Public speaking lessons from ice dancers… 0

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been watching the skating competition at the Olympics in Sochi. What I’ve concluded is that I prefer watching ice dancing to figure skating. While figure skating is exciting – and it’s amazing how someone can jump and spin a gazillion times in the air and then land – I’m happier watching something that is meant to be beautiful, synchronized, and no one falls down because they can’t jump a “quad.”

Another thing that makes the ice dancing competition different from figure skating is that in the short program each couple is required at some point to do the exact same sequence of steps.

And that’s one of the lessons ice dancers can give to public speakers.

When speaking, there are certain elements everyone needs: a strong open, telling your story, a teaching point or two, a memorable close, and a takeaway. While these elements all need to be there, each person brings their unique identity to them.

During the ice dance competition, the couples did the step sequence in many different ways – some went straight up and down the ice; some did a large circle, some crossed back and forth – all while doing the same steps.

A speaker needs a strong opening – and some may do it as a question; some may do it as a statement; some may do it by interacting with their audience. But it’s the same element.

Some dancers made statements with their loud costumes and others were minimalist, allowing their dancing only to do the talking.

Some speakers are themselves when they actively engage the audience and encourage a lot of interaction. Other speakers connect by leading guided meditation and drawing people in by telling a quiet story.

Again, it’s the same elements, but delivered in a totally unique way.

The point is, that YOU have a unique way of communicating. And even if you think a certain element of a presentation is outside of your comfort zone, don’t avoid it! There’s always a way to speak in public that includes everything that’s necessary and is also completely true to you!

So take a lesson from the ice dancers and discover your own way to speak.

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Photo of ice dancers by Eric Yen. Used under Creative Commons license from Flickr.