When it comes to things that make people nervous and off their game, public speaking can easily be at the top of that list. It puts people on their toes, it makes them aware of their foibles, makes them feel like they’re living under a magnifying glass, that everything’s happening in super-slow motion and so on. You get the idea. As an old Seinfeld bit goes (I’m paraphrasing here): “People are more afraid of public speaking than death, so at a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy.”
So, hey, if this is an issue for you, here comes some good advice from Tony Robbins, that really tall motivational speaker who self-describes as a “life success coach dedicated to helping people achieve their dreams.” He wrote a post for LinkedIn on how people can be heard more clearly, and much of it dips into some of his own lingo, and the main term to decode going forward here is “metaprogram.” According to Wikipedia, metaprogramming is “the writing of computer programs that write or manipulate other programs (or themselves) as their data, or that do part of the work at compile time that would otherwise be done at runtime.” I take it to mean the smaller components of what you’re doing that affects how your bigger actions will be perceived.
Tony says “you can often communicate most effectively when you use several metaprograms together.” Now, bear in mind this advice applies to public speaking as well as in meetings or when giving a presentation. It’s a little obtuse to understand, I think, but what I take away from it is if you work at unpacking what other people are saying - not just the words, but the sentiments and thought processes behind them, you will be far more successful at communicating with them and being heard by them.
It’s kinda ironic that Tony’s post on communicating is somewhat opaque, but it’s still worth a read — as is the discussion in the comments below.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.