They say 2 biggest fears people have are dying, and speaking in public. As a manager, the impression people have of you is greatly shaped by your verbal communication skills. Whether you are standing in front of a room making a presentation, sitting at the table in a meeting, or speaking face to face with someone, it’s important you are viewed as a professional.
I was one of the few people who didn’t mind speaking in public. I was a pretty assertive person, so I never had trouble saying what was on my mind. But as I moved up in my career I started to notice I was becoming less and less confident and I realized it was because as I moved up the ladder, the people I was interacting with, were at a higher level. If I thought I was assertive, I’m not quite sure how I would describe my new circle of peers. I think I felt a little intimidated. Of course being a trainer, I did some research on my own and worked with some professionals in public speaking. Here are some things I have learned along the way that have given me the confidence to speak with conjecture, relax when I’m in front of the room, and generally get back to enjoying speaking in public.
Know your material. Being prepared is essential to public speaking. If you are sure of what you are saying and anticipate questions that may come up, you will feel more relaxed and appear confident.
Know your audience. You need to connect with the audience to keep them engaged. Try to find out as much as you can about who is going to be in the room and how they feel right now about what you will be speaking about. If you can’t get that information, consider starting with a question to learn more about the audience so you can gear the rest of your talk accordingly.
Know your objective. Knowing what you want as an outcome of the presentation will help you keep focused and organized.
Practice. For really important presentations or conversations, practice what you are going to say. You don’t want to memorize your whole presentation to where it sounds canned, but I do suggest memorizing your opening and your closing. The opening is particularly important, because if you nail that, you will probably stay confident and on track for the rest of the presentation. If you flounder around, you will become nervous and it will be much harder to recover and get back on track.
Successful managers are strong enough to stand up and say what they are thinking. They welcome the chance to present in front of a room. If you have trouble in this area, it may hold you back in your career. Start small. Make your staff meetings more formal so you get a chance to practice in a more comfortable setting. Then branch out and see if you can present to another department on something you’re passionate about. The more you put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone in this area, the more comfortable you will become. If you remember a few key points, it really doesn’t have to be as scary as dying.
Thoughts…….. Contact me at abbe@TECResourceCenter.com
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