It is said that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death.
If you’re one of those ‘give me death but not a podium’ people, imagine for a moment never again having to be afraid of taking centre stage… never again being afraid of getting up or speaking in front of a group of people, never again delivering a weak message or muddied points, but instead having the confidence to say just the right thing at just the right time.
Sound too good to be true? It is… unless someone shows you exactly how to do it.
That’s right; there’s a method; there’s training and coaching, and there’s a way to practice. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, CFO, VP, Team Leader, Internal Auditor (or Prime Minister, Premier, on-air announcer, journalist, or movie star for that matter) ‒ anyone who needs to get up in front of others to say or explain something, can learn how to do it effectively… and just as effectively as the small percentage of the population who naturally shine in the spotlight. The rest of us however, need help.
With the proper training and coaching, we can:
- formulate our thoughts so we can say less and say it better;
- manage (aka reduce or eliminate) our anxiety;
- put ourselves in a centered and powerful state before we speak;
- pause to make sure our message has landed;
- speak from notes in an authentic, conversational manner;
- reveal the richness of our true character.
Many people also have fears about impromptu speaking. A survey of consultants, accountants, and senior executives in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom (2006 – 2017), consistently showed high levels of apprehension about unscripted speaking. The respondent’s primary concerns? Blanking or responding poorly in the moment. Not sounding credible. Not knowing if all the points had been made.
Luckily, the training and coaching used for speech-giving or for a formal presentation (i.e.; how to manage anxiety; say less and say it better; pause to make sure our message has landed) can also be applied to impromptu speaking. And as speech-giving, presentations, and impromptu-speaking share the same underlying challenges (1. You have a finite amount of information you can deliver; 2. You have limited time; 3. You must ensure the information you deliver can be transferred into your listener’s long-term memory), those challenges can all be met by using the Rule of Threes. Say what you’re going to say. Say what you want to say. Say what you said. If you are concise, your message will echo in everyone’s mind.
People who speak English as a second language with an accent face an additional challenge… one that is largely made in their own minds. ‘But I have an accent,’ they say, ‘and I’m really conscious of it when I speak.’ Here’s our take on that:
First and foremost, this land is a land of immigrants. Lots of people speak with accents. We are accustomed to it. More importantly, we respect those accents; we know the kind of brain power it takes to not only learn a new language, but communicate complex business ideas in a new tongue.
Second, just because you have an accent doesn’t mean you can’t deliver a potent message, give a dynamic speech, or lead impromptu talks in a compelling way. People get promoted, are elected, or succeed because they’ve learned how to get their message across, so unless your accent is so strong that you can’t do that, it holds no importance in your listener’s minds. Don’t let it hold any importance in yours.
So, stop being afraid of public speaking. No more excuses and no putting it off.
Get out there, learn the skills and get the right kind of coaching so you can become the powerful person you truly are.