Speaking Can be Fun
Two days earlier Dylan, not yet 4-years old, had learned how to ride his bike without training wheels.
All Dylan wanted was for me to watch him ride his bike. He didn’t want to go to the pool. He didn’t want to eat lunch. He didn’t want to play with his wooden train set. He wanted to ride his bike. So he rode round and round in circles in the cul-de-sac in front of the house. For hours and hours.
And the entire time he rode, his entire body radiated pure and concentrated joy. He didn’t say a word, but his face said it for him: WHEEEEEE.
As I watched him — his enthusiasm never waned — I wondered what happens to us. When, how, and why do we lose that joy of learning?
All this leads me to this question. Why do so many programs — courses at school or training programs at work — make the learning of public speaking such a nerve-racking and tedious experience?
I begin with the assumption that people want to learn how to give a speech. They’ve had so many bad experiences with it or they’ve never learned how to do it properly, so they think they don’t want to do it. But they really do. Giving a speech is the chance to be the center of attention and to tell people about something you care about. What’s not to like about that?
And I have a follow-up assumption. Learning how to give a speech can be fun. That’s not to say it’s easy. Learning how to ride a bike or to master any skill is always a stretch. It takes focus, discipline, and practice. But, if done right, it’s akin to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls being in the flow. (Check out Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.) Learning how to give a speech can be exhilarating.
Agree? Disagree? Reservations?