Public speaking is widely known to be one of human’s greatest fears; however, it is a necessary skill that must be cultivated and developed to compete in our global world. From sharing a non-profit’s mission to presenting in boardrooms of large companies, public speaking is a necessity. It is easy to read tips, and easier still to hear expert speakers tell us what we need to do to overcome the anxiety associated with public speaking, but it is much harder to implement, because becoming a confident, credible and sought after speaker requires training and action. Below are three areas of FOCUS that can help develop a confident speaker:
1. STRENGTHS Focused. As a personality consultant and public speaking coach, I have recognized that the best speakers are those who are STRENGTHS-focused. They are in tune with their natural talents, gifts, stories and their learned area of expertise. They KNOW themselves and are comfortable in their own skin. In order to become more comfortable speaking publicly, ask yourself the following questions:
What am I naturally good at?
What are my interests and passions?
What is my area of expertise?
What do I know?
What have I survived, learned, overcome, or experienced?
2. OUTWARD Focused. Public speaking anxiety can often be the result of focusing on personal insecurities, being an introvert, lacking confidence, etc…, but more often it is the fear of ‘looking foolish.’ When speakers are focused on themselves, they are missing the reason they are speaking. Delivering presentations or speaking publicly is for the purpose of influencing, instructing, inspiring or impacting an audience. Public speaking is about the listeners—not about the speaker. Successful speaker KNOW the material they have to convey is powerful and, if delivered for the benefit of the listeners, they have taken the focus off themselves and placed it on the IMPACT. Thus, the speaker has become outward focused. Outward focused speakers recognize that they have an outstanding opportunity to INFLUENCE their listeners. They are focusing on action-oriented results that lead to making a difference.
3. MESSAGE Focused. When speakers and presenters focus on developing a clear, concise message that will move the audience, they will be much more effective in being heard and understood by motivated listeners. A successful speaker is someone who KNOWS their material and therefore does not rely on a memorized speech or note cards. They know their message because it is what they have EXPERIENCED, it is their area of EXPERTISE or it is their STORY of triumph. The speaker should recognize that he or she is the expert for that time, and therefore, speak to the audience with knowledge, passion and clarity.
Like developing any skill or expertise, proper training and practice are necessary to become a FOCUSED speaker. One who knows her strengths and is outward- and message-focused will have a greater impact and asked to speak again.