You probably already know what public speaking is all about, but you are wondering if speaking confidently is relevant to you. Speaking in public is, in fact, beneficial to all of us, whether or not we have a leadership role.
You see, all of us will have to, at some point in our lives, give an impromptu speech and being equipped to do so will help you to get your message across. Verbal communication is important, but why else is it important to develop effective communication skills and how can I improve?
Feel More Comfortable Speaking
First and foremost, getting used to standing up and speaking in front of others will boost your confidence. And it only gets easier with every speaking situation! Many adults who struggle with being introvert and lacking in self-esteem will join a drama class to help them to grow in confidence and gain better presentation skills, i.e. with their speaking and being around others, but it can be just as effective to go on a public speaking course or consult a public speaking coach about improving your speaking ability.
Focusing on this weak area can really do wonders for your relationships too, making you feel more comfortable making small talk with strangers or simply feeling more at ease in big crowds when you used to avoid speaking. Perhaps you might even start to join in the conversations and talk louder than others to get yourself heard! The newfound conversational skills and self-esteem will make you evolve as a person and grow with each situation you find yourself in.
Public speaking is one great way to show off your knowledge. A vast majority of people will avoid standing up to do a speech but, in doing so, you are demonstrating things that you have learnt and that others can learn from, positioning yourself as an expert in your field. Take every opportunity to showcase your expertise, we say!
As you prepare for your upcoming speech, reading widely around the subject, little may you realise just how much additional stuff you are absorbing on the subject. What's more, when the brain rehearses text over and over, the information gets locked in and this will be something that you can turn to in the future should you ever need it.
Ultimately, the need for public speaking is going to crop up. Whatever stage you are at in life, you will need to do it at some point: the toast at a wedding, a presentation at work, a prayer at Christmas, a class presentation (student or teacher), a sales pitch, addressing the jury at court, a thank you speech at a party, ... the list goes on and on.
You just can't avoid it - public speaking is necessary to move forward in many situations, both at work and socially.
What Can Public Speaking Add To My Career?
Public speaking can be essential in the workplace, especially if you work in a leadership role or in a competitive environment where you must fight to be heard. Below are just some of the ways that being a confident speaker can help you progress in the workplace.
It makes you stand out
With most people shying away from the limelight, being bold enough to put your hand up and put your message across in a meeting room will no doubt impress your managers and will make them see that you have a particular skill which your colleagues may not have. You never know, it could put you in line for a promotion...
It makes people listen
If you want people to listen to what you have to say, then you need to pick the time and the place. Trying to get your message across to people by email isn't always successful, nor is going and speaking to individuals one at a time. Sometimes, it's best to get everyone in one place, put your message across, and read the room as a whole rather than finding many mixed messages. What's more, the power of your voice and argument could be far more convincing than if you were to put it in writing, so the chances are that you could get more followers as a result.
It makes sales and seals deals
When you do business, it's nice to meet with the person who you are dealing with as opposed to interpreting feelings and opinions from written text. Face to face communication is vital in really understanding one another, which is why salesmen and women will often try to use that more personal approach and pick up the phone or arrange a meeting. Others go from door to door and use their public speaking to generate sales.
It allows you to be open
Public speaking isn't all about looking out for yourself in terms of job security and promotion. Being a good public speaker can mean that you are able to be more open with your opinions on work and union matters, rather than keeping yourself to yourself. You could become a representative for your workforce if are able to communicate well on their behalf!
What Skills Do Managers Need?
If your ambition is to reach management level in your area of work, then have you checked what skills you need and if you meet the criteria? The student site Prospects lists some of the key skills that every person needs for a successful career in management, one of which being:
"Communication and motivation
Effective leaders must master all forms of communication including written, verbal and listening skills. As a team manager you're the line of communication between frontline staff and senior management, so you'll need to be able to communicate with a variety of people from entry-level employees to heads of departments and CEOs in a number of different ways such as via email and social media, over the phone and in presentations, meetings and one-to-ones.
As a leader you'll need to establish a trusting relationship with your employees so they feel comfortable sharing information with you and vice versa. To ensure that lines of communication remain open you'll need to make yourself readily available and accessible to your employees to discuss any issues or concerns that arise. Putting in place an open door policy or weekly or monthly team meetings should facilitate this. When communicating let your staff know that they matter by keeping eye contact, smiling and listening attentively.
Projecting an open, positive attitude at work goes a long way to creating a happy and healthy work environment. Don't shut yourself off or put yourself on a pedestal. Simple things such as active encouragement, recognising achievements and taking an interest in the lives of your employees boosts morale and ensures that staff feel valued by the company. If people are a product of their environment, a positive workplace creates happy, motivated employees."
This account of the type of communicator you must be to be a good manager makes it very clear that leading and establishing relationships are very important, both of which can be closely linked to your ability to communicate vocally.
Leaders Who Were Once Scared Of Public Speaking
Is it possible for introverts to be leaders and achieve success? Yes, it is!
You can learn more about how to gain confidence with your public speaking here.
Meanwhile, here are some big names who once had stage fright.
You wouldn't believe us if we said that you can run a country or a movement whilst also having stage fright, would you? But the proof is below, that anything is possible if you adopt the right attitude.
As reported by Visme.co, Mahatma Ghandi: "suffered from frequent panic attacks. He had a particularly agonizing experience during a speech he was asked to give to a vegetarian community in London. After reading one line from the message he had prepared, he could no longer speak and asked someone else to read the rest of the speech for him.
“My vision became blurred and I trembled, though the speech hardly covered a sheet of foolscap,” he recalled.
For years, the “the awful strain of public speaking” became a burden so great for Gandhi that he even avoided speaking at friendly get-togethers and dinner parties."
Later in life, however, though the fear of speaking in front of crowds still terrified him, he found a fire in his belly that fuelled him when it came to addressing the masses. His passion for the subject made his anxiety and fear disappear. His advice?
""Be stubborn...because you have considered the maximum number of people who will benefit and wish to serve them by solidly banging the drum for what you know to be true," he wrote." - Visme.co
Another quite surprising member of this club is the renowned American president, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln hated facing large crowds and often let panic get the better of him.
What's sad is that he was such a great, inspirational speaker in spite of his anxieties yet he declined many invitations to talk at events.
He went on, however, to campaign for the presidency of the United States and become a hugely-influential leader.
Did you know there are some useful online tools you can use to reduce your nerves when giving speeches?