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Inner Sun

Exposing Yourself through Public Speaking

I masticated a bit over the title of this article but came to a conclusion that, that is what I mean and that is what I have to say. One of the cardinal rules to succeed in public speaking is to say what you mean, and mean what you say. 

May years ago, when I wrote my first ever book on public speaking, the HeART of Public Speaking, I placed on the cover an expensively purchased picture of a man speaking from behind a lectern to a highly engaged, happily laughing audience. The beauty of the picture wasn’t just in the fact that the audience looked extremely engaged, it was in the boldness of the fact that the speaker’s rear silhouette was butt-naked. I had my artist drape a gentle, heart-shaped shawl around the speaker and then the cover went ahead and said exactly what I had laid out inside the book. I loved it and so do those who still own that edition.

To succeed, to shine and scintillate at public speaking, one must do exactly that – expose your true self and then wrap yourself and your presentation with love.

How, you ask?

Well, you might have heard the saying that people would rather be in the coffin than do a eulogy. People fear public speaking more than they fear death. What we really fear is being exposed to scores of eyes that may not just see into us but that they may also see us through our charades. Our true selves might sometimes be timid, pretentious or arrogant. Or, worse scenario, people fear speaking up in the presence of large audiences because our agendas are unethical, and we say what we do not mean and mean what we are not saying. With scores of eyes watching our every move, every micro-gesture, every bead of sweat we can be called out for what we really are and what our true intentions might be. That is the fear.

This, of course, may not be everyone’s reason but the question remains the same – how do we expose our own true selves and yet be covered by a protective heart? Here are certain tips that I have picked up from failing, sweating and dying then coming alive a thousand times when in front of a large group of people.

First, recognize and live out ‘common humanity. Tell yourself that the people out there are people just like you. Some smart and some not so smart, just like yourself. Tell yourself that they, too, have doubts, fears, anxieties, challenges and aspirations in life just as you do. Tell yourself that they are here to hear you no matter how profound or ordinary your spiel for them may be.

Second, generate loving, agape, feeling towards them. Though love resides in the hearts the activation of the desire to offer kindness, compassion and love is a function of the prefrontal cortex. You consciously tell yourself to be kind and loving, then the forty odd million neurons residing in your heart go to work creating love for your audience. When that happens, you radiate kindness, and kindness begets kindness. Sure, there is a chance that there may be one or two thick-skinned, bitter lemon of a person in the room who will continue giving you the heebie-jeebies. Just go on without them, they will eventually turn into sweet lemonade.

Third, according to international speaker par excellence, Scott Friedman, be authentic. What does that mean? It means expose your true self. You don’t have to talk like your college professor or like Chris Rock. Just be yourself. Let your flaws, your stutters, your accent be seen, felt or heard. Let your heart lead you and speak from the heart. If there is something you don’t know or are not sure, say exactly that, “I don’t know that, and I am not sure about that.” That’s okay. You are neither Solomon nor Google.

Fourth, also according to Scott Friedman, be vulnerable. Yes, you do not wear a tight blue suit with a red cape. You were not born on planet Krypton. You can bleed, and you can hurt. Expose all those sides of you that can bleed and hurt. Most people in the audience will relate to you, offer compassion and a much kinder ear if you pretend not to be a flawless, man of steel. Should the thick-skinned, bitter lemon hurl a rotten egg at you, say “Ouch!” and then right away forgive her for she knows not what she does. She knows not that you are human too. Keep doing the right thing and keep creating value with your words.

Fifth,  is to become good at being light and funny as a speaker. Laughter is the shortest distance between two hearts, and humor is the vehicle that will drive you there. Some people are naturally funny, and others can get there through practice at public speaking. ‘Neuro-plasticity’, you know! The more you do something, the more you become that – in this case, funny. Just make sure to make yourself the butt of all your jokes otherwise, the thick-skinned, bitter lemon will stare you down to your death. Or, better still take up lessons from ‘the HeART of HUMOR.’

There!

Of course there is a lot more to public speaking. There is this fact that speaking in public is about, as I have already said, creating good value. It is about inspiring people, and about leading them to a new and a better place in their lives. You can do it. Yes, you can because the brilliance and wish to shine is in all of us. It is in all of us to help, love and cherish all those that surround us but, first, we need to have the gumption to expose ourselves, our true selves.

I never let many copies of my first book, first edition, circulate in the marketplace because I was afraid. I was afraid that the cover was too brash, and it would scare away the conservatives. The thing is even though I’d written all about being brave, about being kind, authentic and open; I wasn’t brave, I was still a newbie to expressing myself courageously. Yes!

