Public Speaking, Fear of Death, and How to Prepare for an Ignite Presentation

A few months ago, I came across a survey by Scott Berkun on short format speaking. I forget how it made its way to my screen, but it was intriguing to me. Note: my experience has only been with Pecha Kucha, but the bulk of Berkun’s survey is based on input from Ignite speakers.

Yesterday, I got an update that Berkun had posted his survey findings. You can check out the details on his blog post: Ignite: How speakers prepare.

If you find this interesting, you may also want to check out Berkun’s book, “Confessions of a Public Speaker.” He’s posted up a sample chapter entitled “The Attack of the Butterflies.”

Our brains, for all their wonders, identify the following four things as being very bad for survival:

  • Standing alone
  • In open territory with no place to hide
  • Without a weapon
  • In front of a large crowd of creatures staring at you

In the long history of all living things, any situation where all the above were true was very bad for you. It meant the odds were high that you would soon be attacked and eaten alive. Many predators hunt in packs, and their easiest prey are those who stand alone, without a weapon, out on a flat area of land where there is little cover (e.g., a stage). Our ancestors, the ones who survived, developed a fear response to these situations. This means despite my 15 years of teaching classes, running workshops, and giving lectures, no matter how comfortable I appear to the audience when at the front of the room, it’s a scientific fact my brain and body will experience some kind of fear before, and often while, I’m speaking.

Looking over Berkun’s thoughts on practice and preparation, it’s making me yearn for another speaking gig. I looked briefly, but it seems that there aren’t any Ignite events in Chicago. I’ve kicked around the idea of trying another Pecha Kucha event, but I’ll have to come up with a topic first.

Man, this stuff was a lot of fun to do. A lot of work, mind you. But also a lot of fun.

My Guide to Making a Pecha Kucha Presentation
My Pecha Kucha Guide on Presentation Zen
Official Video from Pecha Kucha Chicago #9, Repetition and Variation
Felix Jung, Pecha Kucha Chicago: Repetition and Variation

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Although we’ve never met. We have another common tie aside from the neighborhood. I read and enjoy Berkun’s blog too.

    Lynn Stevens Reply

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