The Public Speaking Imposter Syndrome

Posted on 22Jun

{3 minutes to read}  When I was starting out as a public speaker, I was told to go to Toastmasters. At the time, they had a booklet of ten speeches to learn — 10 different skill sets of public speaking and I was advised to stop after those 10. I thought that I could actually teach people to speak but you don’t have to know how to speak, you just have to speak with passion. 

Some people might argue that classes are useful. Maybe they want to get the feedback or the right mannerisms. They might be doing something that’s overly distracting or they just need to practice speaking. You can be a public speaker without spending thousands of dollars on being coached. You can learn presentation skills from a book, or from what I call “YouTube University.” At the end of the day, it’s all about the information you impart.

Sometimes presentation training can actually do more harm than good because it can give you so many parameters and so many rules that after a while, you’re not being yourself anymore. You use the correct posture, gestures, and speech effects. You don’t tilt your head. You stand up straight, don’t pace too much, walk with purpose, move with your gestures. You spend so much time trying to do it perfectly that your message gets lost in the details.

The Impostor Syndrome

The impostor syndrome is where you feel like you are a good speaker but when you get off the stage, you begin to dissect your performance. You feel like you forgot to say something, or you said it the wrong way. A lot of executives that I’ve trained and done business with feel like that. They feel like impostors.

Maybe it’s helpful for some people, but if you really want to be a professional speaker, all you have to do in this day and age, is to be authentically you. Many people experience the impostor syndrome because they talk about authenticity but they don’t really understand it and are not really authentic.

A lot of executives think that they need to memorize their speech or write it down. They need to touch on certain points and they want to build trust and credibility, and be clear and energetic, and want to be included or embraced by the audience. The truth of the matter is if they speak from the heart and they just authentically touch on the points that they want their audience to remember, the audience will get it. It comes from connection.

When we’re talking about the business side of public speaking, a lot of people feel the same thing as far as the impostor syndrome. It’s about, “Why would event planners pay me to speak? I’m nobody. Nobody knows me.” But you’re the only one who knows that. You’re the only one who knows that you started two days ago. 

You can speak to an event planner with confidence and charge what you are worth, even though you feel like you only started yesterday — and maybe you did start yesterday. Some “green” speakers still make a lot of money — six figures a year is very easily attainable no matter how long you have been at it. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your audience is and the more they will be able to hear and understand the message you are trying to convey.


Orly Amor

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