In leadership roles and business in general, inspiring action and driving changes play a vital role in success. But among the skills that contribute to this success, your ability to choose the right words and deliver them confidently before an audience is perhaps the most essential.
That’s part of why businesses pay professional and motivational speakers to coach their staff. You need public speaking skills as a business professional. Here’s why:
1. Build your confidence
One of the primary benefits of public speaking is the boost to confidence it can bring. Studies have shown the positive impacts that public speaking can have on your confidence.
A recent public speaking program conducted at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, for instance, revealed how participants increased their confidence levels after the program.
So it seems clear that the ability to speak in a public forum, lead discussions, and share your knowledge can help you feel more confident in your abilities. That’s always assuming, of course, that your speaking engagements go your way and your audience loves you. To make sure that happens, follow these general tips:
With public speaking it’s a good idea to start by addressing small audiences. It will also help to do this at internal events initially. As you become more comfortable in front of small groups, progress to larger audiences and external events.
2. Improve your persuasion skills
By improving your public speaking skills you enhance your persuasion skills too. When you know how to persuade people as a business professional, you can do many other things. You can close more sales, address employee concerns, and even send more effective emails.
For you to improve your skills of persuasion, though, you need to speak effectively before an audience. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Identify your audience first. Basically, your audience can be classified into three groups: the ones who agree with you, the ones who disagree, and the ones who are undecided. You’re best to focus on this last one as a speaker because that’s where you can make the most difference.
Preempt your audience’s possible objections. You want to address any issue that are preventing your audience from accepting what you’re saying. If possible, you shouldn’t wait for them to raise the issue. Before you get to the core of your message, you should raise those issues yourself and answer them one by one. Avoid using buzzwords. Address the issues with facts and value.
When you can stand up and powerfully address people, you can change their minds for the better, even in moments of crisis.
Excellent examples of this were Winston Churchill’s inspiring speeches during World War Two. Today's business leaders aren't required to mobilize their companies for war, but you need to drive change. Public speaking skills are instrumental in acquiring that ability.
3. Position yourself as a thought leader
Public speaking skills will help you position yourself as an authority in your industry. That’s important if you’re a business professional. If you’re perceived as an authority in your area, people will naturally seek you out. It will be easier for you to generate sales and make business connections.
Speaking in front of an audience can help you boost your credibility. In people’s minds, the fact that you’ve been chosen to talk in front of them means that you know your material. That means they should listen to you.
So the more you get invited to public speaking events, the more you reinforce that kind of thinking in people, the more you increase your credibility.
Let’s take Neil Patel as an example. Neil established himself as a thought leader in the marketing niche through his speaking engagements. According to Executive Speakers, Neil’s in-person fee now ranges from a whopping $30,000 to $50,000. That’s how much his thoughts are worth to others now.
4. Consider your audience
Public speaking requires you to consider the interests, needs, and pain points of the audience you address. If you don’t consider those, you can’t possibly get them to listen. But how exactly can you consider your audience when speaking if you don’t know each of them personally? Here are some tips on how to do that:
Determine who your audience is. Is it a group of marketers? Are they single moms? Are they doctors? When you know the audience you’re dealing with, you can easily come up with statements they can relate to when you’re speaking.
Know your audience’s level of understanding of the subject matter. Let’s say you’re talking about email marketing. Is your audience composed of people just starting out as email marketers? Or are they experienced email marketers looking for more expert tips?
Determine your audience’s age bracket. That will help you determine the types of references you can make that will elicit a response. For example, you might not be able to use the band Oasis as a reference if you’re speaking to an audience composed of the younger generation.
You can ask the organizers for information about the audience. You could also distribute a short survey to those who signed up for the event, explaining that their answers will determine the content you’ll deliver.
5. Promote critical thinking
Public speaking promotes critical thinking. A lot of preparation goes into writing a speech. As mentioned earlier, you need to analyze the audience and pick the right lines for your opening and closing sentences.
Having a message isn't enough; how you personalize the message and deliver it will determine its impact on your audience. Also, you'll have to adjust your speaking style to suit the setting, whether at work, international events, or a small group. Each of these details requires delicate attention and critical analysis. You may want to read about public speaking to learn the dos and don'ts.
These activities force you to improve your critical thinking skills. You will have to perform in-depth research, improve your reasoning, and view different points through the eyes and ears of your audience. Becoming a critical thinker will help in negotiations, sales calls, and other facets of life.
It may seem that some people are born with an innate talent for public speaking. That’s a myth. In fact, the fear of speaking is among the most common phobias worldwide.
But when you compare the upsides with the downsides of leaving your comfort zone and delivering that presentation or speech, it is clear that it's certainly worth mastering the art.
About the author:
David Pagotto is the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne. He has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years, helping organizations get more customers, more reach, and more impact.