85% of us are scared and the other 15 are lying


Phelps? What's the deal with the beats dude?


Hold on a second and you'll get your answer.


I did a little blog a while back on public speaking that sparked a few questions to my inbox, toby@wipebook.com. So, I guess you can regard this post as a follow-up.


BTW there’s a bit of a pivot though in that I am talking more about “spontaneous speaking.”


Now I know what you're thinkin’: What the hell is spontaneous speaking?


Spontaneous speaking is more about:

  • Answering questions on the spot in meetings;
  • Starting a conversation when you are somewhat at a loss for words when you meet someone for the first time; or
  • Giving your opinion on something when your boss asks you for it when you pass him in the hallway.


Check this YouTube video out on “Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques for Spontaneous Speaking.” (BTW, this thing has thus far received nearly 5,000,000. Just thought that I’d throw that out there.)



The video gives us 3 simple tricks and strategies to help us with spontaneous speaking. These things work. I’m telling you….


  • This first trick is to manage your anxiety.
  • The second is to use conversational language.
  • And finally you have to use whatever works to force yourself to be in the moment like Phelps sporting the beats for instance.


I'll discuss these in more detail below.


1) Manage your anxiety

As the headline mentioned, 85 of us, when polled, have admitted to being nervous in these circumstance, and you know what the remaining 15 are doing; they are lying.


Spontaneous speaking and pubic speaking are not really natural things. And what does our body generally do to react to unnatural situations. We get anxious, and the old fright or flight options kick in. We either take it on chin like champs. Or in the alternative we run like hell.


But here’s the trick to control that fright or flight response. Just tell yourself that EVERYONE GETS NERVOUS IN THESE SITUATIONS. Remember Rocky (K, I’m a Rocky fan, I admit it) when he was giving Tommy Gunn his first lesson: "Fear is your fiend. Learn to control it or it’s going to burn you up."


(Hey the above is a very simple mantra to keep in mind when anxiety takes over in these situations.)


2) Use conversational language

Remember to use conversation language; it’s not a spelling Bee or IQ challenge folks. Just say what you want to say in plain English. You have to have the mindset that you’re having a conversation with an old friend. So be engaged and ask questions to loosen the mode.

Reframe the situation this way: You just ran up into this old friend and you want to know what they have been up to over the last 5 years. 


3) Be in the moment

Be in the moment. Man it is easy to let your mind wander, and let you thoughts spiral out of control. Not sure if you have read "The Art of Possibility" by Zander, but it basically talks about letting your thoughts spiral out of control and bringing you to dark places. Negative thoughts are like compound interest. They can get out of control very quickly.


Both Zander's and the dude in the video teach us that it is imperative to stay positively focused and in the moment in these situations. Don’t worry about mistakes or looking like an idiot; everyone does at some point. Don't focus on future states in a negative context. 


This stuff works. I'm telling you. Check out Phelps. 789X olympic gold medalist (or something like that). Even though he looks kinda' cool sporting the buds or headphones to listen to his favourite tunes, he's not doing it to look cool or because he is goofing off, and not taking the event seriously. He's doing it because it centres him. The tunes keep his mind from wandering. The tunes keep him in the moment. The tunes keep him present.


Wipebook Phelps in the moment


There you have it. 3 simple techniques to help with spontaneous speaking situations.

  • Greet it;
  • Reframe it; and
  • Be in the moment.


PS Here’s a link to the other post that I mentioned and remember comments are always welcome.