Many people are discouraged of trying new things as they do not have the experience, do not feel qualified, and get ‘imposter syndrome’. In many cases, we think being a novice in something is a huge opportunity. We’ll focus on the benefits of being a novice in public speaking, as we believe that most people have interesting things to say, and we’d love to encourage more people to tell their stories and ideas to the world. The talks we often enjoy the most are by complete amateurs at public speaking – they are rich with authenticity, originality and rawness. Of course, you can transpose this philosophy to most professional fields (we’re afraid you can’t become a good surgeon by bringing a fresh pair of eyes.).
When the comfort zone just doesn’t exist
Being a novice in public speaking creates a few things. As you don’t have past experiences, you won’t stay in your comfort zone, as you will most definitely be out of it. You won’t keep using the same old tricks. You won’t think to ‘what has worked before’ or ‘how you’ve always done this’, because you haven’t done this. You won’t take things for granted when preparing a talk, you won’t take for granted that people will know about a specific topic, which will allow you to explain yourself better. You won’t take for granted that you will have any control of what you will be casting on the screen. You most likely won’t be sure what to do, so you will go with a simple Powerpoint, allowing you to focus on your content, instead of the style. As you don’t have the rules of the game, you will stay basic, but this will play to your advantage – it will allow you to prepare easily, and have a nice, fresh contact with the audience. You will avoid autopilot, which makes for boring talks.
Crafting your message as a novice
Being a novice in public speaking offers several advantages in the way you craft your message. You won’t take things for granted. You will be able to create something pragmatic, something that flows naturally, because you won’t try to do weird storytelling, or fit into schematics like the Guy Kawasaki template for start-up presentations (even if its a good template!!!). Being a novice will limit you in a good way – you will be less likely to try outlandish or complicated things that may detract from your message or make it unbearable completely. You will focus on what is important to you.
Authenticity, not gimmicks
By focusing on just what is important to you, you will be a more effective public speaker than most in the industry right now. Some of them are trying to create a TED feeling when it is not the place nor the time for it, others are trying to be like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. In fact, some of the best speakers on TED talks are the speakers who are perfect amateurs who capture people’s attention with authenticity and honesty. Authenticity can not be faked, and it is the number one value that makes for a good, engaging talk. Focus on what you want to convey, instead of focusing on what you think you ‘should’ do, or what other people think you should do.
Delivery is key
Being a novice can be interesting in terms of delivering. It means that the authenticity will be easily transmitted – you may not be able to keep your nerves under control perfectly the first few times around, but we would argue this plays to your advantage, allowing your authenticity to be perceived. Most of the time, nobody is going to judge you for being nervous. As you are new to this, your audience will have no preconceptions about your ideas or you as a person, meaning that people that are in the room to listen to you are not your enemies, they are ready to become your friends or followers. In the worst-case scenario, they are neutral.
Transferring these ideas into the workplace
‘A fresh pair of eyes’ is something that definitely exists. We should always seek a fresh pair of eyes in moments of doubt. However, first, you need the right pair of eyes – somebody without an agenda, somebody who will be able to give a constructive feedback. The main problem that stands in the way of any project progressing is emotional attachment. People who work on their projects as their ‘baby’ are the worst cases of this.
When people were pitching ideas to us, and we were giving feedback, such as: ‘You’re talking a bit too fast.’; ‘You don’t show your numbers in the best possible way.’ we often received escape answers such as ‘You didn’t understand the project well enough.’, and as you can imagine, that’s pleasant experience (This was the main reason why we created pitch.cards). These people were not ready to be tickled on their project in a productive way. All the crappy answers we’ve got over the years from people who did a crappy job presenting their business ideas made us a real believer in the importance of having a fresh pair of eyes. It is the only way to get around emotional attachment which stems from insecurity, ego, and time already invested. We have abandoned several projects once somebody said to us: ‘What would you say if it was my project?’. Of course, we would say to abandon it, but our cognitive bias did not let us realise this until we got somebody else’s perspective.
Being a novice is an opportunity, not a limitation
As humans, we have a choice what to make of every situation. We may let the fact we have no experience limit us, and make us feel like an imposter, or we may look at it as an opportunity to not be limited by existing preconceptions, experiences and habits. We may use it as an opportunity to grow, not just into public speaking, but in many professional disciplines, and we, cordially invite you to make best of these opportunities.
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