush it. Just do what they do. Be like them. Buy their quick-fix service or product. Then they disappear as quickly as they came. There is no longevity because there was never any real value or depth.
I’m not against this modality of business. Takes all sorts to make the world go round. But I’m not interested in it one bit. I only care about the people who are going to fight through blood, sweat and tears to make a real, lasting, sustainable difference to other people’s lives. I focus only on bringing out the passion and grit in those people. It’s the only thing that excites me. I don’t care about your accolades or your tightly wound Gucci belt. I care about YOU. And whether you want to play big or small. If you want to play small, I’m afraid you lost me.
Back to my talk.
I screwed up because I refused to be vulnerable. I pretended to give zero fucks, which is very unlike me and felt all wrong. Yes I’m great at winging it, but I don’t just want to wing it. I want to add real value. And the only way to do that is to get authentic.
I am a big believer that authenticity is the number one driver of long-term business and opportunity. It’s what gives you credibility and charisma. It’s what adds maximum value to yourself and the people in your world.
So I encourage you to show you care. Truly. Speak with every ounce of the passion that drives you. Otherwise what’s the point of opening your mouth? Know exactly why you are speaking and why it’s so damn important. And if it’s really genuinely that imperative, then are you going to go all in no matter what?
Because if you don’t go all in, you clearly didn’t care enough.
When you care, even if the sweat is pouring down your face and your words stumble a little, it won’t stop you. You will step away from the business banalities and speak with a powerful depth. You will get vulnerable and you will pack an enormous punch. This punch will set you apart.
It takes balls of steel to be vulnerable. It's not for the faint-hearted.
But as Brené Brown says:
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
Are you ready to take it on?