Feeling Your Way Through Public Speaking

Imagine the moment when you stand in front of an audience and get ready to give them a speech or presentation. This is a moment that feels alarmingly vulnerable for most of us. To deal successfully with this moment, we need the full spectrum of our intelligence to successfully see us through. What do we tend to do instead? We feel threatened in some way, and so we cut ourselves off from feeling altogether and try to think our way through the situation. There are plenty of situations and decisions that can be thought through. Some of them can’t be thought through; they have to be felt through. When we rely on full-spectrum intelligence, we’re using both thinking and feeling. Think of a situation when you were speaking to an audience, or involved in a meeting, and you were operating at the highest level possible. Everything was clicking together perfectly, and you were able to identify and catch every opportunity that presented itself. The situation you’re remembering probably involved integration of what, for simplicity sake, we call thinking and feeling, or if you prefer, thinking and instinct. In other words, it involved the full spectrum of your intelligence.

Attempting to think your way through a decision that has to be felt through is likely to yield a poor decision. After having made that decision and recognizing it as a poor one, it also tends to produce a feeling of, “I knew I shouldn’t have made the decision I did. Something told me not to.” The “something” that told you that may have been a part of your intelligence you’re unfamiliar with. Add to that how we’ve been taught to distrust the parts of our intelligence that are difficult to name or quantify, and it’s easy to understand how we habitually leave some of our most valuable tools in the toolbox.

Here’s the takeaway: thinking alone will not connect you to an audience, nor will it make it possible for them to connect to you. Here’s something that may be make thing easier for you: you don’t have to be able to analyze or understand your ability to feel your way through a situation, you just have to be open to receiving and trusting it. Can you really afford to ignore vital components of the full spectrum of your intelligence?