CHAMPION STRATEGIS – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – OCTOBER 8, 2020
Becoming a Confident, Compelling Speaker (PT.1)
Whether we’re talking in a team meeting or presenting in front of an audience, we all have to speak in public from time to time.
We can do this well or we can do this badly, and the outcome strongly affects the way that people think about us. This is why public speaking causes so much anxiety and concern.
The good news is that, with thorough preparation and practice, you can overcome your nervousness and perform exceptionally well. This article and video explain how.
The Importance of Public Speaking
Even if you don’t need to make regular presentations in front of a group, there are plenty of situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities.
For example, you might have to talk about your organization at a conference, make a speech after accepting an award, or teach a class to new recruits. Speaking to an audience also includes online presentations or talks; for instance, when training a virtual team, or when speaking to a group of customers in an online meeting.
Good public speaking skills are important in other areas of your life, as well. You might be asked to make a speech at a friend’s wedding, give a eulogy for a loved one, or inspire a group of volunteers at a charity event.
In short, being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence , and open up countless opportunities.
However, while good skills can open doors, poor ones can close them. For example, your boss might decide against promoting you after sitting through a badly-delivered presentation. You might lose a valuable new contract by failing to connect with a prospect during a sales pitch. Or you could make a poor impression with your new team, because you trip over your words and don’t look people in the eye.
Make sure that you learn how to speak well!
Strategies for Becoming a Better Speaker
The good news is that speaking in public is a learnable skill. As such, you can use the following strategies to become a better speaker and presenter.
First, make sure that you plan your communication appropriately. Use tools like the Rhetorical Triangle , Monroe’s Motivated Sequence , and the 7Cs of Communication to think about how you’ll structure what you’re going to say.
When you do this, think about how important a book’s first paragraph is; if it doesn’t grab you, you’re likely going to put it down. The same principle goes for your speech: from the beginning, you need to intrigue your audience.
For example, you could start with an interesting statistic, headline, or fact that pertains to what you’re talking about and resonates with your audience. You can also use story telling as a powerful opener; our Expert Interviews with Annette Simmons and Paul Smith offer some useful tips on doing this.
Planning also helps you to think on your feet . This is especially important for unpredictable question and answer sessions or last-minute communications.
Remember that not all occasions when you need to speak in public will be scheduled. You can make good impromptu speeches by having ideas and mini-speeches pre-prepared. It also helps to have a good, thorough understanding of what’s going on in your organization and industry.
There’s a good reason that we say, “Practice makes perfect!” You simply cannot be a confident, compelling speaker without practice.
To get practice, seek opportunities to speak in front of others. For example, Toastmasters is a club geared specifically towards aspiring speakers, and you can get plenty of practice at Toastmasters sessions. You could also put yourself in situations that require public speaking, such as by cross-training a group from another department, or by volunteering to speak at team meetings.
Engage With Your Audience
When you speak, try to engage your audience. This makes you feel less isolated as a speaker and keeps everyone involved with your message. If appropriate, ask leading questions targeted to individuals or groups, and encourage people to participate and ask questions.
Keep in mind that some words reduce your power as a speaker. For instance, think about how these sentences sound: “I just want to add that I think we can meet these goals” or “I just think this plan is a good one.” The words “just” and “I think” limit your authority and conviction. Don’t use them.
A similar word is “actually,” as in, “Actually, I’d like to add that we were under budget last quarter.” When you use “actually,” it conveys a sense of submissiveness or even surprise. Instead, say what things are. “We were under budget last quarter” is clear and direct.
Also, pay attention to how you’re speaking. If you’re nervous, you might talk quickly. This increases the chances that you’ll trip over your words, or say something you don’t mean. Force yourself to slow down by breathing deeply. Don’t be afraid to gather your thoughts; pauses are an important part of conversation, and they make you sound confident, natural, and authentic.
Finally, avoid reading word-for-word from your notes. Instead, make a list of important points on cue cards, or, as you get better at public speaking, try to memorize what you’re going to say – you can still refer back to your cue cards when you need them.
Make It A Champion day!