by Terry Wall
Someone recently described public speaking as one of “the most superficial aspects of leadership.” I beg to differ.
Public speaking is one of the most important leadership skills. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but if you can’t get people to listen to those ideas, and more important act upon them, you’re not going to be as successful as you could be.
Most people think of “public speaking” as getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech. Yes, giving a good speech is important, but for me it’s only one aspect of public speaking.
For me the “public” part of public speaking doesn’t mean only when you’re in front of a large crowd.
It means ANY time you’re talking to people. You should practice good public speaking skills when you’re giving that speech, but also when you’re addressing your team at a meeting, or when you’re having a performance review discussion with a direct report.
I recently told a coaching client that his job as the owner of the company is to connect emotionally with his employees. In general, leadership is about connecting emotionally with people, which is why public speaking is important.
So we, as leaders, need to develop speech giving skills, and then use those skills in other situations, such as our day-to-day communications with others, because for most of us, we talk more to smaller groups than to the big crowds.
Again, any time you’re talking, you should practice good public speaking skills. Good communicators realize this, and they take what they learn in studying the art of giving a formal speech in front of a crowd, and apply those lessons to the rest of their conversations.
Here are 2 speech giving tips that apply to when you’re having important discussions, in situations other than speaking before a large crowd.
Vocal Variety: There’s nothing worse than listening to speech delivered in a boring, snooze-inducing monotone. That’s why you need to vary the pitch, the cadence, the volume of your voice. It applies to formal speeches, and to important conversations with everyone.
Storytelling: It’s an important part of formal speeches, because everyone relates to stories. It’s how we connect with other people. That’s why I include them in formal speeches.
But because they help you connect with people, you should also use brief stories to illustrate your points in conversations and remarks you make in less formal situations: Team meetings, presentations to the board, or sales presentations, and yes, in one-on-one conversations.
Start using these 2 tips to improve your presentations, and your leadership.
About the author
For more information on public speaking/presentation skills, check out my next free webinar. The Killer Presentation Skills Webinar will definitely improve your skills, with immediate improvement through 10 action items.
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