How to Use Your One-on-one Conversation Skills in Public Speaking

For a lot of people, fear of public speaking stems from the fact that you’re standing on a stage in front of a lot of people. My students often tell me, “Well I'm great one-on-one. It's just when you have more than one person. When you have 10 people. When you have 100 people. When you have 1000 people, that's when I am afraid, but I'm not afraid one-on-one.” Well today's video is all about how you can take your one-on-one experience and transpose it to public speaking.


If you prefer audio only, you can listen to the full episode on my podcast below or on iTunes.

Let’s start by focusing on how we speak one-on-one. You look at one person, you are only talking to that one person, and all of your energy is geared towards that one person. And you're not just talking, you are also getting feedback from this one-on-one conversation. Even if you're the one doing most of the talking and the other person is mainly listening, you are still reading feedback from that person right? You are looking at that person, and you read the signs. You can see how the person nods. The person may be smiling. The person may be crying about the stories that you are telling him. There are so many signs that the other person is going to give you that you can read to understand what the other person is thinking about.

Let's look at public speaking now. What is public speaking? You're standing on stage and you're having a conversation with a huge group of people. It doesn't seem like one-on-one, does it? But what if we made it a one-on-one conversation? What if you go on stage, and instead of talking to the sea of faces, instead of talking to this gigantic group of people in front of you, you picked one person at a time and had a one-on-one conversation with that one person at a time? If you pick one person, then you can focus all your attention on that person. You can make eye contact with just that person. You can read that person's feedback and all of a sudden it feels like a one-on-one conversation.

Now you're only going to have this one-on-one conversation for a few seconds. After a few seconds, you're going to look somewhere across the room. You're going to find another person and have the same one-on-one conversation with that person. Now you're focusing only on that person. Now you're only making eye contact with that person, and now you're reading the feedback from that person only.

If you look at public speaking as one-on-one conversation with a lot of people, then it becomes manageable, right? It becomes easier. It becomes more natural to us because again, this is something we're used to. Of course, the key here is not to spend the whole hour of your presentation talking to one person. You speak to any one person for only about three to seven seconds, and then you move on to a different person, then you move on to a different person, and so on. In this way you're looking across your audience, you are talking to everyone, but at the same time, you're not. At the same time, you are having a one-on-one conversation with one person at a time. Again, we do one-on-one conversations on autopilot all day long, so take what you know, take what you have experience with, take what you're good at, and apply it to the situation where you're standing on stage and you have to talk to hundreds of people.

I hope find this strategy helpful during your next presentation. Have a fantastic day!


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