To wrap up, let me caution you away from that saying where public speaking gurus will tell you that to overcome your fear, you should imagine all your audience butt-naked. That, to me, is utter nonsense. Baloney! It is bound to scare the bananas out of you and sink you into the ground. It is best to, not just imagine, but be in your spiritual birthday suit when speaking in public. It is best to expose yourself as you are, bare your soul and your audiences will lift you up into the heavens. Have fun!

Check out my books, blogs and videos on Amazon/Raju Mandhyan.

 

 

Have You Ever Wrestled with Humor?

I bet you have more than once struggled and wrestled with humor.

You know it is important. You know as a trainer, speaker or a business leader it breaks ice, increases engagement and many a times earns you trust. Yet, at times it can pin you down and have you tapping on the floor to surrender and give up.

I know this. I have been there. There are times I’ve had the crowds rolling on the floor with laughter and then there are times that I have wanted to lie down on the floor and die.

Humor and pain like comedy and tragedy have subtle similarities. At the root level, these are both essentially the same. A person who has suffered great pain and tragedy in life also has the ability to transcend from it and convert it to comedy.

If you look through the history of those who have made the world laugh, you will note that they did, indeed, suffer great sorrow and pain before discovering laughter.

The bard, Shakespeare, created immortal masterpieces of drama but lived a personal life wrought in longing and loneliness. His every work is a constant dance between the tragic and the comic.

Charlie Chaplin, the lovable champ, grew up in a world surrounded by poverty and Dickensian angst; almost all of his movies depict scenes of glee and sadness sublimely mixed and exaggerated for theatrical effect.

The legendary Doctor Patch Adams, who proved to the world that, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, lived a life of hardship and struggle, until and even after he acquired a medical degree. His patients loved his clowning and humor because they knew that behind the facade, he deeply understood, felt and also shared their pain.

Now, as a business leader, when it comes to generating laughter if you have been to where I have and want to be more careful and funny at the same time here are some humble tips from my book, the HeART of HUMOR;

  • Know your pain, understand your pain and then recognize the human in you and let go of the pain through laughter and play. Transcend it.
  • Know the possible pains of your audiences and, gently, help them see a different and a lighter perspective of life. Do not play down their suffering but poke fun at your own and they will heal and laugh.
  • Have love and compassion for your audiences and your people. Love will lighten your spirits and hold you in a joyful state. Your audience will read and mirror your attitude and behavior. Laughter and lightness will become a natural by product.
  • Stay rooted to the ground by choosing your stories and words with care and caution. The world has becoming increasingly sensitive and demands political correctness. Stay away from making fun of caste, color and creed. Stay away from gender-related humor. If there is anyone that you need to make fun of then make fun of yourself. If you fail at being funny then they will laugh at your attempts and you will have still accomplished your goal.
  • Humor is about timing and absolute precision. The same joke that was great at meeting one may be a total flop at meeting two. The best humor is situational, quick and clean.

Lastly, yes, do try all your stuff at home. Good and funny stories after a few rounds of practice mature and ripen over time. You do notice that the previous tip, somehow, contradicts this tip. When you are able to strike a balance between then you can call yourself a professional humor wrestler.

So those are a few insights and tips on wrestling with humor. If you’d like to get some coaching into being funny then come join me for a session of “the HeART of HUMOR,” in Singapore on the 26th of April, 2018.

Together, we will peel apart the wraps of humor in speaking. We will dig deep into the sciences behind stand-up comedy; we will look into improvisation, stage acting, and storytelling and then practice methods that will become more than relevant to generating laughter, engagement and rapport in business scenarios.

Remember, when you wrestle with humor and lose, you still win because the joke is on you.

Click here to learn more and sign up. The HeART of HUMOR Workshop

Enjoy!

 

The Link Between Laughter and Tears

“Humor and pain, like comedy and tragedy, have subtle similarities. At the basic level, they are essentially the same. A person who has suffered great pain and tragedy in life also has the ability to transcend it and convert it into comedy. If you look at the history of those who have made the world laugh, you will note that they did, indeed, suffer great sorrow and pain before discovering laughter. Shakespeare created immortal masterpieces of literature but lived a personal life wrought with longing and loneliness. His every work is a constant dance between the tragic and the comic. The legendary Doctor Patch Adams, who proved to the world that, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, lived a life of hardship and struggle. His patients loved his humor because they knew that behind the façade, he understood and deeply shared their pain.

