Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes there are two types of people: know-it-alls and know-it-alls. They have a growth mindset, always striving to learn more and do better.
Having a growth mindset is key to developing skills, and public speaking is a skill. The moment you think you have mastered the art of public speaking is the moment you will stop growing. But if you actively seek growth opportunities, you will see a significant improvement in your skills.
I recently got a call from the CEO of a $100 billion company that makes products inside your car, computers, and electronics. Years ago, I helped him improve his presentation skills when he was second in command at another Silicon Valley company. Now, as CEO of an even bigger global brand, he wanted help with his next pitch.
“You really are a terrific speaker. Your stage presence is excellent,” I told him. “Why do you want more help?” »
“I can always improve,” he replied.
Leaders and entrepreneurs who rise to the top of their field are almost always people striving to improve. And the best speakers never stop learning.
The good news is that we are in the golden age of public speaking resources. Here are some of the ways you can take your public speaking to the next level.
1. Study TED talks.
When I wrote Talk like TED, I’ve interviewed many speakers whose TED Talks have gone viral. The TED conference selects the best speakers and coaches them to refine their presentations. The videos available for free on the TED site often represent the best examples of speakers at the top of their game.
Don’t just watch TED Talks for their content. Study them for how the speakers present and present their content. For example, in most cases, you’ll find that presentation slides are very visual: photos, charts, and videos. TED speakers are trained to avoid showing cluttered slides with small text and bullet points that are difficult for the audience to read.
There is a difference between a slide and a document. Save the document for an email or a document. Create visual slides to engage an audience.
Most people have access to the best public speaking tool they don’t use: a smartphone. Lean it against something or place it on a tripod. Press save. Present your presentation. It’s so easy. Then comes the uncomfortable part – watching it.
Look for problems that you can easily solve.
- Avoid annoying habits like flipping your hair, tapping your fingers on a desk, jingling coins in a pocket, or reading notes instead of making eye contact.
- Eliminate filler words like “uh” and “ah” in every sentence. Filler words also appear at the end of sentences. Try to avoid ending each sentence with “you know?” or “isn’t it?”
- Smile more. People make snap judgments about your enthusiasm and skills, often based on your facial expressions alone. Show people that you have fun and are passionate about the subject. The smile is contagious.
3. Ask for feedback.
Ask trusted peers or friends for feedback on your presentation or speaking style. If you don’t ask, they probably won’t say anything. You can’t grow as a speaker if you don’t know what people like and where they think you can improve.
Asking for advice is a sign of humility, a quality that will fuel your success. In my television career as a news anchor, I have encountered two types of guests: humble and arrogant. The humble asked me to rate their performance and asked for advice. Arrogant people bragged about the number of interviews they have done and their ability to speak in public.
Arrogant guests were almost always the worst interviews. They suffered from what psychologists call Dunning Kruger bias. This means that people overestimate their own competence. In other words, they’re not as good as they think they are.
Don’t fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger bias. Learn it all and take advantage of all the resources available to fuel your success as a speaker.