I don’t need to know how my TV works to use it: I press buttons, magic happens and I get to watch House of Cards.
Public speaking was (and stand-up comedy is) like that to me: I know what works because I have the proof of my experience, and I don’t think about the mental processes. I try something, and then keep doing the good bits while omitting the less successful stuff.
Read the Instructions
However, recently I’ve started learning about the things happening in my brain when I handle fears, improvise material and generally play with the speaking situation. I’m hooked. It’s like opening up a camera, PC or car and understanding the identity of – and connections between – everything I can see, while also seeing ways to upgrade it and improve its performance significantly.
My speaking experiences provide case studies to exchange with the person* who’s supplying me with all the theory. It’s like learning a new language or how to use a new tool – suddenly not only do you understand something previously obscure to you, but you can test it and try things out. ‘Mind Lego’*, if you will.
Try Things Out
This approach is – to me at least – pretty earth-shattering stuff: psychological science combined with practical speaking techniques. This wisdom is fascinating and, well, rather funny. Learning that is funny and enjoyable is the holy grail. Make sure that when you learn, you’re having fun.
Play. Learn. Grow.
*(a know-it-all coaching psychologist called David Dean).
**(quick, patent that now!)