You know not to picture your audience in their underwear, right?
No matter how often you hear that silly advice, never believe it. Don't even try it. If you picture them in their undies, you will experience a myriad of distracting thoughts – some of which may be enticing, Yes – but none of which will serve you and your speaking.
The point is, you don't need to put your audience in a less powerful position than you (which is the underlying goal of the underwear advice) to thrive on stage.
In fact, if anyone should near nakedness in this exchange, it should be you.
The best speaking has a lot in common with stripping down – yourself:
- You reveal layers of you and your experience that will surprise your audience
- You take risks in storytelling and passionate expression that can feel a bit like wearing a bikini in a mall
- You allow for in-the-moment spontaneity and honesty, a sudden “peep show” into the workings of your heart and mind
- You “bear it all” in great speaking, giving everything you've got in service of your audience
The honesty, openness and vulnerability in truly transformational speaking is risky. If you are pushing the edges of your own brilliance and self-expression, there is a chance (a certainty, really) that someone will disagree with your approach. It is even possible that you will get feedback that your daring, creative, naked speaking made someone uncomfortable.
Good. Discomfort inspires change. It's where growth breeds.
Life-changing speaking must be revealing. It takes radical courage to be tranformative. You must remove your protective layers.
It's a kind of naked.
So, keep your audience clothed – and make sure you have a soft cotton robe handy for afterward. You have earned a delicious lounge in a cozy place to rejuvenate – until the next disrobing event needs you and your message.