Do you remember your first driving lesson? Mine was dire, dreadful, disastrous! My German old-school instructor reminded me of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. The gas, the brake, the mirror, the gear shift, the pedestrians, the yells of my instructor – and all at once. My only thought was: Who can possibly learn this? It is impossible!
Today, any car driver on this planet proves the great Nelson Mandela right: It always seems impossible until it’s done. Today, do you think about the turning angles of your front and rear wheels when you park your car? Do you struggle with stop-and-go? Do you even look at the highway in front of you?
Learning how to speak in public is like learning how to drive a car. First, it seems impossible. A millions of things to consider at once!
In the end, you don’t even look at the highway in front of you. You just know when to shift your vocal gear. Your gestures become as smooth as steering the wheel. And your eye contact? It is like checking the traffic in the rearview mirror.
Is there a shortcut to becoming a formula one driver like Lewis Hamilton? No. Like driving, public speaking needs practice and feedback, practice and feedback, practice and feedback. Just make sure the person who gives you the feedback is not Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.
There are better instructors for the purpose of public speaking. The best driving school I know is called Toastmasters International.
And if you want to avoid that your first driving lesson is a dire, dreadful, disastrous experience, below you find 57 ideas for improving your content… beforehand.
Photo by Henning Witzel