Mindfulness In Public Speaking
By Nick Morgan for Forbes.com
Maurice de Castro runs a public speaking training firm in the U.K., and as such we’re fellow toilers in the vineyard of public speaking. I particularly like his approach to coaching and speaking as it’s based on mindfulness, a topic near and dear to this lifelong meditator. So when we had a chance to chat briefly, I was delighted to press record and capture his thinking. Enjoy!
Nick Morgan: Tell me about what you’re seeing out there in the vineyard of public speaking — what are the hot topics, and what are the professional speaking trends?
Maurice de Castro: The political turmoil on both sides of the pond over the last 18 months through Brexit in the U.K and the U.S presidential election campaign has potentially sent the world of public speaking into a tailspin.
World leaders on both sides have given license to speakers to say what they want, however they want to, with little regard for substance or the emotional impact on others.
At a time when the world of public speaking is looking for greater authenticity, high profile speakers are responding with mindless rhetoric. The hot topic for me at the moment is the major distinction between authenticity and entertainment.
Morgan: How has TED changed professional speaking, in your view? Has it helped or hindered your clients and your work?
de Castro: As someone who believes that far too many business presentations are too long I’m a huge fan of TED. Imagine what the world would look like if we were all encouraged to speak with the level of focus, brevity and impact that TED promotes.
The only slight concern I have is that there are many speakers on TED who aren’t in my opinion very good. The reason that presents an issue for me is that many people watch it to learn from great speakers in the assumption that they must be to have been allowed on TED.
Morgan: What’s a motivational speaker, in your mind — and is the category a bane or a blessing? Who are your favorite motivational speakers today?
de Castro: When I was a young man working hard to climb my way up the corporate ladder a wise old boss of mine said something that has had a profound effect on my personal and professional life for the last 32 years. He said, “Maurice, the only thing you need to know about motivation is this; the only people who need to be motivated are the people who can’t see the future and that’s your job now as a leader.”
Any speaker who helps their audience to see a brighter and better future and inspires them to move towards it is in my mind a motivational speaker.
I believe we need more of them.
Morgan: Why, in your view, is public speaking still important in this virtual era — if indeed it is?
de Castro: Life is a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year conversation. When we are not speaking with clients or colleagues we are talking to our family, friends or strangers. Even when the external dialogue ends, the conversation continues – though it may be an internal one with ourselves.
Given this premise I believe that we owe it to ourselves and the world around us to develop our public speaking skills. Even though we may not all be speaking at conferences, seminars and in public forums, public speaking teaches us much more than how to speak effectively.
For me it’s about personal impact. The impact we have on the way we lead our own lives and connect with and influence others.
Morgan: Tell us something about yourself, please — how did you end up doing what you’re doing, and what guides your work?
de Castro: My son is 22 years old now and has just graduated and started his first job but I still very vividly remember his first day at school.
He sat with his mother and I on the front row in the assembly hall as a 5 year old boy listening to the Head teacher give a speech about what we could all expect for the next 7 years. 10 minutes into the Head teachers talk my son looked up at me and with a little tear in his eye he said ‘Daddy, this story is giving me a headache, what time will it finish?’
I knew in that very moment that there had to be another way to speak in public and made it my business to find that other way.
Morgan: Thanks, Maurice!