Do you want to know how to be a speaker? Would you guess that you might need some of the same attributes that blad eagles encompass? I was in North America recently giving a speech at the University of Alaska Anchorage and contacted the Bird Treatment and Learning Center to learn more about these massive birds at the very top of it’s food chain.
I wanted to see what bald eagles could teach public speakers, if anything. The Executive Director, Heather Merewood graciously gave us a private interview and tour of their facilities on Easter Sunday in Anchorage, AK.
From our interview, I gained an understanding that these raptor flying machines can remind speakers that we need to:
STAY FOCUSED: There is a reason why people say “eagle eye;” eagles can see their prey up to two miles away. Even though their head can turn 190 degrees, eagles focus in on their prey and do what it takes to get that food in their talons. I often find myself doing too many things; writing a book, working on my next project, developing a workshop, starting a new blog and the list goes on. I found when I stay focused on one thing at a time, I am more successful. I accomplish more things and learned that even though I might be able to look at a lot of things, if I don’t focus, I won’t have anything to bite into and hold on to.
ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE: Not everyone is cut out to be a speaker. Not every eagle born will survive. Only 30% of eagles will make it past their first winter. As a speaker, it is important to know those who still get up after getting hit with bad news, get zero laughs during a keynote, forget their lines, call people by the wrong name while on stage, get so nervous your voice shakes (all of these things which have happened to me) are the ones who are going to make it. You will face troubling times as a speaker. You will mess up. You will look like a fool on stage in the beginning. You might forget your lines. It is important to remember that not everyone will make it as a speaker. Are you strong enough to keep trying and push past those cold winter months or are you the 70% of eagles who won’t make it past their first year?
SUPPORT IS NEEDED TO SOAR: Sometimes we get hit, knocked down and we feel like our flying days are over. All of the birds at the Bird TLC were rescued from either an oil spill, getting caught in wires, hit by cars or unexplained damage. Bird TLC helps these birds get back into the wild and if they are beat up too bad, they use them as educational birds in order to teach the public about their importance and what they bring to the ecosystem. Who is the person that can pick you up when you fall? Who is the person that will be there for you when times get tough? Everyone needs a support system. Make sure you find someone that will be there for you when you mess up because there is a 100% chance you will. You need that person or network that can be there to help support you and encourage you to get back out there.
PROFESSIONAL PRESENCE: I have never been scared of a bird until I walked into a room with a bald eagle flapping its 6 foot wingspan as if a fan had just been turned to its highest setting. I don’t remember anything else I was doing other than looking at the largest bird of prey, it captivated me and had my entire focus. Obviously, you don’t want your audience to be scared of you, but when you walk into that room, you want your audience to pay attention, to perk up and to think… “wow, they are about to teach me something so I better pay attention.”
TRANSFORMATION TAKES TIME: Did you know bald eagles don’t actually turn “bald,” which is an old English word for ‘white’ until they are at least 5 years old? It takes time before their feathers finally come in that to be distinct, striking, eye-catching color. The same rings true for speakers. It takes time to develop your message and then even longer to practice it, deliver it and refine it. Success does not happen over night and you have to be willing to go through the process in order to become distinct and dynamic.
How to Be a Speaker: As public speakers we can all learn how to be better speakers by observing eagles. They are focused, only the strong survive, when they are down they need someone to help them get back on their feet, they have a strong presence and their transformation takes time. Become a better speaker today and take these lessons from eagles.
Question: What is your favorite bird and, as speakers, what can we learn from them?
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