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Public Speaking Lessons…from My Dentist

I have been going to the same dentist for ten years but we’ve never discussed what I do for a living. In fact, every time I go I make it a point to get out of there as fast as I can. But on Monday we engaged in post-Thanksgiving chit chat, and I was delighted to learn that my dentist is also a public speaker.


He travels around the country and gives over 30 speeches a year. I can picture him in front of a group. His friendly style and broad smile (not to mention his sparkling white teeth) would put any audience at ease. And if he’s as poised and confident in front of a group as he is when he’s drilling my teeth, then he must be an accomplished speaker.


Very Busy, Yet Very Bored

He confided that one of the most challenging aspects of public speaking is the repetitive nature of his topic. His message is the same from place to place, and he often gets bored. I frequently hear this same complaint from my clients and others in the public speaking community.  


How do you keep yourself excited and alive, even when you feel like a wind up toy regurgitating the same words over and over? And does the audience pick up on the subtle nuance of the speaker’s energy and enthusiasm? Can the audience tell when you’re bored, faking it and on automatic pilot?


I think they can.


Your audience deserves more from every speaker who stands in front of them. So if you’re bored with your material, it may be time for a cleaning and polishing to create a shiny new speech.


Time to Recharge

Here’s a simple process that will help you go from boring to exciting in a very short time:


Self Awareness: If you want to feel the same passion and excitement you once felt when your topic was newly created, gaining self awareness is the first step. Ask yourself, “How long do I want to go on feeling this way?” and “What can I do to create change?” If you’re ready, the time is now.


Creativity: The best speakers spend a lot of time putting their content together initially, and that’s what’s needed now. Take the time to revise and develop your message. Find and create new examples, stories, jokes, facts, quotes, and statistics. Feel yourself stretch again. Ask yourself, “What else can I do to stay on my toes?”


Anxiety: If you make enough changes to your material you may find yourself a bit anxious, just like you were when you gave your first speech. Enjoy it. It means you are alive! It’s impossible to feel anxious and bored at the same time, so congratulate yourself that you’ve succeeded in your effort to renew. And make sure you practice in front of colleagues and friends before you go live…just like you did when you started out.


Renewal: Once you re-work your material and try it out on friends and colleagues you have successfully broken the spell of boredom. You will be rewarded by new feelings of excitement and passion.


Shine Every Time

Embrace this process at the first sign of boredom. Better yet, be proactive. My dentist recommends bi-annual cleanings. Why not institute that same cleaning schedule for your speech? When you revitalize your old material so it feels fresh and new, you’ll dazzle your audience and yourself every time you present.

December 2nd, 2009 | Permalink | Trackback | Bookmark and Share

4 Responses to Public Speaking Lessons…from My Dentist

  1. Roland

    You make a great point about keeping talks fressh. It is too easy to churn out the same talk over and over again.
    Each time a talk is repeated it would be good to look for new illustrations.

    If you are using references that new more up to date ones are added by researching the subject again.

    Audiences do notice if we are in repetitive mode. I am sure many of us remember our school days where a teacher was just churning out the same stuff each year and obviously was thinking of something else whilst teaching us. Such teachers lacked enthusiasm and it did not inspire the students.

    We don’t want to be like those boring teachers!

    Refresh the material and practice it like it was the first time we had seen it.

    We will be better speakers for our efforts.

  2. Angela DeFinis

    I appreciate your comment, Roland. Keeping things fresh is certainly one of the more challenging aspects of public speaking, especially if the presenter is used to the rhythm and flow of their presentation. I recommend incorporating stories, examples, quotes and other rhetorical devices that are specific to the audience to add originality. Some presenters resist this because it pulls them out of their comfort zone-but what could be more uncomfortable than feeling bored and disinterested in your topic?

  3. What to do when you are bored, faking it, or on auto-pilot | World Champion Evaluator

    [...] out the article here. Share and [...]

  4. Barton Maxi

    Remarkable . I am editing a website on dentists and what you wrote is very helpful.

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