Structure and overcoming Stage fright
In the previous article we saw that a disogranized speech leads to increased stage fright because (among aothers) it makes black-outs more likely. In this article we look at 2 practical solutions to the problem.
The structure solution
Paradoxically, the solution is not to say as much as fast but rather to prioritize. The laws of structure teach us to choose 2-4 important things to say and to censore everything else even if it results in not saying important, impressive, interesting or amusing things. Instead we divide our message to focus on the most important areas, we present them in outline form. Only then do we develop them, by turns.
Dale Carnegie, probably the first public speaking guru phrased it:
“Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
And then tell them.
And then tell them what you told them“
In this way of introducing our main points succinctly we protect ourselves from blacking out or getting stuck. The key points come out so early that we don’t have time to forget them or get confused, and once they’re out we are committed and so no longer have to contemplate what to say or make decision. This is important, because making decision on stage and under pressure is very difficult, a difficulty that often translates into black-outs.
How is Public Speaking like army training?
Stating the outlines out-loud is also reminds us of what we wanted to say.
Here our metaphor is not the kitchen but the firing range: The new recruits in basic training are under enourmous pressure and their instructors are under more pressure still. This is why they make the recruits shout every safety instruction: When the comanding officer says “hold your weapon up” they all shout “hold your weapon up”. The reason is that many researchers have found that saying what you intend to do reminds you of your plan and helps you get it done, even under pressure.