People tend to believe that successful individuals were born with natural charisma or innate talent. They see the end product and take it at pure face value. But, often the most successful people faced some of this world’s greatest challenges. It was what they did in response to life’s struggles that ultimately set them apart.
One way to greatly increase your chances of success lies in the widely dreaded act of public speaking. Yes, learn this and you will undoubtedly stand out. But, what if you’re simply too shy? That getting up in front of a crowd is simply not your forte? Well, I am here to tell you that public speaking is a skill that can be learned, not simply a trait that you are either born with or not.
I say this because I remember as a little girl feeling, at times, overwhelmed with shyness. This feeling of intimidation was centered around my fear of messing up. I always wanted to do a good job, because I cared so much. Yet, if we let our shyness get in the way of life, we might not "lean in" as Sheryl Sandberg notes. So, despite my shyness, I was incredibly motivated to have a “voice” and truly stand out.
Knowing that I wanted to matter and be heard, I quickly resolved to do an excellent job at a speech I was assigned to in class. I simply decided to kick butt when it was finally my time to shine (Note that when you finally decide to drop the excuses in life, things become a heck of a lot easier). So, I went up in front of the class and did exactly what I had resolved to do: I spoke with great confidence and many of my fellow classmates complimented me after.
I am definitely no pro at public speaking, but now, it is something that I often look forward to. Whenever I get the opportunity to speak my mind on a topic that I care about, I take it as a great opportunity to both prove others wrong that ever doubted my intelligence and to stand out.
I’m telling you, learn how to become a better public speaker and you will, undoubtedly, open up countless doors!
In reference to James Altucher, “You don’t need 10,000 hours at anything to be the best. You just need to pretty good at something (a couple of 100 hours) and then you need to know how to give a good talk in public. Because so few people want to talk in public so you will stand out.”
So, it seems that public speaking is the slacker’s easy way out in life! You may not always need expertise to be the leader you’ve always dreamt of becoming.
Below are five of the best tips that I have come across on how to master public speaking:
1. Define Your Purpose:
When you decide what it is that you want your audience to get out of your speech, there will be less pressure to persuade them that you are a great public speaker. Take the pressure off of being flawless and insert your purpose for being there.
Remember, we are selfish human beings. When we are listening to someone talk, we want to know how their message can help us in our own lives. Give the audience what they want by speaking in order to help them in some way. When your speech has a greater purpose, you will be more inclined to get up there and spread your message.
2. Do Not Memorize Words; Memorize the Message
Memorizing a speech word for word will not only make you sound dull and monotone, but it will increase your risk of messing up. If you get caught in one area, then you will not easily be able to get back into your flow.
However, if you understand the general concepts you want to portray, then you can speak with charisma and flow naturally. REMEMBER, CONCEPTS, not WORDS!
3. Watch Your Body Lingo
Around 90% of your message is non-verbal...And you thought public speaking was all about speaking!
Body language comes down to multiple factors, but among them, here are a few:
a. Facial Expression
b. Vocal Tonality
c. How you use your hands
d. How you carry yourself
So, instead of just focusing on the words or the verbal message, watch yourself in the mirror or record yourself on video beforehand. This way, you will be able to more easily pinpoint what you are doing wrong or right.
Remember, our body language reveals how we are feeling more than our words do, so strike a power pose before the speech! At the very least, be aware of if you appear open or closed off to others. It is natural to be nervous, but to combat this, try to fake it til you make it!
4. Simplify Your Slides
Who wants to read a paragraph on your slides? No one in their right mind!
Viewing a Powerpoint is NOT what most people choose to do on a Saturday night, so don’t let it take the main stage in your performance.
Your slides should assist in telling your message. They should not overpower you. Creating nice visuals and key takeaways will make all of the difference in your overall presentation. Your powerpoint should merely help in telling your story. Don't let it be what the audience is focused on more than you!
5. Never Think That Your Advice Will Work for Everyone
Only a fool would think that their advice would be the best method in everyone’s situation. It is not right to simply give the audience a summary of how to do things YOUR WAY. This will not only bore them, but they might actually listen and be led down the wrong path.
Instead, tell a story! Telling a story gives them context and a true lesson to be taken away. Furthermore, telling stories not only helps to teach a lesson, but it also humanizes you as the speaker.
You are already in charge and commanding a room. This places you on a pedestal above the audience. Now, you need to find a way to connect with the audience and emotions do that. Once you tell a story, you speak to their soul, instead of just their brain. That, they will remember!
And, believe me, you want to be memorable.
Your single greatest opportunity in life might come down to how you present yourself in a few minutes, so will you be ready?
Gallo, C. (n.d.). How Speaking Skills Turned A Common Man Into An Uncommon Success. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2015/03/20/how-speaking-skills-turned-a-common-man-into-an-uncommon-success
Altucher, J. (n.d.). How To Be The Best Public Speaker on the Planet. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2013/10/how-to-be-the-best-public-speaker-on-the-planet