The External Battlefield of Public Speaking


The External Battlefield of Public Speaking

Sun Tzu Principle: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

We’ve just completed two podcasts about fighting the Internal War in public speaking.

As if fighting the internal war of nerves, uncontrolled adrenaline, fear of reputation and credibility meltdowns wasn’t enough, the public speaker is also fighting a war on a second front… an external war.

I remember being a keynote speaker at a conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. As is my custom, I try to get in and see the venue before the conference starts.

This lets me see the terrain I will be engaging my audience on.

Well, I stood looking at this auditorium, seating around 350-400. I knew I had a few ‘External Hurdles’ to overcome. I knew that English was not their first language and while I knew I could safely navigate external hurdle, what bothered me the most was the distance between the platform and the audience…. not to mention the height of the stage as opposed to the floor where the audience would be sitting.

I couldn’t see any stairs at the front of the stage allowing me to access my audience, meaning the only way down from that stage, where I could engage and connect with my audience, was out of sight… out a door at the side of the stage… which would never work.

As I stood and took all of this in, I knew that if I were to stand up on that podium, in this current set up, I would really run the risk of losing a large portion of audience. My reputation and credibility could be at risk… not from an internal source but from an external one.

I’ve learned, over the years, that there are some battles you simply will not win. This would be one of them. There was no way the conference organisers were going to totally change the staging set up just for me.

So, I did the next best thing… I asked if I could be introduced and stay on the audience floor. I gave every assurance that I only wanted every member in the audience to have full access to my energy, message, and passion.

They agreed and my keynote session went off like a five-alarm fire!

Here’s the action thought of the day… When you are the speaker, and the external environment is setup to sabotage you, do a recon on the terrain.

Look for ways to take control of the situation and if you can’t, then prepare yourself to execute to the best of your ability.

Bottom-line, do your homework. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

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