What you really need to know to be a powerful speaker (anywhere!)
I’ve presented hundreds of presentations on powerful public speaking and communication skills although today took a slightly different angle and wow was it powerful!
The irony is never lost on me that 15 years ago I couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) speak to a large audience. I was the person pretending she had a call just as it was my turn to talk. My fear was not just in my head, it manifested itself as a closed throat, a red face, a heart that felt like it was trying to escape and the inability to even remember my name let alone something useful, relevant or interesting to say!
While I could sell ice to Eskimo’s on a 1 to 1 basis (My boss’s word’s not mine) or in the good old letter format, my skills had not grown to actually communicating with people in groups. That had to change if I was going to succeed…
So over the years I read books, studied, went on courses, listened to a plethora of experts (and realised a few of those knew little more than me they just had the confidence to stand up and recite the same stuff I’d read!) and wind forward to January 2019 you could phone me and say “We’ve been let down and we need a speaker for tomorrow!” And I’d say “Great, see you at 9!”
I wouldn’t be panicking about;
- “What will I say?”
- Or “How will I handle difficult questions?”
- Or “What if I run out of things to talk about?”
Things have changed drastically. And having coached thousands to overcome their fears of public speaking I can say with hand on heart that I can fight the fear of public speaking for you too and help anyone become a better speaker.
So what was so powerful today and how can you benefit too?
- If you’ve heard me speak about powerful communication, you will know that I say that I could write you the best speech in the world however if you lack confidence or have an internal dialogue of negativity then you will damage your results. And in business that means less sales, profit, opportunities and success. So get your head in order. ACTION – Listen out for what you let hang out in your head. I’ve enough stuff for free, low cost in books and courses (maximum cost is £25) articles, reports and solutions to help you shift your mindset permanently.
- Check out some of the best speeches in the world and you will see that Gandhi, King, Pankhurst even Thatcher were themselves. They didn’t pretend to be someone else. Not sure this is true? Think of Mahatma Gandhi and ask yourself if his style of communication would suit Dr Martin Luther King? Would Gandhi shout and gesticulate in the same way? How would his style differ? I know it can be scary to be yourself (see point 3) however by being yourself people can buy into your passion – without you selling once! And passion is addictive! ACTION – Check out powerful speakers you love and ask yourself what is their style? How is my style similar or different? If I could be any kind of speaker what style would I have? Who are my role models? How do they behave, act, talk, stand?
- Be yourself. The true authentic you. This means you have to find out what stops you being you. What fear is hiding? For my audience today we discovered that they feared what people were thinking, or what would they do if they said something wrong, or what would happen if they fumbled their words? I’m the only person I know that is invited back despite saying sex instead of success in multiple speaking engagements! The moral of that story is that if your passion, genuine authentic you is shining through then your audience will forgive (and forget) your mistakes. However big you think they are! Which leads on to…
- After a great debate on social media (are we connected there? I’d love to.) I asked “Could charisma be taught or was it something you had to be born with?” Interestingly it depended on the individual and if I’d coached them or not! My clients absolutely believe they can change and that it will work, those that were less convinced felt trapped by who they are and that change wasn’t possible, doesn’t that speak volumes? If you check out the definition of charisma in the dictionary it is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.” Translate that into your professional life and it’s going to be good to learn how to be more charismatic. That in itself is a blog article so for now;
- Concentrate on being an awesome active listener (Da Vinci was an expert on this and so many of the skills we still utilise today are from ancient Greece and the renaissance period).
- Ensure you are thinking nothing as the other person talks.
- Make quality eye contact – dodgy eye contact makes your audiences nervous. It says “What do they have to hide? Or What are they not telling us?”
- Ensure you are totally in this moment. Not looking at your phone. Not gazing out the window, not wondering if you had a reply to that email. I have tons of little techniques that help you be in the now. Although you may already know one. Google it, because that way you will find a simple tool that will resonate with you and can help you to feel calmer on a tough day too. Win win, right?
- “I’m fine one to one!” Most people who fear public speaking or feel their communication style is letting them down are over thinking. They think that to be a powerful communicator it has to be more complicated than it is. Have you ever convinced a love one to do something for you? That you need a certain necklace/car/holiday/phone? Have you ever managed to get your own way? Then you already have the ability to be a powerful communicator! A great tool I use with many clients is looking at how to migrate skills. If you rock at it else where, what skills, attributes, styles of communication were working for you? Now migrate them to the area you feel you are lacking.
- And lastly fear. Of all fears I hear about (and I hear them all!) the biggest fear in the world that is hiding behind all fears is usually the fear of what other people are thinking. As a speaker usually you are in an environment where the audience want to hear what you have to say. It is only in your head you’ve assumed they don’t. When I break down that fear for my clients they can see how their head has the facts on what they are capable of (and what they’ve achieved) but their heart is running into fear land and wanting to run for the hills never to return and usually with untruths that escalate the fear. As humans we like smiles and reply with smiles. We are saddened by other people’s losses and want to hear of people’s wins, which means people are looking forward to hearing you speak!
There are a ton of things that I touched on today including how with the right body language you can talk gibberish and still get a positive outcome.
And that being comfortable in your own skin comes down to constantly re-evaluating your own emotional intelligence and checking who you think you are and what you think is going on. Our perception of reality and assumptions can cost us dearly.
And that the confidence to love who you are makes you concentrate on successes which help release the right biological chemicals which then helps you further to come across as the passionate, successful, powerful person that everyone should know and not as the bumbling brain fried fool that you feel you become on a stage.
Whether you feel your presentation skills need a boost, you are so awful at it you’d rather chew off your right arm or you feel you are damaging your success because of something you feel you do (or don’t do!) I’m happy to have a chat anytime.
And if you are on the Insiders I will add some work sheets that we touched on too. I love to over deliver, because I never want anyone else to wish their gall bladder would explode to get them out of a speaking engagement, as I did.
Not one person.