InSights on InSights

InSights on InSights

A few years ago, NBC held a prime time talent contest called Last Comic Standing, where Dat Phan, a young Vietnamese-American became the champion and attained instant stardom. Today, he lives his dream of making a living while making others laugh. As a kid, he and his mother lived on the streets of San Diego and slept on bus stop benches. Growing up, he worked as a waiter, a busboy, and a doorman at a casino and a comedy club. Phan is not hampered by his past experiences. His hardships have become an integral part of his humor, as has his upbringing in a poor cross-cultural family. “I do whatever it takes to do stand-up,” Phan said in an interview. “There is an abundance of material in struggling and poverty and trying to make it. There is so much humor in that, it’s unlimited. You have to be able to see it. You have to be very creative. In the beginning, I didn’t do real well, I bombed dozens of times. Something sick inside told me to keep on trying because I had nothing to lose. I kept exposing myself to different audiences. I kept bombing and failing and being disappointed until I got just one laugh. And that laugh gave me encouragement to continue and pursue a career and a skill that makes others happy. The pain of my past has been my driving force and I believe that no matter how hopeless it seems there is always something to look forward to. In life, you can get to the next level if you’re willing to give up everything and give everything you have in your heart to make it!” says Dat Phan.

Kahlil Gibran rightly said: “The selfsame source from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.” Very often when we are laughing uncontrollably, we find tears streaming down our faces. And, quite as often, after we’ve expressed our pain through crying, we find ourselves laughing joyfully. Both laughing and crying provide cathartic cleansing. Our facial expressions also mirror this kinship. That’s why, at times, it’s hard to determine if one is crying or laughing. Somewhere in the depths of our souls and somewhere in the recesses of our limbic brains, laughing and crying are separated by a very thin line, just as comedy and tragedy are.”

When speakers, trainers and other facilitators play hopscotch over this fine line that divides comedy and tragedy using personal anecdotes and situational humor they create rapid rapport with their audiences and transfer new learning deeply and powerfully.

To make being funny a part of your skill sets, come look me up in April in Singapore, I am running a one-day workshop where you will not just know the science behind humor but you master a few techniques to consistently employ humor in most all of your interactions.

 

 

 

Freud On Humor

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud has a take on humor that stresses that our attitude towards life needs to be funny. Freud believed that as we grow, the dreary grind of life and the entrapments of rationalizing all that exists make us slowly cheat ourselves of the inner child within us. Thus, our lust for humor, laughter, and life are also desires to reclaim the lost pleasures of childhood. When we were children, no effort was needed to bring laughter into our lives. We had no need for canned jokes, stand-up comedy, or anything else. We laughed at everything and we did so for sheer pleasure.

Tales and Techniques to a Funnier You!

To be funny requires that, at the start of every single day, we loosen our girdles, de-starch our collars, let loose our hair, twirl our mustaches, and get down from our high horses of authority and pretentiousness. It is possible for each one of us to be funny, but we must also develop a deep, burning intention to be funny.

Having the intention to be humorous is the first step in mastering humor. Your intention is the driving force that will enable you to practice the different techniques that will result to a funnier you. Every artistic expression and every talent demands constant practice. Methods and disciplines have to be followed to convert a technique into habit, and eventually, into a vital part of your personality.

The late Robin Williams in his early days would barhop in search of work. While performing, Robin used to appear completely natural and extemporaneous, but backstage before the show, he’d tell his director or manager all the steps he was planning to do. All his apparent talent, besides being natural to him, was also in fact method, practice, and determination!

In one of my creativity workshops, a participant shared a story about this monk who entered a monastery with a desire to achieve higher consciousness and enlightenment. But, being a well-educated urbanite, the wannabe monk saw no relation between higher consciousness and the wearing of an orange garb and the shaving of his head. Thus, he chose not to follow the seemingly superficial methods towards attaining elevated consciousness.

Years went by without him wearing the orange garb, though he meticulously studied and practiced the Buddhist principles. Decades later, older and still restless, he found himself nowhere near higher consciousness and enlightenment. Finally, out of sheer frustration, he had his head shaved and put on the orange garb. Suddenly, he was literally enlightened: his body glowed, his spirits soared, and every cell in his being was filled with wisdom and profound spirituality. He attained the kind of spiritual awareness and enlightenment he had been seeking all his life. The heavens seemingly opened up for him and he felt as if he were reborn. But suddenly, in the next instant, he collapsed and died on the spot.

Mastering creativity and humor is just like that—you will never know when the brilliant light will shine upon you. It will daze and dazzle you as you move towards it when you study the theories, beliefs, and techniques. But it definitely requires an intense desire to succeed and a severe dedication to attaining that success.

 

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Choice Clips from ExPat InSights:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjf3sHaZBSo