When your boss says to you, "You've got to give a speech next week," does your heart sink to the floor? When your department manager says, "I'm counting on your talk next Tuesday to get our new project off with a bang," do you want to run for the hills or sink into a rather large hole and not come up until Wednesday? Or do you nod confidently, give a wink and a big smile and say, "No problem. I've got it nailed!"
Why does the mere thought of speaking in front of a group of people turn grownups who are otherwise calm, confident, successful performers in the workplace into frightened little kids? What is so terrifying about the sound of our own voice?
Speaking... for anyone who has not yet figured this out... is sexy. That's right, giving a speech in front of a roomful of people you don't know and will probably never see again... or worse, that you do know and will have to face at the coffee machine tomorrow... is one of the sexiest ways to communicate known to modern humankind. Think about it. Where would civilization be if men and women hadn't learned to talk?
Back in the good old days, several millenniums ago, human communication took the form of a few all-purpose grunts and groans. One grunt for yes, two for no, three for "Keep your distance, you stink!" Thank goodness, over time, we've progressed a lot further than that.
When you think about it, most human beings look pretty much alike, body-wise. We have a head, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet. They come in standard colors, with some variations, within a pretty narrow range of size, from short to tall. We dye our hair and wear different clothes to distinguish ourselves and make us easily identifiable. But what attracts us to each other, and what keeps our species going great guns, is not whether we're tall or short, blonde or brunette or which pair of pants we put on that morning, although those things are important. By far the sexiest thing about us is what we say and how we say it.
The essence of getting to know people is learning what they think and feel. What is important to them? What do they believe is appropriate, ethical, acceptable behavior? The essence of communication is the ability to express what we think and feel in a way that will draw others to us, encourage them to agree with us or at least respect our point of view, and thus make them want to be in our orbit, part of our lives, and to make us part of theirs.
When you get up to speak in front of a group of people, you are expressing the best part of yourself. You're giving them the gift of you... your knowledge, your beliefs, your talent, and your generosity. You're encouraging them to understand that you have something to share that is going to benefit them. They're going to be more knowledgeable when they leave than they were when they came in. They're going know something valuable to them that they didn't know before.
They're also going to know something about you that they didn't know before. The more compelling you are, the more openly and transparently you give the gift of your knowledge, the more enthusiastically you share the benefits you're offering them, the sexier you will appear.
The power of your voice is the sexiest tool in your arsenal when you're offering your audience something that will enrich them. The more passion in your voice, the more attractive you'll be, and the more eager the audience will be to jump on your bandwagon. Their eyes will be riveted on you. Their ears will hear exactly what you want them to hear. They'll come away with something they can then share with others, and they'll remember you forever as the one who first gave it to them.
Wow! What a gift! To be remembered as someone who inspires with the power of your voice! Think of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!" John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!" Martin Luther King, Jr., "I have a dream!" What they said and how they said it is what makes them memorable.