Speaking Truth to Power

For those afraid of speaking …

(But) TED is a tough, pressured, hugely stressful gig, even for experienced public speakers, and I’m not that. Standing in the wings waiting to go on, I told the stage manager that my heart was racing uncontrollably and in an act of great kindness, she grasped both my hands and made me take breath after breath. And what you don’t see in the video – deftly edited out – is the awful, heart-stopping moment when I forgot a line, followed by another act of collective kindness, a spontaneous empathic cheer as I composed myself and found my cue. “That’s when the audience came onside,” an attendee told me. “You were human. That’s when you won them over.”  Guardian April 2019

 

This from Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist at the Guardian who has in this last year investigated the role of tech corporations and their platforms in influencing the workings of our democracy.  What makes her TED talk so compelling is because here she is facing those very same technology giants on their turf.  And speaking truth to power.

A more high-pressured gig is hard to imagine.  Carole openly admits to a fear of speaking, taking betablockers to speak at her own father’s funeral and so we can only admire the courage it took to step onto this stage, to deliver this message, to this audience.

 

Such a fear of speaking or presenting is very common, even amongst brilliant and capable people.  I wrote about this in a previous blog, proposing 9 ‘mantras’ that people could use to help change belief sets and address some of those fears.  In workshops I have often debated some of the assumptions I make about the audience in particular.  I fully believe that the audience is on your side and wants you to succeed in delivering a great talk/presentation … even if they don’t agree with you!

 

And so I called them out, in a room that included their peers, mentors, employees, friends and investors.

A room that fell silent when I ended and then erupted in whoops and cheers. “It’s what we’re all thinking,” one person told me. “But it’s been the thing that nobody had actually said.” Guardian April 2019

 

Isn’t that astonishing, yet in some ways not surprising?

Having the courage to deliver important messages is essential, even if it is bad news or difficult choices.  This isn’t just about presenting either.  How often have you held back from voicing an opinion at a briefing or meeting?  Or perhaps quietly seething because when you did pluck up the courage to speak, others hid behind a veil of silence, perhaps fearful of making a ‘career limiting’ intervention?

It is far, far too commonplace in organisations and within teams and management structures.

We should heed the words of Ghandi that “Truth never damages a cause that is just.”  And what is any organisation or institution if it isn’t just and accountable?

Carole Cadwalladr’s talk and subsequent articles encourage me to return to my themes around speaking in public, my list of mantras and perhaps consider some additions that might help you at your next briefing presentation.

 

  • The audience not only wants you to succeed but want you to say/do the right thing

 

  • You have the right to deliver this message if it is the truth

 

  • It’s ok to screw up or fluff your lines, we are all human and the audience will forgive you (and cheer you on)

 

  • Authenticity is more important than being perfect

 

  • Stories and metaphors will engage your audience and help their understanding (there are several in Carole’s talk)

 

  • If it’s important enough to you, you will rehearse it and rehearse it  –  yes, you can see some nerves in Carole’s talk but you have every confidence she will deliver because it’s important to her and she has rehearsed it … and rehearsed it.

 

  • We are – all of us – capable of delivering an effective message, even if we believe we aren’t natural public speakers

 

I hope Carole has given you inspiration to go out and deliver, present and speak with more confidence.  And most of all, connect with people through the medium of Truth.

 

You can see Carole Cadwalladr ‘Truth’ at TED 2019 here:

https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy

Also read more at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/21/carole-cadwalladr-ted-tech-google-facebook-zuckerberg-silicon-valley

 

If you need help with your Presentations or want to deliver skills training in this area then please feel free to contact me:

 

john.drysdale@noguru.net

Linkedin John Drysdale

Twitter @nogurultd

 

 

 

 

Posted by John Drysdale
23rd April 2019
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Speaking Truth to Power

For those afraid of speaking …

(But) TED is a tough, pressured, hugely stressful gig, even for experienced public speakers, and I’m not that. Standing in the wings waiting to go on, I told the stage manager that my heart was racing uncontrollably and in an act of great kindness, she grasped both my hands and made me take breath after breath. And what you don’t see in the video – deftly edited out – is the awful, heart-stopping moment when I forgot a line, followed by another act of collective kindness, a spontaneous empathic cheer as I composed myself and found my cue. “That’s when the audience came onside,” an attendee told me. “You were human. That’s when you won them over.”  Guardian April 2019

 

This from Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist at the Guardian who has in this last year investigated the role of tech corporations and their platforms in influencing the workings of our democracy.  What makes her TED talk so compelling is because here she is facing those very same technology giants on their turf.  And speaking truth to power.

(more…)

Coaching: Deep Impact

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The Immortal Memory: Robert Burns

Address to The Liverpool Athenaeum  2nd February 2018

I was delighted to be asked by club President Sir David Maddison to deliver The Immortal Memory at The Athenaeum Burns evening which I attended with my wife Fiona. This is a huge honour for any Scot and I hope I did it justice.  Burns provides such a rich tapestry I found it a real challenge to be succint and speak in a way that would connect with the audience – I chose to set Burns against the universal themes we recognise today and in the challenges we face in uncertain times.  I hope you enjoy it.   JD

 

The Immortal Memory – Robert Burns 1759-1796

The Athenaeum 2nd Feb 2018

President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow proprietors and distinguished guests.  I am honoured to propose the Immortal Memory this evening.

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