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The "Other-Conscious" in Public Speaking

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In my last post, Contagious Enthusiasm in Public Speaking, I talked about how being overly self-conscious can inhibit your effectiveness as a public speaker. I also know that public speaking is a valuable way to enhance your career growth. I promised to explore the idea of being fully "other-conscious" a little more deeply.

Communication, of course, is what we project managers spend the majority of our time doing. Public speaking is common enough for us.

All communication is about sharing meaning. To be effective, we need to have a good understanding of whom we are talking to and what will influence his or her understanding of the message we are trying to communicate.

The best communicators have a keen ability to be very attuned to the other person. It helps them develop a rapport that makes real understanding happen more readily.

Effective public speakers bring this ability to the group setting. They master the ability to be dialed in, not to the group, but rather, to many individuals simultaneously.

Some people who are extraordinarily good in "one-on-one" situations can be very ineffective as public speakers because they find it so distressing. Much of what people find distressing stems from self-consciousness -- they are overly concerned with how people perceive and react to them.

Forget self-consciousness. Be other-conscious. If everything we do is focused entirely on the listener as an individual, it can help us have the kind of rapport essential for good two-way communication.

The mistake people often make is to view public speaking as addressing an audience -- a nameless, faceless and even a potentially hostile audience. Rather, we should view our listeners as a collection of individuals with whom we need to establish separate relationships in order to effectively communicate with them.

But don't ignore yourself in the process. On the contrary, because of the importance of the speaker's role, visibility, prominence and leveraged influence, the speaker must pay particular attention to him or herself. And that means, with a mind toward the other.

What do you think? Does being self-conscious help you be other-conscious in all communications, not just public speaking?

Read more about speaking in your project management career.
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1 Comment

Concerning other-conscious in public speaking; I found your information encouraging. I often speak to young people on the subjects of reptiles, nature, biodiversity,etc. I focus their attention by displaying a specimen or picture(less catchy than a live animal) and then guide my talk into science happenings of current interest. An example might be to show an iguana and tellabout the dicovery of fossil Obamadon gracilis and 80 other extinct reptiles from WY,USA of 60 mya compared to the fauna of today's Amazon basin. Self-consciousness fades away as audience interest increases.

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