For many, the idea of public speaking is quite alarming. While they might not think twice about speaking one-on-one with a colleague or to a small group of people, increase the number by 20 and they’re likely to panic.
The widespread fear of public speaking isn’t a secret, but effective public speaking skills are essential to the success of your personal brand. Developing a greater ease for public speaking has a variety of benefits including career advancement, brand you as an expert, and double your networking capabilities. Even if you aren’t planning to take on large public speaking events, improving your skills will improve the way you showcase your talents, meet and engage new connections, and build your brand.
Tune Volume from ShutterstockGreat public speaking takes time. Utilize the following tips to turn up the volume on your personal brand:
1. Know your audience. Effectively conveying a message is the core of public speaking. To do so, you must first understand the audience you’re wishing to deliver this message to. This is likely the same target audience as your personal brand. Prior to a speaking engagement or a networking date, spend time familiarizing yourself with the individual or audience you’re coming in contact with. Who are they? What will interest them?
2. Practice makes perfect. Preparation and practice are a great way to relieve some of the stress involved with public speaking. The more you prepare, the smoother things will go. It may take awhile to nail down the best preparation effort for you, but it helps to create an outline. The best public speakers don’t sound like they’re reading from a script. Speaking freely and comfortably in any kind of situation will make you sound trustworthy, intelligent, and engaging.
3. Confidence is key. If you believe and act as an expert, others will follow. Often times the doubts we have are self-created. If you have a strong personal brand and a great understanding of the topic you’re speaking about, even in a small setting, you should feel confident to share what you have to say. The best speakers are those who convey with confidence.
4. Utilize self-awareness. Nervous habits go hand-in-hand with public speaking — some people touch their hair, put their hands in their pockets, or play with their papers. During your practice sessions, take notice of anything you seem to be doing while talking. These habits may distract the audience and take away from what you’re trying to present them with. In smaller settings it’s also important to be mindful of your habits while talking.
5. Take it easy. There’s no sense in hurrying through what you’re trying to say. The best speakers never rush, they speak and then wait for the audience to process what they’re sharing. Taking your time when speaking will allow your words to weigh more on your audience. If you feel like you’re starting to rush through a small speech or conversation, use a counting system in your head to slow yourself down.
6. Get personal. If your audience can’t relate to you, they’re probably not going to accept the information you’re giving them. If you have a strong personal brand, personalizing your speaking engagements shouldn’t be a challenge. Just because you’re talking business, doesn’t mean you can’t throw in some moving personal experiences or touch on your non-business interests. Your audience will be able to relate.
7. Focus on being clear and concise. Long-winded speakers can be exhausting. While you may have a lot to say, it’s best to keep it as concise as possible. This will not only hold the attention of your audience, but also highlight your most important points. The best speakers are those who can seal the deal in a matter of sentences.
Public speaking may not be your best skill, but it’s one you must work on improving. Better public speaking takes practice. Follow these lessons to benefit your personal brand in the process.
Do you have a secret to better public speaking? Share below!
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.
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