The Two Psychological Underpinnings of Masterful Speaking.
Updated: Mar 8
What separates great speakers from good ones? We could answer in terms of techniques but that leads us toward imitation. Understanding how great speakers think allows us the possibility of being ourselves as we progress in the skill of speaking.
There are two aspects to the thinking of great speakers that free them to reach a masterful level.
Being in the Present.
By being in the present I mean giving active and clear-minded attention to what's unfolding in the moment. When it comes to speaking, you might think of it as listening, not just with your ears but also with your eyes. And the listening does not stop as you speak. It is a state of being in which you are continually attuned to what's happening in and around you.
Being in the present is both self awareness and other awareness.
It allows you to recognize when what your are doing or saying isn't working and to change course. It allows you to respond to your listeners with finesse.
Silencing your Ego.
Your ego is the part of your personality that wants to make you more important than others. It may help you to think of your ego as a creature inside your head that sometimes sleeps (a good thing) and, other times, speaks up loudly (a bad thing). It's the voice inside your head that makes you anxious before a talk. It encourages you to demonstrate how much of an expert you are by droning on about everything you know. It often directs you to play it safe.
Silencing your ego may be best achieved by elevating your listeners' importance in your mind, not just as you develop presentation content but also as you speak. With your listeners consuming not just your full attention but your full intention, there is little room for your ego to take control.
Both being in the present and silencing your ego are difficult and ongoing challenges. But, for those that want to move from good to great as speakers, the effort is worth it. In addition to the satisfaction that comes with being more effective, there's a joy and serenity to being both fully aware and ego-free. Keep trying.