The reason I panic when posed with the earlier question is because I want to sound authentic without boring people, and compelling without sounding overly rehearsed (even if this is the case).
I usually mention two things. The first is that I am driven by a desire to help others; the second is that I wanted to provide a “playbook” for people to master public speaking quickly. One minor reason—I actively avoid disclosing—is that I am a book fanatic and have often fantasized about seeing my own book on a shelf, but I digress.
“Cut it out and give me the real answer,” my grandmother interjected as I responded over lunch. Being that this was my genuine answer, I felt stuck. Feeling cornered, and slightly threatened, I thought hard and came up with three benefits I gained from my journey:
- Research: Great speakers know the importance of researching your topic. This applies to writing also. Once you select the topic that you would like to write about, you feel motivated to become an expert in that area. After a while you are equipped with more speech material than you ever thought possible. For instance, while writing my book, I discovered that people are just as nervous speaking to a virtual audience as they are when speaking to a real audience (Kothgassner et al, 2016). Research is not always easy, or exciting, but it is valuable in many ways.
- Resilience: I was faced with constant challenges before Speak was published. My initial cover designer waited weeks before revealing that they had no experience in designing books of my “genre”; my initial editor doubled their rate after assuring me that their work “shouldn’t take very long”; finally, I revised the manuscript at least 100 times before it was released. Looking back, I am grateful for this process. My ability to be resilient filled me with a sense of pride in the finished project. Resilience is critical to have when you are a professional speaker and circumstances don’t go as planned.
- Respect: “They’re not gonna’ read it Steve,” said my marketing consultant with a delightful British accent, when I told him how much effort went into the book. He could probably see the fumes coming from my head, because he quickly followed it up by mentioning that it is more important that people know that I am an author. He was right. The simple fact that you have taken the time to write a book makes you appear more credible, trustworthy, and authoritative as a speaker.
I believe that every person has a story in them. Why not take your story and share it in a way that makes you credible, trustworthy, and authoritative before you utter a single word?
Should you decide to publish your own book, I would hope that my story helps you to see it through. Please let me know what you discover on your journey.
P.S. If public speaking frightens you, or make you nervous, take a look at my book here. You will be glad you did. :)