What does public speaking and ballet have in common?
Turns out… a lot. (pun intended)
Both are performing art forms: ballet dancers tell stories through movement and public speakers tell stories through words. There are 3 main things I learned in ballet that translated to public speaking.
I was able to use the tools I learned in ballet at The World Championship of Public Speaking on Saturday and placed 3rd place out of the 32,000 contestants from over 70 countries.
I joined Toastmasters 4 years ago to improve my public speaking skills and noticed right away that my years of ballet training helped me with public speaking.
Here are 3 ways ballet helped me with public speaking:
- Stage Presence: They say the number 1 fear is the fear of public speaking. But dancers are no strangers to the stage. While most people are a nervous wreck in front of a crowd, we feel at home when we are performing. When I stepped onto the stage to an audience of 2,500, there was sense of familiarity. I was comfortable being myself because I felt confident from all the years of dancing on stage.
- Connection with audience: A performance is not a solitary experience, it is a conversation with the audience. Whether it is dancing or public speaking, there are emotions being communicated to the audience. Telling a story (both in dance and in public speaking) is a very vulnerable experience and being able to trust the audience to accept your authenticity can be very scary. Inviting the audience into your emotional state is courageous and takes practice. Ballet gave me that practice years before I started public speaking.
- Work Ethic: Thanks to ballet, I have no idea what boredom is. Growing up, I would be in ballet class every day after school, during my summer vacations and on my winter breaks. We develop an incredible sense of work ethic and it becomes our norm. Preparing, writing and rehearsing a speech is the same way. At the highest level of public speaking, every gesture, tone, and pause is choreographed and staged. We practice again and again and again until we feel like it is automatic. This repetition and relentless memorization is necessary in order to truly communicate the raw emotions rather than trying to recite lines.
My ballet training continues to permeate throughout my life and manifests in different ways. Everything you put an effort into will come to fruition in a different aspect of your life. Whatever you do in life, do your best. Even if it doesn’t take you down the path you thought it should, it may open a door that may be even better.