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  • charlesrule

Don't Compare Your Public Speaking to Others

There are two main reasons why I say you should only compare yourself to the person you were yesterday rather than compare yourself to other public speakers.

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The first is that when you start to compare yourselves to others, it is so easy to fall into the depressing habit of looking at someone who is already an expert in public speaking and think, “I could never do that!”


Years ago, when I first joined Toastmasters there was a fellow in my club who was good. Crazy good. Every time he stood up to speak he held the entire audience in his hand. He worked as a salesman, and I bet he was the top salesman in his office. I bet he could sell hamburgers to a vegetarian.


As he walked around the stage, I realized he had the energetic persona of a showman, like the master of ceremonies of a variety show.


I do not have the energetic persona of a showman. I knew I could never be like him. It would have been easy for me to think I could never do that and get down on myself. Instead, I resolved to focus on improving my own delivery, my own presentations. And it worked.


Over time, I improved enough that he and I would regularly be called the top two speakers by the club’s members. But we were nothing alike in style or presentation, and I believe that if I had allowed his expertise to discourage me I would never have become as good a speaker as he is.


The second reason is that you don’t know how much time and effort anyone else has put in to become a better speaker.


A few years later, as it turned out, the showman told me that he belonged to four different Toastmasters clubs. He would give a speech at one club, get feedback from its members, fine-tune the speech and deliver it to the second club. Then the same routine with the second club, and then onto the third club. Finally, he would speak at the club where I was a member. No wonder he was so polished!


Think of how self-defeating it would have been for me — who was just starting out — if I had compared my initial speeches to his. Of course, my early performances were not at his level because he was putting in so much more time and effort than I was. But I didn’t know that at the time. That is why I am so thankful I didn’t spend much time comparing myself to him.


Focus on where you are in your journey, and don’t worry about where anybody else in on theirs. That will be the fastest way to improve.


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