As a public speaker, you should feel privileged. It should always be at the forefront of your mind that you are a lucky person to have an audience. Naturally, depending on where and when you speak to people, and what kind(s) of pressures and nerves you're dealing with, that might or might not the case.
The key point is that whenever you stand up to speak to people, time becomes compressed. I don't mean that time goes by quickly, though it may feel that way, but rather that you are the focus of an entire group of people. Five, ten, twenty, a hundred or a thousand people are watching and listening to you. Think of it as a simple formula.
Compressed speaking time (CST) = real speaking time X Number of attendees
For a 10-minute presentation:
- For 6 people, CST = 60 minutes (1hr)
- For 12 people, CST = 120 minutes (2hrs)
- For 60 people, CST = 600 minutes (10hrs)
- For 120 people, CST = 1200 minutes (20hrs)
This is the time that is used when you are speaking. You are a multiplier on stage. If you generate value and positively impact your audience then the worlds of 6, 12, 60, 120 people are improved and enriched. If not, then you are taking so much time away from the lives of so many other human beings. You can multiply for better or for worse. Also, take note that the numbers above are just for a 10-minute presentation, which is fairly short. If you're doing a 30-minute presentation, then the CST becomes 3, 6, 30, and 60 hours respectively. That represents significant portions of time. Whether you want to look at it professionally in terms of working hours/days used in a presentation or just personally in that those in your audience will never have the time back that they spent with you makes little difference.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that you don't give presentations or talk to audiences. Far from it in fact. All that you should be aware of is how much (compressed) time you are using and whether your message, structure and delivery are going to give the most effective result for that time. In the majority of cases where I help people to create speeches and presentations, a lot of our time is spent stripping out the excess and cleaning up the message so that we can deliver the valuable, relevant content in less time. Quality of information and delivery, not quantity.
Always be a positive multiplier. Your audience deserve the best possible version of you using their valuable time in the best possible way.
Speaking to an audience is a privilege.
Make sure they get your best.