A few secrets to becoming a good public speaker
Often people ask me what’s the secret to becoming a good speaker on stage. I want to clarify I’m not talking about you’re speaking business I’m talking about your presentation skills.
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of speakers and some of them of been very good while others have a lot of work to do still. As I have observed those that are good I have noticed a few common attributes and traits.
Naturally I know behind the scenes the study their content very consistently. I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this post talking about content.
This post is more about presentation of that content. And I believe one of the most important things a person can possess on stage is self confidence in the ability to flow with your content to look as though it’s easy for you.
The first step to having this kind of delivery is the practice everywhere you can. I have long been a believer that a speaker needs to be speaking. That means when no one is hiring you you need to find a events or create them.
I have found the same thing to be true as I have done stand-up comedy. There is no substitute for practice in front of a real live audience. As a speaker you need to find as much of that as you possibly can.
Another important element of being a powerful presenter is to learn how to keep things simple. Too many speakers try to show how clever or smart they are by making things more complex than they need to be. Rather than engaging the audience this type of activity tends to exclude them. Making something appear simple is a lot harder than looks. And quite frankly knowing exactly what to share it something that can only be experienced as you share it with an audience. You can start with what you think will work but it won’t be until you see the lightbulbs go on in the eyes of those who share it with that you’ll know for sure.
And maybe the last point to share here today which I think is the most powerful is that above all you need to learn how to connect with your audience. This can be as simple as learning how to affectively make eye contact, speak with intonation and tonality, use gestures that engage and correct body language. The idea and concept of connection is so important that in the new training I’m doing a presentation skills we spend several hours talking about how you can connect specifically with the audience.
As a preview to the training I want to mention that the most powerful way to connect with audiences is to engage them with questions, exercises and activities. To do these things effectively requires that you know your content so well that you can literally create a conversation from the stage without worrying that someone could hijack what you’re trying to do.
If you are new to speaking I would encourage you to get out there and speak as much as you can. The idea of speaking for free is the fastest way to start becoming good. I am not against speaking for free or even paying to speaking. But there will come a time when you just won’t be able to operate as a business unless you have some way of monetizing these kinds of opportunities. But for now just get out and speak.