Most leaders are comfortable working with people. After all, that’s the focus of leadership.
Likewise, many are adept at communicating to large groups and explaining concepts in an engaging manner.
Communication is one of the foundations of effective leadership.
So if you’re trying to advance your career, public speaking is one way to establish your personal brand and enhance your credibility.
Making a Living Out of Public Speaking
Some people make an entire business out of public speaking.
They travel the world, delivering keynote speeches and presentations to audiences at corporate conferences and industry events. Some even offer their expertise as a consultant, working with companies and presenting their expertise to staff behind office walls.
There are multiple channels through which you can earn profit as a public speaker. But even if you don’t see it as a full-time career, taking on the occasional speaking gig can help you take your existing career to the next level.
Navigating Through Fear
If you decide to take the next step in your leadership career by stepping into the public speaking waters, you might encounter a few challenges, none of which can’t be successfully navigated.
Public speaking is a big undertaking. As a leader, you probably have pretty good self-esteem. But even the most calm and collected can be a little intimidated when faced with an audience of hundreds or thousands.
Developing a Public Speaking Plan
If you’re delivering a presentation, you must go into it with a plan.
Even the most established speakers typically work with an outline, have notes, and a visual presentation to guide the discussion.
After you have a few dozen speaking events under your belt, it becomes easier to wing it—but it’s always a good idea to be prepared with ample notes as a backup.
Here are a few ways to prepare for public speaking:
- Start with the end goal in mind. How will you build up to the climax of your presentation?
- Who is your audience? You’ll need to refine and target your presentation to each group.
- Gather relevant statistics to complement your ideas. If you can provide convincing evidence, it will be easier to get your audience to buy into your presentation.
- Make it personal. Find creative ways to present dull material through storytelling. Tell stories about yourself, experiences you’ve had, and situations in the workplace that are relevant to challenges your audience might be experiencing. Give your audience something to relate to.
Gary Guwe, ACB, Trainer, Speaker and Entrepreneur, recommends following the three Cs to delivering a compelling presentation:
- Content: Is there value within your presentation? Will your audience walk away with actionable advice they can put to use in their personal or professional lives? When you pack your presentation with tons of valuable information, you’ll have plenty of material to cover—and you’ll never be searching for ways to fill the time.
- Clarity and Congruency: Make sure you’re delivering your ideas clearly. Starting a story that won’t be fully understood until you reach the end is fine—but make sure your audience leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of the points discussed.
- Credibility and Confidence. If you speak with confidence, and have facts and data to back up your claims, you’ll have credibility as a speaker. When you have confidence in your own ideas, and enthusiasm about sharing those ideas with your audience, that will shine through in your presentation. Not only will your presentation be more entertaining, you’ll be sharing your passion for the subject matter with attendees.
You want to practice and rehearse until you can deliver your presentation in your sleep.
When you know the material inside and out, you’ll speak with confidence and be less vulnerable to whatever emotions may boil to the surface while you’re standing in front of the crowd.
Get comfortable in your own skin and with your own ideas.
You won’t be searching for words. They’ll come naturally to the tip of your tongue and roll off with ease. That’s your ultimate goal.
When you can walk on stage and deliver a flawless presentation, without regret that you missed something critical, you’ve achieved the ultimate success as a speaker.
Obtain Feedback and Strive for Constant Improvement
You should always solicit feedback from attendees on your presentations through a survey or an open-suggestion box.
Feedback gives insight into how your speech came across to the audience and serves as valuable data to incorporate improvements in the future. You can also video tape your speaking engagements for later review.
Every time you deliver a presentation, take notes immediately after to reflect on your own thoughts.
Were there points throughout the discussion that you felt unprepared? Is there something you wish would have come across more smoothly?
These are important points to note and address before your next engagement.
Public Speaking Comes with the Leadership Territory
Whether you decide to use public speaking to advance your consulting career or establish your credibility as a thought leader, or you simply want to improve your skills for regular use with smaller groups, following these processes and tips will help you deliver smooth, streamlined presentations to any audience.
How Can Leaders Work on Public Speaking?
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