Why public speaking is like running a marathon
(and it’s not about how fast you can run off the stage!)
Public speaking is a lot like running a marathon.
As strange as that may sound, it’s true!
If you have ever run a marathon or have seen someone prepare for it, you know the amount of hard work that goes into it. It takes weeks and months of preparation and training.
Running a marathon is not an easy feat. It challenges you on multiple levels; you must be mentally tough, physically fit and emotionally sound to make it to the finish line.
Interestingly, the journey to becoming an ace public speaker is similar.
It is paved by hard work, commitment and an undying zeal to excel. It too challenges you on multiple levels and tests you beyond compare. You have to be mentally agile, physically motivated and emotionally charged to excel in the field of public speaking.
When you walk up to that stage or into the boardroom for that all important presentation, you are at the starting line of the race. It is the depth of your content, the confidence in your voice, the connection with your audience and your self-assured stance, that comes together to propel you to the finishing line.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
7 ways public speaking is like running a marathon
1) Preparation is everything
You would never show up for a marathon without preparing for it. Would you?
If you are serious about it – and don’t want it to be a miserable experience – you’d definitely put in the work required to train. That is the exact case with public speaking. Excellence in public speaking takes preparation and commitment. If you intend to make a difference or put forth your views on a topic you have to be well versed with the content.
Just as you’d want to know what course you will be running on, a public speak needs to understand your audience well. This will help you in creating content that would suit your audience. Thus, making them engage and understand you better.
2) It’s nerve wracking
The thought of running over 26 miles can be both terrifying and intimidating. The uncertainty of the performance and outcome further makes it hard. Similarly, giving a presentation or a talk to a room full of people can be quite scary.
What if we told you that it is okay to be nervous and that it’s okay to be scared? What if we said that it is but natural to have butterflies in your stomach before the main event?
You have been training so hard not only to build your stamina but to make it to the finish line. Similarly, you must remember that you have been preparing for this speaking commitment for a long time. It is now that you have to put your practice to test.
Use fear to your advantage. Channel it in such a manner that it helps you focus better and keeps you motivated. Let your fear transform into power and keep you sharp!
3) Practice is the magic word
Practice is the magic word for success. The more you practice, the better you run on the track. It boosts your stamina and efficiency. Regular practice not only builds you from within but also drastically raises your chances of performing well in the marathon.
This concept can also be directly applied to public speaking. The more you practice the art of public speaking the more you build the emotional muscle memory and habits you need.
Practice will reduce your chance of errors or mishaps. You’ll also be in a better position to answer questions and queries thrown at you by the audience.
4) There is always a next time
If you are running your first marathon, chances are that you may falter slightly more than those more experienced.
So do you give up?
No, you practice more, train harder and try again.
In the same way, the art of public speaking takes time to master. You might encounter few glitches and blunders the first few times but they soon will become things of the past. As you grow in the field of public speaking, and with constant practice, you will certainly improve.
The hindrances and mistakes that you face will help you reinvent yourself as a speaker.
5) It takes energy – lots of energy
Marathons can be both challenging and extremely tiring. Post a marathon,you might just feel like curling in a corner and relaxing. You have earned it!
Public speaking can also be quite draining. The very fact that you have stood continuously for hours is only one part of the challenge. Preparation, practice, and performance are the second half.
When you get to the stage to deliver a talk or to give a presentation, you are required to be alert at all times. The adrenaline rush, alertness and the excitement can be quite exhausting. So make sure that you pamper yourself well.
6) Enjoy the process
It is not the result of the marathon that matters but your effort. It is not the destination but the journey that matters.
You cannot be a winner always. All you can do is try and train yourself to run better and more efficiently in future marathons. You might not have won the marathon but you are far more disciplined than what you are and the experiences you had.
Winning and losing are two sides of the same coin. However, you should not be too hung over with your success or too disappointed at your failures. Rather, you should cherish the process and the journey. See the similarities yet? : )
7) Nothing is impossible
Do you remember the first time you trained for the marathon? How difficult was it to keep up your pace? And how impossible it seemed to finish the marathon without fainting? Sore muscles and breathlessness just after few minutes of running, are we right?
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, and you progressed with each passing minute. Wouldn’t you agree that you have grown as a runner? What seemed like an uphill task then, might seem like a cake walk today.
This proves that nothing is impossible if you set your mind and heart to it!
Use this approach in your next public speaking commitment. You might be nervous and shaky now, but with practice and experience, you will be just fine.
Give special attention to research, practice and your body language. Tell yourself that you can do it and watch yourself nail your speech/presentation.
Get out of your comfort zone and go after your dreams.
Whether it is a marathon that you plan to run or a speaking assignment you wish to nail, you can do it.
With a little patience, preparation and practice, you can achieve all that you set out to achieve. Let past failures not frighten you and never let your present achievements rule over you.
Approach each race with a fresh perspective and train harder than before. Similarly, with each new speaking assignment, try to reinvent yourself as a speaker.
Go through the recordings of your past speeches and presentations. Jot down areas where you feel you need to improve. Work on them and make a conscious effort to incorporate those changes in your future speaking assignments.
Quit being the average version of you.
Discover the strengths that you never knew you had and strive to become your best version!
Also published on Medium.