Years ago, I was terrified of public speaking. My public speaking skills were null or, if possible, below zero. Whenever I’d speak to a crowd, I’d fumble over my words, forget what I was trying to say, or just give up. I’d stand behind the podium with sweaty hands and armpits. Public speaking wasn’t for me.
Until it was.
How you present yourself in a public speaking situation can determine whether or not people want to do business with you. Your eloquence, or lack of it, may tell others that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not prepared, or that you don’t care.
None of those things are true about you. That’s why you’re always trying to develop yourself and grow your skills.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe your public speaking skills need to be worked on.
If that’s true, it’s okay. The skill of public speaking can be worked on and improved. You can become a better public speaker!
5 Ways To Enhance Public Speaking Skills For Effective Leadership
What does it take to improve your public speaking? I’ve found five things to be extremely helpful to become a better speaker. You can apply any or all of these tips and see yourself growing into a better and more competent speaker.
1. Practice what you want to say:
One of my biggest issues was that I would wing many of my public speaking appearances. I thought I didn’t have the time to practice.
That was a big mistake.
In my public speaking to the youth group I was a part of, I’d stumble over my words. I’d use lots of umms, ahs, and you knows. There were even students who would count my umms and ahs!
Once I learned to practice, I found myself understanding what I was speaking about, how I was saying it, and the nuances of my speech patterns. Practice didn’t make me perfect. Practice made me better.
Practice will make you better. Whenever you have to speak publicly, take time to practice what you want to say. Repeat the words over and over again. Get a firm grasp of what you want to say.
Then go say it.
2. Ask for feedback:
You’ve heard me talk a lot about Toastmasters International. One of the best things to come from presenting at a Toastmasters International meeting is the feedback you receive.
Not only do you get to know how many umms, ahs, and you knows that you said, you also get actionable feedback on what you can do to improve.
Feedback stings. But feedback also helps you to improve. Find a friend, colleague, or spouse to get their feedback on your presentation. They’ll help you be more prepared the next time you have to face the public.
3. Understand your audience:
Your audience matters. Knowing who you’re speaking to and why you’re speaking to them will help you connect with your audience.
You’re not going to speak the same way to an audience of elementary students as you would the CEO or board members of an organization.
You need to bring different terminology, motions, and energy to these two diverse groups. Learn what they need, how to present, and what to say.
4. Make it interesting (but applicable):
No one likes a dull speech. You don’t want to put your audience to sleep. But you also don’t want to entertain them so much that they don’t know the meaning of your speech.
You have to make your speech interesting. Use stories and anecdotes that make the audience laugh. Find ways to make your audience connect with the message.
5. Share your story:
I briefly touched on sharing stories in the previous point. However, this one needs its own section. Share YOUR story.
Your story matters.
Whenever you share your story, you connect with the audience. You share a piece of yourself that they couldn’t experience anywhere else. AND your story will resonate with someone in the audience.
No one has the exact same experience as you. They do have similar experiences. Those similarities will connect and help the audience relate to you.
Don’t be afraid to go there and be vulnerable. Your story will matter.
Public Speaking Matters
Your skills as a public speaker matter. Before someone even hears your message or story, they’ll choose whether or not to listen to you based on your public speaking skills.
Your audience will be lost if you’re tripping over every other word, mumbling, or are not engaged. They’ll wonder why they’re listening to you. They’ll daydream about being somewhere else.
By improving your public speaking skills, you can take your leadership to the next level. One of more influence.