"The title seems so opposite to your sweet, demure image..." This was the email from someone in my networking group after reading the title of my new ebook, Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock Out Fear of Public Speaking. Of course, the title is so NOT me. There was a moment when I considered changing it. It's edgy and has a real New York energy. That's probably why so many of my New York City friends loved the title. But what about others? I took a risk and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. People from all over love the title!
It made me realize that playing it safe can cause us to stagnate even as public speakers. How many of you are giving the same tired speech? What are the risks you're afraid of taking? When you're introduced, do you hand over a boring bio or do you write your own ingenious introduction?
Do you default to being in control as the speaker or do you let go and engage the audience? It can be risky to open up a dialogue but the rich conversational nuggets can have a rewarding outcome.
Are you sentenced to speak to internal company groups or are you ready to take your show on the road?
What about your delivery? Are you wedded to your script or do you engage in repartee with the listeners? Are you willing to wade into the unknown waters of spontaneous humor and playing in the moment?
Does PowerPoint lead you by the nose or can you tell the story without a slide?
Finally, are you concerned about being perfect or can you risk being real? Telling your story can be one of the scariest experiences for a speaker. But here's the truth: People are swayed by emotion. They relate to people who are like them. They trust people who are honest enough to be vulnerable.
So if you're playing it safe and doing what you've always done, you're on shaky ground.
It's risky to play it safe. Even as a public speaker.
Tell me about the risks you've seen speakers take and how it impacted the audience.