I have just returned from a camping holiday in Dorset and whilst away I had the delight of lighting and then tending a camp fire every evening. As I was gazing into the embers one evening it suddenly struck me that there are a number of similarities between lighting a camp fire and developing someone’s presentation or public speaking confidence.
As anyone who has tried to light a fire will know it is not always an easy job. If the sticks are to thick or too damp, it is difficult to get the fire to take hold. One has to look for a glowing ember and then feed and nurture it so that it glows brighter and brighter until it eventually bursts into flame.
Building confidence to speak in front of an audience requires the same approach. Constructive criticism at too early a stage can have the same effect as putting damp wood on the fire – it puts it out! Positive reinforcement and praise, on the other hand, fans the embers and causes them to glow brighter.
As a public speaking and presentation skills trainer I have often had to spend time undoing all the “good work” done by others who sought to help by telling their colleagues what they were doing wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that there is a place for constructive criticism but not in the early stages of the novice speakers career.
Why not tell me what you think