Liam Neeson’s greatest fear is Public Speaking. Many find this hard to believe.…
Last week, world famous actor Liam Neeson was presented with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. In addition to his outstanding acting achievements, this award recognises the care and compassion he has demonstrated as a goodwill ambassador with UNICEF. Many were surprised to hear him say on receipt of the award: “My fear, and it’s a genuine fear, is public speaking. Everyone says ‘oh, you’re an actor, you should be good at that.’ It’s just not true.”
“How can this be”? many may ask. Liam Neeson, world renowned actor, has performed in front of huge crowds on many famous stages around the world and played lead roles in major box office hit movies. How could he be afraid to speak in public? Isn’t Public Speaking a performance, of a kind? This is a very interesting and key question.
Yes, Public Speaking IS a performance but very importantly, it is a performance as yourself. Actors play the roles of someone else. Their own self can hide comfortably behind the character of the person they act as. Effective and impactful Public Speaking requires authenticity, often connecting more with the audience when the speaker reveals something of themselves. What’s more, the content of public speeches is usually exclusively the speaker’s original material. It is their own script or at least a script they have had a hand in putting together. This has to be the case as for true authenticity to be communicated to the audience, the speaker must be at one with the message of the speech.
There is no doubt that it requires courage to speak in public. It is a vulnerable position to put not only your person but your thoughts, ideas and the creation that is your own speech, out into the public domain, to be evaluated and judged by others. However, it is incredibly empowering also. During her now famous speech at this year’s Golden Globe ceremony, Cecil B. de Mille award recipient, Oprah said: “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have”.
What an amazing gift to be able to give our children and young people. Public Speaking is not just about speaking. It’s about standing up proudly, being yourself and “speaking your truth”.