Be the Cat.
What do cats have to do with public speaking?
First, I am a big cat fan. I’m sure I’ll be a crazy old cat lady someday.
Of course, I have a cat. A big, black, long-tailed one. That’s him above. His name is Seth. That’s a whole story of its own.
In the meantime, even if you’re not a cat fan, I think you’ll still get what I have to say.
Let’s compare and contrast people who are public speakers with cats being cats.
1. People fret. They fret about the audience judging them. They worry about what the audience thinks of them. Do they think I’m any good? Are they comparing me to other speakers?
Cats don’t care. They don’t have a clue if people are judging them or comparing them. In fact, if they suspect someone is being negative towards them, they are likely to go to them and try to get attention from them. People never do that. We just beat ourselves up or invalidate others – or both. Cats don’t care if you are comparing them to other cats. They know they are the one-and-only.
2. People try to be like other people. People struggle to be themselves. We think if we could just speak like that famous person or our favorite speaker, or even the pastor at our church, we would be the kind of successful at speaking we want to be.
Cats never try to be like anyone else. They never try to be like a person, be like the dog, or even other cats, for that matter. They are so completely themselves, some people actually dislike them for it.
3. People try to be liked. A speaker that is trying to be liked can be difficult to like. They are working too hard on something that is a concern of theirs, instead of putting their attention on their audience what they want to give to them.
Cats never try to be liked. They don’t care if people like them, if the dog likes them or if other cats like them. Their attention is only on themselves and on what’s important to them. Where this maps onto people is we want to have our attention on what we are saying to the audience and how we are impacting them. Not everyone is going to like us or our message. Cats just put it out there.
4. People shrink in front of an audience. They play small, don’t stand up tall and make a lot of useless movements. They apologize and make excuses.
Cats own “the stage” or any other space they occupy. They would never apologize, even if they could. They are 100% in their body and 100% in any space they are seen sitting, moving or lying. Cats never make excuses, they only say what they have to say.
5. People pretend to be nice, even when they’re not. I’ve seen speakers shame and insult the audience, while pretending to be “cute” or “entertaining”. Oh, come on, it was all in fun!
Cats are only nice when it behooves them. They don’t pretend. If they don’t like you, there’s no mistake. They might even swipe at you or bite you! At least it’s a good thing that people don’t do that!
The point is cats are unapologetically themselves. I invite you to unapologetically be yourself with your audience!
Be the cat!