The audience doesn’t have the script

I was just speaking to a colleague who is giving a TED-Style talk at a conference in June. As an emerging thought leader in her space, she expressed both excitement and hesitance to present. 

The reality is that very few people embrance the days leading up to a public speech. The doubt seeps in…

“What if I forget my lines?”

“What if the audience already knows everything I plan to share”

“Is it too late to back out?”

Having presented HelloSponsor at demo days and in front of corporate executives*, I’ve adopted a mindset for public speaking that eases my nerves.

The audience doesn’t have the script.

This concept, as illustrated by artist Lenore Cohen, is applicable to public speaking as well as just about every conversation or presentation. If you think about it, the recipient in conversation has no idea what you are about to say. They may be able to anticipate your script, but they will never really know what is coming next.

#1: “How are you”

#2: “I just at 8 eggs, wished my mother happy birthday, and learned how to make ravioli”

Audiences typically remember three takeaways  from a presentation. As a presenter, you have the free will to steer the conversation wherever you want to take it. In the context of public speaking, the recipient doesnt know better. They can’t.** They don’t have the script.

– – – – – – – –

* Karoake is another way to prepare for public speaking. Get up on stage, mic in hand, in front of bright lights, and put yourself out there.

** Leo DiCaprio in Inception may have the script. But that’s it.


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