Be a Sponge: The Three Stages of a Speaker’s Career | Darren LaCroix

Be a Sponge: The Three Stages of a Speaker’s Career

By Patti Marler | Master Public Speaking

What? You didn’t know about the three stages of a professional speaker’s career? Me neither, until I lived them. I heard about the first two from Brian Tracy. They made sense and I remember the moment I went from Stage One to Stage Two. You are on your own journey, and we all go through them at various rates. Some speakers remain in Stage One their whole career, but because they never discover Stage Two they don’t have much of a career and each time they speak, have limited impact.

The purpose of this article is to bring awareness to the idea for you. What you do with this insight is completely up to you. My idea is to plant seeds for your growth or help you take a minute to reflect on the growth you have already experienced. My second purpose is for you to forward this (Or the link to the blog article below) to a speaker who you know who may find this helpful for either reason.

Make no mistake. All speakers go through them, it’s just a matter of how quickly or where you get stuck. So what are the stages?

The Three Stages of a Speaker’s Career:

Stage 1: “Here I am!”

When we’re getting started, it’s all about us. We’re so nervous and freaking out so much our brain does not have the capacity for more. We are self-focused and that is OK. It’s normal. I think often the fear of public speaking is mislabeled. Often it is more the fear of public embarrassment.

The internal dialogue during this stage is all self-focused and can include;

     “I have to give a speech this week.”

     “I hope they like me.”

     “What if I forget what I’m supposed to say?”

Notice all the “I”s. The challenge is when some speakers gain a degree of comfort and still remain self-focused. There are levels within each stage, but for the purpose of this article, I’m choosing to keep it super simple.

Self-doubt is one of the biggest challenges at the beginning of any speaker’s career. We love self-help and get excited about it, which is why many of us become speakers in the first place. At the beginning, we don’t see the value of our stories or experience. The faster you can shift to Stage 2, the more you will dig deeper and have more audience impact. When that happens you will start seeing more of your own value.

I love Toastmasters, it not only changed my speaking skills, it changed the person I am. One of my pet peeves about some Toastmasters is their top priority goal is to get the designation letters after their name for ego purposes rather than their own skill growth and helping the audience with their story or message. I call them “Check Mark DTMs.” Their intention is for the mark in the manual over their own actual growth. I get it.

One major problem in Stage One is that audiences are so savvy that they can sense your self-focused intention. At the very beginning, they’ll be supportive and cheering you on. That part is cool. As you get a little more comfortable and don’t freak out as much, the ego will rear its ugly head and they will start disconnecting from you, even if your talents start to grow.

THE CURE: Stage time, stage time, stage time while being hungry to get to Stage 2.

Stage 2: “There you are.”

This is when your brain goes from, “I have a speech” to “I get to speak and help people.” It’s when you recognize it’s a privilege and an opportunity to influence. You may have heard my story of my transition from Stage One to Stage Two. I was freaking out and self-absorbed and my co-presenter froze. I can’t say exactly what triggered it, but as I moved forward to take over from my co-presenter, I let go of what people thought of me and focused instead on what they’d leave with. (I  included the video below if you wish to see it.)

This is when you start to put the audience before you. This is when your intention shifts to their outcome. In Stage Two, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about them. It’s about serving them and giving them what they need from your experience and perspective. It is very difficult to truly serve the audience without your own experience or perspective. You can regurgitate other people’s material, but it will not nearly have the depth of impact that your own material would.

The internal dialogue in this stage is self-focused and can include;

      “They need to understand this.”

      “They could do so much more if they understood this.”

      “If I had more time, I could help them so much more.”

Notice the “they” in each statement.

When you grow to Stage Two, it takes so much pressure off you. It also adds some good pressure as well. With the servant mindset you now have a better intention for your speeches. The audience can sense this intention and like you more. That’s one cool part. You instantly become more likeable!

Stage 3: “Let’s Do this!”

This is when true change happens and momentum shifts. This is when your speech is JUST the beginning and only part of the change you are truly trying to create in the world. It is when you have a “Mission Mindset.” When you have a mission mindset, little things don’t matter. You don’t care what people think of you or your speech, other than ideas to improve it.

Think of it this way, if someone was harming a child you deeply cared about, would you worry about yourself or be on a mission to help them? I think you’d be, not only on a mission, but you’d also reach out to anyone who could help you accomplish your mission.

This is when your message matters. This is when the message is clearly above the messenger. This is also when you are eliciting help from your audience to spread the word and help other people too.

The internal dialogue in this stage is all self-focused and can include;

     “What else can we do to help people?”

     “What tools could we create that would help people?”

     “Who else needs help?”

Notice the “we” in each statement.

This is when you have the, “I’m doing this with or without you” attitude. Don’t like me, no worries! This is when you write books, create tools, and coach. It’s also when you speak anywhere and everywhere, at times for free, like at TEDx, not for ego, but for truly spreading your idea.

On occasion we may jump back and forth between the stages. If you aren’t conscience of it, ego can quickly jump in and take over and bring you back to stage one.

What do you need to get to the next stage?

What did you take from this?

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