People often dream of being an accomplished public speaker. It’s an exercise dreaded by many and yet at times we may have to do it. I’m sure many of you can identify with the character of Bertie in the excellent film, ‘The Kings Speech’. Whilst you may not be a king or have a speech impediment, you can appreciate Bertie’s terror of public speaking, which left him tongue-tied and feeling unable to cope.
Often us ordinary mortals are required to speak too, whether it is presenting to customers, team members or management, and the pressure is on to acquit yourself well. No one wants to stumble through a badly performed presentation and see your audience fidgeting and looking glazed.
Death By PowerPoint
Some people try and cope with this pressure by flashing through umpteen power point slides. This certainly does a good job of distracting the audience from the speaker, and yet is this really what you want? To distract your audience from yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to do a great job and have your audience focused on you and what you are saying? Another technique of under-confident speakers is to crack feeble jokes and then to look uncomfortable when you only receive an embarrassed chuckle in return, or worse, a deathly silence!
Learning to be a confident speaker would halt the well-known ‘death by powerpoint’, which we have all endured far too frequently. In addition, an accomplished speaker will hold the audience in the palm of their hand. No yawning and fidgeting during their presentations. The confident speaker will impart information in an entertaining way, which the audience listens to eagerly and more importantly, remembers afterwards.
So the obvious advantage of being an accomplished public speaker, is that you can speak well in public. But this is by no means the only advantage. Learn to speak well in public and you will discover that there are some hidden and unexpected success benefits.
One: Increased Confidence
You will be more confident in all situations. Yes, it’s true! You won’t just be more confident when speaking to an audience; you will be more confident at networking sessions, parties, meetings at work and even communicating with your family.
This is because there is something exhilarating about conquering fear. To learn to speak confidently in public is so empowering, it gives you such a buzz, that this feeling will powerfully boost your self-esteem. Why dread a meeting with ten people when you can deliver a speech to thirty? Why dread small-talk at a party when you can stand on a podium and deliver a speech with all eyes upon you? Trust me, learning to speak in public is one of the fastest ways of gaining self-confidence that I know.
Two: Become Persuasive
Public speaking will also teach you another lesson. How to persuade people. How to put your point across in a way that will influence people and gain their respect. When you are delivering your speech you are (ideally) looking at the audience. You can gauge their reactions to what you’re saying. Are they looking interested or bored? Are they fidgeting or looking at you intently? Do they laugh when you say something amusing or look stony-faced?
If you’re not getting the reaction you want from your speech or seminar, you can change tactics. If the audience look bored, speak with more passion, get to your point more quickly, or try some gestures to wake them up.
This ability to be responsive and react to the person you communicating with, will make you more persuasive in all your interactions!
Three: Stand Tall
Developing confident body posture and gestures is a great side effect of learning to present in public. If you are serious about wanting to perform well you should always practice in front of a full-length mirror. This is not vanity, but an important way of seeing what your audience sees. Does this gesture work? Should you smile at that point? Should you walk up and down? Are you slumped over or standing up confidently?
Learning effective posture and gestures is as important to public speaking as getting the words right. The words are only half of what the audience receives; the rest is made up of the message you communicate through your body language. Once you develop assertive and relaxed body posture this will stand you in good stead in any other social situation.
Learn To Declaim
There you have it; the three hidden success benefits of learning to speak in public. Speaking in public is just the obvious one! When you realise that you can also become more confident in every situation, can persuade people to your viewpoint more easily and can learn confident body posture, then who wouldn’t be raring to begin?
The next step is to find out if there is a public speaking club in your area. Many cities have a club which is affiliated to Toastmasters International and are always delighted to welcome new members. There you can learn to speak well in a supportive and constructive environment, whether you are a beginner or just want to become even better.
Reap the hidden success benefits of public speaking and get people wondering what your secret formula is!