Few skills matter more than effective communication. Yet soft skills are often the hardest to master. To get some tips, I interviewed my good friend, Tristan de Montebello.
Readers of Ultralearning will remember Tristan became a finalist for the World Championship of Public Speaking after a seven-month intensive project. Since the book has come out, Tristan has built a coaching practice around helping people be more confident communicators.
In our interview, we share the story of how he got good at public speaking, as well as the methods he’s found most successful in his coaching practice to make people more confident communicators.
Check out the full interview:
Here are some of my favorite parts…
Why it’s important to “stay in character”
The easiest thing to change right now, without any training is the concept of staying in character. … Next time you speak, you bring forth your confident self. It’s just a mindset shift.
Staying in character means, if I fumble, I don’t go, “oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.” If I think I’m losing everybody, I don’t say, “You probably don’t understand what I’m saying.” Just take a breath, you re-route and you keep going.
Turn on confidence like a switch
You think people are looking at you, that they’re really paying attention to every single word you’re saying, every single movement you’re making. That’s simply not the case.
People are not listening to your words, not really. They’re kind of making up a story in their own mind. As I’m speaking to you, Scott, you’re probably thinking about this podcast, “hey, are we going too long? Do I need to re-route this? What’s a good next question?” You might be thinking about your audio and tech setup. Your mind keeps going back-and-forth.
If you realize that, the details that are so evident to yourself don’t really matter. If you can take that out of the equation, suddenly you can turn your confidence on.
Confidence is just a switch, and you can gain 30-40% more confidence just by deciding, “I’m going to be more confident.” We prove this all the time in our workshops where we get people to speak and then we say, “Okay, do it again, but this time be more confident.”
The important difference between skillset and mindset
The biggest shift we discovered was that people’s skillset was usually much higher than their mindset. Everybody has been speaking since they were thirteen to fourteen months old. We’ve been training all our lives. We all feel comfortable speaking to someone in the world: our partner, our friend, our mom.
We already know how to speak, to tell stories, we already know most of the basics of speaking. The real problem is not only have we not experimented with that under pressure, but we don’t believe we can do it under pressure or in a different environment, because we’ve never really been there.
All of our practice is around putting you in a safe environment, where there’s no real failure because everybody is in it with you, and you’re just getting a ton of reps, under pressure. We just have a bunch of games where we tweak different things—throw random words at you, we make you complete sentences, we force you to take very long pauses in the middle of your speaking.
Put all of that together, and get enough reps in, and all of a sudden you feel more comfortable outside of this world. I start feeling more comfortable in my team meetings, I speak up a bit more in my group of friends, these little incremental shifts start happening.
If you’re interested in improving your speaking skills or getting rid of your speaking anxiety, you can learn more about Ultraspeaking here. They have a free version of their product which draws on Tristan’s learnings from his journey to the finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking.