What Accupuncture Taught Me About Public Speaking

Last week, I was at the doctor's office getting my second acupuncture treatment for a shoulder injury. The first treatment went well. I enjoyed the stillness as the doctor silently inserted the needles along my arm and neck I expected to feel a sharp jab. But I didn't feel the needles. It sounds hard to believe but you really don't feel much. It felt relaxing as I sat there hooked up to electrical stimulation for about 20 minutes. The following week I had another appointment and this time the doctor was very chatty and loud. He inserted a needle in my neck like the last time but this time I yelled out, "Ouch. That hurt". What was going on? The doctor kept talking. He probably felt more comfortable chatting with me but I preferred the stillness to the conversation. He left while the acupuncture did the work. When he returned, he was quiet as he removed the needles. Ahh. No pain.

I pondered why it hurt the second time and realized that he wasn't centered, in the moment, in the zone, or on me. He was focused on his verbal chatter. It made me think about public speaking. We can give the same presentation and be good one time and off our game the next time. While there are factors such as time of day, the audience, the room temperature, the venue-these are excuses. A professional speaker can rise above it all. I think we lose our momentum, the magic, the impact when we change our focus. When we turn our focus inward on our insecurities, nervousness, or the bad day we had it's like walking on pins and needles. We lose focus when we forget the reason we're speaking is to make a difference, an impact on other lives. Just like the experienced doctor who talked throughout the procedure, when we have a monologue with ourselves instead of speaking to the audience, it can feel like that jab in the neck. Public speaking is not about running our mouths. It's about connecting. It's about conveying a message. It's the meeting of minds and hearts in the words and in the silence.