The Bold And The Beautiful: Modelling Courage - The Pickering Group

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The Bold And The Beautiful: Modelling Courage


There’s a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: “There are two types of speakers: those who get nervous, and those who are liars.”  The Venn diagram of people who speak in public and people who are nervous about their public speaking is a circle.  But what if we had another Venn diagram for you – one that showed how to draw on your courage when it comes to public speaking? Because – wait for it - we do have one.

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Public Speaking’s Next Top Model
Beautiful, right? See how courage forms at the intersection of three realities: good preparation, knowing your stuff and owning who you are. The stronger all three of these realities are, the more courage you will have to draw on.  Courage, remember, is not absence of fear.  It only exists where fear is present. And courage trumps confidence – rather than obsess over whether you feel confident, the important things is to focus on inspiring confidence in your audience. Make them trust in you by being authentic, knowledgeable and prepared. Courage is a factor of being ready.  
Margins for Error
If you find yourself neglecting one of these realities, you end up with one of these problems.

  1. Bluffing: If you prepare well, and present yourself authentically, but you don’t know the background material well, you’ll just be faking it. Any questions beyond ‘Where are the toilets?’ are going to throw you, and fear of those questions or challenges will undermine your whole presentation.


  1. Winging it: if you know your material and can own who you are, you might be tempted to skip good prep and end up flying by the seat of your pants. You’ll almost certainly present something like a picnic basket full of spaghetti: slippery, structurally all over the place, and hard for your audience to unpack.


  1. Hiding: If you can prepare well and know your stuff but are reluctant to own who you are, you can end up retreating behind your defensive walls. For Mark Twain, or rather Samuel Langhorne Clemens, it was writing under a pseudonym. Maybe for you it’s mumbling, fidgeting, or delivering to the screen. Pro tip: the screen does not care.

Courage IS Conviction
It’s important to ‘have the courage of your convictions’ – that is, to speak up when you believe in something. But the reverse is also true, that you should believe in something before you speak up. An effective, persuasive speaker understands why they’re delivering the message, and why it’s important. They’re focussed on being of service to the message and to the audience.
Model Behaviour
In the sweet spot in the centre of the model is someone who knows their material, has rehearsed and prepared well, and speaks from a place of authenticity – that is, as themselves, not trying to be anything or anyone they’re not.  Looking at you, Sam Clemens. At The Pickering Group we can help you find your public speaking sweet spot by developing all of the realities in the Courage Model.  We have one-on-one coaching, group courses, online training and a myriad of research and resources to support your speaking excellence.

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