Public Speaking: A Case for the Outside-in approach

Inside out or Outside in?

We certainly don’t believe in actively focusing on your voice or physicality when you communicate.

It’s far too self-involved.

When you communicate, it should all be about the other person or people.

It should not be about what your hands are doing, whether you walk about or how much eye contact you give them.

If you’re focusing on these things, there can’t be much time or space for you to truly be connecting.

“Public speaking is generosity serving connection.”

Brene Brown

An obsessive focus on yourself is far from generous.

So, this would suggest a vote in favour of “inside out”- something we discuss at length in our post “Our Revolution in Presentation Coaching.” We don’t coach clients to focus on the externals when they speak in public. We invite them to go deeper to work out their reason to speak, and how they want to affect their audience. Inside out.

When clients get the wrong end of the stick:

“BUT: Albert Mehrabian’s research on communication breaks it down as the following, Chris:”

Words                          7%

Voice                            38%

Body Language             55%

“If that doesn’t tell you that the “externals” are important, nothing will!”

“It’s all about what I look like and how I sound.”

This all sounds very shallow.

It’s research like this that causes our clients to ask us all manner of “outside in” questions:

“How shall I stand?”

“Shall I grip the lectern or roam about? I’m quite dynamic. I like to work the room. Is that positive?”

Do what you want, honestly. We really don’t care. Neither will they. I promise you.

Ok. Let’s debunk a myth.

Mehrabian’s research showed that communication only breaks down into these 3 strands when someone is not “congruent.”

By that, I mean, when WHAT someone is saying is not backed up by HOW they say it. If your voice and body do not support the words that you say, then maybe people won’t believe or trust you. As they say, the body is the biggest lie detector that there is.

“So, voice and body ARE really important! They’re externals. Let’s work on those.”

Yes, but the externals are the results. We need to get the right conditions for these results.

You can be sure that all those external qualities that you pick up on in a great public speaker are not achieved by exerting any energy thinking about or “doing” them.

If you’re “doing” voice or body language, you will not be congruent. You only have to look at certain politicians who have clearly had public speaking coaching that focuses on these externals to learn that. Adopting powerful stances or attempting to drop the register of the voice. It doesn’t work. People pick up on it. It’s fake and inauthentic.

“So, what then? Voice and body are really important but we daren’t not think of them?”

Kind of, yes.

If you’re relaxed, truly connect with your message and your reason for sharing it with your audience, you’ll be congruent. As my partner, Jonny, says, “your voice and body just come along for the ride.”

Again, another vote in favour of inside out.

BUT “Outside in” vocal/physical prep can be a huge help:

In order to get into the best possible state for being entirely “congruent” and audience focused, there are some fantastic “outside in” approaches. I’m a huge advocate of using physiology to change the way that you feel, without having to exhaust your brain. Your body does it for you.

Sometimes, however much you tell yourself that everything will be ok, that you’ve done the prep and the audience are just people, it won’t cut it.

Your body says, “Who are you kidding? You’re a nervous wreck!”

The way that we encourage clients to prepare vocally and physically is 100% outside in. Get our “Vocal Conditioning Course” for a fantastic guide on how to prepare for any public speaking engagement. It’s all technique. There’s no inside out here.

Amy Cuddy speaks about “faking it until you become it,” with her power poses. Sure, initially, you are very consciously adopting open and relaxed physicality, and consciously controlling your breathing.

However, the result is you become these things- no longer faking it because you’ve changed your bio-chemical make-up.

Once you’ve done this “outside in” prep, you trust it, and forget it.

So in answer to the question, “outside in or inside out?”

A bit of both!

Confused? Don’t be. Stop thinking now and try the following out.

Here are 5 simple “Outside in” Prep tips to affect before your next public speaking engagement. I will be shocked if they make no difference to how you feel.

5 Easy Tips

  1. Open up and Expand
  2. Breathe Deeper
  3. Slow Down
  4. Be deliberate and move on purpose
  5. Smile and allow it to affect your whole body

Now, just go and have a conversation.

By Chris Wickenden, 16th July, 2019.

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