Are you ready to unleash your inner speaking superhero and communicate your message with confidence?

Author Q&A

Below you will find several questions and their answers about Public Speaking Super Powers. Feel free to use these in your coverage of the book. You can read them on this page, or download a PDF version.

Suggested Interview Questions and Answers

Public Speaking Super Powers uses the metaphor of superheroes with their super powers to identify and explain the foundational skills needed to be an effective speaker. It covers skills that come from within, such as passion and authenticity, as well as skills that come from without, such as body language and persuasion.
That could be a long story, but I'll try to keep it short. It all started with a blog post. It was very popular, so I thought that it could be easily expanded into a book. I wrote the book, in part, because the idea was there and it excited me. But I also wrote the book because I found that there are very few—if any—books out there that cover the whole set of skills required to be an effective speaker. Most focus on one small aspect, such as TED talks or persuasive speaking. Public Speaking Super Powers was created to be a strong foundational book that will give readers the basics they need to communicate before groups effectively.
The book is primarily written with entrepreneurs and business owners in mind. However, I think that the fun super power motif will appeal to high school and college readers. If you want to understand the basics of effective speaking, you should read this book. Not only does it identify the foundational skills, but it gives you information and exercises so that you can develop those skills yourself.
So many people look at professional speakers as if they were superheroes. I wanted to turn that concept on its ear. And, the super power motif is a lot of fun, too.
I started off with a basic idea of what I thought they were. Then I interviewed more than 85 speakers from the business and professional speaking worlds about what they thought their super powers were. Using the data I collected from these interviews, it became pretty clear what the foundational skills -- super powers -- of effective speaking were.
When all is said and done, it is a skill. It can be learned by anyone. That said, some people are born with predispositions and personalities that will make it easier for them to master the skills of speaking. But that is not necessarily the same thing as talent. In fact, I have a whole chapter dedicated to this very question.
I'm a big fan of Joseph Campbell's work with mythology and his "Hero's Journey" framework. As I was listening to the speakers I interviewed tell their stories, I realized that there were commonalities to their journey to speaking success. So, I created my own framework based on these stories and informed by Campbell's Hero's Journey to create what I call the Public Speaking Superhero's Journey. And I've systemized this framework to help walk people through from where they are to where they want to be with their speaking skills.
It all starts with a "Call to Adventure." This is when someone realizes that they need to improve their speaking skills. This sets them off on their Quest, the phase of the journey where they learn, practice and hone their speaking skills. Along the way, they will encounter what I call Mind Goblins, those negative thoughts that try to divert us from our path, and they will have to vanquish them to achieve their goal. When they achieve their original speaking goal, I call this "The Golden Apple." This is an excellent point in the journey stop and celebrate. The last part of the Public Speaking Superhero's Journey is what I call "The Fork in the Road." At this point, someone can choose either to simply maintain their skills with practice -- they achieved what they set out to achieve and are content with the results. However, some people will be bitten by the speaking bug and will wish to take their skills to the next level and go pro. That's when they enter the Professional Speaker Superhero's Journey, which another story all together.
My Call to Adventure came in High School when my speech class teacher invited me to join the Speech Team. I really enjoyed speaking and competing and did fairly well. Then I went off to college and didn't really think much about until I was at my first job out of college. The company was starting a Toastmasters club and was one of the charter members. This is when the Call got really loud. That said, I did spend the next 25 years—off and on—on my Quest and Vanquishing Mind Goblins (including an abusive marriage). Finally, in 2011, I got a divorce, moved out on my own and started working more diligently on taking my speaking skills to the next level, so I guess that's when I made the transition from the Public Speaking Superhero's Journey to the Professional Speaker Superhero's Journey. I'm still a work in progress, but aren't we all?
Speaking skills affect every aspect of your life. When you improve your speaking skills, you gain confidence. Confidence helps you show up stronger in your relationships and career. Speaking skills can help you communicate better with friends and family. They can help you ace a job interview. They can help you earn a promotion. And, of course, if you own your own business, they can help you promote your products, services and business, as well. When I was research speaking statistics, I was shocked to find that a fear of speaking can reduce your chances of graduating from college by 10%. That can have all sorts of life-changing results! In addition, people with a fear of speaking can be paid as much as 10% less than those who speak up. If you only made $30K a year, that's $3000 you're losing every year! What could you do with that extra cash?
I had fun with these and gave them all cool superhero names. There's Captain Colloquial, who is very good at being conversational and approachable. There's Razzle Dazzle who puts a lot of showmanship into her presentations. Power Performer is the male energy counterpart to her. He is a powerful leader in his speaking. The Logician is precise and analytical. The Professor is good at making complex topics easy for others to understand. And finally, Mystic Mentor is the woo woo one of the group. Her presentational style is very touchy feely. We all have aspects of each of these archetypes in our tool belt, so to speak. However, there is usually one archetype that we favor. This is the presentational style that comes most naturally to us and we do our best at. There is also an archetype that we aren't so good at emulating. This is the speaking style where we struggle the most. Understanding your speaking style -- your Public Speaking Superhero Archetype -- helps you be more authentic on stage and will help you address presentation jitters more confidently.
My original idea was to create a superhero that represented each super power. But then I would have had to come up with 20+ heroes! Then, as I was re-listening to the interviews and writing the book, I realized that each speaker had their own speaking personality and that they could be organized into six stylistic groups. That's how the archetypes were born, and I've been honing them ever since.
The best way is through my websites publicspeakingsuperpowers.com or carmaspence.com. That said, I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and YouTube! You can even connect with me on GoodReads!
It is available wherever books are sold. The usual suspects are Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com, but you can walk into any bookstore and if they don't have it on the shelves, they can order it for you through their distributor. But I've also seen it on Kobo. Eventually it should show up in other online stores, as well.