Let's face it. As public speakers, most of us love the attention. It's a great ego boost to see your name on the program, to be approached afterward with praise of your work and to receive inquiries regarding future engagements. If you're an established speaker, you're probably making a nice income as well. You're on top of your world.
But are these good reasons for speaking in public? I don't think so.
Zig Ziglar is famous for reminding us that you can have everything you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. So let's think for a moment: does your audience want to know how good a speaker you are? Do they benefit from seeing your name on the program? Will their lives be enriched by how many copies of your book are sold in the lobby afterward?
A not-so-famous person once wrote a poem in haiku that goes like this:
The meaning of lifeConcentrating on yourself instead of your audience causes more problems than it solves. Being conscious of self during your presentation can heighten nervousness, which negatively affects your delivery. It can also prevent you from reading your audience to see if your message is being received well - you're distracted and can't (or won't) see the signs. Verbal interaction with the audience (Q & A, for example) will seem stilted and appear self-serving if you're more worried about how you look and sound than how well you can meet their needs.
Is cleverly disguised as
Service to others.
-- Richard Daugherty
It behooves us all (especially as public speakers) to remember this: focusing our energies on helping others in any way that we can will guarantee that all of our needs will be met. Why is this so? Because human beings instinctively want to repay a kindness. To be sure, there are the glaring exceptions, but generally you'll find this to be true. Try it out for yourself in little ways and you'll be amazed at what occurs.
What can you do to get the focus off of yourself? Firmly decide that your task from now on is to fulfill your audience's needs and desires, not your own. Find ways to entertain them, to inform them, to challenge and inspire them. Take on the cloak of humility - be genuinely grateful for any praise or compensation you receive. Constantly look for opportunities to give credit to others for their contributions and kindness. Adopt "how can I help" as your mantra.
My intention here is certainly not to minimize your personal needs or desires. What I am saying is that anything you need or want will come to you automatically if your focus is on helping others. Keep your wants, hopes and dreams private. They're not important to anyone else but you and your mate. Spending your energies on helping others do and be and have more will fill your life with joy, leaving little time for self-involved thoughts and pursuits. And this will change your life. For the better.
My challenge to you is that from this day forward, you regularly evaluate your motivations for being a public speaker. Don't focus on yourself. Do it for the right reasons.