Two Important Public Speaking Lessons You Can Learn from Elvis Presley

A few months ago, I drove through Memphis. Anytime I'm in Memphis, I have to go and visit Graceland. I have a little bit of a crush on Elvis, I have to admit. As I'm going through the Graceland museum, all of a sudden, I see a quote on the wall.

"I've never gotten over what they call stage-fright. I go through it every show." -Elvis

Elvis, the Elvis, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, the one who has commanded huge crowds, the one who could make any audience fall in love with him, had stage-fright. How did Elvis manage to overcome this fear of public speaking, go onstage, and be amazing?


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Sam Philips, the man who founded Sun Records and Sun Studios in Memphis, and who was the first to record Elvis, said this about him, "Elvis is one of the most introverted people to come into the studio." Did you know that Elvis was an introvert? It may come as a surprise to some because a lot of people think of introverts as people who are shy, which is not true. Being an introvert doesn't mean that you are shy and Elvis certainly wasn't shy. A lot of introverts are not shy and are actually very social. Being an introvert is all about how you drain your internal batteries and how you recharge your internal batteries. As an introvert, when you're surrounded by a lot of people, you drain your batteries and feel exhausted. When you spend time alone, that's how you recharge your batteries. You feel rejuvenated and you feel like new.

Elvis, obviously, spent a lot of time surrounded by thousands of people, and he drained his batteries during the concert. In order for him to drain all of his batteries the way he did, and he gave 100% at every show, he needed to recharge his batteries before each show. Here is what he did. He had his trailer parked about a thousand yards away from the venue where he was performing, and then he walked all the way from his trailer to the venue by himself, alone, or at least as alone as he could get, not talking to anybody and not allowing anybody to talk to him. He was completely centered. He was completely alone and that was his time, right before the show, to recharge his batteries so that he could go onstage and give his audience everything at every single concert.

What we can learn from this is that if you are an introvert, like me, it's very important that you have a good sense of where your internal battery is at all times. If you feel drained, if you've just spent a lot of time with people, you need to step back, spend time alone and recharge your batteries. Particularly, before a talk. For us introverts, it's very important that before the talk, we do not drain our batteries because then we'll have nothing to give the audience. If you're about to give a talk, do not go and mingle with a lot of people you don't know because that may create additional stress and drain your internal battery. This would mean that when you go onstage and your battery is not full.

Before a big presentation, you need to spend a few minutes alone to recharge your batteries completely. You need to focus on yourself, you need to focus on your audience and what you're planning to say. You need to focus on your talk and you need to have this alone time where nobody's interrupting you so you can stay in your head and recharge your batteries.

There is something else that I want you to know about Elvis and his stage-fright. Remember the quote I read to you at the very beginning? Well, this quote actually continues.

"I'm pretty concerned, I'm pretty much thinking about the show. I never get completely comfortable with it, and I don't let the people around me get comfortable with it, in that I remind them that it's a new crowd out there, it's a new audience, and they haven't seen us before. So it's got to be like the first time we go on." -Elvis

I love this quote because it shows the essence of being onstage, the essence of connecting to your audience, and the essence of public speaking. This entire quote is about focusing on what you have to give and giving it. Elvis was a giver. He gave 100% of what he had during every single concert and if you look at this quote, read it, and internalize it, you will understand that the most crucial thing about public speaking is to be a giver, not a receiver. It's not about what I can get from my audience. It's about what I can give to my audience. If you look at every talk as your first talk, even if you do it million times, if you look at that audience as a brand new audience every single time and you focus on how much you can impact your audience, how much you can transform your audience, and how much you can give of yourself to your audience, you will be a great public speaker.

I wish you all the best, take care!


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